Thoughts on the 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game

September 12, 2018

by Alan Lu

A while back, I was able to watch the 2018 McDonald’s All-American game that was played on March 28th, as this featured notable top prospects such as R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, and others.  Here are some players that caught my eye in this contest.

R.J. Barrett is an athletic, highly skilled 6-7 swingman that will be attending Duke for the upcoming season.  He had a tremendous game to help the East, and he showed in this match that he could be the likely favorite to be the number one overall pick in 2019.

Barrett did a really good job of scoring on quick, aggressive drives to the hoop.  He has a nice set of ball handling moves, and he also has a solid first step off the dribble that allows him to regularly get past his man.  He was able to score on a thunderous dunk, and he also scored on an acrobatic, reverse layup.  Plus, he really excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Barrett can throw down emphatic jams on the break as he runs the floor really well, and he also can score on fast break drives in transition.  In addition, Barrett also can shoot it from downtown, as he was able to effortlessly knock down a spot-up three off the catch.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He didn’t look to pass much, but he was able to find an open shooter to notch an assist, and he also handles the ball really well.  He did commit some turnovers, as he can get the ball poked away at times, and he can be careless with his passes, as one ended up being intercepted.  In general, R.J. Barrett had a tremendous showing in this game, and he managed to score 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting.  His vast skill set and athleticism could enable him to be the top pick in 2019, and he could end up being a really good player in the NBA.

I also saw Duke’s incoming freshman, Zion Williamson play for the East.  Prior to this match, he was hyped to be a hyper-athletic combo forward that could be one of the best players to come out of this draft class.  He is a tremendous athlete, but he didn’t quite seem to play nearly as well as I hoped he would on that day.  Williamson is a very athletic, 6-6 forward that can finish many plays above the rim, and he also can grab rebounds and steals for his team.

He did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He often would score in transition, as he can catch lobs and throw down powerful dunks on the break, and he also scored on a fast break drive.  He also managed to catch a lob pass off of a cut to score on an alley-oop layup.  However, sometimes he would miss shots around the basket, as he would not always play under control.  He also missed once on a half-court drive as he surprisingly struggled to score in traffic on this day.  Also, Williamson did not once look to take a jumper against the West.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Williamson is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he also threw an interior pass off of a drive to set up a scoring chance for a teammate.  But sometimes, he may commit turnovers on occasion, as on one play, he had a ball poked away when driving to the hoop.  He also excelled as an offensive rebounder, and he also can jump on loose balls to get steals for his team.

In summary, Zion Williamson had some good moments, but he did not really play as well as I thought he would.  He is a great athlete, but he really tries to force the issue sometimes to his and the team’s detriment, and he didn’t at all look to take jumpers.  He will need to be a more skilled offensive player, and he may need to show that he can consistently play solid position defense.  Even so, he could potentially be a top 5 pick for the 2019 draft if he has a good freshman season this year.

Nassir Little is a very athletic, 6-6 swingman that will be attending North Carolina, and he played very well to help lift the West team to a narrow win in the 2018 McDonald’s All-American game.  He showed off a variety of skills on offense, and his ability to score the basketball really helped his squad get the victory.  Little did a great job of scoring on hustle plays.  He would often throw down emphatic jams to get scores on fast breaks, and he even caught a lob pass to score on a one-handed alley-oop dunk.  Plus, he also managed to score on a tip slam, and he also rolled hard to the hoop to score on another dunk.

Plus, he also is a good scorer on drives to the basket, and he was able to make a fallaway layup from a high post drive while drawing an extra free throw.  Also, he shot the ball well from beyond the arc.  Little was able to use a jab step to make a corner three, and he also made a deep three another time in this contest.  He also passed and handled the ball well.  Little was able to throw a lob pass in transition to set up a score, and he is an unselfish player that will look to move the basketball.  Also, he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  In summary, Nassir Little had a really good game, as he showed off strong shooting and scoring skills as well as solid athletic gifts, and he could be a top 5 pick in the 2019 draft.

