It’s just an All-Star game, a show for the crowd, and in the end no one really remembers which team wins. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Simeon’s Robert Smith, who is coaching the West Team Wednesday at the United Center in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
The West features the only local player, Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson, and Smith thinks he might be the key to victory.
“He does a great job running the team,” said Smith. “He can score when he has to but that’s not what he’s looking to do. He’s getting everyone else involved and I think that’s going to give us an edge.”
Brunson appears to have developed some chemistry with 7-0 Stephen Zimmerman Jr. Brunson was Zimmerman’s partner in the dunk contest on Tuesday. He fed the big man several spot-on passes for dunks. Expect to see more of that Wednesday.
Zimmerman, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, is one of eight uncommitted players in the game. It’s an unusually high number of undecided players this late in the recruiting process. Seven of those players are ranked in the top 13 in the nation by scout.com (6-10 Thomas Bryant is ranked No. 33).
Smith is dead right when he speculates on the reason so many are still undecided: “I think a lot of them are waiting to see what happens with Kentucky, who leaves and who stays.”
Jaylen Brown, Bryant, Zimmerman and Newman are all considering the Wildcats, so that’s half the group.
“I think all the coaching changes have some kids up in the air still too,” Smith. “There are always a lot of coaches changing spots in the spring, so sometimes it makes sense to wait and see how that all ends up.”
Brunson decided on Villanova back in September, putting an end to his long and heavily-analyzed recruitment. He’s had to spend the last week surrounded by peers still obsessing over their future.
“Everyone is still talking recruiting and it’s almost April,” said Brunson. “I am kind of tired of it. One of the big subjects this week is just where everyone is or isn’t going to go or whatever.”
Brown, a 6-7 wing, and Ben Simmons, a 6-8 power forwarded headed to LSU are considered the top two players in the game. Keep an eye on Ingram. The 6-8 small forward from Kinston, NC was electric during practices this week and seems destined to climb up from his current Scout.com rank of No. 13.
Smith named Ingram and Newman as the two best players on the West.
“They really stood out in practice,” said Smith. “Ingram is really impressive, you can just see how high the ceiling is for him, he has a lot of potential.”
|Dwayne Bacon||SF||6 – 6||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA)||Florida State|
|Antonio Blakeney||G||6 – 4||Oak Ridge (Orlando, FL)||LSU|
|Isaiah Briscoe||PG||6 – 3||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, NJ)||Kentucky|
|Jaylen Brown||SF||6 – 7||Wheeler (Marietta, GA)||Undecided|
|Thomas Bryant||C||6 – 10||Huntington Prep (Huntington, WV)||Undecided|
|Cheick Diallo||PF||6 – 9||Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY)||Undecided|
|Henry Ellenson||PF||6 – 10||Rice Lake High School (Rice Lake, WI)||Marquette|
|Jawun Evans||PG||6 – 0||Justin F. Kimball High School (Dallas, TX)||Oklahoma St.|
|Luke Kennard||G||6 – 5||Franklin (Franklin, OH)||Duke|
|Dedric Lawson||PF||6 – 8||Hamilton (Memphis, TN)||Memphis|
|Ben Simmons||PF||6 – 9||Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL)||LSU|
|Diamond Stone||C||6 – 10||Dominican (Whitefish Bay, WI)||Undecided|
|Carlton Bragg||PF||6 – 9||Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, OH)||Kansas|
|Jalen Brunson||PG||6 – 1||Stevenson (Lincolnshire, IL)||Villanova|
|Deyonta Davis||PF||6 – 9||Muskegon (Muskegon, MI)||Michigan St.|
|P.J. Dozier, Jr||PG||6 – 6||Spring Valley (Columbia, SC)||South Carolina|
|Brandon Ingram||SF||6 – 8||Kinston High School (Kinston, NC)||Undecided|
|Chase Jeter||C||6 – 10||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)||Duke|
|Malik Newman||G||6 – 3||Callaway (Jackson, MS)||Undecided|
|Ivan Rabb||PF||6 – 10||Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, CA)||Undecided|
|Malachi Richardson||SF||6 – 6||Trenton Catholic Academy (Trenton, NJ)||Syracuse|
|Caleb Swanigan||C||6 – 8||Homestead (Fort Wayne, IN)||Undecided|
|Allonzo Trier||G||6 – 4||Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV)||Arizona|
|Stephen Zimmerman||C||7 – 0||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)||Undecided|