All 24 players selected for the 46th Annual McDonald’s All-American Game gathered at the Mi3 Center in Houston to showcase their skills to more than 50 NBA scouts and media members ahead of Tuesday’s game (Eastern Standard 9 p.m. ESPN).
As one scout said: Tuesday’s game is just an open run session. ”
There’s been a lot of talk about Bronnie James about when he makes commitment decisions and how he pits himself against the best players in this kind of environment.
The 18-year-old was solid in both practice days as he shot off the dribble and showcased his defensive ability. He played alongside point guard Isiah Collier (USC Commit) and combo guard Jared McCain (Duke) and worked well off the ball. They allowed him to play freely as a secondary ballhandler and create shots for himself or others.He has always fought in his end defensively but this his Two days was no exception.
I asked an NBA scout to rank the players from 1st to 24th, and James came in 17th. There remains considerable speculation about James’ future. Domestic outlook. However, James didn’t attend Monday’s media day, so we didn’t get any insight from what he said on the spot.
The MVP of the practice session was Texas commit Ron Holland. On day one, he went from his 3 to 5/8, lit out defensively, and had the hottest motor. Holland said goodbye in front of NBA scouts this week and, as one person specifically said, “He was the best player in the gym.”
Holland also spoke about Rodney Terry agreeing to a five-year contract to become Texas’ full-time coach.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Holland. “He really deserves the job… It feels really good for me because I can stay committed to that team. Me and AJ Johnson. We’ll do our best to try and win a national championship next year.”
Other standouts were Kentucky commit DJs Wagner Jr. and Aaron Bradshaw.
Another NBA scout said, “My order was Ron Holland, then DJ Wagner, then Aaron Bradshaw, but it was a long way from the rest.”
Wagner’s straight-line speed was phenomenal, scoring multiple 3s from across the floor. He patiently maneuvered the pick and roll and made the right decisions.
As for Bradshaw, he was the best big man in the gym. As a shot blocker, he showcased his expanded range, powerful rebounding ability, and timing.
As one independent scout put it, “A year from now, he’ll be the number one pick in the NBA Draft.”
• Collier’s vision as a passer was next level and continued to prove he was the best passer in the country regardless of class. He has created several jumpers either as a spot-up shooter or off the dribble. This was seen as a knock on his game.
• Baylor signer Ja’Kobe Walter’s on-ball defense and shot-making ability were the most prominent in the two practice sessions. He separated himself on defense, applying his pressure on the ball consistently and forcing turnovers. Offensively, he is one of the best knockdown shooters in the country.
• Jared McCain is one of the best 1-on-1 players in the country. Duke’s commits made various contested shots and tough finishes around the rim. As the main ballhandler for most of the weekend, he set up his teammates in easy baskets and successfully directed the attack.
• Auburn committed Aden Holloway is one of the best playmakers in the 2023 class. He is a crafty ballhandler who rarely flips, and his accurate passing on pick-and-rolls is top class. He facilitated scoring for Bradshaw and Michigan State commit Xavier Booker.
(Photo above: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today)