One of my favorite nights of the year for the past eight years or so has been the night of the McDonald's AA game. I've seen tape on many of the top prospects that would be in the game, but you can't really judge the primacy of stud players until you pit them against each other.
Some guys like O.J. Mayo will respond by jacking up 30+ shots at a horrible clip and ostracizing their teammates. Others, like Brad Buckman, will defer to the more talented and prestigious players and pick their spots on the night. The true megastars, like Kevin Durant, will fit seamlessly into the game and still put up huge numbers. Durant had 25 points in the game and was co-MVP with Chase Budinger, who, while good, really had no business being mentioned in the same sentence on that night.
That said, the most important thing I take from the game is how the player perceives himself with regards to his supposed peers. The next thing I look at is his skillset. The third thing is effort and the least important thing to me is stats. I honestly couldn't care less if UNC commit James McAdoo, who was hilariously named co-MVP with Kentucky commit Mike Gilchrist, hit one three and had a bunch of breakaway dunks to total 17 points.
Some player thoughts after the jump:
Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas: For those of you who only glanced at the stat lines and didn't watch the game or those who watched the game and were nonplussed, don't fear. You'll see a much more steady and under-control player when Kabongo is under Rick Barnes' keen eye. The stage and nature of the game certainly brought out the flair in Myck, who had some insane passes and showed off some astounding handle that had the crowd "ooohing" and "ahhhhing" in the opening minutes of the game.
But he also had five turnovers (I actually thought it was more), a few from overly-ambitious passes to teammates, a few from passes where he kind of just lobbed the ball to nobody in particular, and one where he tried to do some fancy behind-the-back move and just lost the ball. He was also 0-6 from the field, including two wide-open missed threes and a few easy missed layups.
Texas fans will be extremely happy to know that Myck nailed both his free throw attempts, his only two points of the game. I expect him to shoot at least 75% from the line next year. ESPN had him with five assists and six rebounds on their last stat run-through, which is generally what you're going to get from Myck—a stat-stuffing game and not too much scoring.
What I liked most about Myck was his mentality. He knew he belonged with the rest of the top players in the country and showed no fear in running the offense for his team and trying to break down (more like embarrass) the opposing guards that were covering him. Great confidence, solid poise, and didn't get upset when he messed up.
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky: Not sure if anybody remembers, but this kid created a real buzz right after he committed to Kentucky when it was rumored UK gave his father and him $200K for his signature. Well, from what I saw in that game, whatever they paid him clearly was not enough. Due to growing seven inches in the last year, Davis has good perimeter skills to complement his 6'10" height. He's finally starting to fill out and once he does, he'll be absolutely unstoppable. Good handle, decent shot, great athleticism, very good tenacity, stellar shotblocking ability, and a good feel for the game make his potential hard to envision. He was so much better than everybody else in the game and he's improving at an enormous rate. Comparisons to KG sound pretty much spot-on. He will almost assuredly be the number one pick in next year's NBA draft. Davis had 14 points.
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke: I've seen Rivers play nearly 10 times now, so I knew what to expect from Doc's most talented son. Deep range and a nasty pull-up jumper go well with his crafty dribbling ability, huge basketball IQ, and good finishing skills at the rim. He's only a good, not phenomenal, athlete though, so at only 6'3" he'll need to develop his point guard skills to excel at the next level. Will he be Chauncey Billups or O.J. Mayo? Austin had 14 points.
Khem Birch, PF, Pittsburgh: Surprisingly, Myck wasn't even the best Canadian in the game. That honor goes to Birch, who is generally tabbed as the tall, lanky, athletic guy who can block shots like bullet-proof vests but has a raw athletic game. Kid was all over the place in this game though, not only blocking shots, but also crashing the boards with alacrity (nine offensive rebounds). 10 points and 10 rebounds is a solid game for a young man that many scouts will be drooling over in next year's draft.
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida: I'm glad Beal had a really strong game because he was ice-cold when I saw his St. Louis Eagles AAU team take on Rivers' Winter Park team last year. Beal is often described as a Ray Allen-type player because he has a beautiful shot, but doesn't do much fancy stuff off the bounce. He's also capable of athletic finishes at the rim and rebounded well in this game. Beal had 17 points. Florida will have a crowded backcourt next year with Beal and Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario joining returning mighty mites Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton.
P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC: Hairston had 15 points and drained three DEEP threes, including one that looked like it was four or five feet behind the NBA arc. He's also a plus athlete and I like him more than Beal due to his better height (6'6" vs. 6'3/4"). Hairston should jump right into heavy minutes with the Heels, who desperately need his consistent shooting range.