McDonald’s All-American Game Quick Observations

The following are my quick player notes on guys who popped from last night’s McDonald’s All-American game. I’ve seen some of these players in person before (Porter, Ayton etc.) but for some guys like Robinson this was my first exposure. Thus, keep that latter point in mind with a limited sample. I’ll provide far more in-depth analysis after the week of Hoop Summit practices.

Fives

Mo Bamba

 

Bamba shined with his combination of mobility and now infamous go-go-gadget 7-foot-10 wingspan. He erases the sun in the paint, as evidenced by the possession where he blocked Ayton effortlessly on the baseline and then used his insane arm length to reach around Ayton’s post up attempt plucking the ball away on the entry pass (he also literally took the ball away from Porter on a dunk attempt).

We knew about his size and length combination, but Bamba impressed with his coordination and mobility on the floor. He moved well in space and showed plus hands offensively. While he airballed a 3 undershooting it by about a foot, his range shot didn’t look as raw as expected. He’s a inconsistent but capable mid range shooter, and if he ever becomes consistent in that area or extends his range we’re looking at a potential game-changing talent (he probably already is).

Pardon the somewhat lazy outlier tools comparison, but Bamba looks like a more mobile version of Rudy Gobert. This big class is loaded.

Wendell Carter

I was very high on Carter entering this game after watching high school film, and I’m even higher on him now. The biggest thing that stood out to me is how well he moved defensively in space. A defensive possession at the end of the game really illuminated this, where he sat down in his stance and walled off Preston, and then switched onto Bowen and contained him as well. He’s very comfortable sinking down and sliding showing very good feet, a rarity for someone with his weight. He combines nimbleness with legitimate strength at the 5 (he’s definitely a 5 but usually plays the 4 in these all-star events), and when you factor in his 7-foot-5 wingspan there is a lot to work with.

Carter is also lowkey very skilled. You could see his vision on display, like on the wrap around pass to Bamba in the first half, as well as on a high-low attempt to Bamba where he didn’t put enough on it. He didn’t make a jumper but he looked comfortable and coordinated on the dribble pull-up he missed. The left hand jump hook he made was very impressive.

Overall, Carter adds a playmaking element at the 5 that both Ayton and Bamba can’t match right now. He’s going to shine at Duke.

DeAndre Ayton

As with most all-star games I’ve seen, Ayton wasn’t that noticeable on the court, and his reputation of floating in and out of games held serve. Ayton is still an athletic monster who is tremendously quick and explosive off the floor. He had one play where he literally threw Bamba to the side on an offensive rebound putback attempt in the first half, and continues to impress with his rebounding prowess.

Ayton missed his pick-and-pop 3 attempts, so the unicorn narrative was suppressed, but he’s definitely a capable shooter and comfortable behind the arc. His passing continues to be underrated, as he has vision from a standstill and flashes on the move.

Still mostly a quiet night for him.

Mitchell Robinson

I had never seen Robinson before this game, and came away vexed. On one hand Robinson is a very good athlete, with legitimate speed/mobility and vertical pop. He’s tremendously quick on dives to the rim and shows the explosiveness and catch radius to be a legitimate lob catching threat. At his size with apparent long arms and that kind of athleticism he should dominate at Western Kentucky.

On the flip side Robinson has a very awkward build. He has ridiculously long legs and a small torso, meaning he has high hips and struggles to sink down and bend as a result. I question whether this will result in being a liability in pick-and-roll defense, especially moving side-to-side quickly and most importantly backwards. Just something to monitor.

Robinson does look like a legitimate finisher however, even though he doesn’t look to have natural touch.

Brandon McCoy

Similar to Robinson, this was my first look at McCoy, and I came away not as impressed. McCoy is definitely a notch down athletically from the other bigs, in terms of both speed and vertical explosiveness. He gave off a plodding vibe in the game with heavier feet.

McCoy did show some shooting touch on his free throws, and right now his combination of size and shooting potential looks like his greatest strength. He looks raw as a passer throwing an Osweiler type off target outlet pass, and was sped up a few times trying to finish inside. He should be a good college player, but I’m not seeing much potential as an NBAer.

Fours

Billy Preston

Preston’s size, frame and face up scoring game at the 4 presents a somewhat intriguing package. He’s versatile and skilled, capable of making 3s and shots off the dribble such as the step back 3 he made. But like his high school tape he’s inconsistent, and someone who doesn’t really impact the game noticeably if he isn’t putting the ball in the basket.

Preston isn’t that explosive at the rim, and it’s unclear if he can pass at all. If he can pass and shows good feet on the perimeter at Kansas he can be a player. I just question his feel.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Another first time viewing here. Vanderbilt’s skill and coordination were pretty obvious. He can handle the ball impressively for his size (although it’s a bit loose) and even showed a euro-step in transition. He’s a bit wild as a decision-maker, a common adage in this game, and doesn’t look to be vertically explosive. Still his size, skill and fluidity is worth tracking.

