High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Jabari Parker

U17 national team announced

June, 19, 2012
6/19/12
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Following seven rigorous U17 national team training sessions, USA Basketball announced its 12-man roster that will train through June 20 in preparation for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship.

The event takes place June 29 through July 8 in Kaunas, Lithuania. The USA U17 team opens the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship against Australia. The top four teams in each group will advance to the medal round quarterfinals on July 6 with the championship set for July 8.

The following is the official 12-man 2012 USA Men's U17 World Championship Team:

Beejay Anya, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 2013
Joel Berry, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 2014
Stephen Domingo, Saint Ignatius (San Francisco, Calif.) 2013
Conner Frankamp, Wichita North (Wichita, Kan.) 2013
Dakari Johnson, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 2014
Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 2014
Tyus Jones, Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) 2014
Kendrick Nunn, Simeon (Chicago) 2013
Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young (Chicago) 2014
Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago) 2013
Johnathan Williams III, Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) 2013
Justise Winslow, St. John's (Houston) 2014

The USA Basketball Men's U17 National Team is coached by Don Showalter of Mid-Prairie (Wellman, Iowa).

The team includes two high school teammates, Nunn and Parker. Last season the duo led Simeon to a 32-1 record and No. 6 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. The team includes six players ranked in the 2013 ESPN 100 and six ranked in the 2014 ESPN 60, including Okafor (No. 2) and Jones (No. 3).

Team USA captured the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship in 2010. Former Florida guard Bradley Beal, the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, was named tournament MVP as team USA won the Gold Medal with a 8-0 record.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN
Jahlil Okafor is in the middle of the busiest summer of his life. In addition to criss-crossing the country while playing for one of the nation's elite AAU teams, he's currently in Colorado trying out for the USA Basketball U17 National Team.

With such a stuffed schedule, it's understandable that Okafor is putting his college plans on the back burner for now.

"I'm just listening to everyone," said Okafor. "There's a lot of other things going on right now, so I'm taking my time. I haven't cut down my list yet."

The Class of 2014 center is in high demand. Ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60, Okafor has the size, the hands and the footwork to be a dominant big man, and his gift for scoring in the post is rare for a player his age. He'll find out on Tuesday whether he makes the final cut for the U17 team, but you have to like his chances.

Last year, the 6-foot-9 Okafor played for the U16 team and averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during the 2011 FIBA Americas Championships, shooting an incredible 71 percent from the field to help Team USA win gold.

The leading scorer on that U16 squad was fellow Chicago native Jabari Parker, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year. Okafor and Parker both play for the same AAU team, and they'll both likely make the final cut for the U17 team.

Okafor says he talks recruiting with Parker, who can relate to being a top uncommitted prospect. Parker has said he will decide on a college before the start of his senior season.

"Jabari gives me advice," said Okafor. "He tells me what to expect, just the things that he's going through now and how it's going to be for me."

Okafor is still in the early stages of his decision process, but there are a few things he's looking for as he zeroes in on prospective colleges.

"I definitely want to play for a school that throws the ball in the post," he said. "I like playing in the post, so a system that plays to my strengths is important. My decision will also involve the players around me. I want good players around me, because it's all about winning."

Okafor already has offers from schools like Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Arizona and UConn.
Each week this summer leading up to the AAU National Championships in Orlando in July, ESPNHS will profile one of the nation's top AAU teams and tell you why you should be paying attention.

Team: Mac Irvin Fire
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Coach: Mike Irvin

What you need to know about Mac Irvin Fire:

This team has star power. Leading the way is small forward Jabari Parker, the No. 1 junior in the country and reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year. But he's not the only elite talent on the squad. Power forward Jahlil Okafor is the No. 2 player in the class of 2014. There are two other ESPN 60 players in the starting lineup: Tommy Hamilton at No. 42 and Billy Garrett Jr. at No. 50.

Coach Mike Irvin likes to play an up-tempo, open-court game in order to take advantage of all his playmakers.

"We get up and down," he says. "Jabari is 6-9 and runs the floor like a deer, and even Jahlil can run for a big man. We try to showcase the guys like that."

Jabari Parker
Chris Williams/Icon SMIWhen Jabari Parker, above, Tommy Hamilton and Jahlil Okafor are on the floor at the same time, the Mac Irvin Fire boasts the nation's best frontcourt.
Key Players:

Jabari Parker, F, 2013: If there's a way to defend Parker effectively, we haven't seen it yet. The offense runs through the 6-foot-8 forward, who can score from any spot on the floor. "When you've got the No. 1 player in the country, you've got a shot to win any tournament," says Irvin.

