Projecting the NBA Future of Every Prospect at 2013 McDonald's All-American Game

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

Projecting the NBA Future of Every Prospect at 2013 McDonald's All-American Game

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    While scouts are viewing these 25 McDonald's All-Americans with plenty of notes already at their disposal, the 2013 showcase of incredible talent provides many fans with a first opportunity to catch a glimpse at some future NBA stars. 

    And make no mistake about it: Some of these guys are going to superstars when they make it to the NBA. 

    Of course, it's awfully hard to project how 17- and 18-year-olds will fare that far down the road, but let's do it anyway. You have to have something to hold you over until the action kicks off at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.  

    From Anthony Barber through James Young, let's bring out the crystal ball. And for a full look at the rosters, as well as a viewing guide for the event, check out Alex Kay's preview on Bleacher Report

     

    Note: All recruiting rankings and information about vitals come from ESPN

Anthony Barber

1 of 25

    Committed To: N.C. State

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 23

    Expected Position: PG

    Vitals: 6'2", 165 pounds

     

    "Cat" is the perfect nickname for Anthony Barber, so hopefully it's one that continues throughout the rest of his surely illustrious basketball career. 

    He might not always be able to land on his feet, but the young floor general is about as slippery and quick as they come. With his terrific speed and ability to slither through defenders whether he has the ball or not, Barber possesses a Chris Paul-esque knack for getting to the spot of his choosing. 

    The N.C. State commit needs to get stronger and work on his long-range shooting, but he should have a couple seasons with the Wolfpack to come into his own. 

    For now, it's tough to see Barber becoming a well-rounded star, especially in a league with so many currently great and soon-to-be outstanding point guards, but he's also too physically gifted to be doomed to a bench role when he arrives at the professional level. 

Jabari Bird

2 of 25

    Committed To: California

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 19

    Expected Position: SG/SF

    Vitals: 6'6", 190 pounds

     

    Jabari Bird has plenty of time to hit those collegiate weight rooms, but it's tough to imagine him becoming anything other than a perimeter-oriented small forward in the Association. 

    A massive 6'6" shooting guard in high school, Bird should continue to grow (he's already listed at 6'7" in some places), but his wingspan will always hinder him. According to DraftExpress, it's just 6'7", which will make it tough for him to bang around with bigger players as he moves up into the frontcourt. 

    Bird has a quick release and a tremendous ability to create his own shot, both by using screens and opening things up for himself off the dribble. That will serve him well as he settles into a secondary scoring role at the sport's highest level.

Keith Frazier

3 of 25

    Committed To: SMU

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 48

    Expected Position: SG

    Vitals: 6'5", 190 pounds

     

    The first thing you'll notice when you watch Keith Frazier's mixtape is his lightning-quick release. When I initially sat down and watched this kid play, I actually saw a bit of Carmelo Anthony in him, simply because he's so fast getting from the dribble to the release. 

    That makes his shot nearly unblockable, even if he stands at just 6'5". 

    Frazier's in luck, especially if he recognizes this talent and acts accordingly. He'll go as far as that jumper will take him. 

    And even though he'll be out of the national spotlight at SMU, that's going to be fairly far.

Aaron Gordon

4 of 25

    Committed To: Arizona

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 4

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'8", 210 pounds

     

    At some point during his 17 years on the planet, Aaron Gordon must have had a strange surgery that replaced the muscles running up and down his legs with springs. That's the only explanation for his ridiculous hops, both on the first and second jumps. 

    Whether he's playing for Arizona or his yet-to-be-determined future NBA team, Gordon is going to be a highlight machine, especially if he develops the outside game necessary for him to line up at small forward. 

    Don't be surprised when he's talked about as a potential All-American, then a top draft choice. This guy has "future stud" written all over him. 

Isaac Hamilton

5 of 25

    Committed To: UTEP

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 29

    Expected Position: SG

    Vitals: 6'5", 185 pounds

     

    Even if Isaac Hamilton never develops an elite jumper, he's still going to find some success when he makes his way to the NBA. 

    The future UTEP standout doesn't have the athleticism necessary to make this comparison a viable one, but a lot of his game reminds me of some guy named Dwyane Wade. Hamilton thrives when slashing to the basket, and he's an incredibly creative passer. 

    Few players currently in college can top this 18-year-old's knack for creating plays when he has the ball in his hands while heading toward the basket. Once that pull-up jumper he loves gets even more consistent, the offensive level he reaches will be terrifying. 

Aaron Harrison

6 of 25

    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 7

    Expected Position: SG

    Vitals: 6'5", 205 pounds

     

    Aaron Harrison might be the same height as his twin brother and five pounds lighter, but he's the finisher of the bunch. 

