MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The best high school basketball players, boys and girls, will take over Chicago, Ill., in early April for the McDonald’s All-American Game.
When the final rosters are announced for both games, there’s likely to be plenty of Minnesota flavor on display. The nominations for the rosters were recently released. Between the girls and boys events, there are 10 players either from Minnesota or that have local connections. The McDonald’s All-American Game is on Wednesday, April 2, at the United Center in Chicago.
On the boys side, it’s becoming clear that basketball in Minnesota is getting deeper and more talented every year. There are three players with Minnesota connections who have been nominated, and all three of them could likely make the final rosters.
Tyus Jones of Apple Valley, simply put, is arguably one of the best point guards in America. He can do it all, from scoring whenever he wants to setting up teammates for easy baskets. He seems to anticipate plays far before they happen. When he’s on the floor, he’s almost always the quickest, most athletic, smartest and most gifted player out there.
Unless Jones, a Duke signee, would decline the invitation, he’s a lock to play in the game.
Also nominated is DeLaSalle forward Reid Travis, who until this point hasn’t played this season due to a foot injury. Travis, a Stanford signee, made his debut over the weekend. He’s a strong power forward who can defend, block shots, rebound and score from virtually anywhere on the floor. He can shoot from the perimeter or post up a defender and use his strength to get to the rim.
Rashad Vaughn, a Golden Valley, Minn., native now living in Las Vegas, has also been nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game. The former Robbinsdale Cooper star now at Findlay Prep in Nevada is one of the best shooting guards in the country. He has amazing athleticism, can beat anyone off the dribble to score and might have been the best athlete of Minnesota’s “Big 3.”
The boys’ game will feature 20 to 24 of the best high school players in the country, so to potentially have three players from Minnesota in that game would be quite the accomplishment.
On the girls’ side there were actually more nominations. There are two players that I could actually see getting nominated for the game.
One of them is Carlie Wagner from New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in southern Minnesota. Other than Lakeville North’s Rachel Banham, now a junior for the Gophers, Wagner might be the best guard in Minnesota on the women’s side since Lindsay Whalen. She’s signed to play at the University of Minnesota. Wagner averaged around 30 points per game last year and through nine games this season is at almost 35 points per game for the undefeated Panthers.
The other player I could see getting invited is one of the most athletic in the Twin Cities. Kenisha Bell of Bloomington Kennedy is scoring more than 21 points per game this season and is at her best playing up-tempo. She can shoot, drive to the basket and beat virtually any defender going to the basket. The Eagles have been a top-10 team all season in large part due to her skills.
The other nominated girls players include Kylie Brown of Simley, Chase Coley of Minneapolis Washburn, Ta’Kendra Elbert of Tartan, Sydney Lamberty of Park Cottage Grove and Cayla McMorris of Park Center.
The McDonald’s All-American game is meant to be fun and entertaining while showcasing the country’s top high school basketball talent. But it’s rare that so much local talent is likely to play in the event, much less be nominated. It’s a sign that if you’re at basketball games during the season with these stars playing, you’ll likely see major Division I coaching staffs there recruiting them.
It’s another great sign among many that the future of high school basketball in the state is bright as players continue to get better every year.