BROOKLYN — The Jordan Brand Classic isn’t just an all-star game for some of the elite players here. Of the 26 boys on the roster, 10 of them have extra motivation after being passed over for the McDonald’s All American Game two weeks ago.
In Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic practice before a group of NBA scouts, Andrew Nembhard, a point guard from Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), made a few nice steals on defense and even had a difficult slam in traffic.
“I try to show a little bit of my athleticism,” said Nembhard, who has signed with Florida. “You want to compete and play against the best players. “It was obviously one of my goals to make that (McDonald’s) game, but unfortunately I didn’t, so now I want to show I should have been there. I want to show I can be a leader and help run a team.”
Tyler Herro, a 6-5 guard from Whitnall (Greenfield, Wis.), is a Kentucky signee, but he may have been snubbed for McDonald’s because he didn’t get to play against many elite players during his high school season, which ended in the state semifinals.
“I felt like I should have been in the McDonald’s game, but it just didn’t go my way,” Herro said. “I feel like this week I can prove myself. I think everyone knows me as a shooter, but I think I’m much more than that. I’m not just a spot-up shooter. I can create.”
Emmitt Williams, a power forward from Oak Ridge (Orlando), has signed with Louisiana State. His McDonald’s diss may be a special circumstance. Well known for his high-flying dunks, he faced sexual battery and false imprisonment charges this season. Though the charges were dismissed, he said they cost him the chance to play in McDonald’s and the Nike Hoop Summit next week in Portland, Ore.
“I didn’t get to play in McDonald’s, so I’m working my ass off to show I should have been there,” Williams said. “Everyone knows I went through that situation, that I didn’t do it and they sat on me and thought I was going to lay down.”
Ayo Dosunmu, a 6-4 point guard who is an Illinois signee, led Morgan Park (Chicago) to a 3A state title last month.
“I’m from Chicago, so I’m used to the politics, but I’m going to come here, whoever I’m going to guard, to pick my man up 94 feet from the basket,” Dosunmu said.
While Williams is using his McDonald’s snub as motivation, he wants to live in the present.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” Williams said. “I’m going to enjoy the moment and have fun, but at the same time do what I do best — have a motor and support my team.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at: @jimhalley