Future on display as McDonald's All-Americans play Wednesday

acarter@newsobserver.comApril 3, 2013 

  • McDonald’s All-America All-Star Game

    9:30 p.m., United Center, Chicago (TV: ESPN)

    East Roster
    Player High school College
    Anthony Barber Hampton, Va. N.C. State
    Keith Frazier Kimball, Texas Undecided
    Kasey Hill Montverde Academy Florida
    Demetrius Jackson Marian High Notre Dame
    Andrew Wiggins Huntington PrepUndecided
    Isaiah Hicks Oxford Webb N. Carolina
    Rondae Jefferson Chester Arizona
    Wayne Selden Tilton School Kansas
    Noah Vonleh New Hampton School Indiana
    Chris Walker Holmes County Florida
    Dakari Johnson Montverde Academy Kentucky
    Kennedy Meeks West Charlotte N. Carolina
    West Roster
    Player High school College
    Aaron Harrison Travis Kentucky
    Andrew Harrison Travis Kentucky
    Matt Jones DeSoto Duke
    Nigel Williams-GossFindlay Prep Washington
    Jabari Bird Salesian California
    Aaron Gordon Archbishop Mitty Undecided
    Jarrell Martin Madison LSU
    Jabari Parker Simeon Duke
    James Young Rochester Kentucky
    Marcus Lee Deer Valley Kentucky
    Bobby Portis Jr. Hall Arkansas

The most coveted prize is still unclaimed. Andrew Wiggins, considered the best basketball prospect in the class of 2013, will receive plenty of attention Wednesday night during the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago.

Wiggins, a 6-foot-7 forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, has offered no indication this week of where he might play in college. North Carolina is still in the running. So is Florida State, Kansas and Kentucky.

Coaches from those schools will likely have to wait at least until the middle of April to learn Wiggins’ destination. College basketball’s spring signing period begins April 17 and ends May 15.

The future of the sport, though, will be on display Wednesday in Chicago at the United Center, which is hosting the annual McDonald’s All-American game. Duke will have two players in the game – Matt Jones and Jabari Parker, both of the West team. Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks – both of the East team – are bound for UNC. And Anthony “Cat” Barber, also of the East, will play at N.C. State.

Here’s a closer look at each of those five players, what to watch from them , and what they might bring when they arrive in college during the summer:

Anthony Barber, PG, 6-2/165

High school/hometown: Hampton High/Hampton, Va.

College: N.C. State

Rank (according to ESPN.com): No. 6 at his position, No. 23 overall

What to watch: Barber’s nickname of “Cat” is fitting given his quickness and agility. He’s best known for his speed, and for creating opportunities in transition. The McDonald’s All-American game never includes much defense, so this should be an ideal stage for Barber to showcase his quickness and his ability to lead a fast break.

At the next level: N.C. State has no shortage of holes to fill, what with the departure of five of its top six players. Lorenzo Brown, the point guard who effectively led the Wolfpack offense during the past two years, is foregoing the final year of his eligibility to enter the NBA draft. Tyler Lewis, who played in this game last year, showed some promise during his limited chances, but Barber is likely to have a chance to play a significant role early on.

Isaiah Hicks, PF, 6-9/205

High school/hometown: Webb High/Oxford

College: North Carolina

Rank: No. 8 at his position, No. 17 overall

What to watch: Hicks scored 30 points, had 34 rebounds and blocked seven shots in Webb’s 73-70 victory against Statesville in the 3A state title game last month. If that performance wasn’t the most dominant in a North Carolina state championship game, it’s at least in the conversation. Hicks’ best attribute might be his versatility. He’s as likely Wednesday night to impress observers with his shot-blocking ability and rebounding as he is with his scoring.

At the next level: Hicks will have a chance to make an immediate impact at UNC. The Tar Heels’ frontcourt during the 2012-13 season lacked a reliable scorer in the paint, a consistent rebounder and defensive stopper. Hicks can help in all of those areas.

Matt Jones, SG, 6-5/198

High school/hometown: DeSoto High/DeSoto, Texas

College: Duke

Rank: No. 5 at his position, No. 32 overall

What to watch: Jones has perhaps as much potential as any player to get on a hot streak from the perimeter Wednesday night. His ability to shoot stands out, and if he plays a memorable role in the McDonald’s game it will likely be because he took advantage of the game’s usually-lax defense and made some open shots from behind the 3-point line.

At the next level: Jones will enter college with a luxury that several other McDonald’s All-Americans won’t have: He’ll have a chance to grow and develop behind a more seasoned, experienced player. Jones is likely to serve as a backup to Rasheed Sulaimon next season, though Jones’ talent as a shooter could earn him some time in the rotation.

Kennedy Meeks, C, 6-10/285

High school/hometown: West Charlotte High/Charlotte

College: North Carolina

Rank: No. 4 at his position, No. 41 overall

What to watch: Meeks has drawn comparisons to Sean May, and not just because of his size. May, who helped lead UNC to the 2005 national championship, was known for his touch and his soft hands. Meeks is known for those things, too, though he reportedly struggled in workouts this week.

At the next level: Like Hicks, Meeks will be a welcome addition to the Tar Heels’ frontcourt. He’s not the most overpowering center, though, and likely will need to develop stronger interior moves. Quickness could be an issue too for Meeks, who will be asked to keep up in coach Roy Williams’ up-tempo system.

Jabari Parker, SF, 6-8/240

High school/hometown: Simeon Career Academy/Chicago

College: Duke

Rank: No. 2 at his position, No. 2 overall

What to watch: If this were an actual game and not a dunk-filled exhibition, we’d say “everything.” Parker’s skill set is that varied, and he’s adept at playing defense and passing as he is creating highlights at the rim. But those highlights are what people remember most about the McDonald’s game, and Parker, who was considered the top prospect in this class until Andrew Wiggins reclassified as a senior, is likely to create his share of memorable plays.

At the next level: It’s nearly a certainty that Parker starts from day one at Duke. The Blue Devils lose departed seniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, but the arrival of Parker – and the return of a strong supporting cast – is likely to make Duke the preseason favorite in the ACC.

Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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