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Monday, April 16, 2012
Mr. Basketball USA: experts' take

By ESPNHS

This year's ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA debate had three worthy contenders -- UCLA-bound seniors Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), plus junior Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago).

When the Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel tallied its final expanded ballot, Muhammad led Parker by an 11-point margin.

Every year, there are many factors to consider, and it's always fun to look back on the picks as the college, and likely pro, careers of the top candidates plays out.

You've seen the numbers. Now read the opinions of the Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel, and other prep basketball experts, about this year's national player of the year race.

Experts' Take

"With Jabari Parker we are talking about a very unique player and person. On the court, he influences every possession with his physical tools, versatile skills and basketball IQ. He has led his Simeon team to a state championship and a city title... They played a national schedule and only lost to Findlay Prep. As a young man, he is special because of his humbleness and work ethic on the floor. Off the court, he takes care of his school work and gives back to his community. Can be a difference maker in his next stop at the collegiate level with the ability and traits to be in the NBA."
-Paul Biancardi, ESPN National Director of Basketball Recruiting

"I'm a firm believer that the POY has to have a body of work to go with his pro potential. There are three candidates in my mind that have the combination of those two attributes in Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and Kyle Anderson. No doubt that Noel is the top pro prospect of the trio with his ability to dominate the paint defensively. Anderson (is) the most versatile and a true winner at the high school level who players love to play with as he can really deliver the rock. But my choice for 2012 has to be Shabazz Muhammad. He competes at a close to 100 percent level in almost every game he performed in for Bishop Gorman. He's an explosive scorer who has blossomed offensively with the addition of a solid jumper from the arc, but it may be his approach to the game defensively, where he takes special pride in making big plays, that gives him the overall edge and makes him the top individual performer night in and night out. It is that consistency that sets him above the rest."
-Van Coleman, hot100hoops.com Editor

"I think Shabazz Muhammad earned that honor. We're talking about a guy every time he hits floor, he works harder than everyone else."
-Evan Daniels, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst

"There are plenty of talented players in the 2012 senior class but nobody is as complete a player as Shabazz Muhammad. He's done it against all-comers and at all levels. He's simply the best player in the country."
-Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal

"Shabazz has been dominant. If anyone starts to question him, he goes out and totally dominates. He doesn't take any prisoners."
-Clark Francis, Hoop Scoop Editor & Publisher

"Shabazz Muhammad is consistently the most productive player on the court. I have watched him progress since he first played at my TOC as a freshman. At that age he was playing up with rising seniors and showed no fear. He's competitive and confident and proved that year after year. His intensity level and desire is right there with guys like Michael Jordan and LeBron James."
-Bob Gibbons, All-Star Sports

"Every time I see Shabazz Muhammad, not only is he the most talented guy, but most competitive. He's focused and I love his energy."
-Jonathan Givony, Draftexpress.com President

"It's a tough call, but I give it to Shabazz (Muhammad). He's the top talent in the class, led his team to a state championship, put up numbers and met expectations. Kyle Anderson does great things for an unbeaten team, but nobody has passed Shabazz."
-Jerry Meyer, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst

"I know what a defensive game changer Nerlens Noel is, and he has been rapidly adding to his offensive skill package, but my vote for the class of 2012 POY goes to Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad has dominated his class since he was a freshman. He is an elite athlete with a matching motor. A highlight waiting to happen on the break and finishes above the rim on all clear paths to the rim or in traffic. He is a big-time scorer off the bounce with powerful slashes from the wing and has improved as a 3-point shooter. Muhammad is also a multiple position defender and rebounds in and out of his area. He reminds me of Arkansas and NBA great Sidney Moncrief. Muhammad is the player other players in the class get up to play against and he still dominates. He plays extremely hard on both ends and has been productive on a consistent basis not for months, but years."

-Reggie Rankin, ESPN Recruiting

"To me, the two best players in the country are Jabari Parker and Shabazz Muhammad. It's hard to separate them, but they are the two best high school players right now."
-Don Showalter, Mid-Prairie (Wellman, Iowa) & 2011-12 USA Men's Developmental National Team coach.

"This was a tough year to pick a player of the year. Would love to give it to Muhammad or Noel, but I don't know how you give those two player of the year. When you talk about taking advantage of opportunity, Tyler Lewis is the most effective player in America. Lewis did it on a big stage, he's the best passer out there and did a good job of maintaining egos on Oak Hill's team."
-Patrick Stanwood, Patrick Stanwood Basketball

"My first inclination is to go with Kyle Anderson because he hasn't lost a high school game in two years and for most of the year, actually until this vote, I had him No. 1. I was swayed in a different direction after the week at McDonald's because of the sheer dominating effort and focus Shabazz Muhammad arrived in Chicago with. Combine that with his state championship and I could make the argument in his favor. Muhammad won and was sensational on a number of big stages and that doesn't take anything away from Anderson, whom I had been leaning toward the entire season."
-Dave Telep, ESPN Senior Basketball Recruiting Analyst