Jahlil Okafor, F, 2014: Okafor gives the Fire a luxury that few other teams have -- an old-school low-post scorer. The 6-foot-9 forward has excellent touch around the basket, and the size to control the paint. "He's very strong around the basket," says Irvin. "He's a dominant big man."

Billy Garrett Jr., G, 2013: The No. 8 point guard in the ESPN 60, Garrett brings size and athleticism to the position. Irvin likes to let his 6-foot-5 floor general push the ball in transition. "We've got a lot of talent," says Garrett, "so I just try to get guys their shots."

Tommy Hamilton, F, 2013: A 6-foot-8 forward, Hamilton's smooth offensive game complements Okafor's power. When Hamilton, Okafor and Parker are on the floor at the same time, the Mac Irvin Fire boasts the nation's best frontcourt.

Key Dates:

EYBL Session 3: May 11-13 in Dallas
EYBL Session 4: May 25-28 in Oakland, Calif.
Nike Peach Jam: July 18-21 in North Augusta, S.C.
Las Vegas Fab 48: July 26-29 in Las Vegas

Garrett played on last year's Mac Irvin Fire team, which was bounced in the quarterfinals at the Nike Peach Jam, and he believes this squad has enough firepower to come out on top this time around.

"I think we have a great chance," says Garrett Jr. "We've got the players, we've got the coaches, we've got everything we need to win it this year. We can definitely do it."

Famous Alums:

Antoine Walker, Juwan Howard

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).

Wiggins, Jones among best underclassmen

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
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Three juniors already named ESPNHS All-Americans headline a group of 60 elite players selected to the 2011-12 ESPNHS Underclass All-American boys' basketball watch list.

Headlining this year's watch list heading into the intense AAU summer season are junior forwards Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago), this year's National Junior Player of the Year, Julius Randle of Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) and Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.).

While the trio and the 57 other honorees all had standout campaigns for their high school teams, others are sure to emerge this summer as bona fide All-America candidates heading into the 2012-13 season. Nearly every summer on the circuit, well-known players are eclipsed by lesser-known commodities, and every so often a prospect comes out of nowhere to emerge as a Mr. Basketball USA candidate.

The last player to make such a quantum leap was Kentucky's Anthony Davis, who attended Perspectives Charter (Chicago). In the spring of 2010, he was a virtual unknown on the high school basketball scene. Two years later, he's the likely No. 1 pick of the 2012 NBA draft.

Parker and Randle were Mr. Basketball USA candidates as juniors, and Sophomore Player of the Year Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) will likely be in the same situation next season. The 6-foot-7 wing averaged 24.2 points and 8.5 rebounds for a 28-2 team and his play so far this spring has put him in the conversation as the best player in the country, regardless of class.

Wiggins just missed making the ESPNHS All-America team, while guard Tyus Jones of Apple Valley (Minn.) just missed selection to the 30-player honorable mention list. Jones' play so far in the Nike EYBL puts him right on par with any underclass guard in the country, including honorable mention pick Kasey Hill of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). The Minnesota Gatorade State Player of the Year is the EYBL's third-leading scorer (20.8) and is leading in assists (6.5) through the first two sessions.

2011-12 Underclass All-American watch list

Juniors to watch (2013)
C -- BeeJay Anya, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-9
G -- Anthony Barber, Hampton (Va.) 6-2
F -- Jabari Bird, Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) 6-5
F -- Brian Bridgewater, Episcopal (Baton Rouge, La.) 6-6
G -- Aquille Carr, Patterson (Baltimore, Md.) 5-6
G -- Stephen Clark, Douglass (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 5-10
G -- Nick Emery, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 6-1
G -- Tyler Ennis, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) 6-3
G -- Conner Frankamp, North (Wichita, Kan.) 6-1
G -- Keith Frazier, Kimball (Dallas) 6-5
F -- Aaron Gordon, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 6-8
G -- Isaac Hamilton, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 6-5
G -- Aaron Harrison, Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas) 6-4
G -- Andrew Harrison, Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas) 6-4
F -- Isaiah Hicks, Oxford (Oxford, N.C.), 6-9
G -- Kasey Hill, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-1
F -- Rondae Jefferson, Chester (Chester, Pa.) 6-7
F -- Kris Jenkins, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 6-6
G -- JaJuan Johnson, Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-5
G -- Matt Jones, DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) 6-4
F -- Nick King, East (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-7
F -- Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago) 6-8
G -- Juwan Parker, Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) 6-4
F -- Bobby Portis, Hall (Little Rock, Ark.) 6-9
F -- Roschon Prince, Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 6-6
F -- Julius Randle, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) 6-9
G -- Tahj Shamsid-Deen, Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) 5-10
C -- Chris Walker, Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.) 6-9
C -- Jonathan Williams III, Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-9
G -- Nigel Williams-Goss, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 6-3

