The annual Jordan Brand Classic has arguably taken over as the premier high school basketball showcase in America. The McDonald’s All-Star game is still a big deal, but the JBC has the edge in swag and star power.
First and foremost, Michael Jordan is the name behind the event.
His Airness' clout partially explains why the top talent in the country continues to show up for the game. This year’s contest will feature 26 of the best players in the country, including the top 10 players from the ESPN Top 100 rankings.
The prep stars will again take the court at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to give fans a sneak peek before their freshman seasons in college and potential NBA careers begin.
The tradition of top stars playing in the game builds every year. Take a look at this tweet with artwork of past players who have since become NBA stars.
Getting an opportunity to play in sharp uniforms and kicks like the ones featured below isn't a deterrent for the young ballers, either.
In case you’re wondering, the sneakers are the Jordan Melo M10s. I need those in my life.
The national game gets all of the attention, but this event is a triple-header of high school hoops action.
Here’s a breakdown of the schedule:
When: Friday, April 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET
2:30 p.m. - The International Game featuring top foreign players.
4:30 p.m. - New York Regional Game.
7 p.m. ET - The All-American game.
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
TV: ESPN 2 for All-American game
The rosters are divided into two teams: East and West. The list reads like a who’s who of elite prep players. Here’s a look at both teams:
(The college the player is committed to is listed after his current high school.)
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Duke)
Joel Berry (Lake Highland, Fla./UNC)
Isaiah Whitehead (Lincoln, NY/Seton Hall)
LJ Peak (Gaffney, S.C./Georgetown)
Grayson Allen (Providence, Fla./Duke)
James Blackmon (Marion, Ind./Indiana)
Rashad Vaughn (Findlay, Nev./UNLV)
Kelly Oubre (Findlay, Nev./Kansas)
Justin Jackson (Homeschool Christian Youth Academy, Texas/UNC)
Reid Travis (De LaSalle, Minn./Stanford)
Trey Lyles (Arsenal Tech, Ind./Kentucky)
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young, Ill./Duke)
Karl Towns (St. Joseph, N.J./Kentucky).
Emmanuel Mudiay (Prime Prep, Texas/SMU)
Tyler Ulis (Marian Catholic, Ill./Kentucky)
Devin Booker (Moss Point, Miss./Kentucky)
Kameron Chatman (Columbia Christian, Ore./Michigan)
Theo Pinson (Wesleyan Christian, N.C./UNC)
Justise Winslow (St. John’s, Texas/Duke)
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Calif./Arizona)
Cliff Alexander (Curie, Ill./Kansas)
Chris McCullough (IMG Academy/Syracuse)
Myles Turner (Trinity, Texas/Uncommitted)
Daniel Hamilton (St. John Bosco, Calif./UConn)
D’Angelo Russell (Montverde Academy, Fla./Ohio State)
Shaqquan Aaron (Rainier Beach, Wash./Louisville).
Players to Watch
Okafor's size and touch around the rim has scouts excited. At 6'10", 265 pounds, he figures to solidify the Duke Blue Devils' inside game during the 2014-15 season.
As you can see in the image below, Okafor is incredibly nimble for a player his size:
He scored 17 points in the McDonald's All-American game and took home MVP honors. Duke men's basketball congratulated its prize recruit on his performance.
Okafor will be looking to shine brightly again on Friday night.
Okafor's chief rival in the city of Chicago, and in the nation, for top prospect honors is Alexander. At 6'9", 240 pounds, Alexander already has an NBA body. The Kansas recruit is ferocious and active around the basket.
Because he and Okafor will be on opposite teams, we may get another opportunity to see the Chi-Town rivals lock horns again.
As the highest-rated, uncommitted prospect in the nation, many eyes will be on Turner in this game. The 7-footer from Texas is the No. 2-rated prospect in the country. Several schools, including Ohio State, Kansas and Duke, are after Turner.
If he shines at the JBC, the race to get him committed will become even more frantic.
While the big men are getting a ton of due respect, there's one small guard who is deserving of some attention. Ulis hails from Marion Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, and he possesses skills that simply can't be taught.
The 5'9" point guard has playmaking instincts that are reminiscent of Syracuse's Tyler Ennis.
Because he is small in stature, he'll have to become accustomed to shining through the trees, but this Kentucky commit has the handle, jump shot and basketball I.Q. to perform well at the JBC and beyond.
All player information per ESPN.com, unless otherwise stated
All event information per Jordan Brand Classic, unless otherwise stated.
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