High school basketball’s annual “rite of passage” tips off tonight at the United Center as 48 of the best high school basketball players in the country are set to compete against each other in the McDonald’s All-American Games. This year marks the 36th annual game on the Boys’ end, and 12th annual contest for the Girls.
Several NBA and WNBA players count themselves amongst the Games’ alumni, and this 2013 crop of all-stars figures to continue that tradition with headliners like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Kaela Davis. Here are 10 intriguing prospects that I think you should keep an eye on tonight as you watch the action unfold:
1. Andrew Wiggins, Guard/Forward, 6-8, 205lbs, East Team
Hometown: Thornhill, Ontario (Canada)
Key Stats: 22.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, 11.5 RPG
Reason to Watch: Wiggins, who played his high school ball at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, is arguably the best high school basketball player in the country and he’s the top uncommitted player in this game. He will reportedly decide between Florida State (his parents are alums), Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina soon. His brother Nick plays for Final Four participant Wichita State. Could Wiggins pull a Robert Nkemdiche-like move and commit to the Shockers? Wherever he ends up, Wiggins will likely be a “one and done” due to his tremendous NBA potential.
2. Jabari Parker, Forward, 6-8, 240lbs, West Team
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Key Stats: 20.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 8.0 RPG
Reason to Watch: Although most scouts consider Wiggins to be the top-prospect in this game, Duke-commit Jabari Parker comes into the games with more fanfare due in part to him being a native of this year’s host city. A product of the high school that produced Derrick Rose and Benji Wilson, Parker was named the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Morgan Wootten Player of the Year. He’s a versatile wing player and a match-up nightmare. Depending on where Andrew Wiggins commits, this could be one of our only chances to see Wiggins and Parker go head to head before they’re both in the NBA.
3. Julius Randle, Forward, 6-9, 245lbs, East Team
Hometown: McKinney, Texas
Key Stats: 32.5 PPG, 6.0 SPG, 22.5 RPG
Reason to Watch: The fact that he averaged 22.5 rebounds a game not enough for you? Scouts have described Randle as a cross between Marvin Williams and Vince Carter in their younger days. Randle, who is an honor student, is one of six players in this game who will be playing for John Calipari in Lexington next year.
4. Aaron Harrison, Shooting Guard, 6-6, 215lbs, West Team
Hometown: Richmond, Texas
Key Stats: 25.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.0 APG
Reason to Watch: One half of a devastating backcourt tandem formed with his twin brother Andrew, Aaron Harrison is a classic two who can fill it up from anywhere on the court. He’s got prototypical size, and he isn’t afraid to get physical. He’s headed to Kentucky with his twin brother.
5. Andrew Harrison, Point Guard, 6-5, 215lbs, West Team
Hometown: Richmond, Texas
Key Stats: 15.8 PPG, 7.0 APG, 7.0 RPG
Reason to Watch: Speed. Harrison is a spark-plug at the point who will keep defenders hands on their knees as they bend over gasping for air during breaks in the action. According to his bio, Harrison’s favorite subject in school is economics. I expect him and his brother to move up a few tax brackets after their time at Kentucky is done.
6. Lexie Brown, Guard, 5-9, 145lbs, East Team (Girls)
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Key Stats: 18.2 PPG, 5.5 SPG, 7.0 APG
Reason to Watch: Brown’s 5.5 steals per game are evidence that she’s quite the ballhawk on defense. The Maryland commit also has a nice long-range jump shot. Her father is ex-Celtics guard Dee Brown.
7. Kaela Davis, 6-2, 170lbs, East Team (Girls)
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Key Stats: 22.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.2 APG
Reason to Watch: She’s been ranked near the top of this class for a while. The daughter of ex-Pacers forward Antonio Davis, Kaela Davis is a Georgia Tech commit who can play four positions (PG, SG, SF and PF) effectively. Davis is an elite scorer and a fearsome defender.
8. Diamond DeShields, 6-2, 165lbs, East Team (Girls)
Hometown: Norcross, Georgia
Key Stats: 24.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.8 SPG
Reason to Watch: Like Boys All-American Andrew Harrison, DeShields best asset is probably her speed. She probably inherited it from her father Delino, who used his own speed to steal his share of bases as a major league baseball player. Diamond DeShields won the MVP award at the 2012 U17 FIBA World Championships, and she’s headed to North Carolina in the fall.
9. Anthony Barber, 6-2, 165lbs, East Team
Hometown: Hampton, Virginia
Key Stats: 21.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.0 RPG
Reason to Watch: Barber may not be as heralded as some of the other prospects on the Boys’ roster, but I like this kid’s game. He can break defenders down off the dribble, or just blow by them with his speed. He’s coming from the same part of Virginia that produced Allen Iverson, Ronald Curry and Michael Vick. Barber is headed to North Carolina State.
10. James Young, 6-6, 210lbs, West Team
Hometown: Rochester Hills, Michigan
Key Stats: 27.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 14.8 RPG
Reason to Watch: Young is a silky-smooth left hander who’s going to remind a lot of people of a young Jalen Rose. He can light up a scoreboard from the outside, or attack defenses by getting to the rim. Young is another member of John Calipari’s prized 2013 recruiting class.
Tune in to ESPNU at 7 p.m. (ET) for live coverage of the Girls game, immediately followed by a 9:30 p.m. tip for the Boys on ESPN.
Follow me on Twitter @AlBruce7 for updates from inside the arena.