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An All-American Rundown
Louisville, Ky- Michael Beasley told everyone all week that he was going to be MVP of the McDonald’s Game and after his West team knocked off the East in a thrilling 114-112 victory, it was Beasley that took home game MVP.
In what was likely our final live evaluation of 24 of the best players in the country, we’ve broke down our thoughts of each player before and after the game (we have added each player‘s senior season stats next to their college choice in the bold line):
Nick Calathes 6’6 PG Winter Park (FL) Lake Howell FLORIDA 28PPG 8RPG 6APG
Coming into the game Nick was one of our favorite players in the country. He’s a classy kid and we’ve said numerous times that he is one of the smartest and most creative passers in the country. Honestly we didn’t know that the McDonald’s Game would showcase his skills the way it did, but he was no doubt one of the stars of this game. He was unstoppable in transition where he made numerous over-the-shoulder passes to trailing teammates and threw an alley-oop to Gani Lawal for the game’s best dunk. Calathes really does have eyes in the back of his head. On our drive back from Louisville to Lexington last night, I told our video coordinator (James Mulcahy) that we might not ever see a kid again with the court vision and hoops IQ that Nick has. And let’s not forget that he was 2nd to Chris Wright in the 3-point shootout and scored a first-round-high 23 points (out of a possible 30). Nick was ranked 16th in the class of 2007 in our February 27th update and he will move into the top 15 (possibly to 12th overall) when we publish our final rankings for the senior class. Calathes tallied 13 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in the McDonald’s All American Game.
Johnny Flynn 5’11 PG Niagara Falls (NY) HS SYRACUSE 28PPG 6APG 5SPG
We had seen less of Flynn than any other Mickey D’s A-A coming into the game so we felt he still had something to prove. And he proved it. Flynn had a dunk in the first half in which he jumped from outside the lane, cocked the ball to the moon, and threw down a nasty one-handed-flush that surprised everyone in attendance. He is very quick, smart with the ball and had six assists in the first half. We had Flynn ranked 28th in the class of 2007 when we updated the rankings last and he’ll likely make a small move up the rankings after his showing this week. Flynn finished the game with 9 points and 6 assists.
Austin Freeman 6’5 SG Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha GEORGETOWN 20.4PPG 7.9APG
After impressing us as much as any other player in the country last summer we had yet to see him duplicate that level of play until this week. Freeman was nasty in the dunk contest and showed off his athleticism in last night’s game including a show-stopping dunk-tip that you don’t often see from a guard. His best asset is his ability to score points effortlessly and Freeman was hitting his shots last night. We’ve always had Freeman ranked about 10th in the class and he validated that ranking this week. He finished the game with 9 points (4-6 shooting), 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Donte Greene 6’9 SF Baltimore (MD) Towson Catholic SYRACUSE 18.6PPG 6.8RPG
After standing out as one of the best players in last summers’ NIKE Camp, Greene had disappointed us in numerous showings since. He redeemed himself this week. Greene put together one of the most solid performances of last night’s game as he hit open jumpers, freed himself for alley-oop dunks and committed only one tournover. Our most recent rankings had him at 14th in the class and we feel that is a good fit. Greene finished the game with 10 points on 4-7 shooting.
JJ Hickson 6’9 PF Marietta (GA) Wheeler NORTH CAROLINA STATE 25.9PPG 13.8RPG 3BPG
Hickson put in an impressive performance the last time we saw him play, but it came against much smaller competition so we were anxious to see how he’d perform this week against the best big men in the country. After hitting 7-9 shots for 14 points and pulling down 6 rebounds he raised his stock more than any other player in the game. He has an NBA ready body and is hard to stop down low and has the ability to knock down shots away from the basket. We like him so much that he will be making a move from his no.12 ranking (in our latest update) into the top-10 when we publish our final rankings of the class of 2007.
