2019 McDonalds All American Game: Players to watch
While the actual festivities don’t begin until late March, the 2019 McDonalds All American Game rosters were announced this past week. The event features 24 of the nation’s top boys and girls and is widely recognized as the most prestigious high school all star game in the country. The Jamfest and all star game are televised on ESPN, so to the casual fan, this may be their introduction to the stars of tomorrow. While all of the participants are extremely talented, I’m going to give you some names that I think you should remember for March, and the future.
Cole Anthony (Uncommitted)
There aren’t many high school players in recent memory that have had a more productive high school career than Cole Anthony. On the AAU circuit, he was a three time Peach Jam attendee, and was awarded a spot on the first team on two occasions. He was also named regular season MVP of the EYBL as he dominated his opponents for 26.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 3.5 APG throughout the 16 game stretch. On the high school scene, Anthony made Archbishop Molloy one of the teams to beat in New York City, before making the move to transfer to national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. Despite relocating to Mouth of Wilson, VA it’s safe to say that Anthony made his mark on the concrete jungle, Slam Magazine dubbed him “Prince of the City” in his cover shoot. What makes Anthony so special is his ability to impact every facet of the game. He rebounds the ball extremely well for a point guard and is always looking to get his teammates involved. With that being said, Anthony can still get a bucket at any time, he is very crafty around the rim and can bring the hammer above the rim. The New York City native’s jump shot is looking as smooth as its ever been, he shot 38% from deep in the EYBL on nearly seven attempts per game. If Anthony can consistently shoot it at that clip, he’ll be nearly unstoppable. Lastly, his end to end speed is second to none in the high school game and will certainly be on display in March.
Nico Mannion (Arizona)
Mannion is the epitome of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” While it’s no secret there has only been a short list of gingers to make it to the league, the “Red Mamba” is a straight killer and is certainly on track to add to the list. Once a five-star prospect in the 2020 class, this past summer Mannion elected to reclassify to the class of 2019. The move is looking better and better each day, as he is decimating his high school opponents en route to another state championship. Mannion has certainly put his local public high school (Pinnacle) on the map. Earlier in the year, he banked in a game winning three (don’t worry, he called it) as time expired to lead the Pioneers to a victory over nationally ranked Shadow Mountain. (https://twitter.com/ballislife/status/1068736226532966400?s=21) Similarly to his fellow All American Cole Anthony, Mannion also had a very productive summer. He put up staggering numbers on the Under Armour circuit while playing alongside Josh Green, also an Arizona commit. He then made his way to Italy to play for their men’s national team. Not the 19U or the 18U, the real national team, and Mannion more than held his own. He then finished off his summer by participating in the famed SC30 Select Camp, hosted by the man himself, Steph Curry. While at the camp, the five star point guard won the “King of the Court” challenge. For those who don’t know, “King of the court” is a game of 1 on 1 in a half court setting, Mannion was unstoppable and was getting buckets in every way you could think of (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QuoYdJEwMCM) The Arizona commit truly has the entire package. He can score at and above the rim, his mid-range pull ups are basically automatic, and he has NBA range both of the catch and the dribble. Mannion has next level vision, and is great at drawing the defense to him and then finding the open teammate. Get on the bandwagon now, because Mannion and Green will be must-see TV in Tucson next year.
Scottie Lewis (Florida)
After an amazing performance at the Hoophall classic, NBA scouts are already buzzing about his pro potential. But before he gets to hear commissioner Silver call his name, he’ll be playing in the McDonalds All American Game. Personally, I have a ton of admiration for Scottie Lewis’ game. I’ve never seen him play in person, but the passion he brings to the game is palpable on television. I first heard about Lewis when I was in 6th grade (he was in 7th), a video of Scottie Lewis posterizing a helpless opponent came across my Instagram feed. If I remember correctly, his handle at the time was “secondkd.” I’m not sure if the Kevin Durant player comp is the most accurate six years later, but at that moment, I knew Lewis was going to be a name to remember. With all that being said, we see plenty of gifted athletes that are the “Next big thing” because they are dunking in middle school, but they never fully round out their game. That definitely cannot be said about Lewis. Yes, he is still a freak athlete capable of making anyone of his opponents the victim of a SportsCenter Top10 dunk, but he has become way more than just an athlete. Lewis put his entire arsenal on display last weekend against nationally ranked Federal Way (WA). He knocked down multiple three pointers while elevating over his defenders to create space. He put the ball on the deck and blew by his defenders en route to the rim. But, the most dominant part of his entire performance was on the defensive end. Despite giving up five inches, Lewis locked down fellow five-star Jaden McDaniels. I have no doubt that Scottie Lewis’ combination of talent, athleticism, motor and character will provide him success in Gainesville and beyond.
Bryan Antoine (Villanova)
Last but certainly not least, is the second half of the Ranney/ Team Rio duo, Bryan Antoine. I can’t think of any way to describe Antoine’s game other than “bucket getter.” Yes, he is more than capable of being the primary ball handler and getting his teammates involved, or locking down on the defensive end. But when it really comes down to it, Antoine is going to give you a bucket, and it can come from anywhere on the court. The Villanova commit has also had a very storied high school career, throughout his four years at the Ranney School, Antoine, along with Florida commits Scottie Lewis and Alex Klatsky have propelled the program from a below average New Jersey team to a national powerhouse. Antoine also attended the SC30 select camp in the beginning of August and certainly made a name for himself. With only a few seconds left in the all star game and his team down two, he was handed the keys. Antoine took a few dribbles to his right before hitting a wildly off-balanced three pointer at the buzzer (https://twitter.com/overtime/status/1027057544324366336?s=21). His team won by one point and the ball didn’t even touch the rim. The Nova commit is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands attacking downhill. He has elite speed and explosiveness which allows him to get by his primary defender and elevate around and sometimes over (https://twitter.com/neilmjohnson/status/1087389208891871235?s=21) defenders in the paint. Antoine is also a lethal jump shooter, especially off the dribble. The bottom line is, Bryan Antoine is an elite scorer and should make an immediate impact at the next level.
This years McDonalds All American Game should be loaded with high flying athletes and guys who can get a bucket. After what many considered a “weak” group last year, the class of 2019 should bring a ton of star power and depth to Atlanta in March.