Starting Five: McDonald's All-American Game storylines
ATLANTA -- McDonald's All-American Game week is here and the Rivals.com crew is in town to cover all of the week's action and news. As practices kick off, which storylines will be the most important to follow throughout the week. National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi discusses in this week's Starting Five.
1. WHO MAKES THE STRONGEST CASE FOR NO. 1
Stop me if I'm sounding like a broken record here because this has been something we've been discussing all year. But, the fact of the matter is that as we near our final ranking, nobody in the class of 2019 has made a strong claim to the No. 1 spot.
Duke bound Vernon Carey has held the top spot since we began ranking the class and he's certainly been terrific throughout his career. But, it has never been a case where he's left any shadow of a doubt about his claim to the top spot. This week is the best chance for another player to wrestle that spot away from him.
Complicating the matter is that Carey is coming off of an ankle injury and whether or not he'll be at 100% is a question. The next five in the rankings, No. 2 Anthony Edwards, No. 3 James Wiseman, No. 4 Cole Anthony, No. 5 Isaiah Stewart and No. 6 Jaden McDaniels have all been hot on his heels and have made cases of their own. This week is their best chance to make convincing claim of their own.
At least from my perspective and based on what I saw during the high school season, the Memphis bound seven-footer Wiseman may be in best position to take the spot from him. His skill has continually improved, he has measurables and athletic ability that project to the highest level and he's growing more and more confident.
Is he up to the task? Will it be somebody else? This week is going to he hugely important in our final decision.
2. HOW WILL NBA PERSONNEL REACT TO THE CLASS OF 2019
For a while now, we've discussed how the class of 2019 isn't the strongest that we have ever seen. There's plenty of talent but there is as high a level of parity as we have ever seen amongst top prospects and looking at things from an NBA perspective figuring out which players an NBA GM would be most willing to hitch their wagons to has been something that has been a bit of a question.
Yes, the NBA is still anywhere from one to four (or possibly never) years away for the 24 seniors here. NBA guys have also had looks at these guys before. But, there's never been a time where masses of NBA execs have been able to spend four straight days focusing solely on this high school class watching them, evaluating them and doing initial background checks. That time is here and they got their first extended looks during Sunday's closed practice.
I'm really interested to poll these guys and see who they like the best and how they feel this group of top players projects at the highest level. Are they better than thought, about what we thought, maybe even not quite as good as thought? With the one and done era going away at some point in the relative near future, the NBA is starting to look at high school players in a way that they haven't since the early to mid 2000's and what they see this week is going to go a long way to how they scout high schoolers in the future.
3. WILL THE UNDECIDED PLAYERS GIVE ANY HINTS?
This week there are five players in attendance who have yet to make their college decisions. Five-stars Cole Anthony, Jaden McDaniels, Matthew Hurt, Precious Achiuwa and Trendon Watford still have decisions to make.
While they may not necessarily let anything slip to the media about where they are leaning, they will be doing a lot of talking to each other, they will have lots of people connected to them at game related festivities and there will undoubtedly be some rumors circulating.
Which have legs? Which don't? That's what we'll find out this week but it's usually a pretty safe bet that we start to see some clarity. Is it really North Carolina and Oregon for Anthony, is McDaniels making anybody feel good about their chances, can Hurt be lured out of the Midwest? We'll start to get some answers.
For instance, with Will Wade suspended at LSU and Avery Johnson out at Alabama, Memphis would seem to be in better shape than ever for Watford. Will he cop to it, will somebody around him let something slip? These are the things college fans most want to know when it comes to dreaming about their 2019-20 teams.
4. WHO WILL MAKE THE STRONGEST CASE FOR A RANKINGS BUMP?
Each year somebody greatly helps their final ranking position with a great week. Sometimes it leads to a great decision, sometimes not so much but there's no doubt that there is time for already highly ranked dudes to help themselves out even more.
Florida bound wing Scottie Lewis is coming off of a great senior year and is a true two-way player and lockdown defender and transition scorer. Maybe he makes a move. Louisville bound Samuell Williamson has been trending up, can he continue his ascension? Stay tuned.
5. BALANCING MCDONALD'S PERFORMANCE AGAINST PREVIOUS BODY OF WORK
There's a fine line between taking into account what happens during McDonald's week and overthinking things to the point that three or four days outweigh a body of work built over a four year high school career. I feel like some of the biggest mistakes I've made in recent rankings has been because I overthought what I saw during McDonald's week.
It was a lukewarm outing at McDonald's that caused me to drop Ben Simmons from No. 1 to No. 2. Just a so-so outing in Chicago a few years ago caused me to foolishly drop Devin Booker from a five to four-star prospect. Most recently, this year's college basketballs sensation Zion Williamson simply wasn't very good and looked very under skilled and out of shape during McDonald's workouts leading to a slight drop in the final rankings.
Figuring out the delicate balancing act of what should and shouldn't matter when figuring final rankings is always the single hardest aspect of the week for myself and others who have followed these guys for the last four years.