PJ Washington (25) tussles with Michael Porter Jr. (1) in the McDonald’s All-American game 03-29-17 at the United Center. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Missouri recruit Michael Porter Jr. lives up to hype in McDonald’s All-American game

SHARE Missouri recruit Michael Porter Jr. lives up to hype in McDonald’s All-American game
SHARE Missouri recruit Michael Porter Jr. lives up to hype in McDonald’s All-American game

The only truly dynamic moment in the McDonald’s All-American game came early. Michael Porter, Jr., who spent the week telling reporters he wants to be one of the greatest players in history, drove to the basket and was forcefully blocked by Mo Bamba.

Bamba didn’t yell or celebrate, but the message was clear: Porter wasn’t going to be allowed to cruise through this All-Star game.

“It was highly intense,” Porter said. “We all know each other on a personal level. All we talk about all week is winning the game”

Porter, a 6-10 Missouri recruit and Bamba, an uncommitted 6-11 center, are dynamic talents. Both are consensus top five players in the country. Porter won the overall battle. He scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds and was named game MVP as he led the West team to a 109-107 win over the East on Wednesday at the United Center.

“This is a dream come true,” Porter said. “I just wanted to go out and have fun but this game was competitive. To be MVP of this game means the world to me. These are the top 24 players in the country.”

Bamba had 17 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Kevin Knox II scored 15 and Wendell Carter Jr., Duke recruit, added 10 points for the East.

By the second half all the intensity was gone. The All-Americans have several practices during the three-day event and play a hotly-contested scrimmage in front of NBA scouts on Tuesday. So it is understandable if they are drained by Wednesday night.

St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare was the coach of the West. He made sure his players knew what the NBA scouts would be looking for.

“I just told the guys a couple things they are going to be looking at,” DeCesare said. “Do you love to play, can you pass and can you make players around you better?”

East guard Collin Sexton, a 6-3 Alabama recruit, was the game’s most dynamic guard. He had eight points, seven assists and four steals. He also won the dunk contest on Monday.

Brandon McCoy, who grew up on the west side and moved to San Diego for high school, had a tremendous all-around game. The uncommitted 6-11 center finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

The teams were a combined 11 for 53 from the three-point line. Porter said the United Center was a difficult place to shoot and several players had complaints about the basketball.

Porter, a thoughtful and soft-spoken kid, managed to live up to his hype.

“I think for all of us there is a lot of pressure that people put on us,” Porter said. “I try to put that aside and not worry about what other people think of me and just go try to play the game I love.”

The week in the spotlight, the glitzy NBA venue and the big-time press conference hit home with Bamba.

“I will miss the purity of high school basketball,” Bamba said. “The fun and games are over. It is all business now.”

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