McDonald’s All-American Week has started and the players have already had their practice to prepare for the game on Wednesday. While attending a practice, I ran into ESPN’s Scout and Analyst Reggie Rankin. When it comes to evaluating high school recruits, Rankin is the best in the business and the best person to ask questions pertaining to the players’ skillsets. So, I was able to sit down with him and ask questions about the 2014 McDonald’s All-Americans.
Erin: Who has been the most impressive player so far for you?
RR: There are many categories of impressive. Jahlil Okafor‘s ability to score with his back to the basket, he is a true center, big body low-post scorer. He’s been what everybody has been expecting from the top player in the country. Right behind him Myles Turner is athletic and his ability to face up, show skills and block shots, those jump out you right away. Cliff Alexander‘s ability to rebound, block shots and power through traffic and finish is pretty special. You have your skill guys, you have your Trey Lyles, Karl Towns is a skilled…kind of a stretch center who’s skill level and passsing is impressive, Stanley Johnson a powerful wing that scores through contact, defends multiple positions. Justin Jackson, Kelly Oubre Jr. When you say impressive, they all are impressive in their own way, that’s why they are here. But, those guys come to mind. Obviously, Tyus Jones‘ ability to run a team, lead and make plays, Emmanuel Mudiay‘s ability, he’s probably one of the best play makers in this class. Isaiah Whitehead would fall in that category, you have Justin Jackson who is a versatile scorer, can score a lot of ways. Makes a lot of tough, funky shots if you will. Just, a lot of variety of talent.
Erin: Who is a sleeper here at the McDonald’s All-American games? A player that could be a surprise later on.
RR:I think one of the sleepers is definitely Reid Travis, college-ready body, big time rebounder, physical can face up and hit mid-range shots. He kind of has a bit of Karl Malone type of game, not saying he is going to be that special but, he has some similarities to his game. I think he is a guy people will say “Where did he come from?” He has had a steady climb up the rankings and I think he will be an impact player at Stanford right away. The other guy in that category who has been on a steady climb is Tyler Ulis. He went from not a lot of people knowing who he was to a McDonald’s All-American. He’s played well consistently for probably a solid year now. That didn’t happen a lot, he’s had a steady climb. So, I think those are a couple of guys that kind of slid into McDonald’s backdoor. People will really be impressed with them.
Erin: Myles Turner is undecided currently, where do you see him fitting in?
RR: Well, I think a player of his size and skill-set fits a lot of different systems. I think it’s more though not where he fits but who he is more comfortable with as a head coach, staff and environment. I think those are the things that would be most important to him just because, his talent and ability, you can plug that in pretty much anywhere. So, I think it’s his level of comfort with the head coach, the staff, the school, the environment and teammates. He’ll be able to do some interviewing this week because everybody that’s on his list has a player here with the exception of Texas. So, it will be interesting to see what he does but, with his choices, he can’t go wrong.
Erin: What should viewers expect to see during the game on Wednesday?
RR: This game, I think will show a lot of players with versatility. There’s not a lot of one position players in this game. For instance, true point guard, true shooting guard, there’s a lot of versatility. So, you will see big guys that can play inside, big guys that can play outside, wing players that could play inside and out. So, I think versatility will be the theme in this game this week.
After I watched the first practice, the East team impressed me as a collective group. You have Cliff Alexander, James Blackmon Jr., Justin Jackoson, Tyus Jones, Kevon Looney, Theo Pinson, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Melo Trimble, Myles turner, Isaiah Whitehad and Justise Winslow. Next practice is tomorrow, be sure to look out for more material from me and Greg Smith.
[Photos via McDonald’s]