6-6 guard, Romeo Langford also played very well, as he will be playing for Indiana for the upcoming season.  He showed off solid athleticism and versatile scoring skills.  He is a good scorer off the dribble, and he was able to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a drive.  He also showed off a good ability to make jumpers, as he excelled at making spot-up threes, and he also was able to make a pull-up, mid-range jump shot.  In summary, Langford could end up being a first round pick if he has a good season this year.

Cameron Reddish also had a solid game, as he will be playing for Duke in the fall.  He showed a good ability to score off the dribble as well as in transition, and he was able to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup off of a high post drive once.  Also, Reddish showed off solid playmaking skills.  He can throw good interior passes, and he was able to throw an accurate lob pass to set up a score.  He also showed off adequate defensive skills.  He was able to take a ball away to get a steal, but he also committed a foul on a drive to give up a score and an extra free throw.  In summary, Reddish is a skilled, athletic basketball player that could potentially go in the lottery.  He will need to improve his jump shot, but his versatility could allow him to have a very good freshman season.

Nazreon Reid is a very athletic, 6-9 big man that will be playing for LSU.   He did a great job of scoring on hustle plays, ass he was able to score often in transition as well as off of offensive rebounds, and he also showed off solid rebounding and good playmaking skills, especially for his size.  He was able to score on a reverse dunk in transition, and he also used an overhead ball fake to score on a fast break drive.  Plus, Reid was able to throw a lob pass to set up a score on the break.  Reid is a talented player that could be a solid addition to the LSU Tigers, and he could end up going in the mid first round if he has a good freshman season.

David McCormack is a very athletic, 6-10 center that will be playing for Kansas, and he also excelled at getting points and rebounds when he was on the floor.  On one play, he ran the floor to score on a powerful windmill dunk in transition, and he also scored another time on a thunderous put back jam.  Plus, he also rolled hard to the hoop to score on a double pump leaner.  Overall, McCormack could end up being a first round pick for the 2019 draft.

6-10 big man, Jalen Smith had a fairly good game, as he will playing for Maryland.  He excelled at scoring in transition, and he also managed to make a mid-range jump shot off of a pick and pop play.  Overall, he could be a player to watch for the upcoming season.

6-10 Jordan Brown is an athletic big man that will be attending Nevada, and he is an energetic rim runner that played very well in this game.  He managed to score 26 points on 13-of-19 shooting, and he also grabbed 8 rebounds to help the West get the win.  I didn’t scout him that intensively on that day as there were a lot of players in this game, so it was hard to keep track of everybody. 

As for Darius Bazley, I was able to rewatch some of his highlights with thanks to YouTube via 2K KENNY Highlights.  In this game, was able to score 11 points and grab 7 rebounds, and he also made a couple of threes in this match.  Bazley made a couple of open, spot-up threes, including one off of a pick and pop play, and he took advantage of when opponents would give him ample space to shoot.  He did seem to have a bit of a slow release, but he was very effective at making outside shots from beyond the arc.  Also, he would sometimes run the floor to present himself as a scoring option in transition.

Defensively in this game, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Bazley can defend pretty well when he’s motivated, as he has good feet to defend opponents out on the perimeter, he will look to play passing lanes, and he can also make good rotations when he needs to do so.  On the other hand, he didn’t always seem to give a great effort defensively.  He would be prone to commit the occasional reach-in foul, as he did so once after getting back on defense to pick up a man, but it led to his team to allow a score and an extra free throw to an opponent on the break.  Sometimes, he would not always run hard back on defense, and he also struggled to stay with a quick crossover on a drive once, which led him to allow a basket.

Based on what I saw in this game, he could end up being more of a role player if he succeeds in the NBA, as he could develop into a reliable outside shooter if he works hard on his game.  Bazley seems to have a similar game to that of current Philadelphia 76ers’ forward, Wilson Chandler, and he could end up going in the late first to the mid second round range for the 2019 NBA Draft.