Kosta Koufos 7’1 C Canton (OH) Glen Oak OHIO STATE 26.2PPG 16.1RPG BPG5.5
We’ve always been a little higher on Koufos than our competition and we’re even higher on him after this week. On Monday night he showed off his nice shooting touch in the Team-Ball competition and only missed one shot the entire first round. It’s very rare that a player comes along with his combination of size and skill. He is one of the best shooters in the class regardless of size and position. The McDonald’s Game wasn’t the best place for him to show off his skills but he still managed 9 points while playing less minutes than any other player. Koufos is a future NBA lottery pick and projects as a player that will have a long career in the league. He’s no doubt one of the best 10 prospects in this class.
Gani Lawal 6’9 PF Norcross (GA) High GEORGIA TECH
Lawal is a player that was definitely on the McDonald’s All American bubble before the start of the season but earned his spot on the team with an outstanding senior campaign. He showed last night that he belonged. After missing two dunks on one possession (he fell to the floor on the second and his teammates gave him a hard time about it), Lawal came right back and finished three monster dunks in a row. Although he doesn’t have a lot of skill outside of dominating close to the basket (he doesn't handle the ball well), there is no denying that he is one of the most accomplished big men in the class. He runs the court very well, rebounds and blocks shots, and if he gets the ball inside he’ll dunk it just about every time. Lawal is a top 25’sh player in the class and finished with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
OJ Mayo 6’5 PG Huntington (WV) High USC 29.6PPG 5RPG 4.9APG
Mayo completely dominated all week in practice and the buzz going into last night’s game was that he was going to put on a show. But Mayo missed the first shot of the game and that set the pace for a horrific shooting night for the star. Late in the game, some classless fans began to boo Mayo when he touched the ball and he continued to force up contested shots. With his East team down two points with time winding down Mayo found himself wide-open at the top of the key for a game winning shot, but (to the surprise of those of us that know his game well) that shot rimmed out as well. When it was all said and done Mayo finished with just 12 points on 4-17 shooting. It’s unfortunate that his “off night” came on the biggest stage because his critics are going to eat him up after that performance, even though none of those idiots were there to watch him dominate the practices all week. Before last night’s game one radio station host asked Jai Lucas who the best player of all the All-Americans was. Lucas responded “OJ Mayo”. The radio host asked Lucas if it was close between Mayo and the other guys and he responded “It’s not even close, he is way better than everyone else”. In our opinion it’s harder to rank the no.2 player in the class than the no.1. And Mayo claims that top spot.
Patrick Patterson 6’8 PF Huntington (WV) High UNDECIDED 18.8PPG 16RPG 6BPG
In our February 28th rankings update we moved Patterson up to the 11th spot in the class of 2007 so we were excited to see if he would back that lofty ranking up with a strong showing this week. And Patterson did by being the most dominating defensive player in the game. What we love about Patterson is that he knows his position and you won’t ever find him roaming the perimeter. He rebounds, blocks shots and hits short-range-jumpers and hooks shots. And doesn’t try to do anything that he can’t. This long athlete finished with 8 points (4-5 shooting), 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Nolan Smith 6’3 CG Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill DUKE 22.1PPG 4.6RPG 4.1APG
There was a time when we felt that Smith was a legit top-10 player in the class, but we also thought he projected as a point guard. He still has the tools to run the show if needed but appears most comfortable scoring the ball and he just doesn’t have the size that the elite combo and shooting guards in the class have (think Jerryd Bayless, Eric Gordon and Austin Freeman). Having said that we still think he is a star in the making. He’s a good athlete and has a great feel for the game and knows how to make plays. Smith finished with 8 points in the game while laying claim to a spot in the top-20 for the class of 2007.
Corey Stokes 6’6 GF Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s Prep VILLANOVA 18PPG 6.8RPG
Stokes was one of the few players that made the team that wouldn’t have gotten our vote. He was ranked 31st nationally in our February 28th update, but after his performance this week we like him enough to move him to the top-25 range. He has excellent size for his position and can burn you in a lot of ways. He is a sharpshooter with deep range and can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. He’s another guy that will likely play for money someday. Stokes hit all three of his shot attempts for 8 points.
