In the inaugural All-American Championship, on April 3 at 5:00 p.m. EST on ESPN3, the East versus West match-up features elite talent on both squads with eight players in the top-25, including two top five prospects and the best small forward in the class of 2012 in Shabazz Muhammad. Here’s what to watch for in the game (which will be re-broadcasted on ESPNU later the same night).
Point Guard: Tyrone Johnson (East) and L.J. Rose (West)
These two are both great point guards with Rose ranked #2 at the position in the class of 2012 and Johnson just missing out on the top-50 for the class of 2011. Rose is a pure point guard who has great floor vision and excellent passing abilities. He also can score when needed since he is a good three-point shooter and good ball-handler which allows him to utilize dribble-penetration. Johnson, a Villanova commit, uses dribble-penetration and has good court vision as well. He has great size and athleticism and has the potential to be a great defender so we’ll see if he takes a step in that direction against a formidable foe in Rose.
The Duke Trio: Gbinije, Sulaimon, and Murphy
The Blue Devils’ will be showcasing a lot of their future talent in this game between 2011 small forward prospect Michael Gbinije (#29) and their pair of early top-15 commits in the class of 2012 in small forward Alex Murphy (#13) and shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon (#14). Gbinije is a fundamentally sound wing-player who has a great step-back jumper and good size and strength for the position. Murphy, the other Blue Devil small forward in the game, has a nice shooting stroke from the mid-range game to beyond the arc and does an excellent job of setting his feet before the shot. Different from Gbinije and Murphy, Sulaimon is an athletic two-guard who is always in attack mode and is a big-time scorer who scores in a variety of ways.
The St. John’s Trio: Jakarr Sampson, Maurice Harkless, and D’Angelo Harrison
The Red Storm will exhibit most of their #3 ranked recruiting class in this game as shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison and small forwards Jakarr Sampson (#41) and Maurice Harkless (#47) will give you a taste of what’s coming to Madison Square Garden next year. Sampson and Harkless are very similar in the sense that they are both athletic wings who are great slashers and excel in transition. However, Harkless is a better shooter and has a better mid-range game. On the opposite side of the court, Harrison is a big-time scorer who can get by his defender off the dribble consistently and finishes in the lane well.
The West’s Forwards: Shabazz Muhammad and Perry Ellis
This game features the best small forward in the class of 2012 in Shabazz Muhammad (#5) and an elite power forward in Perry Ellis (#20). Muhammad is an athletic impact player who has a great mid-range game. He also has a very good post-game for a wing-player which he uses when guarded by smaller defenders. At the other forward position, Ellis is a talented big man with great hands and the ability to run the floor. He also is simply a winner, he has won three state championships in three years and accumulated three Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year awards, so watching these two play together will be special.
Center: DaJuan Coleman (East), Cameron Ridley (West), and Shaquille Cleare (West)
This game will feature two top-five centers in the class of 2012 in DaJuan Coleman (#3) and Cameron Ridley (#7) and another elite big-man in Shaquille Cleare (#24). All three big men are similar since they all have good size and strength and are among the top rebounders in their class. They also have a well-developed post-games for high schoolers and have good hands around the bucket. It will be very entertaining to see Coleman and Ridley battle it out in the post as the premier big men in the class of 2012.