Who’s Got Next? A Look at the Top McDonald’s All-American Match-Ups

Posted by Sean Moran on February 2nd, 2015


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 recruitment 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 rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

The rosters for the 38th McDonald’s All-American game were released last week, with 24 of the top high school players in the country set to play in Chicago’s United Center on April 1. But before they play in front of a nationally-televised audience for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big thing, they will compete against each other in a series of practices that will be highly scrutinized by media and NBA scouts. Let’s take a look at some of the top practice match-ups that will only be seen by a select few as well as several to keep an eye on during the actual game.

Top Practice Match-Ups:

No. 1 Jaylen Brown, 6’7”, SF, Wheeler (GA) vs. No. 2 Ben Simmons, 6’8”, SF, Montverde (FL)

NBA Scouts will be salivating with this one. The top two players in the country will have two practice sessions to compete against each other in drills and scrimmages. Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown already faced off once this year at the City of Palms tournament in December, with Brown getting the better of the individual match-up while also leading his team to the championship. While they didn’t spend a lot of time guarding each other in that game, it will be interesting to watch how they attack each other in the practices leading up to the McDonald’s game. Simmons is a unique wing with stellar passing skills and a strong ball-handling ability that allows him to act as a point forward. Brown is very reminiscent of current Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson, someone capable of using his strength to attack the basket and punish smaller and weaker defenders. Perimeter shooting is not a strength for either player at this point in their development, but both have markedly improved over the last year and are more than capable from hitting a few from deep.

Simmons will head to LSU next year to play for his godfather and assistant coach David Patrick, while Brown is still undecided on his collegiate destination. He has taken official visits to Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, UNC and most likely Michigan while taking numerous unofficial visits to in-state Georgia and Georgia Tech.

No. 11 Malik Newman, 6’3”, G, Callaway (MS) vs. No. 14 Allonzo Trier, 6’4”, SG, Findlay Prep (NV)

Malik Newman and Allonzo Trier are two of the most prolific scorers in the prep game and have been scorching the nets from the moment they both entered high school. They spent three years playing on the U-17 Nike EYBL AAU circuit and as a result have had numerous individual battles. While Newman and Trier are similar in their ability to put points up in a hurry, their high school careers have been quite different. Newman has spent all four of his years in Mississippi while Trier has played in Oklahoma, Maryland and Nevada. Trier is also the more methodical of the two while Newman gets shout-outs from NBA players who drop 52 in a game.

Allonzo Trier will lace up his shoes at Arizona next year and Newman will wait until the spring to decide on his destination.

No. 4 Diamond Stone, 6’10”, C, Dominican (WI) vs. No. 8 Cheick Diallo, 6’9”, C, Our Savior (NY)

This match-up will take place on the low blocks. Diamond Stone, a player who hails from the Milwaukee area, has a refined low post game and can score using hook shots from both hands. Check Diallo might give up a few pounds to Stone in the post, he also happens to be the best shot-blocker in the country with a motor that never stops. He is quick off his feet and can jump twice before most players jump even once. Diallo’s offensive game is still a bit raw, but he will certainly collect a fair amount of points from offensive rebounds and outhustling his opponent down the court.

Both Stone and Diallo are currently uncommitted. Stone lists a final four of UConn, Wisconsin, Maryland and Oklahoma State, while Diallo is interested in Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, St. John’s and Pittsburgh.

Note: The West team has a plethora of big men. Carlton Bragg, Deyonta Davis, Chase Jeter, Stephen Zimmerman, and Caleb Swanigan will all take turns beating each other up within the paint.

Top Game Match-Ups:

No. 1 Jaylen Brown vs. No. 26 Brandon Ingram, 6’8”, SF, Kinston (NC)

The light came on last July for Brandon Ingram and it started to shine in his individual match-ups with Brown in Chicago. Ingram has slowly grown into his lanky frame and has finally started to turn potential into production. With long arms and a sleepy look, Ingram can score from multiple areas on the court. He hails from the same prep program that produced North Carolina’s Jerry Stackhouse and Reggie Bullock and he now looks to follow in their footsteps by playing in the McDonald’s All-American game. Both players are currently ranked among the top 12 in the 2016 DraftExpress Mock Draft.

No. 16 Jalen Brunson, 6’2”, PG, Stevenson (IL) vs. No. 24 Jawun Evans, 6’0”, PG, Kimball (TX)

Last year the McDonald’s game featured several elite point guards like Tyus Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Tyler Ulis, Joel Berry and Melo Trimble. This year’s senior class is lacking in true lead guards, but Jalen Brunson and Jawun Evans are two of the best of the crop. Brunson will look to replicate what his father Rick did in 1991 by winning the McDonald’s game MVP award. The Villanova-bound guard has deep range on his jumper and is usually thinking a step ahead when pushing the ball upcourt. On the other side of the floor, Evans is the quickest point guard in the prep game. His first step is an absolute blur, and the South Carolina native loves to push the pace. He can finish with a floater, a mid-range pull-up, or drop it off for one of his talented big men. Evans will get to use his speed immediately at Oklahoma State next season.

No. 5 Ivan Rabb, 6’10”, PF, Bishop O’ Dowd (CA) vs. No. 6 Henry Ellenson, 6’10”, F, Rice Lake (WI)

These two big men were teammates on the USA U-17 team this past summer and also squared off on the AAU circuit. It was almost a guarantee from his first game at Bishop O’ Dowd that Ivan Rabb would eventually become a McDonald’s All-American, but it wasn’t as much of a lock for Henry Ellenson. The Wisconsin big man was outside of the top 50 in his class at this time last year, but the Marquette recruit worked hard on his body and leaned up during the winter and spring. Without his excess weight holding him back, Ellenson’s unique skill set began to shine through. He has adequate size and length to play down low, but he also has good enough ball-handling and shooting skills to play on the perimeter. While the ambidextrous Rabb prefers the low block in his game, he is also comfortable facing up from 15 feet. Both big men are graceful in their own way and will certainly get to match wits from various parts of the court.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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