Good news draft fans, the 2013 high school class is a very deep and talented one, much more so than than last year’s class. The 2013 McDonald’s All-Americans game featured a number of players who should be donning an NBA uniforms, as well as All Star unis in the the near future. The game showed that these guys still have a lot to work on, with outside shooting being at the core as both teams shot a combined 7-29 (24.1%) from 3. The West delivered a 110-99 victory over the East, remaining in control through the majority of the contest. It should be taken into account that this is an All-Star game, making drawing definitive conclusions pointless, but regardless here are some observations from the contest.
Andrew Wiggins 6-7 205 SF Undecided
Expectations for the consensus #1 player in the 2013 high school class are always sky high. This was not a LeBron James 2003 type game from Wiggins, though he most definitely displayed flashes of what have many calling him the best prospect since the reigning NBA MVP. With a reported 44-inch vertical and exceptional speed, he can seemingly create a scoring opportunity from just about anywhere on the court.
With Jabari Parker definitely trying to make a statement, Wiggins most definitely got the best out of their match-up. He scored 19 points, going 7-8 from the FT stripe, grabbing 3 offensive boards and of course getting major height on a couple dunks. The move that may have been the most impressive was a floater off of his left foot from close to 15 feet when taking Jabari Parker off of the dribble.
Many would like to see him develop a "killer instinct", with some questioning whether he has what some consider a quality "you are born with". All in all, this is something that can be developed and is rather hard to exhibit in an All-Star game where you are more focused on not getting hurt. The only McDonald’s player to leave the game uncommitted, he’ll choose between Kentucky, Florida St., North Carolina and Kansas in the next couple weeks. Regardless of where he chooses to go to school, it seems he is separating himself from the pack as the likely #1 pick in the 2014 Draft. When he’s been challenged, he has shown athletic dominance that will allow him to be amongst the game’s elite, if he wants it.
Julius Randle 6-9 240 SF/PF Kentucky
A last minute addition to the contest, the recent UK commit is a physical forward with some solid ball skills and court sense. Coming off of a fractured foot that forced him to miss most of his high school season, Julius looked like he was still shaking off some of the rust. Though he was able to completely dominate his high school state tournament.
This game he finished with a solid 11 and 7, not exactly the performance one might expect from a player with his talent and strength. He had a few major throw downs, including a huge 180 off of a lob. He over dribbled at times, not uncommon for an All-Star game. Randle has an ability to put the ball on the floor, though his bread and butter seems to be using his strength to his advantage.
While some see him as a potential wing, he appears to be a likely stretch 4, which should work out quite well considering his ability to take people off of the dribble and strength made for the league. His athleticism, strength and court vision should make him a lottery pick in 2014.
Dakari Johnson 6-11 260 C Kentucky
The youngest player in the game, Johnson looks much more like a traditional back-to-the-basket center than John Calipari’s previous recent high draft pick pivots. One can see that Johnson has worked on his body and while his conditioning still could use some work, he showed some pep to his step. His lift is not elite, though he has a nose for the ball and a large frame that makes him a solid rebounder on both ends.
Willie Cauley-Stein should get the majority of the minutes next year in the middle, though having Johnson take his time is a luxury most teams would love to have. At the very least, it is very encouraging that Johnson looks to be around his actual listed weight and shows he has been putting in work. He’ll likely play a number years at Kentucky, though he has size and a willingness to play in the post that should make him a pro down the line. Clearly was the best "true" center in this game.
Kasey Hill 6-1 180 PG Florida
Seen by most recruiting services as the best PG in 2013 behind Andrew Harrison, Hill played sparingly in the game and really did not appear to be himself. Hill was hindered by a knee injury during the week and one has to give him the benefit of the doubt accordingly. He is a strong PG with top-notch speed and he overcame his injury to play a major part in Montverde winning the NHSI championship, later in the week. His play in the game was not noteworthy though his being questionable to go and still playing shows a nice competitive streak.
Wayne Selden SG/SF 6-5 225 Kansas:
With a college ready frame and bounce to his step, Selden had one of the better all-around games for the East squad. Scoring from every level during the game, including a couple triples, he also grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 3 assists. Selden definitely has a will to score and a developing skill set.