Chris Wright 6’0 PG Washington (DC) St. John’s GEORGETOWN 28.8PPG 5.2RPG 3.8APG
After scoring 40 points the last time we saw him play and then winning the 3-point competition on Monday night with lights out shooting we expected Wright to come out firing in the Mickey D’s game, but he did more passing than shooting the ball and ironically was the only player not to score (he did dish out 4 assists). Look for this top 20’sh player to have a DJ Augustin-type freshman campaign for the Georgetown Hoyas next season (who will be very hard to beat with or without the return of Green and Hibbert).
Cole Aldrich 6’11 C Bloomington (MN) Jefferson High KANSAS 23PPG 17RPG 4.1BPG
Aldrich is a player that wouldn’t have gotten our All-American vote mostly because we haven’t seen enough of him play, but he had a fine showing considering that all-star games don’t favor big men like him. He takes up a lot of space down low and has solid scoring moves to go along with a potentially dominating rebounding and shot blocking game. Aldrich hit 3-4 shots for 6 points and added 8 rebounds and a game-high 4 blocks. In our latest rankings Aldrich was 24th in the nation and he’ll likely retain that spot.
James Anderson 6’7 SF Junction City (AR) High OKLAHOMA STATE 39PPG 12RPG 4APG
Anderson is another guy that wouldn’t have gotten our vote (we liked Anthony Randolph, Durrell Summers, E’twaun Moore and others), but it is hard to argue with his season averages of 39ppg, 12rpg, and 4apg. We haven’t seen enough of him to make a completely accurate assessment of his talents, so we’ll just say that he still has a lot to prove to us and leave it at that. Anderson finished the game with 5 points and 3 rebounds.
Jerryd Bayless 6’4 CG Phoenix (AZ) St. Mary’s Catholic ARIZONA 30.7PPG 7.6RPG 5.3APG
We are one of the few recruiting services to have kept Bayless ranked in the top-5 range and we feel even more comfortable with him in that spot after last night. He has that killer instinct that only guys like OJ Mayo and Michael Beasley seem to have (it’s funny because they are also touted as lazy in the media yet there is no denying that they always bring it on the big stage), and that super-talents like Derrick Rose seem to lack. Bayless knows how to create his shot and has unreal elevation on his jumper and used it to score 13 points in last night’s game.
Michael Beasley 6’9 PF Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame Prep KANSAS STATE 28PPG 16RPG 4APG
Beasley is another player that we’ve always kept in the top-5 range, but if you ask him he’s not shy about telling you that he believes he is the best player in the country. And in last night’s game he was the best player on the court as he hit 10-13 shots for 23 points and added 10 rebounds for game MVP. Beasley also got runner-up in Monday night’s dunk contest, but there is no question that he should have won it (he has two dunks that no other prep or college player in the country can pull off- a 360 between-the-legs and he can also throw the ball off the backboard and catch it in mid-air and go between-the-legs before dunking). He is a true inside-outside threat that can dominate down low and he can step out and knock down the 3-pointer. Beasley is a potential future NBA All-Star.
Eric Gordon 6’4 SG Indianapolis (IN) North Central INDIANA 31.6PPG 6.4RPG 6.6APG
Gordon has played his way all the way up to the no.2 spot in our rankings behind OJ Mayo and he had his opportunity to go head-to-head with Mayo in the Mickey D’s game. And despite playing with a bum leg Gordon got the best of his opponent on that night as he held Mayo to just 12 points on 4-17 shooting. Although Gordon’s shot wasn’t falling either, he was impressive the way that he handled the rock and go to the hole at will. We expect Gordon to be a big time player at Indiana next season and he has the skills to lead the Big-10 in scoring as a freshman. Gordon finished with 13 points while backing up his lofty ranking.
Blake Griffin 6’9 PF Oklahoma City (OK) Oklahoma Christian OKLAHOMA 25.8PPG 13.9RPG 4.3APG
Griffin has a very unique combination of size, skill and athleticism and he put them on display while winning the dunk contest. In the game he wasn’t as effective as we expected him to be as he scored only 4 points (2-3fg) to go with 5 rebounds. Griffin has the build to matchup with any Big-12 power forward when he gets to Oklahoma and he’s talented enough to step right in and be the Sooners’ go-to-guy. We’ve always had him ranked in the 15-20 range, but he will likely make a move to the 10-15 range when we publish our final senior rankings.
