All 24 players selected for the 46th Annual McDonald’s All-American Game met in Houston at the Mi3 Center to showcase their skills to the more than 50 NBA scouts and media members who showed up for Tuesday’s game (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
As one scout put it: “The real action is during practices and scrimmages. Tuesday’s game is just an open running session.”
There’s been a lot of talk about Bronny James, from when he’s going to make his commitment decision to how he’s going to meet the best in this kind of environment.
James, 18, was strong on both training days as he dribbled the ball in and showcased his defensive abilities. He worked well off the ball, playing alongside point guard Isaiah Collier (USC Commitment) and combo guard Jared McCain (Duke). They let him play freely as a secondary player with the ball and make shots for himself or others. He’s always been competitive on the defensive side, and the last two days were no different.
When I asked an NBA scout to rank players from 1-24, he had James ranked 17th. There’s still a lot of speculation about James’ future — at 35th in the class of 2023 at 247Sports Composite, he’s the best noncommittal prospect in the country. But James sat outside of Monday’s media day, so no idea what he said could be gathered at that spot.
The MVP of the practice sessions was Texas’ Ron Holland. On the first day, he went 5 of 8 of 3, lights out defensively, and had the hottest drive. Holland separated himself this week in front of an NBA scout, and as one of them specifically put it, “He was the best player in the gym.”
Holland also spoke about Rodney Terry agreeing to a five-year contract to become the Texans’ full-time head coach.
“I’m really excited about that,” Holland said. “He really deserves this job… It feels really good to me because I’m going to stay committed to this team. AJ Johnson and I. We have to try for a national championship next year.”
Other notables from Kentucky included DJ Wagner Jr. and Aaron Bradshaw.
Another NBA scout said, “At my request, it was Ron Holland, D.J. Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw, and then a big gap from the rest.”
Wagner’s speed in a straight line is piercing, and he has made several 3-second rounds from all over the Earth. He did a good job of being picky and patient and making the right decisions.
As for Bradshaw, he was the best big guy in the gym. He demonstrated his extended range, strong rebounding ability and timing as a shot blocker.
As one freelance scout said, “A year from now, he’ll be the first senior to be drafted into the NBA.”
Collier’s vision as a passer is next level, and he continues to show why he is the best passer in the state regardless of class. He made several jumps as a shooter or off the dribble, which was considered a hit on his game.
• Baylor’s signature Jacoby Walter defense excelled on the ball and shooting ability over both practice sessions. He separated himself on the defensive side, applying steady pressure to the ball and forcing turnovers. Offensively, he is one of the best knockout shooters in the country.
• Jared McCain is one of the best singles players in the country. Duke delivered a variety of contested takes and hard finishes around the rim. As the starting ballpark most of the weekend, he set up his teammates to get easy baskets and lead the offense well.
• AUBURN COMMITMENT Aden Holloway is one of the best playmakers in the class of 2023. He’s a skilled ball taker who rarely tipps the ball, and his accurate passing on pick-and-roll is first-rate. The scoring made it easy for Bradshaw and Michigan State to commit Xavier Booker.
(Top photo: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today)
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