Once the 24 players were selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, the question became how would they be divided and what marquee match-ups would develop. While technically the teams are divided into East and West, geography has very little to do with which team a prospect is placed on.
Immediately the one match-up that jumped off the page was Austin Rivers going against Brad Beal. For better or worse and right or wrong, Rivers and Beal will always be linked to each other in this class. For over a year they were considered the two best shooting guards going, and at one time both of them were committed to play for the Florida Gators.
Since Rivers’ de-commitment from Florida, which followed Beal’s commitment, the two have matched up. One was an extremely intense matchup at the Nike EYBL in Hampton, and then again down in Orlando in a made for TV spectacular.
Now the two will have the biggest stage in high school basketball to play out this match-up. While there doesn’t seem to be bad blood between the two elite level scorers, both are clearly competitive and want to prove that they are the best in the class. Add in the Florida sidebar to the story and there is no doubt that this one will be fun to watch.
Another match-up that will be fun to monitor involves Adonis Thomas going against Michael Gilchrist. Both players are ranked in the top 10, both are excellent athletes, both are warriors on the floor, and both love to attack the rim off the dribble.
Add in that Gilchrist is headed to Kentucky coached by John Calipari while Thomas is at Calipari’s former school and was a target of Calipari’s for a long time, and it is obvious to see why this one should be fun.
No player in this class plays with a higher motor more consistently than Gilchrist, but if there is someone who physically, athletically, and energy wise can match him on the wing it is Thomas, and now the two will be able to go at each other for the entire nation to see.
A final individual battle that could be interesting is one that will play out in the Commonwealth of Kentucky over the next few years. Power Forwards Kyle Wiltjer and Chane Behanan could match-up with each other quite a bit during the game.
What makes this so interesting, aside from the obvious Kentucky v. Louisville storyline, is that Wiltjer and Behanan couldn’t be more different. Wiltjer is the ultimate skill guy at the position. He loves to play facing the rim, and while not a great athlete or super strong, he has a super high basketball IQ and can score out to 25 feet with a great looking jumper.
Behanan on the other hand is a power player extraordinaire. He likes to do all of his damage within about 10 feet of the rim, and uses his physical strength and explosive two feet jumping to overpower defenders and score. How Wiltjer matches a player like Behanan’s power should be fun to watch, and likewise defending a guy like Wiltjer should prove to be a great challenge for Behanan.
These are just three match-ups that are worth paying close attention to for the McDonald’s Game. No doubt other battles will happen both in the game and during the week in practices, but early on these three jump off the page.