We give a quick breakdown of the 2015 McDonald’s All-American game East-West rosters. We also take a look at the players who had a legitimate claim to make this year’s game, set for Chicago’s United Center April 1 (9 p.m. ET on ESPN), that didn’t.
The East roster has the best player in the country — Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) power forward Ben Simmons — so right off the bat that is a big advantage. The East club also has Jaylen Brown, the dynamic small forward from Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.). The West is going to have to show it has someone who can match Brown’s explosiveness and production in transition.
The players who will likely match up with Brown and will have to step to the challenge are 6-foot-8 Brandon Ingram of Kinston (N.C.) and Malachi Richardson of Trenton Catholic (Trenton, N.J.). The East also has the more powerful big men in Thomas Bryant of Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. Va.), Cheick Diallo of Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) and Diamond Stone of Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.). Bryant and Stone are a load to handle down load with their girth and Diallo is an absolute terror on the glass and blocking shots.
As if if didn’t already have an advantage with Simmons, the East club also has the nation’s best true point guard in 6-foot-3 Isaiah Briscoe of Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.). He’s physically dominant from the lead guard position and has more ability to finish around the rim than the West’s top point guard — 6-foot-1 Jalen Brunson of Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Ill.). Brunson is more of a scoring guard and the better outside shooter.
It’s not as if the West doesn’t have stellar talent compared to the East, but the makeup of the team is vastly different. The West has more of a finesse, skilled makeup underneath and a plethora of shooters and scorers, but not any true point guards.
The West’s Allonzo Trier of Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and Malik Newman of Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) are the two best scoring guards in the country selected to participate. If one of these two shooters doesn’t play well for the West, it wouldn’t surprise us if it falls behind during the course of the game. Of course, it’s always difficult to project how teams will shoot or take pride in their transition defense in a big arena setting such as the United Center, so if the East goes inside and plays unselfishly (to an all-star game standard of unselfishness that is) it should have an advantage.
Ivan Rabb of Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) is the West’s top overall post player, so look for him to play a major factor in that team’s game plan. Caleb Swanigan of Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Deyonta Davis of Muskegon (Mich.) and Carlton Bragg of Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio) provide the West’s muscle, but the duo is smaller than the East’s physical underneath players so it will be important for them to compete throughout the event.
With Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), the West has some skilled and mobile big men and if they mesh with the backcourt and play an inside-out game, the West shouldn’t have a problem offsetting the East’s physical talent. It’s just so hard to predict how teams will shoot in an all-star setting, and that gives the East its advantage.
We’d be remiss not to mention the players whom the McDonald’s Selection Committee just couldn’t find room for. The committee have a tough job and did a good job overall. All 24 players selected had legitimate credentials for selection.
Tyler Dorsey of Maranatha (Pasadena, Calif.) rivals Newman and Trier as the best scoring guard in the country. He had some excellent games in the summer against the likes of Newman and Briscoe while playing for the Belmont Shore travel club. After a sizzling 49-point performance in a 71-59 victory over Centennial (Las Vegas, Nev.) at the Pangos Dream Classic last Saturday, Dorsey is averaging 34.1 points per game against quality high school competition. Dorsey has scored 40 or more points in eight of his last 10 games, but he didn’t make the cut at the West’s strongest position — combo scoring guards.
Two other shooting guards who had legitimate McDonald’s credentials were Malik Beasley of St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Charles Matthews of St. Rita (Chicago, Ill.).
Wings, as opposed to true post players or true lead guards, are a dime a dozen in high school, but one we found a bit surprising the committee didn’t show enough support for was Derrick Jones of Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.).
Twins brothers or brothers of near equal ability have traditionally been selected together, so it’s was a bit surprising to see Keelon Lawson of Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) left off while his brother Dedric made it.