McDonald's All-American Game 2014: Projecting Top Performers' College Careers

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 4, 2014

McDonald's West All-American Jahlil Okafor dunks the ball past McDonald's East All-American Karl-Anthony Towns, left, during the second half of the McDonald's All-American boy's basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Chicago. The West won 105-102. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast

A star-studded cast in the 2014 McDonald's All-American game didn't disappoint on Wednesday night. Both boys teams lit up the scoreboard in an action-packed, high-octane performance.

The West squeezed out a dramatic victory, defeating the East by a score of 105-102. The top-tier talent was well on display, as these young athletes made their marks before heading off to the college ranks.

Let's take a look at a few of the top performers from the game and speculate on how each will fare at the next level.


Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

Game Stats: 17 points, seven rebounds

Okafor lived up to the hype on Wednesday night, and his dazzling performance earned him co-MVP honors.

We saw a high level of aggressiveness from the 6'10" center during the contest. He may not be the best athlete on the floor, but he knows how to use his size to his advantage, blocking out opponents and fighting for position.

This trait allowed him to accumulate seven rebounds on the day. What's most impressive about that stat is five of those seven came on the offensive end of the court.

Nabbing a high number of offensive boards gives his team a huge advantage with opportunities for second-chance buckets.

Okafor should be able to start on day one at Duke. He has the tenacity and length to make an immediate impact.


Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

Game Stats: 23 points, five rebounds, two assists, one block

Jackson's game-high 23 points awarded him co-MVP honors with Okafor. The future North Carolina Tar Heel was the game's most dynamic shot-maker.

Accumulating 23 points is a feat it its own; however, Jackson was extremely efficient, bucketing 11 of 14 attempts from the field during the game.

What stood out the most about Jackson was the fact that he is a great ball-handler and flourishes in transition and fast-break opportunities. His ability to locate the basketball and put himself into position to get good looks at the hoop is what will carry him through the NCAA ranks.

Jackson will need to add some bulk to be a truly well-rounded player. He didn't show much on the defensive end of the court, and adding some strength will help drastically in that department.

Expect Jackson to begin his college career coming off the bench for North Carolina and budding into one of the team's top stars in short order.


Emmanuel Mudiay, G, SMU

Game Stats: 15 points, two rebounds, six assists, one block

Mudiay's superior athleticism and versatility were well on display on Wednesday evening. He showed all the makings of a future star at SMU.

At 6'5", he has great size for his position and used that to his advantage against smaller guards on the East. When in one-on-one situations with the ball in his hands, Mudiay is virtually unstoppable. He shows great decision-making, using his size to charge the basket or relying on some nifty hesitation maneuvers to clear himself to take a jumper.

Mudiay changes pace nicely when playing. He can score in transition and slow down to throw off opposing defenders. His size and length allow him to be a factor off the ball, as well.

He finished the night missing all three of his attempts from downtown. If he can develop his stroke from behind the arc, he could quickly become one of the nation's best players.

Not only will he start at SMU immediately next season, but Mudiay will be the team's scoring catalyst as well.