The big guns were blazing for the West Tuesday night in the 43rd Annual Roundball Classic All-Star Game in its 144-123 romp at The United Center in Chicago.
Led by the total inside dominance of 6-10 center Kevin Love (UCLA), 6-10 power forward James Hickson (N.C. State) and 6-9 center/forward Mac Koshwal (DePaul) and the superb playmaking of 6-1 point guard Corey Fisher (Villanova), the West jumped out to a 73-57 halftime lead, and the East never got closer than 21 points.
Roundball Classic founder and director Sonny Vaccaro said, "Mac Koshwal is the best-kept secret in America. I think he's a future pro. I was talking to some scouts during the game, and everyone agrees if he keeps doing things the right way, he will be in the NBA someday."
As for why he signed with DePaul, Koshwal told the Chicago Sun-Times, "One of the reasons I chose DePaul was because I love Chicago and I love the fans here. Everyone makes their own choice, and I think I made a great one."
Outshooting the East 50 to 40.7 percent, outrebounding it 83 to 60 and outscoring it in the paint 104-54, the West simply dominated.
The West tri-MVP's were Love with 21 points (10-17 FG), a game-high 16 rebounds and six blocks, Hickson with 24 points and eight rebounds and Koshwal with 19 points and five rebounds. Fisher added 13 points and a Roundball Classi-record 16 assists. Love has made a virtual complete sweep of national player of the year awards, winning the Naismith Award, the McDonald's Morgan Wootten Award and the Parade Magazine Player of the Year.
Also impressive for the victorious West team were 6-5 G/F James Harden (Arizona State) with 16 points and 6 rebounds, 6-6 G/F Corey Stokes (Villanova) with 15 points and seven rebounds, 6-8 PF Justin Burrell (St. John's) with 14 points and laser-quick 6-0 PG Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) with eight points and 13 assists.
The game MVP for the East was 6-5 guard O.J. Mayo (USC), who shot much better here than in the McDonald's All-American Game to finish with a game high 27 points (11-18 FG, 5-10 3-pt FG), six assists and three rebounds. 6-9 forward Anthony Randolph (L.S.U.), a willowy athlete who plays like Kevin Durant, also played well for the East. He had 21 points (9-17 FG), five rebounds, and three blocks.
6-9 C/F Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech) added 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Duke-bound wing forward Taylor King (4-15 FG) and Kansas-bound 6-11 center Cole Aldrich (1-7 FG) both struggled from the field.
Notes: Unlike the McDonald's All-American Game which followed college rules with two 20-minute halves, the Roundball Classic was an NBA length 48 minutes with four 12-minute quarters. Hence, the higher game and individual scoring.
• The Roundball Classic is the nation's original high school all-star game, started in 1965 by Sonny Vaccaro in Pittsburgh as the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, 13 years before the initial McDonald's All-American Game. Vaccaro kept his game in Pittsburgh for the next 28 years before it moved to Auburn Hills, Mich. and became Magic's Roundball Classic (with the involvment of Magic Johnson). The game went briefly to Raleigh, N.C., before finding its present home in Chicago.
The 2003 Roundball Classic drew 19,679 fans, the largest crowd ever for a high school all-star game. Reportedly, Vaccaro plans to do another Roundball Classic Game in Chicago in 2008.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.