    Just like Andrew Harrison, Aaron could go to the NBA right now and find a pretty solid level of success. He wouldn't be a star—and he will be one day—but he'd at least make it in the big leagues. 

    Up to this point in his basketball career, Aaron has relied on his strength. He's much more developed than any player his age has a right to be, and he's taken full advantage of that luxury. 

    As a result, the shooting guard will need to get a bit more wily on the basketball court, and that will come with time. 

    Even if the learning curve is a bit steeper than you might expect for this Kentucky commit, don't give up on him. His dominance isn't that far off in the future. 

Andrew Harrison

7 of 25

    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 5

    Expected Position: PG

    Vitals: 6'5", 210 pounds

     

    Andrew Harrison must develop into a pure point guard or shooting guard, and John Calipari will be trying to figure out how to make him a floor general during his one season in Lexington. And it certainly will be only one season. 

    This half of the Kentucky-bound twins has the ball skills to make that transition a successful one. Much like his brother, that would still be true if he was making the leap to the NBA next season. 

    If I had to put my money on one player becoming a successful pro down the road, Andrew Harrison would be my second choice. We'll get to my first a bit later in the alphabet. 

    Dick and Tom Van Arsdale were the first twins to both make All-Star squads, but they won't be the last. 

Isaiah Hicks

8 of 25

    Committed To: North Carolina

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 17

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'8", 210 pounds

     

    During his final game for Oxford Webb, Isaiah Hicks put on a show. In that 73-70 overtime win to take home the North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship, the power forward was absolutely dominant. 

    He finished with 34 points, 30 rebounds and seven blocks, almost single-handedly carrying his high school team. 

    When Hicks isn't mentally engaged, he can disappear on the court. But when he's fully focused, this guy can do it all out there. 

    The 210-pounder doesn't have the strength necessary to play the 4 in the NBA yet, though he'll certainly get there after spending likely two years lining up for the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

Kasey Hill

9 of 25

    Committed To: Florida

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 9

    Expected Position: PG

    Vitals: 6'0", 170 pounds

     

    Don't be fooled by the highlight reels into thinking that Kasey Hill is a great shooter. It might seem that way at times, but he has a lot of work to do on getting his jumper up to par. 

    Hill does have good form, though, so he should be able to make the necessary steps from the perimeter. 

    As for his non-metaphorical steps, boy, are they fast. Hill can leave most players in the dust, especially when both start from a standstill. 

    This point guard has quite a bit of potential, but he also has a long way to go before realizing it. Right now, he must improve his defense to make it in the big leagues. 

    Although Hill is considered an elite collegiate prospect, I'm still not completely sold on his status as a future professional.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

10 of 25

    Committed To: Arizona

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 16

    Expected Position: SF

    Vitals: 6'7", 215 pounds

     

    As ESPN's scouting report (insider) reveals:

    Hollis-Jefferson is a jumper away from being absolutely unstoppable. He is one of the more impressive prospects in the class. He has a multiple skill-set that is hard to handle. Due to his frame, handle and passing ability he has all the physical attributes to be a Top 25 talent or better.

    While ESPN is referring to the college game when calling Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a potential "Top 25" talent, I'll take that one step further. 

    The future Arizona Wildcat is going to be one of the 25 best players in the NBA one day. His game is just that versatile, and the gaps in it can all be fixed with proper coaching and experience. 

Demetrius Jackson

11 of 25

    Committed To: Notre Dame

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 21

    Expected Position: PG

    Vitals: 6'1", 170 pounds

     

    Demetrius Jackson hasn't received the same level of hype that's surrounded his fellow 2013 recruits, and that won't change for a while. He's not exactly going to be in the national spotlight while playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during his time at the collegiate level. 

    Right now, Jackson struggles with his outside shot, even with a shorter three-point arc. The point guard can connect from the perimeter, but not with much consistency at this stage of his career.

    He'll have to improve his jumper rather significantly to be much of a perimeter threat. But even if he doesn't, he still has a poor man's John Wall type of skill set. 

    Yes, I'm going there with the slight comparison to a former No. 1 pick. 

Dakari Johnson

12 of 25

    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 11

    Expected Position: C

    Vitals: 6'10", 250 pounds

     

    Dakari Johnson is going to be an absolute stud at Kentucky. 

    However, that studliness won't translate perfectly to the sport's highest level. Johnson doesn't possess elite athleticism, explosiveness or creativity, and he'll need one of the three to hang around the All-Star frontcourt members of the NBA. 

    What Johnson does have is size, and he's probably not as big as he's going to get in his athletic prime. At just 17 years old—and he doesn't turn 18 until the end of September—this behemoth is already 6'10" and 250 pounds, although ESPN seems to be reporting on the light side of things. 

    The scary part is that the weight is natural. He's just a big, solid and extremely strong kid, and he'll look like a man amongst boys at the collegiate level. 