2012 Junior of the Year: Jabari Parker

Sophomores to watch (2014)
C -- Cliff Alexander, Curie (Chicago) 6-9
F -- Evan Bailey, Jackson (Massillon, Ohio) 6-5
G -- Casey Benson, Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) 6-2
G -- Joel Berry, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 6-1
F -- Trevon Bluiett, Park Tudor (Indianapolis) 6-5
G -- Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Loyola (Los Angeles) 5-9
G -- T.J. Haws, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 6-2
G -- Tadric Jackson, Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) 6-2
F -- Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 6-6
G -- Tyus Jones, Apple Valley (Minn.) 6-1
F -- Jalen Lindsey, Christ Presbyterian Academy (Nashville, Tenn.) 6-6
F -- Kevon Looney, Hamilton (Milwaukee, Wis.) 6-7
F -- Trey Lyles, Arsenal Tech (Indianapolis, Ind.) 6-8
F -- Ja'Quon Newton, Neumann Goretti (Philadelphia) 6-3
C -- Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young (Chicago) 6-9
F -- L.J. Peak, Gaffney (Gaffney, S.C.) 6-4
F -- Wayne Seldon, Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.) 6-5
G -- Romelo Trimble, Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) 6-2
G -- Isaiah Whitehead, Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 6-4
F -- Andrew Wiggins, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) 6-7

2012 Sophomore of the Year: Andrew Wiggins

Freshmen to watch (2015)
G -- Tyler Dorsey, Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) 6-4
G -- Isaiah Briscoe, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) 6-2
C -- Marcus Derrickson, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 6-7
G -- Hyron Edwards, Central (East Chicago, Ind.) 6-0
F -- K.J. Lawson, East (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-5
G -- Marcus LoVett Jr., Providence (Burbank, Calif.) 5-11
F -- Mickey Mitchell, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) 6-6
G -- Malik Newman, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) 6-2
C -- Diamond Stone, Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) 6-9
F -- Karl Towns, St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) 6-11

2012 Freshman Player of the Year: Malik Newman

Note: All selections based on high school accomplishment. Similar to the Mr. Basketball USA honor, those ineligible due to age or academics are not eligible for this honor.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

AAU notebook: NCAA coaches inspire

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
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HAMPTON, Va. -- CP3 All Stars (N.C.) swingman Theo Pinson doesn’t mind admitting that when he glanced over to the sideline and saw coaches from Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, North Carolina State and others watching his every move, it gave him extra incentive to work even harder on the court.

Pinson and CP3 were one of 40 teams competing in the second of four sessions in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League here last weekend. The teams are vying for one of 24 spots in the Nike Peach Jam in July.

“Some guys say they block it out, but I don’t think that’s real,” said Pinson, a sophomore who is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 25. “I definitely think to myself that I need to do the little things and play better defense and concentrate on playing harder. The coaches are the big motivator.”

Metro Hawks (N.Y.) junior guard Isaiah Lewis agreed.

He said that seeing the coaches who are recruiting him made him want to play harder to reinforce the fact that they want him.

“You don’t want that interest to drop off,” Lewis said. “There are so many good players in this league, and you just want to come out and play the best that you can. The coaches help you with that.”

Last of the Unbeatens

With the second session of the EYBL in the books, CIA Bounce (Can.) is the lone undefeated team. The Canadians won five games this weekend by an average of 18.6 points per game and now sit at 9-0.

Bounce guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said that even though they’re the last undefeated squad, there’s no pressure to remain perfect.

“We’re just going to keep going out and performing at a high level,” he said. “We feel we can go undefeated throughout the entire season.”

Parker Sits Out

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) had to compete without its biggest piece this weekend, swingman Jabari Parker who is the top player in the ESPN 60. Parker stayed back in Chicago to nurse a sprained ankle and to receive an award, according to his teammate Jahlil Okafor.

“We just had to keep playing hard without him,” said Okafor, a sophomore center who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 25.

The Fire went 3-2 this weekend without Parker, who is expected to be ready for session three in Dallas on May 11-13.

