Teammates divided for 2018 McDonald's All American Games
Teammates will be turning on each other at the McDonald's All American Games.
Rosters for the 17th annual showcase, scheduled for March 28 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, were unveiled on Tuesday, and they featured an interesting twist. Two sets of teammates were placed on opposite teams for one of the final acts of their outstanding careers.
Maryland recruit Shakira Austin, a 6-foot-5 forward at Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Maryland), will be representing the East; Baylor recruit Honesty Scott-Grayson, a 5-10 point guard at Riverdale Baptist, will be representing the West. Tennessee recruit Jazmine Massengill, a 6-foot point guard at Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tennessee), will be representing the East; Georgia Tech recruit Elizabeth Balogun, a 6-foot wing at Hamilton Heights, will be representing the West.
Hamilton Heights Christian coach Keisha Hunt said disappointment turned to joy as the rosters were unveiled on ESPN.
"We were happy for Jazmine," Hunt said. "And we were looking and looking and looking ... and then everyone just erupted in cheers."
Balogun wasn't 100 percent sure what to make of the strange setup.
"That will be something new," Balogun said. "I've never played a real game against her. It will be weird and fun at the same time."
Hamilton Heights at No. 2 and Riverdale Baptist at No. 9 are, of course, two of the best high school teams in the country.
Here are five other things to know.
1. Texas, Texas and more Texas
So much for a lone star. Seven players from Texas were named 2018 McDonald's All Americans, the most of any state. Sedona Prince, a 6-7 post player at Liberty Hill and Madison Williams, a 5-10 wing at Trinity Valley will play for the East. Charli Collier, a 6-5 forward at Barbers Hill; Queen Egbo, a 6-3 post at Travis; Zarielle Green, a 6-0 guard at Duncanville, Catherine Reese, a 6-2 forward at Cypress Woods and NaLyssa Smith, a 6-2 guard at East Central, are lined up for the West.
Kim Mulkey and Baylor lead the way with four All Americans headed their way: Aquira DeCosta, Egbo, Scott-Grayson and Smith; Karen Aston and Texas claims two in Prince and Collier.
The two Texas schools sandwich Tennessee. The Lady Vols are expecting three All Americans to arrive on campus: Amira Collins, Massengill and Green.
2. Connecticut disconnection
Connecticut signees Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa teamed up in 2016 for USA Basketball at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain. They took their official visits to Storrs together last fall.
"I'm really excited to play with her," Nelson-Ododa said of Williams last November on her signing day.
She's going to have to wait a bit longer.
Williams, the No.1 prospect in the country, was assigned to the West squad; Nelson-Ododa, the No. 5 prospect, was placed on the East.
3. X factors
It will take more than sharpshooting to determine the outcome in Atlanta. We're pointing to a primo passer and a rebounding extraordinaire as our McDonald's X factors.
For the East, Izabela Nicoletti, a 5-10 guard at Neuse Christian, puts the "ooh!" in smooth. She already has starred for Brazil on the international stage, and the Florida State signee is sure to wow fans with her savvy game and unselfish play.
For the West, DeCosta, a 6-2 wing, has risen to a different rebounding level this season at St. Mary's (Stockton, California). Always a high flier, DeCosta has brought a high motor to the court and good things -- including elevating her team to one of the nation's elite -- have followed.
4. Home statement?
After Chicago hosted the game for seven straight years, Atlanta gets its turn to showcase the best high school basketball talent in the country. And that includes hometown star Jenna Brown.
The 5-10 point guard at The Lovett School missed her junior season with a knee injury and will be eager to show the rest of the country she's all the way back. She's averaging 24 points and eight rebounds so far as a senior. She was a member of the 2016 USA Basketball U17 team with fellow McDonald's All Americans Williams, Nelson-Ododa, Collier, DeCosta, Henderson and Prince.
She will be heading to Stanford in the fall.
Nelson-Ododa is the only other All American from Georgia. Two prospects who are headed to Georgia Tech -- Elizabeth Dixon and Balogun -- will be featured in the game.
5. Super size
A total of 24 players were named McDonald's All Americans, and half of them are listed at 6-2 or taller. Has there been a growth spurt? The 2017 and 2016 rosters each had nine players at 6-2 or taller.
Expect the West to employ a variety of players -- from Dixon to Egbo to Collier to Smith -- to try to slow down Prince, who stands 6-7.