McDonald's rosters feature Haley Jones, Aliyah Boston and a whole lot of Stanford and South Carolina
Bragging rights at the 2019 McDonald's All American Games will belong to Ohio. Four players from the Buckeye State -- Zia Cooke, Jordan Horston, Sammie Puisis and Kierstan Bell -- were among the 24 high school basketball players chosen for the annual showcase. The rosters were revealed Thursday on "The Jump."
Three players from California will be making the trip to Atlanta for the March 27 game, and three players from Texas as well.
Three future Gamecocks were placed on the East team. Three future Cardinal players were placed on the West team. Do we sense a showdown of the top recruiting classes in the country?
Here are other key takeaways from Thursday's roster reveal.
Breakout for Boston?
South Carolina recruit Aliyah Boston is the premier post player in the country. At 6-foot-4, she is a gifted and physical presence on the block. She was a handful on the international stage over the summer, averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 rebounds for the United States and being named to the all-tournament team at the FIBA U17 World Cup. Can the West manage to do what the world could not and contain Boston? It may be a job for more than one player. The West features post players Kennedy Brown, Angel Jackson and Ashten Prechtel and may need to go to a double-team on Boston every time she touches the ball. Otherwise, the senior at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts could steal the Atlanta stage. She'll look to do it alongside future South Carolina teammates Breanna Beal and Zia Cooke, who also were assigned to the East team.
A different perspective for Jones
Haley Jones has seen pretty much everything on a basketball court. Except, perhaps, this. The No. 1 prospect in the country, who owns a gold medal with USA Basketball, a national title with Archbishop Mitty and a boatload of individual accolades, will be playing against her high school coach and mentor, Sue Phillips of Archbishop Mitty. Jones, a 6-1 wing and the anchor of the West team, is as complete as they come. She can score, pass and will her team to wins. Perhaps the one person who can slow her down is Phillips, who also has struck gold with USA Basketball as a coach. This will be one out-of-the ordinary matchup to keep an eye on.
See Fran dunk?
If you need proof that the women's game is evolving, look no further than Jones' future Stanford teammate Fran Belibi. The high-flying 6-1 forward most recently hit the highlight shows with an alley-oop dunk during a game this month for Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colorado). A year ago, Olivia Nelson-Ododa gained legions of fans for her performance in the Powerade Jam Fest. Can Belibi take it up another notch by dunking in the actual game? Don't be surprised if she does.
A UConn presence
There was some signing-week stress in and around Storrs last November when several elite prospects chose alternate destinations. Aubrey Griffin, the lone signee so far for UConn in the 2019 class, could alleviate any lingering fears about the future with a strong showing in Atlanta. Placed on the East team, the 6-1 wing at Ossining (New York), has the ability to score in bunches. She can manufacture shots in the mid-range game or take her jumper out to the arc. She's also a handful inside and can exploit smaller defenders.
Who will win?
Can Phillips and the East find a way to slow down Jones? Or can coach Lee Rogers and the West find a way to contain Boston? The answer to those questions could determine the winner.
But it's also worth keeping tabs on the East's Samantha Brunelle, who is hoping to come back strong after undergoing surgery on her foot. And don't forget about Tennessee-bound star Jordan Horston, who could be the best athlete on the floor. Then there's Jakia Brown-Turner, who plays for one of the best high school teams in the country at Bishop McNamara in Maryland. We should also mention that the East has the top point guard in the class in Maryland-bound Ashley Owusu.
As for the West, Kierstan Bell could prove to be a game-changer. She's a capable scorer, but she's a great passer who will be able to get her teammates involved. She also has the distinction of playing in front of LeBron James. As far as pure shooting, it's hard to beat UCLA-bound point guard Charisma Osborne, who has been known to sink, sink and sink some more.
East head coach: Sue Phillips, Archbishop Mitty High School (California)
East assistant coach: Tami Monson, Archbishop Mitty High School
East assistant coach: Joe Guerra, Archbishop Mitty High School
West head coach: Lee Rogers, Arundel Senior High School (Maryland)
West assistant coach: Donna McGowan, Arundel Senior High School
West assistant coach: Ana Baker, Arundel Senior High School