Randle’s Shoe Obsession

Julius Randle had to bring an extra bag on his trip to Hampton for the second session of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, but it wasn’t for extra clothes. Randle needed a bag to store seven pairs of shoes.

“I mean come on, I’m a ball player,” said Randle, a junior forward who ran with Team Texas Titans. “I’ve got to switch up my shoes for my different games.”
Randle wasn’t kidding.

From Kobe Bryant’s grey and blacks shoes to Kevin Durant’s black and blues, Randle wore a different pair each time he took the floor.

“I’m just a sneaker guy, I guess,” said Randle, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60. “That’s just my thing.”

Rim Bender

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor caused quite a stir in his game against the Georgia Stars in the morning session on Sunday. Okafor bent the rim down when he missed a dunk in the second half, stopping play for more than an hour.

Immediately, players and spectators ran from the adjoining courts to snap pictures of the bent rim.

Eventually, the game was moved to another court and Mac Irvin won 65-51.

Mr. Basketball USA: experts' take

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
12:41
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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

Players predict where Muhammad, Noel will go

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
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Shabazz Muhammad knows that, on the surface, it seems glamorous to have the option of picking between heavyweights like Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, UNLV and Kansas.

Still, he’s quick to point out the flip side.

“The stress,” said Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100. “It definitely isn’t as fun as people think. It’s all you think about. It’s a tough decision.”

Nerlens Noel can attest to that.

As the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, Noel said it only makes it harder “when you really can’t go wrong wherever you decide to go.”

Both Noel and Muhammad will make their decisions live on Recruiting Nation's Signing Day Special Show at 7:30 p.m. ET April 11 on ESPNU.

“People don’t understand how tough this is,” said Noel, a senior center at Tilton (N.H.) who will choose between Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse. “It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. Everyone thinks they know where we’re going.”

Especially their peers.

We caught up with a bunch of players from around the country and had them weigh in on where they think the top two seniors in the country will land.

Matt Jones
DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Committed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I played with him last weekend at a tournament and you should’ve seen him watching Louisville play against Kentucky. It was like he could envision himself there.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. He sees that he could come in and have the same impact that Austin Rivers did.”

Jabari Parker
Simeon (Chicago), 2013, SF
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Boston College. [Laughs] Just kidding, Georgetown.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UC Santa Barbara. [Laughs] Just kidding, UCLA.”

Mitch McGary
Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.), 2012, F
Signed to: Michigan
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Great recruiting class coming in and they just won the national title so that’s got to appeal to him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Same reasons as Nerlens.”

Isaiah Lewis
Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s a one-and-done type and that’s where you go for that.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson are gonna do work.”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s the second coming of Anthony Davis. He’s tall with very long arms that he uses to impact the game on the defensive end and rebound.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. I really believe that Shabazz is gonna join me next year because he’s a competitor and wants to win. Coach K is the ultimate competitor and does great with guards like Shabazz. I believe we can do a lot of damage right away.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: N.C. State
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut feeling on him too.”

L.J. Rose
Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signed to: Baylor
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s gonna be compared to Anthony Davis and have that type of impact.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. They’re just coming off a national title run and Rupp Arena will definitely be rocking next year with him there.”

Chris Walker
Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He saw what Coach Cal did for Anthony Davis and he’ll feel like he can do the same for him. He’ll be one-and-done just like him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. It’s the perfect fit with it being close to home and then he’ll have a great guard like Kyle Anderson there with him.”

Kris Jenkins
Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Georgetown. That’s where all the big men go to develop.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He thinks Coach Cal can help him reach his goal of the NBA faster.”

Brannen Greene
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He sees the impact that Anthony Davis had this year and probably wants to do the same.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I think he wants to be one-and-done and he sees Kentucky as the perfect school for that.”

Wayne Selden
Tilton (N.H.), 2014, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’d fit right in and replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson would be a force in the Pac-12.”

Jahlil Okafor
Whitney Young (Chicago), 2014, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’ll replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. He’ll team up with Kyle Anderson.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

McDonald's returning to Chicago in '13

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
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CHICAGO -- The McDonald’s All-American Games will return to Chicago in 2013, McDonald's announced Tuesday.

One of the nation's most prestigious high school all-star events will take place at the United Center for the third consecutive year in 2013.

This year's McDonald's All-American festivities will conclude March 28 with the girls' game slated for 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU) and the boys' game at 9:30 pm ET (ESPN).