Matt Jones

13 of 25

    Committed To: Duke

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 32

    Expected Position: SG

    Vitals: 6'4", 180 pounds

     

    Matt Jones is going to follow a pretty similar career arc to many high-scorers who have played for Mike Krzyzewski in days past and present. I'm thinking about guys like Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and currently Ryan Kelly. 

    They're fantastic college players, but they lack the elite athleticism and NBA upside. While playing against the less-talented ranks of college basketball, they consistently embarrass the opposition with their well-rounded and smart games. 

    Such will be the case for Jones, who should make some noise on All-ACC teams before carving out a niche for himself on an NBA bench or in Europe. 

Marcus Lee

14 of 25

    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 18

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'9", 200 pounds

     

    There are two schools of thought on Marcus Lee. 

    Some people think he's got the ability to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Others are convinced he's too much of a project player and requires quite a bit of seasoning before he's anything close to a sure thing in the NBA. 

    Not many people are on the fence, but of course, I'm one of those few flipping and flopping from side to side. 

    At the moment, I'm in the latter group, simply because of Lee's decision to spurn Louisville and California for the allure of the one-and-done machine that is John Calipari's Kentucky program. 

    The power forward does indeed need a lot of work on his game, but he's going into a situation that puts him on an absolutely stacked squad where he won't have too many opportunities to learn on the fly. If he can't play with the more NBA-ready players on the NBA factory, he won't play as much. 

    Lee's learning curve is a steep one, and it'll be a slow ascent while he's still in Lexington.

Jarrell Martin

15 of 25

    Committed To: LSU

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 10

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'7", 210 pounds

     

    Until Jarrell Martin develops more of a post game, I'd love to see him spotting up near the perimeter, then using his above-average ball-handling skills to blow by much smaller defenders. Between his skill and physicality, he could act a lot like Terrence Jones did for Kentucky during the 2011-12 season. 

    In fact, he might resemble Jones in a lot more ways than one. 

    He's going to be a positional tweener until he either gains comfort playing on the outside or inside with more frequency, but he has the diverse set of abilities necessary to dominate in either scenario. 

    Playing at LSU, where he'll soon become the clear No. 1 option, is either going to make or break his draft status. 

Kennedy Meeks

16 of 25

    Committed To: North Carolina

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 41

    Expected Position: C

    Vitals: 6'9", 275 pounds

     

    In my eyes, it's problematic that Kennedy Meeks can't get into great shape. It's not like he's just five pounds overweight, either. 

    Skilled as Meeks may be from all areas of the court, I just can't see him enduring the rigors of the NBA game throughout the course of a full, grueling season. It's a huge red flag at the moment and one Meeks quickly needs to get rid of. 

    Until that happens, I can't project him as a future star in the Association, no matter how superb his passing may be from the post. 

Jabari Parker

17 of 25

    Committed To: Duke

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 2

    Expected Position: SF

    Vitals: 6'8", 220 pounds

     

    Jabari Parker is looking like a sure-fire NBA starter down the road, but now that his name is losing some of its luster, there are questions about his ceiling. He might not be the All-Star lock we once thought him to be. 

    The Duke commit is a smart, well-rounded player who has thrived in the national spotlight for quite some time now, but he's not on the otherworldly part of the explosion scale. He also might end up playing power forward if he keeps getting bigger, and his skill set isn't exactly tailor-made for the position.

    I was all aboard the Parker bandwagon before he gained weight while injured and didn't take too many steps forward during his senior season at Simeon.

    Parker is still going to be one the top NBA players from this recruiting class, but in my mind, he's no longer truly competing with a certain guy for the No. 1 spot. 

Bobby Portis

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    Committed To: Arkansas

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 13

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'9", 225 pounds

     

    Compared to many of the players participating in the McDonald's showcase, Bobby Portis hasn't received too much attention. Finding a mixtape to include in this slide was actually rather difficult. 

    Maybe it's because defense just isn't as glamorous, and that's where Portis is truly going to excel, both in college and the NBA. 

    With his seven-foot wingspan and good instincts, Portis can immediately become a defensive presence for the Arkansas Razorbacks, buying him some time to work on his offense.

    If I were Portis, I'd spend all my time in the gym developing a consistent drop step or jump-hook, anything to help overcome his disadvantages in the athletic department. 

    It's hard to forecast Portis as a future star in the NBA, but he'll undoubtedly be a serviceable rotation big if he develops according to plan during a few seasons balling out against SEC competition.

Julius Randle

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    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 3

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'9", 225 pounds

     

    Julius Randle is going to fit in with the NBA game rather perfectly. 

    He's a dynamic offensive player who's sort of in that LeBron James point power forward mold.

