Who’s Got Next? Top McDonald’s All-American Match-UpsPosted by Sean Moran on February 3rd, 2014
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at email@example.com.
This past week 24 of the top high school seniors in America were selected for the most prestigious prep event in the country, the McDonald’s All-American game. After moving around to different spots for a number of years, this game is now held each year at the United Center in Chicago and gives college basketball fans a chance to catch the soon-to-be top incoming college freshman. NBA general managers and front office staff also descend on the Windy City in order to watch the team practice sessions held the two days prior in order to assess the prospects that will start to enter the NBA Draft in 2015 and beyond. This year’s event features many interesting personnel match-ups that will take place in the practice sessions and in the nationally-televised game. There were also several surprise selections to the rosters and a few noticeable omissions, all of which we’ll cover below.
Top Game Match-Ups
1) Jahlil Okafor, 6’11”, C (#1 overall) vs. Myles Turner, 7’0”, C (#2 overall)
The top two players in the country will face-off at opening tip on April 2. The two big men matched up back in August during the championship of the Adidas Nations tournament in Long Beach, California, but this time around the stage will be much brighter. Jahlil Okafor, the hometown favorite, has been groomed for this day from the time he first stepped on the court for Whitney Young (IL) as a freshman. Myles Turner, on the other hand, was not even a top 100 prospect one year aga, but a scintillating summer and high school season vaulted him up the recruiting rankings and to the top of many NBA Draft boards. Okafor’s game is based on power and a soft touch close to the basket while Turner is a long, lean and versatile center. Okafor has been frustrated this season with the constant double- and triple-teams and will finally face a man-to-man defense when going up against the superb shot-blocker, Turner. Okafor committed to Duke in the fall and Turner is the top uncommitted prospect in the country with the Blue Devils in his final six along with Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Texas.
2) Emmanuel Mudiay, 6’4”, PG (#3 overall) vs. Tyus Jones, 6’2”, PG (#4 overall)
The top two point guards in the country will battle in a match-up that college and NBA fans will love. The 6’2” Tyus Jones is the most skilled guard in the country with his superb passing and ball-handling abilities, and he has been lighting up the scoreboard in AAU and high school games since his freshman season. For years Jones was considered the top point guard in his class, and even as a sophomore from Apple Valley (MN), scouts thought he was the best point guard in high school. This consensus started to shift over last summer with the emergence of the taller and more athletic Emmanuel Mudiay. The 6’4” Mudiay has a significant height advantage and is more athletic than Jones which many believe will make him better suited for the NBA. Next year Jones will slide into the Duke backcourt and try to co-exist with two year starter Quinn Cook while Mudiay will be handed the keys to the car as SMU’s biggest recruit in the history of basketball at the school.
3) Isaiah Whitehead, 6’4”, SG (#12 overall) vs. Rashad Vaughn, 6’5”, SG (#13 overall)
Both Isaiah Whitehead and Rashad Vaughn are alpha scorers who can put up points in a hurry. The top two shooting guards will get a chance to see who can score the most in a match-up that will most likely include a lot of trash-talking. The Brooklyn born Whitehead plays more of a combo guard position than Vaughn and has been the go-to scorer for four years at the famed Lincoln (NY) High School. Vaughn is a pure shooting guard who transferred out of Minnesota to the Findlay Prep (NV) basketball power house and has shared the spotlight with his talented teammates as a senior. Both players have range beyond the three-point line and can score from all three areas on the court. Whitehead loves to stop on a dime and unleash his picturesque jump shot at any time while Vaughn prefers to either catch and shoot from three or get out in transition.
4) Cliff Alexander, 6’8”, PF (#5) vs. Trey Lyles, 6’8”, PF (#8)
Leading up to the game the talk will focus on the two Chicago natives Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander facing off; however, Alexander will most likely be matched up with five-star forward Trey Lyles once the game starts. Alexander is headed to Kansas next year and the Indiana-based Lyles will be in Lexington. In a battle of future blue-bloods, they will get to test their vastly different skill sets against each other. A great athlete, Alexander likes to run the floor, punish the rim and block shots, but he is still improving on his actual post moves and outside touch. This differs drastically from Lyles, who has one of the most sound post games in the country and can step out to the three-point line with ease. Lyles won’t wow you with his quickness or leaping ability but he is fundamentally sound.
Top Practice Match-Up
Stanley Johnson, 6’7”, SF (#7) vs. Kelly Oubre, 6’6”, SF (#6)
The top two small forwards in the country will go head to head for two days in practice with NBA scouts watching their every move. Kelly Oubre is headed to Kansas and will be a player that the scouts love. He has a feathery left-handed touch from the outside, but also is athletic enough to beat his defender off the dribble. On the other side is Stanley Johnson. The strongest wing in high school is almost impossible to stop in one-on-one situations. He’s not the greatest shooter from outside, but the 6’7” Johnson loves to play point forward and use his shoulder strength to bully defenders on his way to the basket.
Biggest Selection Surprises
1) Grayson Allen, 6’5”, SG (#36) – Committed to Duke. Allen received the “Duke/UNC” bump which is reserved for a recruit that falls out of the top 25 but is still chosen to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game based on his college selection. Past players to receive this bump included Kennedy Meeks and Larry Drew II of North Carolina and Marshall Plumlee of Duke. Allen will be able to compete with the top guards in America from an athletic standpoint, but given his overall ranking, his selection came as a surprise.
2) Travis Reid, 6’7”, PF (#40) – Committed to Stanford. Reid was one of the most impressive players during the 2013 summer AAU and camp circuit; however, he has missed a substantial part of his senior season at De La Salle (MN) High due to a lingering foot injury. A power forward in the true sense of the term, Reid is the only player who can rival Stanley Johnson’s strength and score in the post or step outside for a 15-foot jumper.
3) Thomas Welsh, 7’0”, C (#45) – Committed to UCLA. Welsh currently resides outside of the top 40 prospects, but he has had a strong senior season at Loyola (CA) High. After a great July last year many of the top programs became interested in the center before he decided to sign with the Bruins as part of Steve Alford’s first recruiting class. The Welsh selection might be a surprise based on his consensus ranking, but not based on his skill set.
1) Daniel Hamilton, 6’8”, SF (#18) – Committed to UConn
2) Dwayne Morgan, 6’7”, SF (#20) – Committed to UNLV
These five-star small forwards were victims of their position. The 2014 class is loaded at the wing position and five small forwards were selected ahead of them. The athletic wings can take solace in the fact that two of the top freshmen in college basketball this year (Tyler Ennis and Joel Embiid) did not make the McDonald’s game last year and are doing just fine.
3) JaQuan Lyle, 6’4”, PG (#22) – Undecided
Lyle, a five-star point guard, was passed over in the selection process in favor or four-star point guard Tyler Ulis, a Kentucky recruit, and four-star Maryland recruit Romelo Trimble. The 6’4” Lyle is a high-scoring point guard awho joins Turner and Vaughn as the last of the players in the top 100 who are still looking for the right college fit.