After changing venues each year since the game's inception in 1978, Chicago is the first city to host the McDonald's All-American Games in back-to-back years. McDonald's is so pleased with its relationship with the basketball-crazed city, the event will return for an unprecedented third consecutive year.

"Since we came here in 2011, Chicago has embraced the McDonald's All-American Games," said Douglas Freeland, director of the McDonald’s All-American Games. "Chicago has a great tradition of high school basketball and we're very happy to keep the games here in 2013."

McDonald's had no intentions of returning to the Windy City prior to the completion of its 2011 festivities, according to Freeland, but a record 20,019 fans attended the games at the United Center and that influenced the decision to return. The huge turnout generated $625,000 in proceeds for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

In 2011, Anthony Davis (now at Kentucky) was the top home-grown product. Next year, local fans may get a chance to see Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago) one last time before he heads to college in the fall of 2013.

Parker, ranked No. 1 in the ESPNU 60, is arguably the nation's top boys' high school basketball player and is a logical choice to get an invite.

According to Freeland, McDonald's is aware of Parker's ability and following in the city, but there haven't been any formal talks with him or Simeon's administration about the event.

Still, Parker is looking forward to the event, even if he doesn't have an invite yet.

"I love it," Parker said. “It’s big for my community and for our school. It’s special because I’ll be playing in front of familiar faces that supported me throughout my career. I won’t be as nervous as I probably would’ve been, and I just feel like I’m playing for my city.”

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Mr. Basketball USA Tracker week 9

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
10:43
AM ET
Last week, we took a look at the most important criteria in the ESPNHS Mr. Basketball. This week, we asked players from across the country to give their opinions on what makes a national player of the year.

It should come as no surprise top vote-getter Shabazz Muhammad (94 points, 10 ballots) solicited plenty of support, but the reasons why he and other top candidates were the choice varied.

Student-athletes around the country placed great emphasis on leadership skills and the ability to make teammates better which leads to team success, regardless of the amount of talent on the roster.

"Is he a winner? How's his attitude? Does he play hard consistently? Has he had big games against good teams? ...I haven't seen all the guys this year, so I guess I'll go with Shabazz (Muhammad)."

-Zena Edosomwan, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.), 2012

"Of course I'm going to say myself. But if not me, then Shabazz Muhammad. I think the player of the year should be a great person on and off the court. He should also be a warrior that hates to lose."

-Archie Goodwin, Sylvan Hills (Sherwood, Ark.), 2012

To read the rest of this story and see the Mr. Basketball USA voting results, CLICK HERE.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Inside the FAB 50: Scaling new Heights

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
10:34
AM ET
There’s been documented high school basketball games in Kansas for 101 years, and one of the state’s most hallowed records fell Tuesday night after POWERADE FAB 50 No. 10 Heights (Wichita, Kan.) defeated Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.) 54-42.

With McDonald’s All-American and Kansas signee Perry Ellis scoring 19 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, Heights won its 60th straight game to break the previous state mark of 59 set in 1994 by Moundridge.

Ellis and teammate Terrence Moore have been involved in all of the 60 wins.

Coach Joe Auer’s team will now focus on trying to extend another streak by winning a fourth consecutive Class 6A state championship.

Winning streak notes on other FAB 50 teams

1. The 39-game win streak by No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which includes Monday's 75-69 victory over Quality Education (Winston-Salem, N.C.), is not a school record. The Warrior school record of 65 in a row was set from 2000-02, including a 33-0 mark by the 2001 national title team.

2. The 53-game win streak by No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) is not a school record, either. The Friars won 65 in a row from 1995-97, including a 31-0 mark in 1996 when they were crowned national champ. Both marks are far short of the state and national record of 159 consecutive wins posted by Passaic (N.J.) from 1919-25.

3. The 48-game win streak by No. 4 Chester (Pa.) is a school record, but is still 20 wins shy of the state mark of 68 posted by West Philadelphia (Pa.) from 1976-78. That included the 30-0 record that the 1977 team piled up on its way to being a mythical national champion.

McDonald's All-Americans lead FAB 50 teams

Nine FAB 50-ranked teams are anchored by McDonald's All-American Game selections.

No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) -- Tyler Lewis, a 5-foot-11 point guard and North Carolina State recruit.

No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) -- Brandon Ashley, a 6-foot-9 power forward and Arizona recruit plus Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-7 uncommitted wing forward.

No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) -- Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-8 guard and UCLA recruit.

No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) -- Marcus Smart, a 6-foot-4 guard and Oklahoma State recruit.

