Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 McDonald's All-American Game

As many of you know, the most prestigious game in high school basketball took place earlier this week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: the McDonald's All-American Game. The game selected the top 24 players in the country and brought them all together for THE high school all-star competition. This year's group featured three future North Carolina Tar Heels (Larry Drew II, Tyler Zeller, and Ed Davis) and two players who will don UCLA Bruins jerseys next year (Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee). In addition to those two Final Four school, last year's national runner-up, Ohio St. (William Buford and BJ Mullens), also has multiple McDonald's All-Americans headed its way for 2008-2009. Scotty Hopson and Tyreke Evans were the game's only uncommitted participants. Here was the game's roster:

EAST (Name, State of HS, Position, College)
*Al-farouq Aminu, GA, F, Wake Forest
William Buford, OH, G, Ohio St.
Ed Davis, VA, F, North Carolina
*Tyreke Evans, PA, G, Uncommitted
JaMychal Green, AL, F, Alabama
Sylven Landesberg, NY, G, Virginia
Michael Rosario, NJ, G, Rutgers
*Samardo Samuels, NJ, F, Louisville
Chris Singleton, GA, F, Florida St.
*Kemba Walker, NY, G, UConn
Elliot Williams, TN, G, Duke
*Tyler Zeller, IN, C, North Carolina

WEST (Name, State of HS, Position College)
Luke Babbitt, NV, F, Nevada
*Demar DeRozan, CA, F, USC
Larry Drew II, CA, G, North Carolina
Michael Dunigan, IL, C, Oregon
*Jrue Holiday, CA, G, UCLA
Scotty Hopson, KY, G, Uncommitted
*Brandon Jennings, VA, G, Arizona
Malcolm Lee, CA, G, UCLA
*Greg Monroe, LA, F, Georgetown
*BJ Mullens, OH, C, Ohio St.
Iman Shumpert, IL, G, Georgia Tech
Willie Warren, TX, G, Oklahoma

Although the West squad was the more loaded team, the East picked up the win, taking the game by a score of 107-100. A big part of the upset win was having a 54-39 advantage on the boards, including a 19-10 lead on the offensive glass. Tyreke Evans was on the floor more than anyone else, and led his team with 21 points, though Willie Warren was tops amongst both teams, notching 23 points. Evans was the only player to have over seven boards, as he grabbed 10. Brandon Jennings, the leading minute-getter for the West, was the lone player to tally over five assists, picking up nine dimes, with seven coming in the first half. One glaring weakness that many of the players shared was a rough time at the line, as the 15 players to go to the stripe combined to shoot an embarrassing 20/36, or 55.5%. As well, the teams struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 7/41, at 17.1%. As whole, though, the shooting was solid, as each squad was 50%+ from the field, combining for a 90/170 performance, at 52.9%. The game was somewhat sloppy, with the best players in the nation tallying 48 turnovers, to just 32 assists. I'll fill you in on some of my observations of the players:

-Al-farouq Aminu: Was all but non-existent, having a weak performance, though he did display a smooth stroke.
-William Buford: Not much to say here. Buford had a few points, but was quiet from start to finish for the most part.
-Ed Davis: He got to the stripe, but shot just 1/4 once there. Davis had some nice post moves.
-Tyreke Evans: Was the MVP of the 2008 McDonald's All-American Game, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Evans displayed top-notch athleticism and an uncanny ability to get to the rack and finish. Quite simply, Evans' impressive scoring abilities are amazing. At some points he appeared to be playing effortlessly, because he's just that talented. Evans has a wonderful handle, though at times he tried to do too much. Tyreke wore his emotions on his sleeve, at one point getting overly frustrated after a pass to Michael Rosario that he was unable to handle. All in all, Tyreke "Too Easy" Evans was extremely impressive.
-JaMychal Green: He scored a dozen points, but did so quietly. Green is a quality athlete, with nice ups, and the ability to finish down low.
-Sylven Landesberg: Was one of the more disappointing players in the McD's game. His name was mentioned only a few times. Landesberg shot 1/5, finishing with two points, two rebounds, and four turnovers.
-Michael Rosario: The best player on the nation's best high school team exceeded all expectations, scoring 18 points on 8/13 shooting, along with five steals and three turnovers. Although Rosario did not have any assists or rebounds, he had a great game, showing off a quality jumper, nice hops, and solid D (in an all-star game!). Rosario's three-point stroke looked a bit odd, but his game around the hoop did not, as he finished almost every time.
-Samardo Samuels: Despite being relatively quiet, he did have some monster jams from the low post. Samuels was ferocious around the rim, with a great post presence, though he did lose the ball a few times going up to the rack. Samardo's handle wasn't wonderful and he did force a few shots, though the big man ended the game with eight points and five boards. He even was 2/2 at the stripe, one of just three players, along with Elliot Williams and Jrue Holiday, to shoot 100% from the line.
-Chris Singleton: The future Seminole had seven boards and turnovers, yet did not pick up a point in nearly 14 minutes of play.
-Kemba Walker: One of two players from New York, Walker was one of the most impressive players in the game. Kemba had 13 points, six boards, three assists, and three turnovers, shooting 6/9 from the floor. Walker was one of the quickest players on the court, repeatedly getting ahead to receive a pass on the break, and almost always finishing. Kemba has a nice stroke, shooting 1/2 from downtown. In addition, when running the point, Walker displayed great court vision.
-Elliot Williams: Duke's lone McDonald's All-American was not particularly impressive. Williams quietly scored 10 points on 4/8 shooting. He also grabbed two rebounds and an assist, along with two turnovers. Elliot can take contact around the rim, but did appear somewhat lazy.
-Tyler Zeller: He needs to bulk up ASAP. Zeller was active on D to start the game. On the offensive end, Tyler had poor hands and a not-so-nice jump shot. The 7-footer needs to stay around the hole at UNC.

