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Thursday, January 26, 2012
Updated: January 30, 6:32 PM ET
Mr. Basketball USA: Strong message

By Ronnie Flores
ESPNHS.com

Debating whether a player deserves to land in the ESPNU 100, or whether he's a mid- or high-major player is fun but it's not an exact science.

With the updated ESPNU 100 published earlier this week, combined with little movement in this week's Mr. Basketball USA Tracker, it's a good time to discuss why some of the players deemed the nation's best don't excel in the NBA.

First off, it's important to note the majority of the top five players in each class will enjoy NBA careers. In fact, every season since 1989-90, the ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honoree has eventually played in the NBA. Only two all-time selections dating back to the 1954-1955 season did not.

But why do some Mr. Basketball USA selections and top-rated players go on to be NBA stars, while others turn into fringe or complementary players? The Mr. Basketball panel offers some perspective.

"Some of them stop working and begin to read their own press clippings," said Fullctpress.net editor and panel member Dinos Trigonis. "Some maximize their ability early, while others max out their potential in high school."

It's interesting to note that Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, last year's NBA MVP, and 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year John Wall of the Washington Wizards were not consensus No. 1 prospects or named Mr. Basketball USA. In the case of Rose, not one organization ranked him the No. 1 high school player in 2006-07, the year O.J. Mayo was named Mr. Basketball USA. Wall (not eligible for Mr. Basketball honors) was No. 5 in the 2008-09 ESPNU 100 with Avery Bradley ranked No. 1.

"Even if we had included John Wall (he was our No. 1-ranked 5th-year player), he would not have been any higher than No. 4 on our list, behind Bradley, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins," said HoopScoop editor and panel member Clark Francis.

"In the summer of 2006, I thought Eric Gordon was better than Rose," Trigonis said. "Not that Gordon is a bad pro, but D-Rose has elevated his game above Gordon."

The last two Mr. Basketball USA picks -- Harrison Barnes in 2009-10 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last season -- were known for their tremendous work ethics and competitive nature. The same holds true for Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), this year's front-runner with 94 out of 100 points in this week's balloting.

How is this trio going to elevate their games on the next level when they face players who are just as aggressive and skilled on a nightly basis?

Sure, there have been some misses among the No. 1 ranked prospects in recent years, but all have played in the NBA or are headed there. The decisions these players make in order to maximize their production at the NBA level (and minimize the risk factors) is ultimately determined by them.

That's something this year's top Mr. Basketball USA candidates should take heed of.

2011-2012 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Week 4
Rank Prev. Name Pos High School 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
1 1 Shabazz Muhammad (10) SF Bishop Gorman 7 1 1 1 0 94
2 2 Kyle Anderson (9) PG St. Anthony 2 4 1 2 0 78
3 3 Jabari Parker (10) SF Simeon 0 2 2 2 2 68
4 4 Tyler Lewis (7) PG Oak Hill 1 0 1 2 0 47
5 5 Nerlens Noel (6) C Tilton 0 1 3 1 1 46
6 7 Julius Randle (6) SF Prestonwood 0 0 0 0 1 29
7 6 Marcus Smart (4) SF Marcus 0 0 1 1 2 27

Others Receiving Votes:
Kris Jenkins (Gonzaga, Washington, D.C.) 16 pts. (4)
Katin Reinhardt (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 12 pts. (2)
Alex Poythress (Northeast, Clarksville, Tenn.) 11 pts. (2)
Anthony Bennett (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) 9 pts. (1)
Kris Dunn (New London, New London, Conn.) 9 pts. (1)
Grant Jerrett (La Verne Lutheran, La Verne, Calif.) 8 pts. (1)
Perry Ellis (Wichita Heights, Wichita, Kan.) 6 pts. (1)
Marcus Paige (Linn-Mar, Marion, Iowa) 6 pts. (1)
Gabe York (Orange Lutheran, Orange, Calif.) 6 pts. (1)
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 5 pts. (1)
Amile Jefferson (Friends' Central, Wynnewood, Pa.) 5 pts. (1)
Tyler Dorsey (Ribet Academy, Los Angeles, Calif.) 4 pts. (1)
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young, Chicago, Ill.) 4 pts. (1)

About ESPNHS Mr. Basketball Tracker Panel
ESPNHS' panel of 10 experts, which includes five McDonald's All-American selection committee members, casts its vote each week for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists the top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in previous tracker.