Cameron Ridley, a center at Bush (Fort Bend, Texas), was upset after not getting the ball during the West’s 106-102 win over the East in the McDonald’s All-American Game on March 28, but when Ridley suited up for the West in the All-American Championship in New Orleans Sunday, his teammates must’ve got the memo that Ridley was the best low-post option.
Ridley pumped in 16 points and was named MVP for the West, but that wasn’t enough to stop Omar Calhoun and the East. Calhoun, a shooting guard at Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), scored a tournament record 26 points to lead the East to an 84-72 win over the West at Lakefront Arena.
In the second game, Braxton Ogbueze, a point guard at United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.), sank two free throws with nine seconds left to give the South an 86-85 win over the North. Joel James, a forward at Dywer (West Palm Beach, Fla.), was named MVP for the South, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Glenn Robinson, a forward at Lake Central (Schererville Ind.), took home MVP honors for the North with 16 points.
Winston Shepard doesn’t mind admitting that he feels he should’ve been named to the McDonald’s All-American Game along with his Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) teammates Anthony Bennett and Brandon Ashley.
“I definitely felt like I should’ve been there,” said Shepard, a San Diego State signee who is ranked No. 53 in the ESPNU 100. “But you can’t control what other people decide. After watching the game, I don’t mind that I wasn’t a part of that.”
Shepard had a great consolation, helping the Pilots claim their third ESPNHS National High School Invitational title in four years on March 31 with an 86-83 come-from-behind win over Montverde (Montverde, Fla.).
Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) forward Justin Anderson wasn’t as committal as Shepard on his thoughts about not making McDonald’s, but Anderson’s coach Stu Vetter certainly was.
“The people who picked the players for McDonald’s got it wrong,” Vetter said. “That’s just the truth. Justin is one of the best players in the country and he should’ve been in that game. Period.”
We're Talking About Practice
It's no secret among long-time media scribes that the McDonald's All-American practices are often more meaningful than the game. The game is for friends, family and fans; practice is is for evaluation.
In practices, Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) felt he and fellow point guard Tyler Lewis of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) could do more damage playing together to create mismatches and openings for teammates. In the game, those East teammates never saw he floor together and Lewis struggled. No individual played less than Lewis, who went 1-of-7 from the field in 12 minutes.
Another player whose practice performances didn't translate over to the game was Marcus Smart of Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas). He went hard in practice and displayed the ability to defend on the wing and create offense at three different positions. For the victorious West, Smart struggled in the game. He failed to make a field goal to go with five assists and three turnovers.
Most keen practice observers would have loved to see Smart on the team opposite of Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.). He challenged Muhammad in practice, which lifted the intensity level two notches higher than the one the East displayed. Naturally, Muhammad quickly set the tone in the game, scoring nine consecutive points to give the West an early 11-2 lead in its eventual four-point victory.