The big news this week was supposed to be the announcement of the rosters for the Jordan Brand Classic.
Seven of the 20 players on the 2012 team for this year's Jordan game on April 14 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) appeared on at least one ballot in this week's ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker.
That announcement was trumped by the news that center Nerlens Noel of The Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.) is returning to the 2012 class and intends to enter college this fall. Noel's decision to reclassify created a bigger firestorm when he was named the No. 1 prospect in the updated ESPNU 100 over Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
Despite Noel's move, Muhammad remains the front-runner for national player of the year honors, as he amassed 94 points for the second consecutive week and was the only Mr. Basketball USA candidate to appear on all ten ballots. Muhammad will lead the Jordan Brand West team while his good friend Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), who garnered 76 points while appearing on nine ballots, headlines the East.
Noel moved up in this week's tracker, replacing guard Tyler Lewis of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in fourth place with 63 points. This week Noel is only two points behind Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago), the player in front of Noel in the ESPNU 60 prior to his re-classification.
Although his re-classification impacted this week's tracker, Noel's rise as a bonafide national player of the year candidate began well before his decision was made public.
In the preseason, Noel appeared on two ballots good for 10 points. His point total actually went down at the turn of the New Year (8 points), but a show-stopping performance at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., turned up the heat on his candidacy. Following that event, Noel appeared on six ballots and scored 45 points to move up to fifth place. Last week, he added another point before gaining even more traction this week.
Despite Noel's ascension to the top of the ESPNU 100, the panel has made it clear he'll need more big performances on his resume to win Mr. Basketball USA. He wasn't on the original Jordan Brand roster, but will the McDonald's All-American Game be part of the equation?
Others Receiving Votes:
Katin Reinhardt (Mater Dei, Santa Ana,
Calif.) 19 pts. (3)
Perry Ellis (Wichita Heights, Wichita, Kan.) 16 pts. (3)
Grant Jerrett (La Verne Lutheran, La Verne, Calif.) 13 pts.
Jordan Adams (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 9 pts.
Kris Dunn (New London, New London, Conn.) 9 pts. (1)
Anthony Bennett (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) 6 pts. (1)
Paige (Linn-Mar, Marion, Iowa) 6 pts. (1)
Alex Poythress (Northeast,
Clarksville, Tenn.) 6 pts. (1)
Gabe York (Orange Lutheran, Orange,
Calif.) 6 pts. (1)
Tyler Dorsey (Ribet Academy, Los Angeles, Calif.)
5 pts. (1)
Amile Jefferson (Friends' Central, Wynnewood, Pa.) 5 pts.
Kris Jenkins (Gonzaga, Washington, D.C.) 5 pts. (1)
Marcus LoVett Jr. (Providence, Burbank, Calif.) 4 pts. (1)
Okafor (Whitney Young, Chicago, Ill.) 4 pts. (1)
About ESPNHS Mr. Basketball Tracker Panel
ESPNHS' panel of 10 experts, which includes five McDonald's All-American selection committee members, casts its vote each week for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists the top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in previous tracker.