The biggest, or at least the most famous, most publicized, and most glamorous high school basketball all star game of the year is the annual McDonald’s All American games, with games for both the girls and the boys. We’ve chronicled the ACC recruits in this year’s game, which is played this Wednesday on ESPN.
There’s little defense to speak of, and the wide open play is often not a good representation of how players will be when they arrive in college. For some players, it has in the past created such hype that it solidified their position as immediate draft picks, but with the age limit of the NBA that’s far less likely. Brandon Jennings may have been able to secure an overseas deal and skip college by showing off his incredible point guard style in the Mickey D’s game.
For most players, it’s a statement simply to land on the roster of the game that serves as notice that they are likely college, and often pro, stars. J.J. Reddick shot the lights out in his 2002 appearance, landing the MVP in a game that featured Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony. I remember watching that game in Madison Square Garden and knew he was going to be a big deal at Duke.
But the game’s wide open style often puts certain players at a disadvantage. While many teams would love to have a guy like Jennings or John Wall streaking up and down the court, a team also needs guys who know how to rebound, defend, set picks and pivot in the post. The All American game won’t always tell you the player who will be able to hit big shots at the buzzer to get to the Final Four, or the player who will set the record for most steals in a career in the NBA. It might, but it probably won’t.
What the game will show you is a few minutes of free flowing offense and give a glimpse, if you’re lucky and the players get a few balls to bounce their way, of what players can do. It can show you ballhandling skills or how a big man can run the court.
And, of course, it’s fun to watch and fun to dream.