No. 10 Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) -- Perry Ellis, a 6-foot-8 power forward and Kansas recruit.

No. 14 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) -- Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot center and Baylor recruit.

No. 18 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) -- Shabazz Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 uncommitted forward.

No. 31 Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) -- Gary Harris, a 6-foot-4 guard and Michigan State recruit.

2013 McDonald’s All-Americans on FAB 50 teams?

Not all the top teams are led by seniors, of course. Some juniors appear primed to star in the contest next year. Here’s some top Class of 2013 players representing FAB 50 ranked teams:

No. 4 Chester (Pa.)Rondae Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 forward

No. 6 Simeon (Chicago)Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward who is No. 1 in the ESPNU Super 60.

No. 13 Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward

No. 28 Olympic (Charlotte)Allerik Freeman, a 6-foot-4 guard

No. 29 Salesian (Richmond, Calif.)Jabari Bird, a 6-foot-6 guard

No. 40 Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas)Andrew Harrison, a 6-foot-5 point guard, and his twin brother, Aaron Harrison, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard

Spotlight Player of the Week
Coleman Johnson, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)


The 6-foot-6 senior forward had a game to remember in a thrill-packed 85-83 double-overtime victory over Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rival Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).

Johnson, a Fairfield University recruit who averages 11.8 points game, scored a career-high 33 points and collected 16 rebounds to power the Panthers. He nailed his first career 3-pointer, which tied the game with six seconds left in the first overtime, then added the go-ahead basket in the second extra frame.

Johnson's 33-point effort also boosted his career total past the 1,000-point mark. He was named the team’s MVP last season as a junior.

The victory was the 11th straight for the Panthers and helped keep them at No. 9 in this week’s rankings.

Mr. Basketball USA Tracker (Jan. 20)

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
2:55
PM ET
ESPNU 60 No. 2 Nerlens Noel breaks into the top 5 while Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Jabari Parker appear on all ten ballots.

The MLK holiday weekend is a time to reflect. It's also good time to evaluate the nation's best high school basketball players.

Many of the nation's top teams and prep schools traditionally participate in MLK showcase games around the country, giving the Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel plenty of opportunities to evaluate the top candidates for national player of the year against strong competition -- and sometimes in head-to-head match-ups.

ESPN senior national basketball analyst and panel member Dave Telep said it best after the turn of the New Year: "We'll learn a lot in the next two weeks."

There was no better place to evaluate some of the top talent than at last weekend's Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. The performances at the annual event brought about changes to the voting results of the latest ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker.

To see the Mr. Basketball USA voting results, CLICK HERE.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Stopping Shabazz Muhammad is a daunting task

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
10:05
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On a frigid January afternoon, Shabazz Muhammad calmly stands in the media room at Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass., dead-center in a mob of audio and video recorders shoved just inches away from his face while notebook-jotting reporters attempt to disguise the same questions over and over.

Forget about the fact that he’s just led Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) -- then ranked No. 24 in the POWERADE FAB 50 -- past then-No. 5 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) with 37 points and six rebounds at the Spalding Hoophall Classic; all these guys want to know about is his recruitment.

Shabazz Muhammad
J. Anthony Roberts/ESPNHSShabazz Muhammad said the best chance to stop him is to turn him into a 3-point shooter.
Muhammad handles the organized chaos like a champ. His answers are quick and concise. He even has a little fun finding new ways to say the same thing.

But when event staff whisks him away for a private interview, we manage to stump him slightly with, by his own admission, the simplest yet most complex question he’s heard in quite some time: “How do you stop Shabazz Muhammad?”

“That’s a good one,” he said.

Muhammad’s got an answer, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want to come across as cocky. He hesitates, seemingly by design, smiles and settles on, “Well, my dad [Ron Holmes] and I train so hard on so many different aspects of my game that it’s given me the ability to hurt teams in a lot of different ways. Let’s just say it’d be really hard.”

The next attempt at the improbable takes place Jan. 21 when No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) heads over to Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas to take on No. 16 Bishop Gorman at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

“There are guys who are hard to stop, then there’s Shabazz,” Holmes said. “Of course it can be done, but he does so many things well that it’s very difficult to key in on one thing. He’s got the size and strength [6-foot-6, 210 pounds], and that makes it even tougher. Our training is specifically designed to be unstoppable.”

When posed with the question of stopping Muhammad, Findlay Prep swingman Winston Shepard seemed instantly offended. He wore an incredulous frown and then repeated the question while shaking his head and laughing. Then he quickly pointed to the fact that in Findlay's last game against then-No. 1 Simeon (Chicago), Jabari Parker, the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 60, scored 24 points on 22 shots.

