High School: Perspectives
"I'm going to be a game-time decision," Blackshear said on Wednesday afternoon. "My shoulder feels better. It would be exciting. I'm hoping to feel it out."
Blackshear dislocated his shoulder when he collided with a teammate during a practice on Monday morning. He said that night he would not be able play in the game due to his injury.
Blackshear, Perspectives forward Anthony Davis and Bolingbrook point guard Ariel Massengale were the three Chicago-area players selected for the McDonald's All-American boys and girls teams.
"It's really exciting going from being nowhere to No. 1," Davis said. "Most people don't get that, and I have the opportunity to do that. If I could be No. 1, it would probably be exciting for a week. ‘Oh God, I'm No. 1, let's go celebrate.'"
Heading into this week's McDonald's All-American game, ESPN has Winter Park (Fla.) shooting guard and Duke recruit Austin Rivers ranked No. 1, and Davis, a Kentucky recruit, at No. 2. At the end of the week, that could change, according to ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep.
"I think there are only two guys. It's Rivers and Davis," Telep said. "One is the now, and the other one could be the future. That's the one difficulty to take down this year.
"I've watched Austin Rivers since freshman year of high school. There's not much he can do that will be surprising to me. Anthony Davis, there's so much more to learn about him. We don't have a huge album on Anthony Davis. This is a chance for him to make more impressions."
Eddy Curry, who played at Thornwood, is the last Chicago-area senior to be considered the consensus No. 1. He was the top-ranked player in 2001.
Unlike Rivers, who is the son of Doc Rivers, Davis hasn't been a known commodity since stepping foot onto a high school court. Despite playing in Chicago, Davis went unnoticed for three high school seasons because his school plays in a the Public League Blue-West, one of the city's lowest divisions, and he never played club basketball.
It wasn't until last spring when Davis decided to play for MeanStreets on the club scene that his 6-10 size and multi-dimensional game gained exposure. Soon after, he went from one scholarship offer from Cleveland State and being unranked to being highly ranked and able to choose any school in the country.
Davis has one more final chance to prove himself. He's already secured at least a top 2 spot, but with a great week of practice he could vault himself to No. 1.
Yes, practice will determine where he ends up. The game and its alley-oops, behind-the-back passes and high scoring are for the fans. Where Telep will be watching closely is when the players compete against each other in practice at ATTACK Athletics.
"This is a situation where the spotlight is on you," Telep said. "How are you going to respond? What is your approach going to be? If I was a guy of his caliber, I would want to be razor sharp in my approach, be business-like.
"I want to see how he's competing. I want to see everything, little nuisances he's added. There are two ways of walking on the floor. You walk on the floor knowing you're the best player or you walk on the floor trying to fake it. I wonder how he's going to approach it."
Wherever Davis ends up in ESPN's rankings, Telep believes Davis has a huge career ahead of him.
"In my mind, I have this vision of what Anthony Davis can look like," Telep said. "I think he could be a guy whose game mimics Chris Bosh to a degree with an even bigger defensive upside.
"A year ago, he was no different than 500,000 kids who are named Anthony Davis. Now, he's the Anthony Davis."
The ballots are in for Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, and it’s only a matter of time before the winner is announced.
Here’s a look at the top candidates for this year’s prize:
Max Bielfeldt, Peoria Notre Dame, Senior, Forward
Bielfeldt, a 6-8 power forward, averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Irish. Notre Dame went 28-0 and was nationally ranked before losing in the sectional semifinals. Bielfeldt was the Peoria area’s best player this season. He isn’t as highly touted as the other candidates, but he could steal a number of downstate votes. He is being recruited by Illinois and Michigan.
“Bielfeldt was such a huge mismatch for opponents at the high school level due to his combination of size, strength, craftiness and ability to step out and knock down a shot when he had to,” City/Suburban Hoops Report recruiting analyst Joe Henricksen said. “What sticks out is his consistent high level of production. He is such a presence and force, which enabled his teammates to thrive with so much attention paid to him every trip down the floor.”
Odds of winning: 15-1
Wayne Blackshear, Morgan Park, Senior, Guard
Blackshear, a 6-6 shooting guard, averaged 32 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks for the Mustangs this season. He had 56 points, 21 rebounds, eight blocks and seven steals in a win over Ellison. He played through a knee injury late in the year and kept up his production. Morgan Park did have a disappointing season as it was unable to defend it Public League title and didn’t advance to state. Blackshear was named the Chicago Sun-Times’ Player of the Year. He’s a two-time ESPNChicago.com all-area selection. He’s ranked No. 17 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN Recruiting. He was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game. He is a Louisville recruit.
“Wayne is the best player in the state of Illinois regardless of class,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “He’s a leader. He gets his team involved. It’s not about Wayne getting 40 points. It’s not about Wayne getting 20 rebounds. He’s about winning.”
Odds of winning: 3-1
Ryan Boatright, East Aurora, Senior, Guard
Boatright, a 5-11 point guard, averaged 32 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals this season for the Tomcats. His team had its ups and downs, but won 24 games, defeated rival West Aurora for the first time in four seasons, gave Benet its only loss and reached the sectional title game. Boatright scored 63 points against Proviso West and had 55 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals against St. Charles East. He was the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year and is a two-time all-area selection. He is ranked No. 76 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN Recruiting. He’ll play at Connecticut next season.
