McDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN GAME
Wednesday, March 28 | 9:30 p.m. | ESPN/ESPN3 | Chicago
John Calipari’s presence in Lexington means Kentucky will yet again be well-represented at the McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday. Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin are the two UK signees who will participate, but there will be several other Wildcat recruits to keep an eye on.
Check below for full game rosters and UK-related notes. Click on the links for ESPN player pages for each McDonald’s participant, and hit the photos above to see the Next Cats player pages for the UK recruits.
Follow NextCats on Twitter for live commentary on Wednesday’s game and Monday’s Powerade Jam Fest, which will include a dunk contest, three-point shootout and skills competition.
|Gary Harris||SG||6-4||195||11||Michigan State|
|Tyler Lewis||PG||5-11||165||44||N.C. State|
|Rodney Purvis||SG||6-4||190||20||N.C. State|
|T.J. Warren||SF||6-7||205||29||N.C. State|
|Marcus Paige||PG||6-1||160||23||North Carolina|
|Marcus Smart||SG||6-3||200||12||Oklahoma State|
Cal’s perfect 10
Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin‘s inclusion in this year’s game gives John Calipari 10 McDonald’s All-Americans since coming to Lexington. The previous eight were DeMarcus Cousins (2009), Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb (2010), and the current freshman class of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer. Among the star recruits not on that list is John Wall, who was a fifth-year senior and not eligible to participate in the 2009 game.
Calipari obviously hopes to add to his tally before the current cycle ends. UK is still in the running for Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Amile Jefferson.
Kentucky’s 10 McDonald’s selections in the last four years ties North Carolina for the most in that span. Duke (7) is the only other school to bring in more than four McDonald’s All-Americans in the past four years.
Shabazz takes the stage
The main attraction this week in Chicago will be Muhammad, the highest-rated player invited to the game and an uncommitted recruit. The Las Vegas native is expected to announce his school decision April 10. He has narrowed his list to UK, UCLA, UNLV, Duke and Kansas.
Bennett on the radar
Aside from Muhammad, UK fans should pay special attention to Bennett, a five-star forward who has been on the Cats’ radar for months.
Bennett missed much of his senior season with an injury, but he’s expected to be at full strength for Wednesday’s game. The Canadian big man has narrowed his choices to UK, Florida, UNLV, Washington and Oregon. He has yet to take any official visits, which he plans to do after the all-star season ends next month. It’s possible his recruitment could extend well into the spring.
Jefferson still in play
Though he never confirmed it, most believed that Jefferson was torn between Duke and N.C. State heading into McDonald’s week. While those two should still be considered the favorites, Jefferson told Scout.com on Tuesday that Kentucky was still in the mix.
“What they do with young guys is special,” he told Scout. “How they bring freshmen together with communicating, playing hard, and winning is unbelievable. You don’t get a lot of time with freshmen and to have them playing better than teams with fifth year seniors, Coach Calipari just does an excellent job.”
Off the radar
The game’s other two undecided players — Devonta Pollard and Tony Parker — were both once considered to be UK recruits but have fallen off the Cats’ radar in recent weeks. Pollard said Monday that he was no longer considering UK. Alabama and Mississippi State are among the schools on his list. Parker has several schools still on his list, but Kentucky isn’t one of them.
Other names UK fans might be familiar with are Perry Ellis, Dajuan Coleman, Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren, Brandon Ashley and Gary Harris. All were UK targets before committing elsewhere.
West is the best?
A quick look at the ESPNU recruiting rankings says the West team should probably be the favorite heading into Wednesday’s game. That squad includes six Top 10 recruits — including Muhammad — and nine Top 15 prospects. UCLA signee Kyle Anderson is the only Top 10 recruit on the East team, which has just three in the top 15.
The most notable absence from this week’s festivities will be Nerlens Noel, the shot-blocking phenom who many consider to be the No. 1 recruit in the country. Noel switched from the class of 2013 to the class of 2012 on the eve of the McDonald’s announcements, and therefore was not considered during the selection process.
Scout.com, ESPN and MaxPreps have all named Noel the No. 1 overall recruit in 2012. Rivals has not released an updated list of rankings since he reclassified. The 6-foot-10 center has narrowed his list to UK, Syracuse and Georgetown, and a decision could come at any time.
Hicks at the helm
There won’t be any players from the state of Kentucky in the McDonald’s game, but there will be some Bluegrass flavor.
Scott County’s Billy Hicks was chosen by the committee as the head coach of the East team. Hicks just wrapped up his 32nd season as a high school basketball coach, leading the Cardinals to the Sweet 16 title game. Scott County lost in the final, but Hicks has won two state titles at the school. He has more than 800 victories in his coaching career.
Joining Hicks on the sideline will be Scott County assistants Chris Wilhite and Tim Glenn.
UK women represented
For the third year in a row, the UK women’s team will have a recruit in the girls’ game. Chicago point guard Janee Thompson will play for the East team Wednesday. She is the 35th-rated player and sixth-rated point guard in ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings. Thompson follows Bria Goss (2011) and Jennifer O’Neill (2010) as the third UK recruit to participate.
The girls’ game will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN3 at 7 p.m. For more information, click here.
Watch ’em all
Check out the video below to see highlights of all 24 McDonald’s All-Americans in just 3 minutes …