-Luke Babbitt: He looked out of place in the game, quite frankly. Babbitt seemed awkward at times, and he finished with four points on 1/5 shooting, to go along with two rebounds, an assist, and a turnover. The Nevada-signee shot 2/3 at the free throw line.
-Demar DeRozan: He scored 10 points, yet had just one board. Demar failed to pick up an assist, but did have two turnovers. Overall, it was a so-so performance from DeRozan, who displayed athleticism, the ability to get to the rack, and a nice jumper. The future USC Trojan was 5/10 from the floor, but his talent for scoring was evident.
-Larry Drew II: He had a stellar game, not great, not terrible. He was 3/8 from the field, yet was only 1/5 from beyond the arc, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, five assists, and just one turnover. The stats show that Drew is more of a true point guard than a scorer.
-Michael Dunigan: He shot 3/3, all of which were deuces. Dunigan had just two boards, though, despite being 6'10. Michael finished around the hoop, did what he needed to get off clean shots on the low post, and was not flashy.
-Jrue Holiday: He had a solid performance, scoring 14 points on 6/9 shooting. Holiday was 2/2 at the line, but 0/2 from downtown. He had five rebounds, four of which were offensive, impressive for a player of his size, 6'4. Jrue added two assists, two turnovers, and five steals, which was tied for a game high with Rosario. Despite the normal lack of D at big-time events such as the McD's Game, Holiday displayed solid, aggressive defense. Meanwhile, on the offensive side, he was able to get to the hole, and frequently finished. He did seem a bit lazy in the second half, and it's possible he was tired due to playing 22+ minutes, the second most on his team. Overall, Jrue Holiday played a stellar game, but did not do anything in particular to separate himself from other participants.
-Scotty Hopson: He had his big-time athletic ability on display for all to see, showing off great hops and aggression. Hopson's 4/5 shooting gives proof that he is a great finisher. The uncommitted guard ended with 10 points, mainly due to an uncanny knack for being open around the rim, or by getting there himself. In addition, Scotty had two boards and a steal. He was one of three players to take four three throws (BJ Mullens and Ed Davis were the others), and he hit two of them.
-Brandon Jennings: His playmaking ability was evident, as he had nine assists and 10 points, as well as five rebounds. Jennings did have six turnovers, though, the most of all participants. Brandon's shooting was not particularly impressive: 4/11 from the field, 2/8 on threes, though he did step up big near the end of the game, knocking down both of his triples in the final minutes. Jennings' first half was all about passing the rock, while he used the second 20 minutes to score. He was called for two charges, a result of his aggressive, playmaking style of play. Jennings is quick and flashy, with good vision and leaping ability. Brandon was aggressive on D at times, and he was overly flashy on offense at certain points during the contest. Jennings did shot too many threes, and it did not appear to be one of the stronger aspects of his game. All in all, Brandon Jennings was one of the most impressive players in the 2008 McDonald's All-American Game.
-Malcolm Lee: He was quiet for the most part, scoring three points, turning the ball over twice, getting a steal, and two rebounds, both of which were offensive. Lee was 1/3 from the floor and 1/2 at the stripe. He was one of the quicker players in the game, and at times was aggressive on defense.
-Greg Monroe: Was possibly the most disappointing player in the game. After being named the John Wooden Award winner, Monroe had one point and six rebounds in 20+ minutes of play. He shot 0/1 from the floor and 1/2 at the line, and had five turnovers. Greg was physical, especially in the first half, but it didn't amount to much. His handle was not anything to write home about.
-BJ Mullens: His game wasn't special, and in fact was anything but that. BJ did have 12 points on 5/6 shooting, but had a measly three rebounds, despite being the game's tallest player, at 7'1. Mullens was on the floor for under 13 minutes, even though he was a starter. He had one turnover and one steal. Mullens struggled to finish down low, unless he received the ball in an alley-oop. He appeared lazy on the boards, had a bad stroke at the line (2/4), and didn't jump much. Overall, Mullens had a weak performance.
-Iman Shumpert: Did not do much of anything. He was 0/1, with his only shot being a three-pointer. Shumpert was one of just two players not to score, along with Chris Singleton. Iman grabbed five boards, which was tied for the second most on his squad, with Jennings and Holiday. As well, Shumpert had one assist.
-Willie Warren: He was possibly the most impressive player on his team, and maybe even in the game, but his performance was quiet. Warren did not do anything to draw attention to himself, well, other than score a game-high 23 points that is. Willie was 11/17 from the floor, which included shooting 1/5 beyond the arc. Warren missed his only free throw, grabbed two boards, along with two dimes, three steals, and two turnovers. Warren showed off his nice stroke, got to the rack, finished at the hole, and amazingly, did it all under the radar. Warren had a tremendous performance.

Overall, Michael Rosario, Tyreke Evans, Kemba Walker, Brandon Jennings, and Willie Warren were the standouts of the 2008 McDonald's All-American Game. Scotty Hopson, Jrue Holiday, Ed Davis, and JaMychal Green were also impressive. Although the class of 2008 does not have a clear-cut number one player, there are a number of players who have a great deal of talent and will be factors in their first year of college. The 2008 McDonald's All-American Game was just a preview of what is to come, so get ready for the next wave of NCAA and NBA superstars.

Note- used as a source for stats, heights, etc.

Note- photo on the bottom right is of Willie Warren, and is from

Note- photo on left in the middle is of Kemba Walker, and us from

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