CHICAGO – Droves of media, NBA scouts and family members filed into the Quest Multiplex on Monday to watch as 24 of the top high school boys basketball players in the country duked it out at practice for the McDonald’s All American game, which tips Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST (ESPN) at the United Center.
From potentially dominant duos to sure-fire pros to random hairstyles that are hard to grasp, here’s what we learned after the two-hour grind.
Uncombed fros are in.
That’s right, the afro has come back with a vengeance; only now there’s no need to bring your comb. Nearly half the McDonald’s All Americans sported the new style at Monday’s practice.
Deion Sanders had a famous saying, “Look good, play good; you play good the pay’s good.”
Whether the style looks good or not, they’re all playing good and that’s all that matters.
East should beat the West.
The general consensus among media members Monday was that the East’s squad “should” wipe the floor with the West — the operative word being should.
It makes sense, the East has Montverde Academy’s (Montverde, Fla.) Ben Simmons, a forward who is considered the consensus No. 1 player in the class; Wheeler’s (Marietta, Ga.) Jaylen Brown, a wing who is ranked No. 2 overall in the ESPN 100; and Roselle Catholic’s (Roselle, N.J.) Isaiah Briscoe, the No. 1 point guard in the ESPN 100.
Plus, super scorers like Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) shooting guard Dwayne Bacon, Franklin (Franklin, Ohio) shooting guard Luke Kennard, Oak Ridge (Orlando) shooting guard Antonio Blakeney and Justin F. Kimball (Dallas) point guard Jawun Evans.
Add in frontcourt players like Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) center Diamond Stone and Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) forward Thomas Bryant, and it’s hard to conceive a scenario where the West could pull out the win.
To further strengthen that point, the East seemed to gel together as a cohesive unit better than the West.
That said, the West has Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) combo guard Malik Newman, who is ranked No. 4 overall in the ESPN 100, and anything is possible when he’s pulling the proverbial trigger.
2015 NBA draftees should be happy about the rule
Back in 2005, the NBA implemented an age limit requiring players to be a year removed from high school, sending most players to college for a year before declaring for the draft.
Most players scoff at the rule, but this year’s draft class should be glad it’s in place because if high school players were still allowed to go straight to the NBA, a few spots in the first round and lottery would be spoken for starting with Simmons and Brown.
Both have the skill, size and, most importantly, potential that NBA general managers drool over, and both showed why they’re ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the class at Monday’s practice.
There are others in the 2015 class who could potentially make the jump such as Newman, but come June at least two players who get drafted in the first round should send Simmons and Brown “thank you” cards.
Newman, Ingram is a devastating 1-2 punch
The two players who figure to keep the West within striking distance are Newman and Kinston (Kinston, N.C.) wing Brandon Ingram.
Newman dominated in the West’s intra-squad scrimmage, knocking down NBA threes, locking up defensively and blowing by his defender and finishing at the rim or creating easy scoring opportunities for teammates.
The player he found most often for scores, whether he was cutting to the basket or popping out on the wing, was Ingram.
Plus, Ingram’s 7-foot-4 wingspan created one headache of a defensive matchup all morning.
If the West is able to pull out the win, Newman and Ingram will be Co-MVP’s.
Anigwe will win the dunk contest
Dessert Vista (Phoenix) center Kristine Anigwe has officially entered the POWERADE Jam Fest dunk contest, which kicks off Monday at the University of Chicago at 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN2).
Yes, she can actually dunk and yes, and she’s going to win it.
RELATED: Meet Kristine Anigwe
That’s right, Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.) point guard P.J. Dozier Jr., Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) center Stephen Zimmerman, Oak Hill Academy shooting guard Dwayne Bacon and Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland) forward Carlton Bragg can hang it up because Anigwe, who stands 6-3 and is signed to California, is taking home the hardware.
You heard it here first.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY