Looking at the most recent NBA Mock draft by Derek Bodner of USA TODAY Sports, 11 former American Family Insurance ALL-USA boys basketball players are likely to go in the first round of this year’s NBA draft on Thursday.
Of that group, nine were on the 2014 ALL-USA team, making it potentially the strongest class of former ALL-USA players. The key word is potentially, because we won’t know for several years how that group will fare in the NBA.
We have a little better vision while examining previous ALL-USA teams, however, with a caveat. The ALL-USA teams are chosen on the players’ performance in high school, not their pro potential. So, a player who might be a “tweener” because of his size in the NBA could still be very dominant in high school. With that said, here’s our updated ranking of the best ALL-USA classes in the NBA:
The Top Five
- 1995. All five first-teamers (Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Ron Mercer), were taken in the first round of the NBA Draft and averaged double-digits in the NBA. All of them, with the exception of Mercer, were NBA All-Stars with Carter and Garnett likely headed to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- 2002. The class has four NBA Draft first-round choices who averaged or are averaging double-digit scoring for their NBA careers, including three perennial All-Stars (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire). Raymond Felton was a solid pro and Chris Bosh has also been to multiple All-Star Games. James and Anthony are likely Hall of Famers.
- 1988. Start with Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning, then add in four quality NBA players who averaged double-digit points for their careers (Chris Jackson, Chris Mills, Billy Owens and Kenny Williams).
- 1991. Five first-rounders (Alan Henderson, Juwan Howard, Glenn Robinson, David Vaughn and Chris Webber) and three perennial All-Stars in Howard, Robinson and Webber.
- 1989. All five (Kenny Anderson, Doug Edwards, Allan Houston, Bobby Hurley and Jim Jackson) were drafted in the first round. Anderson and Houston were All-Stars and Hurley might have been if not for a car accident that shortened his career.
Four on the rise
- 2007. For now, this is the ‘what-if’ team. Rose has been a league MVP and an All-Star and Kevin Love is a three-time All-Star, but injuries have slowed both of their careers. However, all five first-teamers (Love, Rose, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and Kyle Singler) are playing in the league and all but Singler averaged double-figure scoring this season.
- 2009. The class includes four first-round picks (John Wall, Avery Bradley, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins). Of that group, Wall was an All-Star in 2014 and had a career-high average in assists this season. Favors and Cousins also had career years this season. Two second-teamers, Kawhi Leonard and Brandon Knight, also had career seasons.
- 2012. Begin with first-teamer Anthony Davis, who’s already an NBA All-Star and a future league MVP. Another first-teamer that year, Bradley Beal, had a breakout performance in the playoffs this season and is a likely future All-Star. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a career season and looks to be a longtime pro. James McAdoo, a first-teamer who wasn’t even drafted, nevertheless managed to win a D League title and NBA title in his first pro season. Second-teamer Shabazz Muhammad had a career season despite injuries and was chosen for the league’s Rising Stars Challenge.
- 2013. Still too early to tell, especially with all the injuries to first-team players this season. However, 2013 ALL-USA Player of the Year Andrew Wiggins was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. First-teamer Jabari Parker was playing well before he was hurt (12.3 points a game and 5.5 rebounds a game). Joel Embiid was drafted No. 3 overall but sat out the season with injuries and Julius Randle broke his leg the first game of the season after being drafted No. 7. Jahlil Okafor (who was a junior on the 2013 team) could be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and three other 2013 ALL-USA players are expected to go in the first two rounds this season: Bobby Portis; Dakari Johnson; and Andrew Harrison.