The United Center in Chicago hosted the future of college basketball (and the NBA?) last night under the guise of the McDonald's All-American Game. A glorified pick-up game does not serve as the best environment in which to make judgments about these players, but they displayed enough flashes of talent to splice together a decent teaser trailer for next season.
A frenetic pace lacking any semblance of defense should have favored the smaller guard-heavy West, particularly with the presence of the nation's top ranked recruit Duke-commit Austin Rivers. Streaky shooting and turnovers plagued the West however, and the East used its size advantage to control the boards and batter the West inside. Game co-MVPs James McAdoo (UNC) and Michael Gilchrist (Kentucky) were particularly dominant with 17 and 16 points respectively.
Top Longhorn's recruit Myck Kabongo and Oklahoma State signee LeBryan Nash were the lone Big 12 representatives. They produced disparate showing, with Kabongo shining in his limited minutes. Plenty of reasons for excitement, Texas fans.
If fast don't lie then Myck Kabongo is an eagle scout. The crown jewel of Rick Barnes' 2011 recruiting class possess blistering pace to go along with fantastic court awareness. Kabongo kept his head up and looked to feed his teammates first, throwing darts all over the court. He racked up at least five assists and would have had more if his teammates could hit open shots.
His display wasn't pristine, highlighted by a behind-the-back dribble out of bounds followed by a frustration foul, but it was plenty encouraging. Kabongo's energetic attitude seemed infectious and he carries himself with supreme confidence. Assuming Texas can hold on to Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton, the addition of Kabongo makes the Longhorns pre-season title contenders. If I'm a Longhorn's fan, it's hard not to be optimistic. Oh and he seemed capable of shooting free throws.
Oklahoma State recruit LeBryan Nash delivered a less sparkling display. Without a published box score (anyone? Bueller?), it's difficult to recall exactly what he contributed. His standout moment was a vicious first half slam off a turnover - no questioning his athleticism and ability to deliver monster dunks - but otherwise seemed to drift out of the proceedings. Nevertheless, the raw talent is apparent and Cowboy fans should look forward to seeing him in Stillwater. Plus he's rocking a sweet quasi-Mohawk.
If this game is any indication, plenty of talent is headed to the NCAA next year. Duke and Kentucky in particular have excellent incoming classes, and McAdoo makes UNC an even more dangerous team. Who's excited for next season!?
What's that? There's a Final Four still to play? HERE in Houston!?
A few miscellaneous thoughts from the game:
- Brad Beal showed quickness, vision, and a smooth shot in the early proceedings. He could have an immediate impact on a Florida team that over performed this year.
- Calipari continues his absurdly successful recruiting. Four Kentucky commits were on display last night, giving Wildcat fans a taste of next years one-and-done semi-pro team. Spoiler alert: they will be good!
- Khem Birch's long sleeve undershirt looked ridiculous, but his athleticism and tremendous work-rate should fit in well at Pitt. Not sure how much he'll contribute to their inevitable first round exit.
- Anthony Davis is going to be a beast. A 7-inch growth spurt took him from a PG prospect to a 6-9 tweener and once he combines his basketball abilities with his physical size, he's going to be good and stuff.
- This event should be in Chicago every year. The sell-out crowd of over 19,000 energized the game and although sloppy at times, it was a fun watch.