Playoffs could alter Mr. Basketball race

This has traditionally been the week to use the USA Mr. Basketball Tracker to break down the McDonald's All-American selections and discuss deserving players who may have been left off the list.

This year the McDonald's All-American selection committee didn't come under heavy criticism for the 24 players who made the team following its exhaustive selection process. In fact, the only eligible player ranked in the top 24 of the ESPNU 100 who did not make the team -- small forward Danuel House of Hightower (Sugar Land, Texas) -- hasn't appeared on a Mr. Basketball USA ballot so far this season.

And though there was sentiment that ESPNU 100 No. 25-ranked Sam Dekker of Sheboygan Lutheran (Sheboygan, Wis.) was worthy of selection, there wasn't an uproar over his omission in comparison to last year when Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and B.J. Young (Arkansas) were snubbed.

The one player worthy of selection who consistently has appeared on ballots is Katin Reinhardt of POWERADE FAB 50 No. 8 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). The UNLV commit is averaging 19.3 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range. His player of the year candidacy down the stretch will be heavily influenced by Mater Dei's playoff success.

Should Mater Dei win its ninth CIF state title, Reinhardt could garner more points just as McDonald's All-American Perry Ellis of No. 10 Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) did when he moved into eighth place with 17 points this week. Wichita Heights is currently riding a state record 60-game winning streak.

"(Ellis) has been a starter in all of those games and he's had some really big games just this month," said ESPNHS Deputy Editor and panel member Mark Tennis. "It's just too bad Heights couldn't get out of Kansas this year. If he would have had just that one game against a big opponent, that would have improved his candidacy tremendously."

It's also interesting to examine the case of leading vote-getter Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). Last season at this time, the 6-foot-6 junior wing was in fourth place in the tracker behind front-runners Michael Gilchrist (Kentucky), Austin Rivers (Duke) and Bradley Beal (Florida). Muhammad garnered 43 points and appeared on seven ballots, but when Bishop Gorman faltered in its quest for a state title, Muhammad's point total pummeled to 12 in the final tracker.

"Shabazz took control of this race in the middle of January when he had that big game back east (against DeMatha) at the Hoophall Classic," Tennis said. "If they blow it again and don't win the state title, it would be a big black mark on his resume and career because he's been such a great player in Nevada."

Others Receiving Votes:
Perry Ellis (Wichita Heights, Wichita, Kan.) 17 pts.
Grant Jerrett (La Verne Lutheran, La Verne, Calif.) 17 pts.
Alex Poythress (Northeast, Clarksville, Tenn.) 9 pts. (2)
Kris Dunn (New London, New London, Conn.) 9 pts. (1)
Katin Reinhardt
(Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 8 pts. (1)
Marcus Paige (Linn-Mar,
Marion, Iowa) 7 pts. (1)
Anthony Bennett (Findlay Prep, Henderson,
Nev.) 6 pts. (1)
Gabe York (Orange Lutheran, Orange, Calif.) 6 pts.
Tyler Dorsey (Ribet Academy, Los Angeles, Calif.) 5 pts. (1)
Amile Jefferson (Friends' Central, Wynnewood, Pa.) 5 pts. (1)
Jordan Adams (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 4 pts. (1)
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 4 pts. (1)
Jahlil 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.