Do a basic search for Daniel Poneman and two guys show up prominently — one is the do-it-all and know-it-all recruiting analyst and scout who has made headlines since he was a teen and established himself as a go-to when it comes to high school basketball in the Chicago area.
The other is a former United States Secretary of Energy.
Pretty hard to mix the two up — they were born a few decades apart — but the latter Poneman does specialize in energy too, be it sitting on the pulse of the hoop scene in the hottest metropolitan area for high school ball, running his own talent showcase which unofficially kicked off this week’s McDonald’s All-American week festivities or even by managing the buzzworthy Chi-city rapper Spenzo.
The ever-busy Poneman took some time to build with WARR.com as we resurrect our mini-Q&A segment, he talks about the outstanding class of 2014 that the city has produced, who to watch for in tonight’s All-American Game (8:30 central, ESPN) and who may be getting a little more attention than they deserve this week.
Poneman: Without a doubt, this is the best group of All-Americans Chicago has produced in one year since I’ve been involved in basketball. It could be argued that these three are the best center, power forward and point guard in the nation, respectively. I believe this is the first year in my career that Chicago has produced more than two McDonald’s All-Americans (ed. note – arguably it was 2002, with Dee Brown (Proviso East), Sean Dockery (Julian) and Joliet’s Michael Thompson (Providence), depending on how far you stretch out the Chicago area), and for two of them to be ranked 1-2 in the nation is just unheard of. Tyler Ulis was the star of the closed scrimmage (Tuesday), and might be the most underrated player in the field. This group of Chicago kids is just astounding.
2. Aaron Gordon sort of used last year’s McDonald’s week to establish himself firmly as a player to watch in college. Who do you see doing that this year?
The two players I see using McDonald’s week as a springboard into national stardom are Tyler Ulis and Emanuel Mudiay
. These are the top two point guards in the class, in my opinion, and two of the top six or seven players overall. Mudiaye is the best point guard prospect I’ve seen since Derrick Rose. His combination of size, speed, basketball IQ, and scoring ability are incredible. He is committed to SMU and went to a prep school in Texas so he didn’t get a ton of national attention on ESPN and whatnot this season, but this kid is goooood. Ulis gets underrated because of his size, but he is a damn good ball player. If the coaches in the McDonald’s game give him a decent amount of playing time and really let him go, the entire nation is going to fall in love with Tyler Ulis, mark my words.
3. Duke leads the way with four boys commits. Is their 2014 class tempting enough to keep Jabari Parker there one more year?
I think Jabari is going to stay another year, but I think it has nothing to do with the class they have coming in. For a kid like (Andrew) Wiggins you’ve gotta strike while the iron is hot
. He is a “prospect” and his stock is high, but with another year of college his flaws could be magnified and he could get exposed. For a kid like Jabari, another year of college just means more time to enjoy being a kid and another crack at a national title. Jabari doesn’t have to worry about being exposed because he is who he says he is — he has won at every level — he will only get better next season when he gets his chance to play his natural position. Jabari is going to come back, and he’s going to win player of the year next year, watch what I tell you.
4. Will we learn of Texas prep star Myles Turner’s college destination before the end of the week and who has the best chance of landing him?
I don’t know and I don’t care. He did not impress me (Tuesday). (ed. note — Apparently, Cliff Alexander doesn’t agree with that).
5. You just showcased a bunch of high school talent — was there anyone, Chicago or elsewhere, who could make an argument of being subbed for the McDonalds game?
The committee actually did a great job this year of selecting players. In past years I always had a complaint or two as to who should’ve made the cut, but this year they did a fine job. I’m thrilled they included Tyler Ulis. One player from my recent SwagAir Showcase to watch out for is Shartone Moore
from Chicago Englewood. He is a 6-6 guard who has to go the JUCO route, but has a chance to play in the NBA one day.
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