Things happen quickly in the world of young elite basketball players.
Just seven months ago the United Center in Chicago welcomed a couple dozen promising ballers for the 2013 McDonald’s All-American games, among them were hometown hero Jabari Parker and then-mysterious Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins. Tonight, these two players return to the UC in the first college basketball showcase of this new season, the State Farm Champions Classic.
Squaring off in the second of two games are, No. 4 Duke, featuring Parker, and No. 5 Kansas with Wiggins at the helm. Maybe to some folks surprise, this game sort of supersedes the first game, a match between Kentucky and Michigan State, or in other words the first regular season college basketball game between the Associated Press No. 1 (UK) and No. 2 (MSU) since 2008.
Kentucky’s six McD’s All-Americans are also being welcomed back to Chicago after their previous trip — while Wiggins and Parker are seen as the primary pro prospects playing tonight, the Wildcats’ Julius Randle still has a lot to say about who will sit atop the 2014 NBA Draft.
Back to the past McDonald’s All-American Game: for Parker that game stood as a coronation of his outstanding high-school career, which yielded four Illinois state championships and a near two-year run as the most sought-after recruit in America. Meanwhile, Wiggins sort of laid back and put up a near-effortless 19 points for his East squad, which lost to Parker’s West team.
The results back then didn’t mean even half a damn, tonight is a much different deal. It’s going to be great to see how each player responds to this truly competitive setting where for the first time Parker and Wiggins will be asked to lead an effort against one another. Let the breakdowns begin and lets all officially welcome back college basketball.
More on the State Farm Champions Classic:
Mike Lopresti breaks down tonight’s slate of games at NCAA.com, calling it an “early season classic” (NCAA.com)
Bryan Crawford takes a look at the Classic from a more Chi point of view, bringing mention to more of the Chicago-area products in action, including several from Michigan St. and Kansas (NBC Chicago)
Dana O’Neil takes a look into Jabari Parker’s private life and his reluctance towards the continuing tidal wave of attention coming his way (ESPN.com)
The Hang Time Blog at NBA.com breaks down the leading NBA prospects playing tonight and states that Wiggins can’t be considered a lock for that No. 1 spot (Hang Time Blog)
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