Kentucky head coach John Calipari could be the most interested observer at Chicago's United Center Thursday night as the 40th annual McDonald's All-American game tips off at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Calipari has secured four players on the East roster to come to Lexington in the fall, and a strong showing in the All-Star game may allow him to feel somewhat better because his current team is still feeling the pain of its stunning, last-second defeat to North Carolina on Sunday in the Elite Eight.
The future Wildcats include 6'11" post player Nick Richards from Queens, New York, point guard Quade Green from Philadelphia, forward P.J. Washington of Henderson, Nevada, and forward Jarred Vanderbilt of Houston.
The most highly rated player on the East roster is 6'9" power forward Wendell Carter of Atlanta's Pace Academy, who has committed to Duke. He is the No. 3 recruit this year, according to ESPN.com.
Carter is a 254-pound physical presence with the wingspan of a much taller player. His ability to play defense and block shots is one of his greatest assets, and he's also a power finisher who plays much of his offensive game above the rim.
Carter has a chance to be an excellent post player, because he is nearly as good with his left hand as he is with his right.
The highly recruited Carter gave Harvard strong consideration, and that would have shocked the basketball world. He told Cam Smith of USA Today that he has other interests besides basketball, and that's one of the reasons he considered the Ivy League school.
One of those interests is theater.
"Sometimes I just want to branch out," Carter said. "I'm not saying basketball isn't always fun, but it can be hectic on me. I have to find other things to calm my soul, and that's something I've always looked for. I've found that in theater."
|2017 McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Team|
|11||Mohamed Bamba||C||6’11”||210||Westtown School (West Chester, PA)||Undecided|
|34||Wendell Carter, Jr.||PF||6’9”||254||Pace Academy (Atlanta, GA)||Duke|
|1||Trevon Duval||PG||6’3||183||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||Undecided|
|0||Quade Green||PG||6’1”||170||SS. Neumann Goretti High School (Philadelphia, PA)||Kentucky|
|23||Kevin Knox II||SF||6’8”||203||Tampa Catholic High School (Tampa, FL)||Undecided|
|4||Nicholas Richards||C||6’11”||250||The Patrick School (Hillside, NJ)||Kentucky|
|22||Mitchell Robinson||C||6’11”||215||Chalmette High School (Chalmette, LA)||Western Kentucky|
|10||Collin Sexton||SG||6’3”||175||Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, GA)||Alabama|
|2||Jarred Vanderbilt||PF||6’8”||200||Victory Prep Academy (Houston, TX)||Kentucky|
|14||Lonnie Walker IV||SG||6’4”||192||Reading High School (Reading, PA)||Miami|
|25||PJ Washington Jr||PF||6’8”||225||Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV)||Kentucky|
|31||Kris Wilkes||F||6’7”||194||North Central High School (Indianapolis, IN)||UCLA|
|0||DeAndre Ayton||C||7’0"||220||Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, AZ)||Arizona|
|20||Brian “Tugs” Bowen II||SF||6’7”||190||La Lumiere School (La Porte, IN)||Undecided|
|5||Troy Brown Jr||SF||6’7”||215||Centennial High School (Las Vegas, NV)||Oregon|
|3||Jaylen Hands||PG||6’3”||170||Foothills Christian High School (El Cajon, CA)||UCLA|
|8||Jaren Jackson Jr.||PF||6’11”||225||La Lumiere School (La Porte, IN)||Michigan State|
|44||Brandon L. McCoy||C||6’11”||244||Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego, CA)||Undecided|
|21||Chuck O’Bannon Jr.||SF||6’6”||200||Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV)||USC|
|1||Michael Porter Jr.||SF||6’10”||212||Nathan Hale High School (Seattle, WA)||Missouri|
|23||Billy Preston||PF||6’10”||230||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA)||Kansas|
|2||Gary Trent Jr.||SG||6’5”||200||Prolific Prep Academy (Napa, CA)||Duke|
|24||MJ Walker||SG||6’5”||207||Jonesboro High (Jonesboro, GA)||Undecided|
|11||Trae Young||PG||6’2”||170||Norman North High School (Norman, OK)||Oklahoma|
|McDonald's All-American.com and ESPN.com|
The West may have the advantage on Thursday night, because that team features small forward Michael Porter Jr. of Seattle and center DeAndre Ayton of Phoenix, ESPN's top two recruits this year.
Porter is a remarkable player who has a well-developed game for a young player at this point in his career. He has a quick release and near-perfect form on his jump shot, and he excels at slashing to the rim where he can put his reach and leaping ability on display.
He is also a defensive marvel because his wingspan is approximately 7'9" and that makes him a huge shot-blocking presence.
Ayton is a 7'0" strong man in the middle who has the power to dominate in the post because of his excellent footwork, quick hands and strong shoulders. He also has an outside game to go with the moves he has on the inside, but there are times he will settle for the jumper when he could do more damage near the rim.
Point guard Trevon Duval of Wilmington, Delaware, should run the show for the East team because he can take over any game when he gets hot. The 6'3", 183-pounder has the quickness to slash through the defense and the strength to take a hit while driving and still get to the basket. He also has the ability to rise quickly over the defense and drain his outside shot.
If Duval can handle the nuances of running the show at the college level, he may be unstoppable. He often holds on to the ball a split second too long, and he needs to improve his decision-making.
Center Mo Bamba of Harlem, New York, is an eye-catching player who combines grace and skills with his size and athleticism. He has shocking tools for a 6'11" player, and the most notable characteristic is his speed. He gets up and down the floor like a track star, and he has the ability to finish the break with a flourish and then block a shot on the next defensive possession.
He has skill with the ball in his hands around the rim, and he is also starting to develop a jump shot but that part of his game still needs work.
Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. of Apple Valley, Minnesota, may be one of the most eye-catching players on the West team. He's a remarkable scorer, because he can get it done close to the rim, has a consistent mid-range game and can also hit shots from deep.
Trent, at 6'5" and 200 pounds, has the instincts for the game, and he excels at diagnosing defensive players and figuring out how to beat them.
Scouting information courtesy of ESPN.com.