His aggression and strength should get him immediate PT, likely taking over in a similar role for the soon to be departed Ben McLemore. Selden could work on changing pace and took a couple questionable looks, though this is an All-Star game giving him the benefit of the doubt. Selden has the body and athleticism that could have him leaving Lawrence after a short stay.
Demetrius Jackson 6-1 175 PG Notre Dame
Showing an ability to drive and dish, Jackson should be a nice addition for Mike Brey at Notre Dame. Likely to back-up Eric Atkins/Jerian Grant for a year, it will be nice for him to bulk up a bit and improve his decision making. He had a beautiful spin move, though rushed a few plays that made things more difficult for his team on some premium opportunities.
Anthony Barber 6-2 170 PG NC State
Very fast in the open floor and seemed to attack the paint, though like most PG’s, needs to learn how to change speeds as opposed to going full bore constantly. He got in for a nice offensive rebound and was aggressive toward the ball, displays definite defensive potential. Should get early minutes for the Wolfpack, though he will definitely need to add muscle mass and work on his outside shot.
Rondae Jefferson 6-7 215 SF Arizona
A jack-of-all-trades, Jefferson shows versatility and an ability to defend the wing. His outside shot is very shaky and he may take a while to really stand out as an offensive player, though his defense will be what gets him minutes early on. Solid slasher with nice athleticism, he will need to work on his handle even after playing PG at the HS level. Seems like a long-term college player who should be a glue guy and projects to more of a role player than a star, which is not necessarily a bad thing should he choose to accept his limitations.
Chris Walker 6-9 215 SF/PF Florida
His athleticism for his size makes him very intriguing, though he has a frame that may be difficult for him to add weight. Walker runs the floor well, has nice timing as a shot blocker and was the winner of the dunk contest, so excitement will be there. He stated earlier in the year that he feels he may be a "one-and-done" player, which may be setting the bar too high. He needs a lot of work on his outside shot and projects much more to the 4 spot as opposed to the 3. Having a couple years to refine his skill set and body probably would be his best option for making it in the NBA.
Keith Frazier 6-6 190 SG SMU
First off, would like to commend Mr. Frazier for staying close to home for college and playing for the legendary Larry Brown. The first McDonald’s recruit in school history, Frazier should get immediate playing time and learn from one of the best coaches on any level. Known more for his outside shooting as opposed to his overall scoring ability, SMU should give him an opportunity to become much more of an all-around basketball player.
Noah Vonleh 6-9 225 SF/PF Indiana
Vonleh is a combo forward with exceptional length who displayed an ability to put the ball on the floor. He over dribbled at times in his limited PT, though he showed his offensive rebounding ability and got to the line 6 times. Unfortunately, he only made 1-6 attempts and could be viewed as a bit of a "tweener", though his length gives him a considerable amount of upside. Vonleh still does not turn 18 until August, though his impact at Indiana should be immediate. He was not a major stand out in this setting, but he has qualities that make him a likely lottery pick sooner rather than later.
Isaiah Hicks 6-8 210 PF North Carolina
Hicks is a slender PF with a penchant for rebounding, he did not have many touches in the game. The highlight was when he completed a nice and-one opportunity. Physically outmatched by some of the top PF’s, Hicks is slightly more developed than current Tar Heel Brice Johnson, though maybe not quite as skilled. Should get spot minutes right away, just likely in for a few years in Chapel Hill.
Kennedy Meeks 6-9 290 C North Carolina
Playing the fewest minutes in the game, just looking at Meeks you could feel his pain running the court. Word was that he was very much outmatched in practice and conditioning looks to be his major issue. He seemed to hang out on the perimeter and his "stretch 5" act does not appear to be a tangible plan for his future. His best option will definitely be using his size to his advantage down the line. With some definite vision and an ability to pass the ball, Meeks’ future will depend on whether he has the discipline to get into better playing shape.
Bobby Portis 6-9 215 PF Arkansas
Portis is long and lanky, with some finesse to his game. The West’s second leading scorer at the half, he finished with 12 points with some nice lay-ups, even knocking down a shot from long distance. He seems likely to play the 4 and 5 spot for Mike Anderson at Arkansas, though PF seems to be his likely position down the line.
