Among the earliest national recognition top players receive is class player of the year honors from ESPNHS.
The following selections will headline our yet-to-be published 2010-11 ESPNHS Underclass All-American Boys Basketball Team.
Tony Parker of Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) edged out last year's sophomore selection, Perry Ellis of Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.), and Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) for National Junior Player of the Year honors.
All three are prime candidates to join 2011 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Michael Gilchrist on the overall ESPNHS All-American boys basketball team, which will be released April 19.
National Junior Player of the Year:
Tony Parker, Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 6-9 C
One of the nation's best centers regardless of class, Parker led the Wolverines to a 31-2 on-court record and No. 6 POWERADE FAB 50 ranking. Miller Grove won its third consecutive Class AAAA state title and Parker averaged 17.5 points, 15.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocked shots per game against strong competition. He was named Class AAAA player of the year on the Georgia Sportswriters Association all-state team and MVP of the prestigious Beach Ball Classic. Parker grabbed a tournament-record 27 rebounds in the semifinal win and posted 20 points and 13 rebounds in title game win over Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.). He is Georgia's second ever junior selection, following Louis Williams of South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) in 2003-04.
National Sophomore Player of the Year:
Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 6-7 F
It's another Parker leading a different set of Wolverines to a state title, as the son of ex-NBA player Sonny Parker led Simeon to its second consecutive Class 4A state title. Parker scored a team-high 12 points, had five rebounds and three blocks in 48-39 state final win over Warren (Warren, Ill.). Hailed as the Windy City's next hoops star, Parker is the only freshman to ever start at Simeon -- a list including probable NBA MVP Derrick Rose --- and upped his season scoring average from 9.3 to 15.3. He was named first team Class 4A all-state with four seniors and is Illinois' second national sophomore pick, following Lowell Hamilton of Providence-St. Mel (Chicago, Ill.) in 1982-83.
National Freshman Player of the Year:
Dakari Johnson, St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 6-9 C
This New York native moved to Kentucky to play varsity as an eighth-grader at Sayre (Lexington, Ky.), where he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds. His scoring average dropped in half as a ninth-grader, but the Celtics competed against one of the nation's most demanding schedules and Johnson played a key role for a 26-1 team ranked No. 3 in the FAB 50. Johnson especially shined when St. Patrick faced other top national programs. He went for seven points and eight rebounds against Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.), 10 and 12 against Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), and nine and nine versus Milton (Milton, Ga.). He also displayed his huge impact with 12 points and 9 rebounds against highly regarded prep school star Andre Drummond. He is New Jersey's third freshman pick following Dajuan Wagner of Camden (Camden, N.J.) in 1997-98 and Roderick Rhodes of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) in 1988-89.
Note: All selections based on high school accomplishment, not future college/pro potential, and are reflective of those that lead their teams to state championships. ESPN RISE does not knowingly select fifth-year players, or those ineligible due to age or academics, as Mr. Basketball USA or to its various All-American teams.