Pinkston realizes childhood dream
Jayvaughn Pinkston's street cred is now considered super-sized. Pinkston recently learned that his loaded basketball résumé will include "McDonald's All-American."
Pinkston, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Bishop Loughlin High in Brooklyn, N.Y., thought being named to the McDonald's All-America Game was a pipe dream -- especially after he checked in low in the ESPN 2010 player rankings.
Credibility aside, Pinkston dreamed of playing in the game since eighth grade.
"I'm the first [player] from my school to make the McDonald's game; that's big," Pinkston said. "In the end, it's not about individual stuff but getting the 'W.' You take nothing for granted; I did my talking on the court."
Following the summer circuit, Pinkston was No. 100 in the ESPNU 100. Last month, he vaulted 16 spots to No. 84. This season he's averaging 27 points and five assists for the Loughlin Lions, who are among the favorites to win the upcoming New York Catholic High School Athletic Association AA intersectional title.
"I played well Las Vegas and Five Star Camp last summer," said Pinkston, who starred for New Heights on the club circuit. "I outplayed most of best players."
Pinkston and 23 of the nation's top boys' players were revealed Thursday on the 2010 McDonald's All-America Selection Show. The 33rd McDonald's All-America boys' basketball game will be played March 31 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The ninth girls' game will precede it on ESPNU.
With his selection, Pinkston becomes Bishop Loughlin's first player to participate in the game. Pinkston, a resident of Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood, is all the rage in the borough.
"Jay really made a commitment to become a better player this season; he didn't want the low ranking deter him," Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez said. "His hard work paid off. It's a testament to his work ethic; this season he's put our team on his back."
Pinkston's game is pure city. His signature move is a quick whirl-around from the low post, which is done remarkably compactly for his size. His footwork was crafted while he was boxing with the Police Athletic League.
"No doubt boxing has improved my footwork," he said.
Sixteen of the top 20 players in the ESPNU 100 were named to the nation's most recognized senior all-star game, including nine of the Top 10. (Editor's note: No. 6 Will Barton of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire is a fifth-year player and was ineligible for the game).
"There's no one standout player in the game, as there was in the past with Greg Oden and LeBron James," said Paul Biancardi, ESPN's national director of recruiting and a McDonald's selection committee member and voter. "There's parity in the talent pool this year and it shows in this game."
Here are five interesting facts about the 2010 McDonald's All-America boys' game:
• North Carolina, the reigning national champion, has three recruits in the game: Reggie Bullock of Kinston, N.C., Kendall Marshall of Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), and Harrison Barnes of Ames (Iowa).
• Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) and Deshaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) will be playing on their future home court at Ohio State (also known as the Schottenstein Center). The Buckeye fans will revel knowing Sullinger, No. 2 in the ESPNU 100, is hometown product who preps at Northland High, currently No. 1 in ESPN's national rankings.
• The ACC and Big 10 lead the All-America charge with four recruits each; the Big 12, Conference-USA, the Big East and the SEC have two apiece.
• Oddly, there are seven uncommitted players in the game, with four on the West roster. Brandon Knight, a guard from Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the highest-rated undecided player (No. 3).
• When Doron Lamb plays, he'll become the 23rd player from national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.). Lamb, a former high school and club teammate of Pinkston's, is from the Laurelton neighborhood in Queens.
When the dup steps on court, they will become the first Canadians to play in the game. In 2003, future NBA player Olu Famutimi became the first Canadian named to the game -- he came from Northwestern High in Flint, Mich., but did not play because of injury. Thompson, a 6-10 post player who signed with Texas, said he's humbled by the committee's selection.
"It was one of my personal goals as a player; my family is so proud," he said. "Even [people] in Canada know this game is a really big deal. Once you make this game, everyone thinks you must be pretty good.
"I'm happy Cory [Joseph] made it, too. We're friends and that makes it even more special. When you start out playing basketball you never expect [ to get selected] it's hard to describe."
The selection process is lengthy.
The 48 players, boys and girls, were selected from 2,150 nominees by a committee of basketball experts. Morgan Wootten, who had more than 1,274 wins (second all-time) as head basketball coach at DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md., is the chairman of the selection committee.
Additionally, Hall of Fame UCLA coach John Wooden, who has been involved in the games since its inception, serves as a chairman.
Since 1977, nearly 1,000 players have competed in the McDonald's All-America Games, forming an elite list that includes some of the top names in basketball history, including Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and contemporary stars Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets).
The talent level at the game continues to soar, said Alonzo Mourning, who serves as captain of the McDonald's All-American Advisory Council and was a McDonald's All-American in 1988 and an NBA All-Star.
"Year after year, I am impressed with the extraordinary high school talent the McDonald's All-American Games brings to the forefront of the basketball world," he said. "These young athletes will not only get the chance to become basketball stars of the next generation, but more importantly they will be provided the opportunity to bring attention and raise money for an important cause and learn essential life lessons off the court."
The All-America games support Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit corporation that creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children.
The 2010 McDonald's All-Americans
Here are the complete rosters (including college choices) listed alphabetically.
East: 6-7 Reggie Bullock, Kinston (N.C.), North Carolina; 6-8 Tobias Harris, Half Hollow Hills West (Dix Hills, N.Y.), Tennessee; 6-3 Kyrie Irving, St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), Duke; 6-0 Joe Jackson, White Station (Memphis), Memphis; 6-11 Perry Jones, Duncanville (Texas), Baylor; Jelan Kendrick, Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), Memphis; 6-9 C.J. Leslie, Word of God Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), undecided; 6-4 Kendall Marshall, Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), North Carolina; 6-7 Jayvaughn Pinkston, Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Villanova; Josh Selby, Lake Clifton (Baltimore), undecided; 6-9 Jared Sullinger, Northland (Columbus, Ohio), Ohio State; 6-7 Deshaun Thomas, Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Ohio State.
West: 6-3 Keith Appling, Pershing (Detroit), Michigan State; 6-8 Harrison Barnes, Ames (Iowa), North Carolina; 6-9 Terrence Jones, Jefferson (Portland, Ore.), undecided; 6-3 Cory Joseph, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), undecided; Brandon Knight, Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), undecided; 6-4 Doron Lamb, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), undecided; 6-1 Ray McCallum, Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), undecided; 7-0 Fab Melo, Sagemont School (Weston, Fla.), Syracuse; 6-8 Jereme Richmond, Waukegan (Ill.), Illinois; 6-10 Joshua Smith, Kentwood (Kent, Wash.), UCLA; 6-10 Tristan Thompson, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), Texas; 6-9 Patric Young, Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.), Florida.
Both three-man coaching staffs will be announced next week.
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today.