“And we won by 25,” said Shepard, a 6-8 senior. “I guarded Jabari. I’m not gonna sit up here and talk junk or anything, but I know Shabazz’s game very well.”

Shepard has been playing with and against Muhammad since the seventh grade. The pair teamed up for Dream Vision AAU.

“Shabazz is a great player, everyone knows that,” Shepard said. “But I’m gonna just come out and play my game. No player is impossible to stop.”

Muhammad’s a realist. Even as the top-ranked senior in the ESPNU 100, he knows that there are flaws in his game, most notably his perimeter jump shot.

“If I had to think of a scenario that gives teams the best shot at stopping me it would be to make me a 3-point shooter,” said Muhammad, who's averaging 30 points and nine rebounds per game this season while shooting 68 percent from the field. “That’s the part of my game that I want to improve the most.”

Don’t write that in the scouting report just yet, though. There are reasons he doesn’t mind revealing that information.

“For one, I just don’t think people can stop me from getting into the lane,” Muhammad said. “It’s how I’m wired, I guess.”

And the whole turn-him-into-a-3-point-marksman suggestion?

“During my workout I have to get 400 makes a day,” Muhammad said. “It usually takes me around 600 shots to do that. I'd say it's getting a lot better.”

Still, as daunting as the task of stopping Muhammad will be, Findlay point guard Dominic Artis doesn’t just think they can get it done -- he knows they can.

“Shabazz is a great player, there’s no doubt about it,” said Artis, a senior who is signed to Oregon. “We’re gonna put Winston on him, and I think that’ll help a lot because he knows his game better than anyone. They’ve got a good team, but if we stop him we’ll have a better chance to win. I mean, anyone can be stopped. As great a player as Shabazz is, I know that we can stop him. Like hold him under double digits. I’m confident in that.”

Good luck with that.

The last team to hold Muhammad under double digits was Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nev.) in the state semifinals last February. In that game, Muhammad, who played with a severely sprained ankle, had just nine points and the Gaels lost by one.

Still, by mid-conversation, Muhammad seems to have fully conceded that stopping him isn’t as farfetched as people think.

Seems odd for a guy who knows he’s the best player every time he steps on the court.

He’s got to know. It’s what makes him who he is.

“His mentality is to be relentless,” Holmes said. “It’s not something you see too often. He’s just a workhorse. You can’t teach the mindset he’s got. You’re born with that relentless mindset.”

That’s why it came as no shock that, just before parting, Muhammad backed off the whole notion of stopping him being a realistic aspiration.

“You know, it’s like, stopping me, I don’t know if I’d say that,” Muhammad said. “I just have the mentality that no one can stop me. I can have a bad game, but stopping me -- nah, I don’t think anyone can stop me because I’m not gonna stop until I’m succeeding. I’m just not gonna stop.”

Relentless mindset indeed.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — There will likely be a new team atop the next POWERADE FAB 50 rankings after No. 1 Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) fell to No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 75-50, at the Spalding Hoophall Classic on Monday.

Simeon never found its offense, frequently forcing bad shots and allowing Findlay to run out on the fast break after misses. For the game, Simeon shot just 4 of 24 on 3-point attempts (16.7 percent), while Findlay Prep shot 66.7 percent from downtown (61 percent overall).

Winston Shepard
J. Anthony Roberts/ESPNHSWinston Shepard finished with high-flying dunks all night against Simeon.
The game was also billed as a matchup of two of the country’s top players — Simeon junior Jabari Parker and Findlay Prep senior Brandon Ashley. Parker, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 60, was solid with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but the smooth superstar felt he could have done more to stop Findlay from pulling away in the second half.

“I waited too long to get it going,” said Parker. “I didn’t do a lot of scoring in the third quarter. If I don’t show up, my team’s going to lose by a lot of points.”

Ashley, the No. 4 player in the ESPNU 100, posted 13 points and nine boards, including back-to-back dunks to seal the game in the fourth quarter. He also received more help from his teammates.

Findlay Prep junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss chipped in 18 points, and senior guard Dominic Artis (No. 72 in the ESPNU 100) earned Player of the Game honors with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The 6-foot-2 Williams-Goss also drew plenty of attention with his defensive performance, even switching onto the 6-foot-8 Parker at times and doing a good job.

