The 2014 McDonald's All-American Game showcases the brightest young basketball stars from the high school level, and with the college basketball field whittled down to four teams, it offers a glimpse of next year's potential stars.
Here is what you need to know to catch the game, plus the best matchups to watch.
When: Wednesday, April 2, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.
Roster and Recruiting Info: Via ESPN.com
Down Low: Jahlil Okafor vs. Cliff Alexander
Big men Cliff Alexander (East) and Jahlil Okafor (West) are not only fellow Chicago natives, but they were also AAU teammates and know each other's games intimately. In fact, the pair battled for the bulk of four overtimes in the Chicago Public League title game between Curie and Young. Okafor (Young) eventually fouled out and Alexander's team (Curie) prevailed.
Jahlil Okafor (Duke) vs. Cliff Alexander (Kansas), both potential No. 1 picks in 2015—ESPN3 now get involved— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) February 22, 2014
Cliff Alexander's Curie against Jahlil Okafor's Whitney Young in the Chicago Public League final on WatchESPN.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) February 22, 2014
As Young coach Tyrone Slaughter told reporters after the game, per Mike Helfgot of the Chicago Tribune: "(Okafor) got in some bad foul situations, so he wasn't able to be on the floor. I don't know what else to say. I think he was extremely effective when he was in there. I think if he plays 16 more minutes we have a good chance to win."
These two will battle again on Wednesday, and it won't be long before they clash in the NCAA.
Alexander presents a unique blend of strength and quickness. Okafor, a Duke commit, can dazzle with his slick footwork that brings to mind Al Jefferson, only more nimble. Okafor already has NBA size at 6'10" and 265 pounds, which gives him 25 pounds and an inch on Alexander.
On the Perimeter: D’Angelo Russell vs. Grayson Allen
Grayson Allen (West) and D’Angelo Russell (East) are both extraordinary shooters who can fill up the basket.
Russell, who is headed for Ohio State, brings the ability to make space with the dribble and create his own shot. He possesses good court vision for a 2-guard, and his 6'5" frame offers solid length for the position.
Guy looking good is D'Angelo Russell -- can run a team, good vision, can shoot off the bounce, a lot to like. #adidasNations— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) August 6, 2013
Allen, who is another Duke commit, moves deftly without the ball and uses that elusiveness to punish defenses with his catch-and-shoot ability, and his athleticism makes him a danger to any defense. In fact, the 6'4" Allen seized the McDonald's dunk contest title by jumping over Jahlil Okafor's head to wow the judges.
At the Point: Tyus Jones vs. Emmanuel Mudiay
The East's Tyus Jones will battle the West's point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Jones, from Minnesota, has signed on to join Duke, while Mudiay is set to play for SMU.
Mudiay's primary goal will be leading the Mustangs back to the NCAA tournament after barely missing out this season. And he's the kind of clutch performer who can turn a team's fortunes around.
Jones is the third future Blue Devil on this list, so don't expect them to lose in the first round of next year's tournament once this group arrives in Durham.
So theoretically Duke next year could have Jabari Parker, Amile Jefferson, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, & Justise Winslow & maybe M Turner— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 8, 2014
Jones is a prototypical point guard who can make an offense hum like a luxury automobile. Think Rajon Rondo. Mudiay is longer and more athletic with the handle to play point and the aggressiveness to be an attacking guard.
Mudiay and Jones squared off during the summer at the Elite 24 game in Brooklyn and they shared co-MVP honors, though Mudiay's squad came out on top. It could be time for Jones to get his revenge.