James Harden 6’5 SG Lakewood (CA) Artesia ARIZONA STATE 19PPG
Midway through last night’s game I was wondering to myself who I liked better between Corey Stokes (who started the game hot) or James Harden, when at that moment Harden scored on his first of three plays in-a-row. We expect him to score points in a hurry next season at Arizona State as well. He has a nice stroke from anywhere on the court and can put the ball on the floor and get to the hole and finish. Harden scored an efficient 8 points on 4-7 shooting while solidifying his spot among our top-20.
Taylor King 6’7 GF Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei DUKE 27.6PPG 11.7RPG 2.0BPG
King is a player that a lot of people didn’t think should have been on the All American team, but we feel strongly that he earned his spot. King has had an outstanding high school career that includes setting the all-time scoring record at storied Mater Dei. He struggled with his shot last night (8 points on 3-9 shooting), but there is no denying that he is one of the best sharpshooters in the country. Expect King to have an immediate impact with his rebounding and outside shooting for a much improved Duke team next season. He’ll likely find a spot among our top-30 in our final 2007 rankings.
Kevin Love 6’9 PF Lake Oswego (OR) High UCLA 29.7PPG 16.2RPG 4.2BPG
Love won the 2007 Morgan Wootten National Basketball Player of the Year Award, given to the best male McDonald’s All American student-athlete. He is the strongest of all the All American big men (anybody see him wrestle the ball away from Gani Lawal?), and he is one of the best outlet passers in the history of the game. Love also impressed us with his soft touch and he has a nice 15-foot bank-shot jumper that he showed off in last night’s game while scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. Having said that we feel that he’s not going to have the luxury of using his strength to dominate when he gets to the next level (as Patrick Patterson proved last night) and more athletic big men are going to expose his weaknesses. There are a lot of people out there that think he is the best player in the country, but we just don’t see it. He fits much better in the 6-10 range and that is where he will be ranked when we publish our final rankings of the class of 2007.
Jai Lucas 5’9 PG Bellaire (TX) High UNDECIDED 25PPG 4RPG 7.5APG
A lot of people (including us) wouldn’t have given Lucas an All American vote, but he showed that he belonged last night as he scored 8 points and dished out 3 assists. There is no denying that he is one of the most skilled point guards in the country and he is going to be an outstanding college player. The only real knock is his size (sub-5’10 and 160lbs). Maryland, Kentucky and Oklahoma are among the schools on Lucas’ list. He plans to decide the 2nd week of April.
Derrick Rose 6’3 PG Chicago (IL) Simeon MEMPHIS 25PPG 9RPG 8APG
Rose has enough natural talent that five years from now he could be considered the best player to come out of this class. He is an outstanding ball handler and passer and he finishes as good as anyone. He also has world class athleticism and is extremely fast and has unbelievable hops. But he didn’t really show any of that in the All American game as he finished with 5 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. As talented as he is, we almost got the feeling that he doesn’t have the killer instinct that the great players have. And he really didn’t seem to embrace the big stage this week like some of his peers did. Despite all that, Rose is still talented enough to do special things at Memphis and he projects as a future NBA lottery pick. We are comfortable with his current no.3 ranking in the class of 2007.
Kyle Singler 6’9 SF South Medford (OR) High DUKE 29.7PPG 8.8RPG 3APG
Singler has drawn comparisons to Larry Bird and Adam Morrison, and there are a lot of scouts and coaches out there that think he is the best prospect in this class. He had a solid game last night as he scored 10 points on 4-7 shooting to go with 4 rebounds. He is the most skilled 6’9 kid in the class as he can handle the rock, pass, post-up, rebound, finish, and hit the midrange and outside shot. Most of our competition has him ranked 4th in the class, and while we don’t like him as much as Mayo, Gordon, Rose, Beasley or Bayless, we do think he fits nicely with the next-best five players (Koufos, Love, Hickson, Randolph and Freeman). Singler has the potential to be a star at Duke.
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