Trae Young has dropped NBA three-pointers that captivated capacity crowds at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam tournament.
P.J. Washington has driven into the lane and posterized defenders from other countries while capturing gold with USA Basketball’s Under-18 national team and Brian Bowen has laced ’em up Madison Square Garden, competing for a high school basketball national title.
All amazing feats, yet none of them has given any of the players the type of contentment to feel like they’ve, even briefly, achieved their ultimate goal at this level.
“I’ve always wanted to be a McDonald’s All American,” Young said. “That’s just the ultimate honor. It’s really, truly every high school player’s dream.”
Young, Washington and Bowen joined 21 other players representing 13 states to realize that dream when rosters were revealed Sunday night. The games tip March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.
Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Indiana and California all led the way on the boys’ side with three All Americans apiece.
“It’s such a blessing, it was my top personal goal,” said Bowen, a wing at La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), which is ranked No. 1 overall in the USA Today Super 25. “I’ve really worked so hard and put in a lot of time to go after this goal and now that I have done it, it’s big, it’s big.”
Kentucky had the most recruits represented in the game with four, Duke and UCLA had two apiece.
Washington, a forward at No. 4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), said he’s been looking up to the McDonald’s All Americans from the past “since I was a kid.”
“Now I’m one,” said Washington, a Kentucky signee. “It’s a great feeling. I’m excited. I’m gonna enjoy it and then make some new goals from here.”
McDonald’s All American Selection Committee member Joe Wootten said it’s important for the players to “hit the reset button” before coming to Chicago.
“Every NBA team will have their general manager and scouts there evaluating the practices,” Wootten said. “Numerous GM’s tell me that it’s the No. 1 event to evaluate talent before the NBA Draft and that includes college games and Pre-Draft Camp because at no time will you have 24 talented players all in the same gym playing against each other. It’s a chance for the guys to differentiate themselves even more.”
Young said thoroughly plans to have an “even higher level of focus” headed into the game.
“It’s the best of the best and you have to bring your ‘A’ game because everyone’s on the same level,” Young said. “So many great players have come through this game. I can remember watching it every year with my dad and my grandfather who passed away. That was special for us. It means a lot to be a McDonald’s All American and it’s something I’ll never take for granted.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY