Kyle Means, Regal Radio Online Editor
1. The 2013 class bears some striking similarities to the last truly great MCDAAG class: 2007.
Check the rosters then and now: in both cases the West was lead by a Chicago (and Simeon)-bred phenom, and both times the East featured a potential antagonist for that baller who were based in Huntington, WV after many travels. Both years had their own flavor added to the matchup – OJ Mayo was positioned in the media as a real rival of Rose and there was much deliberation over who really was the better player. The Wiggins-Parker relationship has been much more cordial and the media has let it be seen that way.
The only drama involving either of the two deals with Wiggins’ choice of college. The other potential comparisons deal more with projection than anything. To look at the 2007 West team now is to see 10 future NBA players including four multiple all-stars (Rose, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin) and an eventual multiple all-star (James Harden). Rose, of course, has an MVP to his credit.
Elsewhere on that roster were notables James Anderson, Michael Beasley, Jerryd Bayless and Kyle Singler who was an instrumental part of the 2010 Duke National Championship squad.
Not much in the way of slouches on the 2007 East team but in the time since it’s been proven that their roster’s impact will mostly be felt in the college game. Mayo was always a professional ball player even when he wasn’t, he one-and-done’d and has spent the most time in the league. Fellow 2007 East All-American J.J. Hickson has worked himself into a fine pro and actually may end up with a better career if Portland ever resurrects or if he gets the hell out of there.
Two pairs that were then Big East-bound: Chris Wright and Austin Freeman (Georgetown) and Johnny Flynn and Donte Greene (Syracuse) won and played big games but didn’t bring any titles or even a Final Four birth to their programs. Nolan Smith had by far the best college career of anyone on the East squad, won his title at Duke at was a first-team All-American by the time he left, he’s riding the bench in Portland now.
A lot can happen but the 2013 West team again looks like it’ll be the more distinguished group going forward. Beyond Parker and 2013 MVP Aaron Gordon (who is Griffin-like with the way he attacks the rim) there were also four of the record six MCDAA’s heading to Kentucky on the West and we all know what an express lane Lexington is to the NBA.
All but one West player scored multiple baskets and six scored in double-digits. Bobby Portis Jr. looked dynamic every time he took control of the ball, the Harrison brothers each found ways to impact the game and Nigel Williams-Goss looks like an impressive floor general. Jarell Martin also flew around the United Center.
The East also had five in double-digits and Wiggins pretty much scored his team-high 19 at half-speed (not dissing, that’s probably just how good he is. I’m anticipating seeing him in a situation where he’s really tested). NC State-bound Anthony Barber has NBA handles and a first step that’ll make his name known by time he decides to leave Raleigh. Kansas recruit Wayne Selden Jr. also impressed with an efficient and all-around performance Wednesday and Dakari Johnson looks like he’ll dominate the post throughout his time at Kentucky.
A lot will hinge on how the Kentucky guys do in this comparison. The East also has Julius Randle in its pocket and really he and Johnson look to be the guys to watch for next year’s Wildcats. And of course, Wiggins still has Kentucky on his list. More on that later.
2. Aaron Gordon will lead Arizona to its best season yet post-Lute
Gordon impressed all week, be it with his dunks (game-high nine Wednesday after playing runner-up at the SlamFest Monday), or his demeanor at his college announcement and after the game Wednesday. It could be read that he was trying to steal shine from Wiggins or Parker this week, but it really seems like the kid was just doing him and one thing he does well is play big when the big moments come.
I expect him to continue that for Arizona with fellow all-American Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at his side. The pair’s athleticism alone will help them fill the voids left by seniors Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons, among only three the Wildcats lose in all. Star Nick Johnson returns for his junior year and several young and athletic front-court players will be back as well. Arizona will be experienced and deep by next spring and this younger team was a LaQuinton Ross prayer from the Elite 8.
3. Jabari Parker could have went to Mt. Carmel
Confirmed in the post-game press conference by Parker and West coach Mike Flaherty, who runs the program there. Apparently if he didn’t go to Simeon that would have been his destination.
Mt. Carmel has had much success on the court under Flaherty, producing Antoine Walker and Donovan McNabb (he played basketball at Syracuse too) among others but the Jabari Parker mythos as we know it wouldn’t have occured if he went there. So much about Parker’s profile is enhanced by him being a part of the great Simeon tradition – from Benji to D. Rose to him. Also, Parker wouldn’t have won four straight state titles at Mt. Carmel. This is one case where destiny was manifested appropriately.
4. Andrew Wiggins should go to Florida St.
For parity’s sake and his sanity. Don’t care too much about his parents having gone there beyond the fact that it created a unique option among the college titans (Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina) that he’s also deciding over. To see Wiggins at Florida St. would be to see him in the newly fortified ACC but without the baggage of being THE GUY at Carolina. Indeed, he’ll be THE GUY!!! at FSU, they’ll worship him unabashedly, but hopefully a year of that won’t warp his mind (or any other part of his body).
It’s obvious that Wiggins is a one and done so this decision may not mean much at all, maybe he should just go to Kentucky and assure himself a title next year but he will bring FSU back to the NCAA tournament next year by himself, and who knows what can happen after that. In the little time I saw him handle the media this week it seems like Wiggins can deal with scrutiny and pressing obligations well but he doesn’t seem like he has the best time doing it. Things will be a little easier in Tallahassee than in Chapel Hill and Lexington, he’ll be able to feel his way through the season more and maybe be afforded more privacy to work on his game how he wants while preparing for the 2014 Draft.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Kyle Means @Wrk_Wrt