McDonald's All-American Game 2022(terrible second half) Hot takes!!!!!!
I have to tell the truth about what I saw last night. I wouldn't be Big Tim if I did otherwise. I attended my tenth McDonald's All-American game last night. It's supposed to be the 24 best players in America for Class of 2022. There were lots of talent on the court as usual, and I've seen most of these players at many different settings over the past year, in person and online games. Here we go:
1) Second half was the worst half I've ever seen in a McDonald's game. The first half of the game was not bad, some great passes, decent shooting and athletic plays. I will say a couple of bad airball free throws in the first half were just ridiculous for players with this kind of talent. Yes exhibition games are not the greatest basketball, but last night's second half was not only boring, but ugly basketball to watch. The lack of skill level was abysmal and tells me I'm not sure where the future of basketball is going. I'm comparing this to other High school All-Star Games I've seen, so I know about the multiple practices, scrimmages, Ronald McDonald house and other responsibilities the young men have. I'm not making these comments in a vacuum; it was definitely the worst performance since the 2012 game which lacked great guard play. I've seen these young men play better in other settings, but I think the halftime show (not going anymore into that), messed up the second half. The young men did not get to warm up for the second half and it affected the rest of the game. The college coaches of these young men will have a lot of work to do on their skill level to see if this class lives up to billing.
2) No alpha dog in the class: A few of the top players in this class reclassed up to 2021 to play in college (Jalen Duren, Emoni Bates), and one went to college a semester early (Shaedon Sharpe). Another one is a 5th year player (Kyle Filipowski) and was not eligible for the game. Amari Bailey could be that guy, but he struggled getting space for his shot against length playing for the West. He's had a variety of injuries over the past year and I think that has put him behind a little bit. He'll have a chance to get it back together when he goes to UCLA next season. He did have 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the game. I will say I did not get to see the practices, which are the most important part for the young men. Most get their first introduction to NBA scouts watching them perform. The guys reclassing up may have watered down the class a little bit. Time will tell for these young men as they move on to the next level.
3) Programs were terrible: The programs in the past had the picture of the players, where they were from, height, weight, and a bio on each player. This one did not have that this year and they sold it for $25!!!!!! Are you kidding me? Maybe this is a consequence of the pandemic, but I can't think of a reason why it would affect a quality game program being produced?
4) Attendance and marketing: The announced attendance was just over 8,000 people. I've been to McDonald's All-American games in Chicago where it was seventeen to eighteen thousand. I don't think it was marketed real well in the Chicago Area, as I know a lot of basketball hoopheads that had no idea the game was this week. Used to have groups of elementary schools with about 100 kids, and they would be all over the top seats in the arena. I did not see that this year. Wintrust Arena is a great arena as there is not a bad seat in the house, and it's centrally located. Marketing could have done a better job and by a long shot. They did not get enough of the local media involved in promoting the game. Missed opportunity.
5) Big Tim's best performers:
Dariq Whitehead, Montverde Academy (FL): MVP of the game 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 3 of 7 from three, 7 rebounds 7 assists. Duke commit played well especially in the first half to help the East to a blowout win. The outside shooting supplements his explosive driving game to the basket. Will be a tough matchup in college.
Chris Livingston, Oak Hill Academy (VA): Kentucky commit had 13 points 2 of 4 from three, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, but 1 for 7 from the free throw line for the East. That will have to improve but showed nice explosiveness off the dribble. Has a chance to be a good two way player in college. John Calipari will demand he use his potential as a defender.
Mark Mitchell, Sunrise Christian (KS): Duke commit had a game high 19 points on 8 for 13 shooting and 2 for 3 from three, but 1 for 4 from the free throw line. Lefty was aggressive getting to the basket and making the most of his opportunities for the West. Big time slasher at the next level.
Anthony Black, Duncanville,TX: Arkansas commit was efficient especially for having the third least amount of minutes for the West. Had 4 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists 1 steal. He made some great passes that could have given him more assists, but the receiver dropped the ball, or missed the dunk. Passed up an open three to drive to the basket, but almost finished it with the left hand reverse lay-up attempt. Once again showed he will be a two way monster at the next level. Arkansas needs to put the ball in his hands.
Conclusion: This game is for a great cause: the Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. However, if they want a big turnout in Chicago, it would help to promote it more than they did. Also it would help that a player or two from the area make the roster. This is not entirely their fault, the players, travel coaches in the area have to do a better job of promoting the players on the circuits. I will say Kam Craft and Jaden Schutt are two area players that should have joined Bailey on the team. They could have been replacements for the two injured players that did not play in the game.