Seven Sweet Scoops: McDonald’s All-American Primer

Posted by Sean Moran on March 30th, 2016


Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week throughout the season he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated 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

The 39th McDonald’s All-American game is set to take place tonight at 9PM ET (ESPN) at the United Center in Chicago. Each year this All-Star game gives the college basketball fan a sneak peak into the up and coming stars of next season. It also usually gives fans a first look at the top NBA draft picks for 2017.

Last year, the top two projected draft picks of 2016 competed in the game. Duke freshman Brandon Ingram scored 15 points after a breakout week in practice, while LSU freshman Ben Simmons scored seven points to go along with 10 rebounds. Five-star recruit Cheick Diallo was named MVP after he recorded an 18 point, 10 rebound double-double. After dealing with an early-season NCAA investigation, Diallo managed to score only 81 points on the whole season at Kansas before declaring for the NBA Draft.

The stars will be out tonight in Chicago. Below is a primer on who and what to watch for during the game:

1. Top Individual Matchup

Small forwards Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson are arguably the top two players in the country. The 6’8” Tatum will wear #22 for the East while the 6’7” Jackson will suit up as #11 for the West. Tatum is headed to Duke and has a smooth and skilled offensive game. He has the ability to play point forward and loves to emulate Kobe Bryant with a fade-away repertoire. Jackson is still undecided and set to choose from a list that includes Kansas, Arizona, and Michigan State. The Michigan native is an explosive wing with NBA athleticism who will surely be good for a highlight reel dunk or two.

2. Most Unique Player

Keep an eye out for 6’5” point guard Lonzo Ball (#2). Just last week the best passing guard in high school finished a spectacular senior season with a California state championship. His #1 ranked Chino Hills team went 35-0 on the year, breaking 100 points on a near-nightly basis in the process. High hopes and expectations await Ball at UCLA, as the Bruins are coming off a disappointing 15-17 season. Ball has an unorthodox outside shot, but he is still plenty capable of finding the bottom of the net from NBA range. He’s also been known to throw pinpoint three-quarter court passes just as often as does a fundamental bounce pass to a teammate on a look that few other players would see. Ball’s razzle-dazzle game is made for an All-Star event.

3. Undecided Players

Last year a plethora of players were uncommitted at game time, but this year only Jackson, 6’10” Marques Bolden, 6’10” Jarrett Allen, and 6’5” Terrance Ferguson remain undecided. Besides Jackson, all three players reside in Texas, but Allen is the only player with Texas still on his list. Bolden, who has put together a strong weak of practice by all accounts, is deciding between Duke, Kentucky, and TCU. Allen is looking at Kansas, Notre Dame, Texas, Houston, and Kentucky. Ferguson is a high flyer who can launch from deep; he was previously committed to Alabama before deciding to look elsewhere earlier in the year.

4. Kentucky and Duke

To no surprise, Kentucky and Duke have the top two recruiting classes in 2016. It’s the third year in a row that the two schools have topped the rankings. Kentucky’s class features three players on the East team and one on the West. 6’9” Bam Adebayo is a Karl Malone look-alike, 6’3” De’Aron Fox is a lefty point guard who is one of the top on-ball defenders in high school, 6’3” Malik Monk is a dangerously explosive leaper, and 6’11” Sacha Killeya-Jones intrigued NBA scouts this past week. Meanwhile, Duke has Tatum and 6’3” point guard Frank Jackson in the game. Their other top ranked recruit, Harry Giles, is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered at the start of the high school season.

5. UVA’s First McDonald’s All-American Since 2008

They may not have been able to reach this year’s Final Four, but Tony Bennett has turned Virginia into one of the premier basketball schools in the country. He has done so without any McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster, as the last UVA McDonald’s All-American was Sylven Landesberg back in 2008. This year, 6’4” Indiana sharp-shooter Kyle Guy made the cut and will be headed to Charlottesville next season. Guy was recently named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana and is set to play immediately next season.

6. Players To Watch

While not mentioned above, keep an eye out for future Washington guard Markelle Fultz and Texas sharp shooter Andrew Jones. Both players have risen up the ranks over the last two years; Fultz has had a particularly sharp rise, as he is now a top 10 recruit after being a JV player at DeMatha as as a sophomore. With UW losing Dejounte Murray and Andrew Andrews there is an immediate need for scoring in the backcourt. Meanwhile, Jones is a wiry, athletic sharp-shooter who should provide Shaka Smart and the Longhorns a nice scoring punch.

7. Just One Player Committed To A Final Four Team

With the Final Four just days away, you would normally expect the four teams to be represented by a handful of talent ready to restock the cupboards. Instead, only North Carolina has a recruit in the game. 6’10” Tony Bradley is the top ranked recruit for the Tar Heels and despite some athletic limitations, Bradley is an extremely efficient post-player who should receive immediate playing time in the paint next season.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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