Where This Year’s McDonald’s All-America Class Fits In Next SeasonPosted by EJacoby on March 30th, 2012
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.
It’s never too early to start talking about next season. Wednesday night showcased the very best high school basketball players in this year’s senior crop as part of the McDonald’s All-America game. There’s not a whole lot of analysis to do from Wednesday’s glorified exhibition game, but we can start to project how these elite talents are going to fit in next season. All 24 All-Americans are headed to a power conference school, so let’s break down how each conference could be impacted by all of these newcomers.
There are still five players who have yet to decide their destination next year, but as of now there are more McDonald’s All-Americans (MAA’s) headed to North Carolina State than there are committed to North Carolina and Duke combined. The Wolfpack hauls in an impressive trio that includes point guard Tyler Lewis, shooting guard Rodney Purvis, and small forward T.J. Warren. Purvis is probably the biggest name of the class and showcased quite a bit of explosiveness on Wednesday. NC State is loaded with talent already and brings back its top four players next season (assuming C.J. Leslie doesn’t hit the NBA), so Mark Gottfried’s team is going to be scary. Purvis and Warren are big-time wing athletes while Lewis will be a viable backup point guard to Lorenzo Brown. There’s a strong chance that NC State will be the favorite in the ACC next season.
Marcus Paige is headed to North Carolina, which is suddenly in desperate need of talent after its four best players are now off to the NBA. Depending on who you ask, Paige is either the best or second-best rated point guard in this class, and he will have a great opportunity to contribute immediately for the Tar Heels to step in for Kendall Marshall. Rasheed Sulaimon is going to Duke, and he was one of the most impressive players in the MAA game. A solid 6’4” shooting guard, Sulaimon is a hard worker with a terrific outside shot and should fit in perfectly for the Blue Devils. He seems like a classic Mike Krzyzewski recruit.
Surprisingly, Providence has the top recruiting class in the conference this year, led by a pair of five-star guards. Kris Dunn is ranked as a top-three point guard in this class and played in Wednesday’s game with some impressive passing skills. He’s not a great shooter but he has good size (6’3”) and skills for a lead guard. Ricardo Ledo was not chosen for the MAA game, but he is a top-five shooting guard in this class as well. Ed Cooley did extremely well in the recruiting ranks this year for a young team that is losing nobody next year. The Friars should have the best backcourt in the Big East.
DaJuan Coleman is a big body headed for Syracuse, which also suddenly is in a huge need for a center after Fab Melo’s deaparture. Coleman is a strong big man and ranked as one of the top centers in a loaded class at that position. He will step in alongside Rakeem Christmas as an impressive young duo in the paint. The Orange are off to the ACC, though, in a couple years. Shaq Goodwin, meanwhile, is headed for Memphis, a Conference USA school, but the Tigers will join the Big East starting with the 2013-14 seson. Goodwin is an athletic power forward at 6’8”.
Gary Harris is a top shooting guard headed for Michigan State. Harris is a crucial grab for Tom Izzo’s team that loses Draymond Green next year as well as starting shooting guard Brandon Wood. Harris can fill it up and will have a great chance to make a quick impact in the Big Ten. The only other MAA committed to the conference is Yogi Ferrell, an impressive point guard headed to Indiana. Despite listed at just 5’11”, Ferrell is a very active defensive guard and excels at finding his teammates on offense. He should fit in perfectly for the loaded Hoosiers next year in replacement of the only graduating regular, Verdell Jones III.
Baylor just keeps stacking up huge, long bodies down low. Isaiah Austin is the find this year, a legit 7’0” center that’s ranked as a top-five player in this class. Austin has a thin frame with considerable room to put on some bulk, something that’s necessary if he wants to compete with the toughness inside the Big 12. But if he can fill out, Austin has star potential as a skilled seven-footer that can block shots and finish with ease around the rim.
Kansas is likely losing Thomas Robinson to the NBA, but the Jayhawks hope they found his replacement in power forward Perry Ellis, who has solid shooting range for his size and is a skilled 6’8” player. Cameron Ridley is going to Texas with tremendous upside as a center with the frame and ability that looks similar to DeMarcus Cousins, though he’s still raw and must continue to improve. Marcus Smart is committed to Oklahoma State, which gets a very heady guard that can do it all. Smart has great vision and works hard on the defensive end but also can get buckets as a strong driver to the basket. He should have the most immediate impact of any Big 12 rookie playing for the Cowboys that lose Keiton Page to graduation.
This conference was obviously extremely down as a whole this season, so it is in dire need of a talent boost from the high school ranks. And that’s just what it gets. Kyle Anderson is the star here, a very unique small forward headed for UCLA who simply plays at a different speed than everyone else. Always in control of his movements, Anderson can lull defenses to sleep while displaying a versatile game from the wing; he likes to handle the ball as a point forward and should fit in nicely for the Bruins. He could be joined by #2 overall prospect Shabazz Muhammed, who is undecided and has UCLA on his final cut list of three.
Meanwhile, Arizona hauls in two MAA’s through a pair of power forwards — Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. Both are consensus top-10 players in this class and will bring immediate toughness inside to a team severely lacking such. Ashley is an explosive athlete with long arms while Jerrett is a hybrid kind of forward that is 6’10” but can shoot it from the outside and is a good passer.
Guess who has the strongest class in the SEC this year? I don’t even need to tell you that it’s Kentucky, which has an impressive haul that could get even stronger. Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin are the MAAs already committed, and more could be on the way. Poythress has a versatile game as a talented wing scorer, and ESPN’s Dave Telep thought that Poythress raised his stock more than any other player on Wednesday with his performance. Goodwin, meanwhile, is an elite athlete that simply loves to attack the rim as a 6’5” guard. He can also shoot it and draws comparisons to Joe Johnson.
The biggest names yet to select a school are Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammed. Noel reclassified to this year’s class and was ineligible for the MAA game, but he’s a shot-blocking extraordinaire and will provide an immediate defensive presence to one of the three between Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown. Muhammad was the MVP of the MAA game and is ranked as the #2 overall prospect who has narrowed his list down to UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke. He’s a small forward that can simply do it all and will be an immediate contributor for whatever lucky program gets his nod. Amile Jefferson is a combo forward with upside that’s considering Kentucky, NC State, Ohio State, Villanova, and Duke. Tony Parker is a big power forward who’s considering many of the same names – Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, Memphis, and Georgia. Anthony Bennett and Devonta Pollard are two more talented power forwards that both have Kentucky on their lists. Bennett is also thinking about UNLV, Florida, Washington, and Oregon while Pollard has Georgetown, Missouri, and Texas in his sights, as well.