McDonald's All-American Game Recap

April 3, 2009

Earlier this week the University of Miami hosted the 32nd edition of the annual McDonalds High School All-American Basketball game. The East Team prevailed over the West in a closely contested 113-110 game, behind the clutch playmaking of Brooklyn's Lance Stephenson, and the inside scoring of Georgia Tech's prized recruit Derrick Favors.

This game is normally considered one of those "can't miss" events for college and professional hoops fans, as it routinely provides a glimpse of the game's future stars. This year was no exception, as the game featured some of the top talent in the nation from the 2009 class, as well as several intriguing one-on-one matchups.

Although the game certainly could not be considered the most aesthetically pleasing to basketball purists with all the flashy ball-handling and fancy alley-oop passes, the young stars of tomorrow certainly put on quite a show for all in attendance.

Favors, recently honored as the Morgan Wooten National High School Player of the Year, was likely the most touted big man heading into the game, and although he earned game MVP honors with his 19-point, 8-rebound performance, he did not have the most impressive overall game.

In fact, Oak Hill Academy product Keith "Tiny" Gallon (Oklahoma Sooners) and Renardo Sidney of Los Angeles' Fairfax High (USC) both showed an impressive ability to hit the face-up mid-range jumper.

That being said, Favors obviously has shown himself to be no slouch, and with the exception of the still undecided DeMarcus Cousins, Favors was likely the most athletically explosive and polished post player on the floor.

UNC recruit Jon Henson also showed quite an intriguing all-around skill set. However, before he is to become an impact player for the Tar Heels, it will be imperative that Roy Williams and his staff in Chapel Hill pack some pounds onto his anorexic-like 6'10" 195-lb frame.

The game also featured a decidedly more competitive edge than in past years, as there were several interesting matchups between players ranked at the top of their class in their respective positions.

One of those matchups pitted wing Xavier Henry (rated as the #1 overall high school player in the country, regardless of position) against Brooklyn's Stephenson. Stephenson and Henry, arguably the two most impressive athletes on the floor, had done their best all week to downplay any developing rivalry, but rumors flew all week prior to the game that Stephenson had grown quite resentful of the attention being heaped upon Oklahoma City's Henry.

Stephenson, the latest in a long line of dynamic point guards to come out of coach Tiny Morton's Lincoln High program in Coney Island (past alums include Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair), had been considered the top recruit from the class of 2009 as far back as 2004 when he starred on the Lincoln varsity as an eighth-grader. However, in this game, he came out looking absolutely listless and disinterested through much of the early-going. After several forced shots and bad passes from Stephenson, it was little wonder that the effortless and silky-smooth game displayed by Henry had allowed him to supplant the highly-touted Brooklynite in the minds of many.

When matched up one-on-one, it was the stronger-than-advertised Henry who was able to get whatever he wanted on the floor. It was little wonder that Henry was reportedly the one hang-up that could have prevented John Calipari from bolting to Kentucky, as Calipari allegedly did not decide upon his departure until getting reassurances that Henry would eventually join him.

Stephenson, to his credit was just as good down the stretch in crunch time as he was bad in the early going. Virtually every choice he made over the course of the game's last 3-4 minutes (with the outcome still in doubt) led to a positive result for the East squad, whether it was his decision to pull-up in transition, to penetrate and probe the defense, or to whip a touch pass to a big man for an easy bucket. Stephenson showed that, at least on this night, he plays his best during "winning time."

Stephenson is still currently undecided as to his college choice, but has said that he is still considering Kansas, UCLA, Texas, St. Johns, Memphis, or Kentucky.

Apart from the surprising play of the bigs, and the compelling matchup between the two scintillating swingmen, there also was some fantastic guard play. Many of this year's young guards took the opportunity of being in the national television spotlight to show off a bit, as is most often the case with all-star games.

Probably the most impressive of all the point guards featured in this year's game was Louisville recruit Peyton Siva of Franklin High in Seattle. The diminutive guard -- generously listed at 5'11" -- looks to be the latest in a long line of standout guards to come from the ridiculously deep talent pool that exists in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Siva was joined in the game by fellow Seattle-area guards Avery Bradley and Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy will be headed to Washington to team with Isaiah Thomas in a high-powered backcourt for coach Lorenzo Romar.

Siva should turn out to be a prized find for Rick Pitino and his Cardinal staff. Siva made the highlight play of the game when he completed a dazzling 360-degree finger-roll layup in transition with Bradley hot on his heels trying to contest the play.

Although the diminutive Siva was certainly the most explosive and dynamic of this year's point guards, Maalik Wayns also was impressive in outplaying Gaddy. Villanova's Jay Wright has got to be ecstatic when thinking of how Wayns and fellow McDonald's All-American 2-guard Dominic Cheek will help a Wildcats team that is currently preparing to play in the Final Four.

Overall, it was another great glimpse into the bright future of basketball's stars of tomorrow.

Box Score

WEST (110) — Sidney 5-14 0-0 11, Gaddy 3-9 0-2 6, Bradley 6-10 2-3 15, Henry 5-11 1-3 14, Henson 7-10 0-0 14, Mason-Griffin 2-11 0-0 5, D.Wear 0-2 0-0 0, Snaer 6-9 1-2 13, T.Wear 3-5 0-0 6, Gallon 8-11 3-3 20, Plumlee 3-8 0-0 6. Totals 48-100 7-13 110.

EAST (113) — Stephenson 6-11 0-2 12, Wayns 2-6 1-1 5, Kelly 3-6 0-0 6, Strickland 0-4 2-2 2, Favors 9-13 1-3 19, Taylor 6-11 3-3 15, Boynton 4-11 2-3 10, Cousins 6-9 1-4 14, Jennings 2-3 0-0 4, Siva 3-5 0-0 6, Cheek 6-8 1-5 15, Oriahki 1-3 3-5 5. Totals 48-100 7-13 113.

Halftime — West 63-55. 3-point goals — West 7-26 (Henry 3-6, Gallon 1-1, Bradley 1-2, Sidney 1-3, Mason-Griffin 1-6, D.Wear 0-1, Snaer 0-2, Plumlee 0-2, Gaddy 0-3), East 3-15 (Cheek 2-2, Cousins 1-2, Wayns 0-1, Kelly 0-1, Siva 0-1, Stephenson 0-2, Strickland 0-2, Boynton 0-4). Fouled out — Stephenson. Rebounds — West 49 (Sidney, Bradley 6), East 55 (Favors, Cousins 8). Assists — West 20 (Mason-Griffin 4), East 30 (Siva 9). Total fouls — West 18, East 15. A — 5,981.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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