“Obviously, our focus was on [Simeon junior guard] Kendrick Nunn and Jabari Parker,” said Williams-Goss. “I took it personally, because I knew I’d have to defend both of them during the game.”

Williams-Goss also said that Findlay Prep felt it had something to prove at Hoophall.

“We had a slip-up earlier in the season with our loss to La Lumiere,” he said. “But it was motivation to us that Simeon was ranked No. 1. We feel we’re still the best team in the country. Being No. 1, that put a bull’s-eye on their back and we were coming for them.”

Findlay Prep’s victory was even more impressive considering that the team was without senior forward Anthony Bennett, the No. 7 player in the ESPNU 100. Bennett sat out the game with a hamstring injury.

Simeon dropped to 15-1 with the loss. The Wolverines have spent the entire season at No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50, but the blowout loss is likely to drop them at least several spots. Findlay Prep improved to 18-1 with the win.

There were plenty of top college coaches on hand, presumably to get a close look at Parker, who is still uncommitted. Among those in the crowd were Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky's John Calipari.

After the game, Parker said he hasn’t formed any list of college favorites yet. “I’m wide open,” he said.

Mike Grimala covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSGrimala or email him at michael.grimala@espn.com.

Simeon pulls out squeaker over Miller Grove

January, 7, 2012
1/07/12
10:29
PM ET


WHEELING, W.Va. -- Jabari Parker couldn’t have cared less about Miller Grove’s (Lithonia, Ga.) recent shortcomings.

Sure, he was aware that just 23 days ago Miller Grove was ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 and, yeah, he’d heard about Miller Grove's four-game losing streak. But the only thing Parker was concerned with was making certain he and his top-ranked Simeon (Chicago) squad extended that streak to five.

“I don’t care who we’re playing or what that team’s situation is,” said Parker, a junior swingman who is the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 60. “All we care about is leaving with a win.”

They did.

Parker scored 20 points and snagged six rebounds to keep No. 1 Simeon (13-0) undefeated with a 59-56 win over No. 34 Miller Grove (6-5) Saturday night at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va., in a game televised on ESPN2.

Kendrick Nunn added 19 points and Steve Taylor pumped in 11 for Simeon. Tony Parker led Miller Grove with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“This was a great win for us over a great team,” said Jabari Parker, who was named Most Valuable Player. “We knew that we’d have to come out and execute well early, and I feel like we did that. That carried over to later in the game and it helped us pull out a close one. We’re really happy with this win.”

Parker had the hot hand early for Simeon, reeling off 10 points in the first quarter to give his squad an early 18-14 lead. Simeon extended that lead by capitalizing off of Miller Grove’s turnovers. Simeon turned six second-quarter turnovers into 10 points and cruised to a comfortable 35-20 lead at the half.

Simeon’s swarming defense caused Miller Grove to shoot just 36 percent from the field in the first half.

“We executed well in the first half,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “But we know that basketball is a game of runs, and we knew that they’d make a run. They’re too good not to make a run.”

That started in the third quarter.

Miller Grove shot 8 of 11 and put together a 24-8 run to grab a 44-43 lead early in the fourth quarter.

That’s when Simeon displayed its full array of offensive weapons. Four different players scored during Simeon’s 16-13 run to seal the win.

“That’s the special thing about this team,” Smith said. “We have so many guys that can score the ball that it’s hard to key in on one player. This was a huge win for our program. Coach (Sharman) White does a great job with that program, and we feel great to have pulled this one out.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Mr. Basketball USA Tracker (Jan. 6)

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
4:53
PM ET
Top recruit Shabazz Muhammad, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle collect first-place votes while Tyler Lewis increases point total by 25.

The New Year brought changes of opinion for some of the nation's leading talent evaluators regarding the top national player of the year candidates.

At the very top, the voting results of the latest ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker are the same with ESPNU 100 No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) leading the way with 92 points, one less than his preseason point total.

From the major holiday tournaments, two new candidates emerged among the top seven. Team success in these tournaments was the main factor causing change in the voting results.

In the preseason, point guard Tyler Lewis of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) appeared on one ballot in fourth place (seven points). Lewis, coming off an MVP performance at the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Ore., is consistently putting up double-digit numbers in scoring and assists for the Warriors.

In the latest tracker, Lewis appeared on five ballots and gained 25 points. Oak Hill currently sits at No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 at 25-0. The next major test for the Warriors is Jan. 14 at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., against Julius Randle and No. 23 Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas).

To read the rest of this story and see the Mr. Basketball USA voting results, CLICK HERE.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

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