He has a nice ability to run the floor and some face-up skills, though he will need to work on post development. Getting in a college weight program should also help him quite a bit on the boards. Seems to have some ability to block shots as well, Portis could have a pro future after a few years in the SEC.
Jabari Parker 6-8 225 SF Duke
After holding down the top spot in the class of 2013 for a year, with a lot of media attention and a Sports Illustrated cover to his name, the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins took some of the wind out of Parker’s sails. Accordingly, Parker seemed to go at Wiggins, blocking his first shot attempt from behind the arc. He also took him off the dribble for a nice dunk baseline for his first bucket.
While it was good to see Parker try to step up for the #1 spot, in the end he had a disappointing shooting day and struggled from the outside. Much like a few years ago when he faced Wiggins in the Nike Global Challenge, Parker got into foul trouble as well. His all-around game was visible, he had 8 rebounds and found some open teammates, just seemed like he did not exactly let the game come to him and his attack on Wiggins backfired in the individual sense.
The talent is definitely there and he might be Duke’s biggest recruit ever. He will be expected to play both forward spots, maybe even spending some time at center. His athleticism may not be elite, though he seemed to have most of his bounce back after being slowed by injury early on. Parker has the skills and court sense to be a potential All-Star and a top-flight wing forward, which should make him a probable top 3 pick in 2014.
Aaron Harrison 6-5 215 SG Kentucky
In the case of some twin basketball players, their skill set tends to mirror each other. What’s unique about the Harrison’s is that one of them is a scoring guard while the other is more of a set-up man. That is not to say Aaron Harrison cannot pass the ball, he actually finished with more assists in the game than his brother. As Andrew was quoted as saying, if the brothers play 10 games of one-on-one, Aaron wins about 7 of those games.
What you notice about both Harrison’s is their size, strength and feel for the game from the guard position. This has been what has separated the two from the other guards in the class and both helped kick start the West team to a comfortable lead. Aaron was on the other side of a sweet lob from his brother and while his outside shot was not falling, one could see the scoring instincts that have him ranked as a top SG in this class. He could use some work as far as playing off of the ball, though like his brother he should contribute at Kentucky immediately and appears to be a step up from what they had last year at the guard position.
Andrew Harrison 6-5 215 PG/SG Kentucky
The other half of the Harrison twins is Andrew, seen as the point guard of the duo and the one expected to play a major role in running John Calipari’s dribble drive offense. Andrew was perfect from the field and scored in a variety of ways. He simply had too much size for the other PG’s in the game and the separation between him and the next closest prospect at the position appears to be a wide gap.
It would have been interesting to see if a healthy Kasey Hill would have caused him trouble and one may want to keep an eye on how he defends quicker guards at the college level. In this game, he most definitely stood out and is seen as the better NBA prospect of the brothers. What many have commented on is that he sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him and that he could stand to work on his body language. This is something correctable though could be something to monitor for a player being handed the keys to a Kentucky team high on expectations in 2013-14.
Aaron Gordon 6-8 220 SF/PF Arizona
The star of the McDonald’s West team, Gordon was the unquestioned MVP of the game. He seems to explode off of the court for dunks and his game is custom fit for these types of All-Star settings. 9 of his 10 field goals were dunks, though he missed a couple. Granted, he was 1-6 on non-dunks for this game.
Expected to get a majority of minutes at the SF spot at Arizona next year, Gordon definitely needs to work on his perimeter skills on both ends of the floor. He has great energy and is an aggressive rebounder, and his skill set seems to be tailored for the PF spot. Gordon did make a couple moves off of the dribble, just seems like when he is pressured he has trouble creating.
Young for his class, Gordon’s 24 points and 8 rebounds came in spectacular fashion, and appears ready to step in and immediately contribute at Arizona, with Sean Miller likely hoping he is a second coming of Derrick Williams.
Often compared to players such as Michael Beasley and Shawn Marion, Gordon could struggle finding his true position, which leaves a question mark as far as his NBA potential is concerned.
He still displays quite a bit of talent and left a major impression for NBA personnel during his time in Chicago. Will be very interesting to see how he does in the more controlled setting of the Nike Hoop Summit in a week’s time. He will need to refine his perimeter skills to have a chance at playing the SF at the NBA level, though his strength lies in his explosive leaping which should keep him close to the basket and likely make PF his eventual position.
