Top recruits from Kentucky, Florida State, Arizona and more starred during the event, giving schools hope they can wrestle the NCAA title away from Duke next season.
Speaking of wrestling a title away, France’s Jaylen Hoard and Bosnia’s Njegos Sikiras took home MVP honors during the International Game – which has been dominated by the Canadians in recent years.
In addition, three top recruits in this year’s class – Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman and Cheick Diallo – remain unsigned and could change the course of an entire program singlehandedly, similar to Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman Jr. who decided to attend California and UNLV, respectively.
Diallo took home MVP honors for the East during the All-American Game in front of over 300 family members and friends with 26 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and an assist.
Five years after beginning to play the game, Diallo shot 12-for-16 from the field and ran the floor with a gazelle-like quickness, which he developed playing soccer in his youth.
“In 2010, I started playing basketball,” Diallo said. “In 2011, I played for the national team. In 2012, I moved here. It has been step by step.”
To put his rapid rise into perspective, Diallo’s 26 points were the eighth highest total in the event’s history.
Diallo has visited St. John’s, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky and Pittsburgh with offers from several other schools.
Skal Labissiere, Kentucky’s top recruit, was Diallo’s roommate at the Nike Hoop Summit and has spoken with Diallo in French about possibly joining forces. The two would form a potential lethal defensive frontcourt presence. Labissiere is considered a potential top five pick in next year’s draft.
A possible quartet of Labissiere, Briscoe, Charles Matthews and Diallo would rival last year’s group of Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker.
Allonzo Trier, who is headed to Arizona, took home MVP honors for the West. Trier was the high scorer in the All-American Game with 28 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 11-for-16 from the foul line.
Trier tied Thaddeus Young for the fourth highest scoring output in the event’s history behind Anthony Davis (29), Jahlil Okafor (29) and LeBron James (34).
“It’s great to go against all the guys,” Trier said. “It’s great to share this moment with them. This is probably something we’ll never forget. It’s one of the highlights of our high school careers.”
With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley declared for the draft – with Stanley Johnson possibly joining them too – Trier’s offense will be counted on heavily.
“I think my role would be to come in and be a playmaker,” Trier said. “Offensively try to bring in a punch right away and be effective and sync with the other guys.”
Trier told SheridanHoops he grew up watching Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas growing up.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder why his nickname is “Iso Zo.”
During the two practices and the game itself, Trier displayed a lethal crossover dribble with the ability to penetrate and finish in traffic with a myriad of acrobatic moves or hit the step back jumper.
Speaking of a lethal crossover, Briscoe had the play of the game and brought the Barclays Center crowd to its feet when he used a lethal spin move to free himself from his defender for a nifty layup.
“It was kind of like being at the park when everyone is looking in and is being so energized and into it,” Trier said. “The atmosphere was great tonight.”
The atmosphere was also great at practice Wednesday in Terminal 23, where unsigned recruits Brown and Newman dazzled in front of NBA personnel.
For example, Brown stole the ball from Austin Grandstaff and took off like an airplane for the dunk. Afterwards, he grabbed a rebound, brought the ball up the floor and initiated the offense as a point forward. When doing so, he proceeded to break down his defender off the dribble, penetrate and found an open teammate cutting towards the rim for a dunk.
Brown would then go on to sit out practice on Thursday and the game Friday. He is considered a potential top five pick in next year’s draft and has visited Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, UNC and Michigan.
“Right now I think I’m at the best part of my recruitment because I decided I wasn’t going to take any visits so I’m done stressing about that,” Newman told SheridanHoops on Wednesday. “Now it’s just where I think I’d be comfortable making an impact.”
Kentucky, LSU, NC State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Kansas are the six remaining schools on Newman’s list.
LSU already has guard Antonio Blakeney committed. Blakeney wowed scouts on Thursday during practice when he dunked so hard the ball caromed into the first row of the media section.
Another high-flyer who played well during practice and the game was Florida State commit Malik Beasley, who filled the stat sheet. Beasley finished with 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field, 2-for-5 from beyond the arc and 4-for-6 from the foul line. In addition, Beasley had three assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block in the win.
Beasley will be joined at Florida State by fellow commits Dwayne Bacon and Terance Mann. At 6’6,” Bacon has the size of a prototypical NBA two-guard with the ability to create and make his own shot under duress. Mann led the away team in the Regional Game with 13 rebounds. Mann also had 20 points, four assists, two steals and a block.
“Dwayne can score and I’ll play defense, I’ll do anything, I’ll rebound, I’ll be a point forward out there so I’ll get him the ball,” Mann said. “Malik, he’s a good shooter so I think we’ll blend really well.”
On paper, Florida State has one of the top recruiting classes. Another school with a talented recruiting class is Texas A&M, led by Tyler Davis who had seven points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals in just 18 minutes.
D.J. Hogg, Elijah Thomas and Admon Gilder will join Davis at Texas A&M. Hogg, Davis’ high school teammate, hit the game winner to give Plano West the Texas state title. Thomas is a load a 6’9” and 230 pounds while Gilder, the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year, is a scoring machine.
“We have good guys with Jalen Jones, Danuel House and Alex Caruso coming back,” Davis told SheridanHoops Wednesday. “We’re preseason No. 20 for next year already so I’ve got big expectations for us next year.”
A similar big man who will look to make an immediate impact is Georgetown’s Jessie Govan, who won a PSAL and state title with Wings Academy.
Govan had 10 points and seven rebounds in the Regional Game for the Away team.
A 6’10,” 263-pound center, Govan explained why he chose Georgetown.
“The tradition there,” Govan told SheridanHoops. “They had a lot of great big men come out of there. I want to be the next name on that great list of big men that came out of there like Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Roy Hibbert. I want them to say Jessie Govan at the end of that list. That’s my goal when I go down there and I think I can go down there and make an impact right away.”
While Govan and Mann had stellar games for the away team in the Regional Game, Jalen Adams of Brewster Academy took home MVP honors after leading the away team to a 125-112 victory. Adams finished with 27 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Adams will play for coach Kevin Ollie at UConn next season.
Adams was not the only Brewster player to win MVP in the Regional Game. Donovan Mitchell, who will play for coach Rick Pitino at Louisville, won MVP for the home team. Mitchell helped bring the home team back from a 25-point deficit to tie the game before eventually losing. Mitchell finished with 30 points on 12-for-19 shooting.
Mitchell felt snubbed by not making the All-American roster and played with a chip on his shoulder.
“I was just trying to show that I’m a top player in the country. It sucks not making it to the actual game, but like I said it doesn’t really matter once you get to college.”
Mitchell’s teammate Donte Divincenzo was a worthy MVP candidate himself finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.
“I’ve been following the event since I was 13 and it was Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins playing in the game,” Hoard said. “It’s something I always wanted to do and winning the MVP is a dream come true.”
Bosnia’s Njegos Sikiras also won an MVP award after finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and one blocked shot for the black team.
“It is difficult to be MVP of this tournament so I’m happy for the MVP,” Sikiras said. “This is a big experience for me so now I have a big motivation to work hard every day to go after my dreams.”
Remember these names. You may see a few of them on your favorite NBA team in a few years from now living their dreams.