CHICAGO – Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kris Wilkes both had McDonald’s moments Wednesday night.
The Indianapolis-area pair both had dunks in the 40th McDonald’s All-American Game at Chicago’s United Center, capping off a week in the spotlight.
“It was a dream since I was young and now it’s complete,” said Jackson, a Carmel native. “I’m happy I got a dunk in, and I was able to show out a little bit and we got the win.”
La Lumiere’s Jackson scored five points as his West team held off Wilkes and the East, 109-107.
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In truth, the Indy pair probably should’ve just changed teams before the game.
Jackson, who has signed with Michigan State, played for the West with four Pac-12 prospects, while Wilkes, committed to UCLA, played with an East team and against his future Bruins teammate Jaylen Hands.
North Central’s Wilkes, a contender for IndyStar Mr. Basketball, scored all eight of his points in a 2-minute, 5-second burst midway through the second half.
“I was quiet for a while there,” Wilkes said. “Something just clicked in my head that you can’t leave going out like this, so I when I knocked down that first shot, I felt like I was going on a streak.”
Jackson’s highlight was a two-handed put-back dunk late in the first half of the game, in which West teammate Michael Porter Jr., a recent Missouri commit, was named MVP after scoring 17 points. He tied undecided Mo Bamba of the East team with game-high honors.
Jackson also had a chance to do a little recruiting for future coach Tom Izzo.
The son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson Sr. arrived Sunday to find out he was rooming with undecided five-star San Diego center Brandon McCoy, who is considering the Spartans in his final group.
Jackson, who has been wooing La Lumiere and McDonald’s teammate Brian Bowen II all season, squeezed in additional sales pitches to two of the six uncommitted players in the game.
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“I’m just trying to tell them to ‘Go Green,’” said Jackson, who played three years at Park Tudor before transferring to La Lumiere in La Porte for his senior season.
Jackson and Bowen had a 4 a.m. wake-up call Thursday in Chicago for a flight to New York City for the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School nationals. The top-seeded Lakers, who do not compete in the Indiana High School Athletic Association tournament, play Wasatch (Utah) in a quarterfinal game on Thursday.
La Lumiere was the only high school with two McDonald’s All-American selections. With three McDonald’s All-Americans on the boys side, Indiana matched Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and California for the most All-Americans.
Among the highlights of the week for the athletes was a Monday trip to the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, where sick children and their families can stay during difficult times.
Dana Evans of Gary West, who represented Indiana in the girls game, said that was something she’ll never forget. Then, on Wednesday, she scored four points for the East in an 80-74 overtime victory.
A large contingent of her family and friends from Northwest Indiana made the short trip and got her attention during pregame warm-ups.
“They made it known,” Evans said. “I was just taking it all in.”
Evans, who has signed with Louisville, is one of three finalists for IndyStar Miss Basketball, which will be announced at the Indiana Sports Awards on April 27.