Nigel Williams-Goss 6-4 185 PG/SG Washington
An incredibly hard player to dislike, Nigel Williams-Goss and "winner" have become synonomous. His Findlay Prep team ended up losing in the NHSI. Nigel has been at Findlay Prep for four years, many of them playing off the ball and learning from the likes of Cory Joseph, Myck Kabongo and Dominic Artis. He also amassed a 127-7 record at Findlay, starting his last three years and developing into the unquestioned leader of this years team, which finished the season at 35-1.
While his speed and athleticism may not be elite, his court sense is uncanny and he is very unselfish. He finished with a game high 6 assists to go along with 10 points that he scored from being in the right place at the right time. This is something that happens for him quite often and should be a recurring trend at the college level. Williams-Goss will probably end up being an upper classmen at the college level, though he should be an immediate contributor at Washington. Expect the Huskies to have a much better season next year and for Nigel’s presence to be a major reason why.
James Young 6-6 205 SG/SF Kentucky
A lefty who can play either wing spot, Young unfortunately hurt his hip during practice and was limited. He still finished with 6 points, though he did not get much of a chance to show the skills that have him considered as possibly a higher upside prospect than either Harrison twin. With his size and length, he should contribute immediately at the college level and one could see him being the wing player Kentucky sorely missed last season. Shows solid potential as a long range shooter and had a strong senior season, even if this game was not exactly a coming out party.
Matt Jones 6-5 185 SG Duke
Jones is considered one of the top shooters in the class of 2013. He seems to be best playing off of the ball and shows a definite nose for the basket. Not exceptionally quick, he could also stand to work on becoming more competent when the ball is in his hands. Jones should be another long term contributor for Duke, though he may take a while to get major minutes in Mike Krzyzewski’s deep guard rotation.
Jabari Bird 6-5 190 SG Cal
With Allen Crabbe declaring for the draft, Mike Montgomery must be delighted to have a McDonald’s All-American to shoulder some of the scoring load. Seeing that the Bears bring back Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace, Bird may actually play a bit of 3 and has the size to do so at the college level. Bird has some spring to his game and can attack the basket, though he will need to work on his shot selection. Could also stand to work on tightening his handle and improving his decision making, though he shows promise in both areas.
Marcus Lee 6-10 205 PF/C Kentucky
Tends to be the lowest ranked of the 6 McDonald’s All-American Wildcats’, Lee has a high ceiling due to his physical tools and athletic ability. His major contributions early will be on the defensive end where he has shown promise as an out of area rebounder and excellent timing as a shot blocker. Lee had a tight back that he limited his participation in some of the practices, which may have kept him from showing his full athletic array.
He also is rather raw offensively and will need a lot of work in the weight room, especially if he wants to play center, a position which could suit his skill set. Expect him to get limited playing time in his first season at UK. Down the line however, with work on his body and some refinement in post skills, Lee has the potential to be a high draft pick.
Jarell Martin 6-9 230 PF LSU
It was said that Martin has only been playing varsity basketball for two years, so his skill set is pretty impressive for someone with limited competitive experience. Has some nice touch on his shot, not afraid to wrestle for rebounds inside and had a couple of nice throw downs. Martin will be expected to play immediately at LSU and could struggle against more experienced competition early on. He was measured as having a wingspan as long as his height, which could cause him some issues defensively and against bigger players. Still seems like a solid player with some competitive fire.
Isaac Hamilton 6-5 185 SG UTEP
The younger brother of NBA player Jordan Hamilton, Isaac has a smooth offensive game and finished with a decent stat line of 7 points (2-5 from 3), 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He was the most slight of all of the SG’s at the game and will more than likely need some time in a college weight room before considering the jump to the league. Showed some ability to handle the ball and was said to be promised time at the PG spot for Tim Floyd at Texas-El Paso next season. His future seems to be as a scoring guard and with some improvement in his shot selection along with refinement to his body, Hamilton has the potential to one day join his brother in the league.
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**Come back on Wednesday for notes on each of the prospects from the practices.