- Joel Francisco
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The McDonald's All-American selection committee, chaired by legendary coach Morgan Wootten, announced the 32nd annual McDonald's All-American Boys High School Basketball team on Tueday. The 24 players selected will play in the March 26 game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis. The game will be be telecast live by ESPN with the tip-off at 9:30 p.m. (EDT)
The first McDonald's All-American Team, selected in 1977, featured such standouts as Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Albert King, Jeff Lamp, Gene Banks and Darnell Valentine. However a game was not played. The initial McDonald's All-American Game was played in Philadelphia in 1978 and 7-0 C Rudy Woods earned the first John Wooden Award as the game's MVP.
The players were selected not only for their on-court abilities, but for their performances off the court as well. The teams do not include players who do not meet the age or eligibility requirements of the National Federation of High Schools.
The challenge for the selection committee and the coaches was to balance and structure the teams so the game will be competitive and entertaining to a national audience. Last year's game, held at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., set a high standard of excellence with the West beating the East 114-112 in an exciting contest. The game came down to the final seconds when current Southern Cal freshman, O.J. Mayo, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game for the East. Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley, led the West team with 23 points and received the John Wooden Most Valuable Player Award. Other outstanding players for the West, all of whom are having superb freshmen years, include Kevin Love (UCLA), 13 points, Eric Gordon (Indiana), 13 points, Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), 11 points and Kyle Singler (Duke), 10 points.
The key in every all-star game are the player matchups. This year's game presents some very intriguing individual one-on-one matchups that we look forward to watching. At point guard, Brandon Jennings (West), the No. 1-rated player in the ESPN 150, will go against the No. 2-rated point guard, Kemba Walker (East) and, in a classic matchup of future ACC rivals, North Carolina signee, Larry Drew (West) meets Duke recruit, Elliot Williams (East).
At the second or shooting guard position, two of the nation's top five seniors are matched -- Tyreke Evans (East), the No. 2-rated player in the ESPN 150, going against Jrue Holiday (West). Other potential challenging duels are Mike Rosario and Sylven Landesberg (East) against Malcolm Lee, Willie Warrenand Iman Shumpert (West).
Looking at the power forward position, Samardo Samuels (East), ranked No. 3 in ESPN 150 (East) could have a rematch against Greg Monroe (West). And, Ed Davis and Chris Singleton (East) will square off with interesting opponents, including sharpshooting Luke Babbitt (West).
The post position could feature one of the game's best matchups in a battle of talented seven-footers, 7-0 Tyler Zeller (East) will face 7-1 B.J. Mullens (West), A likely very physical encounter would be "rebounding machine," JaMychal Green (East), banging with Michael Dunigan (West).
The selection committee has accomplished another outstanding job. Obviously, a few highly qualified young men could not be invited with the 12-man roster and the necessity to select the best players at each position. However, the teams are now set, the matchups look outstanding and the game should be great.
We look forward to continuing to provide updates and coverage of the nation's premier high school basketball All-American game.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.