    Other than his perimeter jumper, Randle has every tool you could possibly dream up. Don't be surprised when you see him consistently handling the ball and setting up in the post during the same game. 

    Of course, he also doesn't play much defense at this stage of his career, and he makes a number of mental mistakes when he does try to prevent points with as much intensity as he plays offense. 

    Randle has a lot to learn, but so does every prospect. 

    My crystal ball sees a lot of All-Star games in this 18-year-old's future.

Wayne Selden

20 of 25

    Committed To: Kansas

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 12

    Expected Position: SF

    Vitals: 6'5", 220 pounds

     

    Physically, Wayne Selden is already prepared to make the jump to the professional level. 

    But there's a big difference between being an NBA athlete and an NBA player. Selden has a lot of technical development to do before he's ready to play any type of minutes other than garbage-time ones in the Association. 

    The small forward is great at bulling his way through defenders, and he's a terrific playmaker off the dribble, but he won't be able to push his way around as the level of competition continues to increase. 

    Under Bill Self's tutelage, Selden should quickly start looking like he'll be a future star at the sport's highest level. 

Noah Vonleh

21 of 25

    Committed To: Indiana

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 8

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'8", 220 pounds

     

    If Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo both declare for the 2013 NBA draft, then the Indiana Hoosiers will almost immediately become Noah Vonleh's team. 

    Assuming he doesn't get bullied in a physical Big Ten, Vonleh can capably step right into Zeller's shoes and prove that he's the next big thing, both in college and, down the road, in the Association. 

    The big man is about as versatile as it gets at the power forward position. He's going to spend some time knocking down jumpers, and the rest of it will be spent slashing to the basket and facing up against overmatched defenders. 

    As long as he beefs up a bit, Vonleh has the making of a future stud at the professional level.

Chris Walker

22 of 25

    Committed To: Florida

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 14

    Expected Position: PF

    Vitals: 6'10", 195 pounds

     

    After taking care of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and the rest of the field in the McDonald's slam dunk competition, Chris Walker now needs to prove that he can do more than just elevate with the best of them. 

    It's problematic when you're 6'10" and 195 pounds. 

    In fact, I'd have a difficult time projecting a 195-pound shooting guard to succeed in the NBA, much less a man who's expected to spend the majority of his time at the 4. 

    College weight rooms and cafeterias will need to be Walker's best friends if he's going to become more than a transition highlight machine for the Florida Gators. 


Andrew Wiggins

23 of 25

    Committed To: Undecided

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 1

    Expected Position: SF

    Vitals: 6'7", 205 pounds

     

    Let's play a game called "You name a basketball skill, and I'll tell you whether or not Andrew Wiggins has it." 

    Ready? 

    Actually, I'll save you some time. No matter what you say, Wiggins has it. 

    ESPN's biggest knock on the dynamic small forward is twofold: He must become a more consistent competitor, and his passing out of double-teams needs to improve. When you've reached that level at 17, that's just not even fair. 

    I was discussing Wiggins' NBA comparisons with a friend, and we couldn't come up with a perfect one because of his unique skill set. 

    Is he a new version of Paul George? Luol Deng? Some strange hybrid of Scottie Pippen and Kobe Bryant? Tracy McGrady? 

    Personally, I vote for Scobe Bryippen. 

Nigel Williams-Goss

24 of 25

    Committed To: Washington

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 20

    Expected Position: PG

    Vitals: 6'3", 180 pounds

     

    It's going to be an uphill battle for Nigel Williams-Goss to make it to the NBA, and I'm basing that solely on his name. No player with that first name has ever made it to the ranks of the sport's top league. 

    Two players have come close. Jeff Malone put together an All-Star career for the Washington Bullets and Utah Jazz while sporting "Nigel" as his middle name. 

    Nigel Dixon, the nearly unknown Western Kentucky product, sniffed the NBA but never actually made it past the D-League. 

    Fear not, though, Nigels of the world. Williams-Goss will make history in a few years. He's too smart and skilled defensively to do anything else. 

James Young

25 of 25

    Committed To: Kentucky

    ESPN Recruiting Ranking: No. 6

    Expected Position: SF

    Vitals: 6'6", 210 pounds

     

    James Young makes it six Kentucky prospects taking the court at the McDonald's All-American Game, and that's a record for any single school in the event's history. Scarily enough, that number could go up to seven if Andrew Wiggins decides that he likes what Lexington has to offer. 

    If you've ever wanted to feel bad about your athletic prowess, try writing about a future NBA player who's younger than your little brother. Young won't turn 18 until midway through August.

    That's good news for both Kentucky and the small forward's professional hopes, as he might still get more athletic. At the moment, that's the biggest hole in his game. 

    It might take Young a while to blossom into a star, but his potential is just through the roof, especially if the suspicions about the correlation between his youth and athleticism are correct.