“We’ve kind of compared him a little bit to Isiah Thomas,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jefferies said. “What he is really is a shorter Michael Jordan with his mentality and competitiveness. He can do it all on the court.”
Odds of winning: 5-1
Anthony Davis, Perspectives, Senior, forward
Davis, a 6-10 forward, averaged 32 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks. He had one game of 30 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and 11 blocks. His team had a tough season, winning six games. On a better team, he would have likely swept all the year’s awards. He’s was an ESPNChicago.com all-area selection. He was chosen to be in the McDonald’s All-American game. He is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN Recruiting. He’s a Kentucky recruit.
“Davis came on the scene last spring and has never looked back,” ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin said. “From an unknown to being considered for the top spot in the class and signing with Kentucky, Davis has off-the-charts’ upside and is the toughest match up in high school basketball because of his size, length and guard skills.”
Odds of winnings: 50-1
Jabari Parker, Simeon, Sophomore, Forward
No underclassman has ever won Mr. Basketball, but Parker isn’t your ordinary underclassman. Parker, a 6-7 forward, averaged 15 points, six rebounds and two assists while leading Simeon to its second consecutive state title. He was an ESPNChicago.com all-area selection. He is ranked the No. 2 player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN Recruiting and is being recruited by nearly top college program.
Odd of winning: 75-1.
Chasson Randle, Rock Island, Senior, Guard
Randle, a 6-2 point guard, averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists while leading the Rocks to the Class 3A state championship. He was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He is ranked No. 60 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN Recruiting. He will play at Stanford next season.
“Chasson Randle has done more for the state of Illinois high school basketball in the past year than any candidate,” Illinois Wolves club coach Mike Mullins said. “He has represented the USA, winning gold in the under-17 world championships. He recently was the only top candidate to lead his team to a state title in Peoria. All this while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and No. 1 class ranking. Chasson represents the ideal of Illinois high school basketball and is Mr. Basketball.”
Odds of winning: 2-1
David Sobolewski, Benet, Senior, Guard
Sobolewski, a 6-1 point guard, averaged 15.2 points, 6.1 assists, 3.8 rebound and 2.7 steals while leading Benet to a memorable season. The Redwings won their first 29 games, defeated top-ranked Simeon and was ranked No. 1 in the area and top 10 in the country at one point. Benet was upset in the sectional semifinals by East Aurora. Sobolewski’s individual stock could have benefitted from making a trip downstate. He’s a two-time ESPNChicago.com all-area selection. He’ll play at Northwestern next season.
“Dave was outstanding at handling pressure, scoring, and creating shots for his teammates,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “He consistently made others better. His leadership and decision making were important factors in our success.”
Odds of winning: 40-1
That goal became a reality on Thursday when both were announced on ESPNU as 2011 selections.
But when they found out the game would be at the United Center in their hometown Chicago, their initial goal was altered. It wasn’t about just making an appearance and playing in the McDonald’s game anymore; it was about dominating and putting on a show.
“Me and Anthony grew up together, and it’s good for us to be McDonald’s All-Americans. It shows all the hard work paid off. It’s going to be fun playing with him.”
Blackshear, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is the 17th-ranked player in the Class of 2011 and is a Louisville recruit. He averages 32.5 points, 14.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 5.4 blocks, and 4.2 steals this season for Morgan Park.
“Blackshear is a strong and athletic wing that has been a marquee name in Chicago since he hit the high school scene,” ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin said. “He has a college-ready body and will be a terrific Big East wing at the ‘Ville.”
Davis, a 6-foot-10 forward, is the No. 2-ranked player in the class and is a Kentucky recruit. He averages 32 points, 19 rebounds and 6.5 blocks for Perspectives.
"This means a lot to me," Davis said. "This was one of my high school goals. It's a great accomplishment. I have a chance to play in front of my family and friends."
Unlike Blackshear, Davis wasn’t a household name in the country or even Chicago up until last spring when he played club basketball for the first time of his high school career. Within a few months of people seeing his versatile game, he was one of the most coveted recruits in the nation.
“Davis came on the scene last spring and has never looked back,” Rankin said. “From an unknown to being considered for the top spot in the class and signing with Kentucky, Davis has off-the-charts’ upside and is the toughest matchup in high school basketball because of his size, length and guard skills.”
Davis’ national attention has helped Perspectives’ profile as well.
“It’s a huge thing for the school especially,” Perspectives coach Cortez Hale said. “He’s getting good notoriety out there for the school that we’re not just an academic school. We also have athletics.”
Morgan Park doesn’t need the exposure, but Blackshear’s McDonald’s All-American selection has fulfilled a dream for Mustangs coach Nick Irvin. A star player himself in high school, Irvin wasn’t selected to play in the game.
“I was disappointed I never made it, but I had to move on from it,” Irvin said. “It’s great to see someone I coach and be a part of his life and see him make it. He can tell me how it feels.”
Irvin also had no doubt Blackshear and Davis would put on a show for their hometown crowd.
“He better,” Irvin said of Blackshear. “This is what he wanted. He better have a big game because he’s going to get hit in the mouth if he doesn’t. He’s not just going out there and playing around like it’s an all-star game. It’s a game to showcase yourself and show you belong. It’s in his home city where he’s the best player in the state of Illinois.”
In addition to Blackshear and Davis, Bolingbrook's Ariel Massengale was selected to the roster for the girls game.