P.J. Washington

Similar to Preston Washington has some face up skill, showing an advanced spin move attacking on the move even though he didn’t finish. If he can space the floor at all there might be something here long-term, but defense is going to be an issue. Porter blew by him several times and he doesn’t look to have the foot speed to defend well on the perimeter. He looks like a four only who might not be able to defend in space. Need to see more.

Jaren Jackson

Jackson has a very intriguing combination of size, length and effort level. The MAA didn’t do his skill level a lot of justice, but this is someone who can grab and go on the break, can shoot 3s and has showed good vision in the games I’ve seen in high school. He’s not an explosive leaper and looks to have heavy feet at times moving in space, but there is definitely a lot to work with here.

Wings

Michael Porter

I’ve seen Porter a ton prior to this game and this outing held true to the past sample size. Porter has gotten by at lower levels with his size and athleticism. He blows by less mobile bigs in straight lines off the dribble (ala Washington), elevates over smaller players on pull-ups (he gets insane elevation on his jumper and his balance is unreal) and can go right through players he can overpower (the Knox drive early in the game). His run and jump coordination as a finisher is also incredibly good.

What we need to see from Porter is more of a floor game. He doesn’t have an advanced handle or a lot of shake with the ball yet to create. It’s also unclear how good of a passer he is, as his feel doesn’t look tremendous. He ran a couple pick-and-rolls as the handler in this game, but pulled up twice for 3s with the defense ducking under.

Porter’s intersection of athleticism and shooting, as well as mobility defensively is very intriguing. But he still hasn’t shown much in the way of ball skills, which he’ll need to do at Missouri. Right now Doncic is leagues ahead of him skill-wise.

Troy Brown

I’ll continue to pound the table for Brown being the most underrated player in this class. He has a lead guard background in high school, bringing that skill level as a ball-handler and passer to the wing spot. His floor game definitely stuck out amongst almost every other wing in this game, despite a few forced passes in transition early on. He was one of the guys trying for a majority of the game on defense, doing things like tagging the roll man for a steal and disrupting a 4 on 1 break. He’s not the most explosive athlete in traffic, but he’s very good laterally and is definitely an above the rim athlete in space.

The most promising sign for Brown in this game was his shooting form. It looks much improved without a reported hitch he had earlier in high school. He knocked down a pull-up jumper as well as a spot up 3, with smooth mechanics even though his elbow still flares out a touch.

If Brown shoots well at Oregon he should be a top 10 pick. He’s a swiss army knife Khris Middleton type, who does a bit of everything on the court.

Kevin Knox

Knox’s combination of smooth and fluid athleticism at his size definitely stands out amongst his peers. He looks like a natural combo-forward scorer in the Porter mold, but a step down athletically. His defense was also impressive in space, as he has the size and feet to be a plus on that end.

My criticism with Knox having seen him before at Nations mostly revolves around his floor game similar to Porter. Outside of scoring he doesn’t impact games offensively, and really doesn’t show anything as a passer. He needs to show more in the way of ball-skills.

Lonnie Walker

Don’t have much to say about Walker other then his athleticism and shooting form popped. He’s part of a large contingent of undersized off-guard gunners in this class.

Gary Trent

To me Trent is a microwave scorer. When he has it going you really notice him. When he doesn’t like in this game he disappears. Continue to view him as a potential off the bench gunner in the limited sample I’ve seen.

Lead Guards

Jaylen Hands

Hands’ lateral quickness defensively stuck out, as did his open court speed. He had one nice body control finish, and showed good touch at the foul line. He doesn’t have the same kind of vertical explosiveness as Duval, but I’m more intrigued by him than I was previously at Nations.

Trevon Duval

Duval is easily the top lead guard in the class to me if he can shoot reasonably well (0-3 from 3 in this game), an answer we do not have yet. His combination of size, dribble-moves, first step and ability to get into the lane at will are very alluring. He forced the ball a lot in this game but he does have vision on the move.

Collin Sexton

Sexton was the showman of this event, putting an NBA rookie game level of flare into it with Houdini-like passes. I’m not worried about his approach to games however watching him in high school. This dude is a tenacious competitor and probably the best trash talker since Gary Payton.

He has the reputation of a gunner in high school largely because he had to score, but he had some nice reads (hitting Carter notably on a PNR dive) and vision flashes in this game. He’s insanely quick laterally defensively and basically impossible to stay in front of on offense. If he shows more natural lead guard skill at Alabama he’s very interesting. If he’s just a high volume shot-taker he’s far less so.

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