McDonald’s All-American games: Sullinger, Howard shine in prep finale


Northland senior and Ohio State recruit Jared Sullinger was MVP of the East squad Wednesday. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

The 33rd Annual McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games
stormed into the state’s capital this week letting the Buckeye state get
a sneak peak at some future Buckeyes (and NBAers) including 48 of the
top boys and girls talents around the country. Wednesday’s game didn’t disappoint.

COLUMBUS – The 33rd Annual McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games stormed into the state’s capital this week letting the Buckeye state get a sneak peak at some future Buckeyes (and NBAers) including 48 of the top boys and girls talents around the country.

With all due respect to the terrific high school talent seen around the Central District this season, it failed in comparison to the prospects that were in town this week.

The boys contest was highly competitive coming down to the final possession, which was a perfect ending to a great week for an even better cause. Though, for one future Buckeye the day didn’t get off to such a memorable start. Columbus Northland’s Jared Sullinger spent the early part of Wednesday in the hospital being treated for dehydration.

“I felt terrible this morning,” Sullinger mentioned. “It may have been the hot wings I had for a late night snack. I got some some IVs this morning and I was okay by tonight. It was out of control this morning though. Really, I think there was a bug going around because Jelan Kendrick had it earlier.”

Regardless of how the day started, the 6-foot-9 senior ended his day in grand fashion, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the West squad.

After staging a furious rally fueled by a Sullinger 3, it would be Pine Crest’s (FL) Brandon Knight enjoying a triumphant end. The 6-foot-3 senior, who is undecided, calmly hit a step-back 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to give the West a 107-104 victory. Though, it appeared Knight may have pushed off.

“I am not sure if I pushed off or not,” Knight said.

Knight, who struggled for much of the night, may have not been sure, but Sullinger was certain.

“He pushed off,” Sullinger joked chiming into Knight’s answer.

The game was back-and-forth from the start with 15 ties and 17 lead changes in all. Though, the play was sloppy at times in the first half along with limited defense, several turnovers, and very poor shooting from behind the arc. The teams were a combine 4-of-25 from distance in the opening 20 minutes.

Sullinger, who started the game, got off to a slow start on the opening possession. The “Big Smooth” perfectly sealed off the defender allowing for an easy entry past into the post, but failed to convert the lay-up. Tennessee signee Tobias Harris was there for the rebound stickback to open the scoring for the East. Harris enjoyed a fine first half with 13 points and four rebounds before hobbling out of the locker room on crutches.

The East held a 13-11 lead at the under 16-minute time out, and Big Sully finally got on the board at the 11:05 mark with a 3-point field goal followed by an inside basket. Credit both assists to future Buckeye DeShaun Thomas out of Bishop Luers (IN).

“Me and DeShaun wanted to put on a show,” Sullinger said.

The West would regain the lead at 32-31 on back-to-back one-handed stuff from National Player of the Year, Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa). The two jams were part of a 10-0 run by the West, which gave them a 34-31 lead with 8:27 to play in the opening half.

The East knotted the score at 43 and again at 45 before gaining the upperhand once again at 47-45 on a Sullinger lay up with 2:52 to play. A 12-4 run by the East that included a bucket by Memphis signee Joe Jackson, Duke signee Kyrie Irving, two Sullinger free-throws and finished with a Thomas lay-in gave the crowd favorites a 59-51 advantage.

In the first half Harris led the East with his 13 points, Irving followed with 11 and Sullinger added nine points and three rebounds.  The West got 15 points from Barnes (North Carolina) and 10 from Terrance Jones (Jefferson HS, Oregon).

The second half was closely played with nine ties. Sullinger had six points in that span with a lay-up, a pair of freebies and a two-handed dunk. Florida signee Patric Young tied the game at 87 for the West on a lay-up.

Following the tie at 87, the West ran off nine-straight points. Michigan State signee Keith Appling started the run with a 3 and consecutive inside baskets by Illinois signee Jereme Richmond and a bucket by Doron Lamb closed it.

The East fought back and got the score down to 96-91 following a Sullinger alley-oop stuff from Josh Selby and a pair of free-throws. After that though, the West would run out again taking its largest lead of the night at 102-91.

With the East trailing by 11 points with 3:04 seconds remaining , most people were flooding the gates only to miss a dramatic ending to an overall well played all-star encounter.

The East scored 13 of the next 15 points to tie the game at 104 with 32 seconds on the clock.  Sullinger hit a top of the circle 3 with 1:52 to play cutting the lead to 102-98 and after a Knight drive-in hoop, Thomas converted on the interior followed by a Perry Jones III dunk. Thomas followed with another dunk setting up the fantastic finish.

“We just decided to sit down and start playing defense to get back into the game, but Brandon (Knight) hit a big shot,” Ohio’s Mr. Basketball relayed.

For Sullinger it wasn’t the perfect ending, but Ohio State fans caught a glimpse of just how consistent and tough the Northland High School big man can be.

“I wanted them to know they are getting a physical presence,” Sullinger said. “I am going to be someone that isn’t afraid to go out and get a bloody nose or do whatever it takes.”

He also shed light on the rough ending to his high school season, which ended with a 26-point loss to Gahanna Lincoln in the regional finals.

“We obviously didn’t want our season to end at that point, so I wanted to come out and get the W for those guys tonight but it was kind of a rough ending,” Sullinger stated.

Sullinger earned game MVP honors for the East squad with 22 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists. The big man also shot 7-of-11 from the floor including 2-of-3 from distance and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

“I just wanted to come out and put on a show for the Buckeye fans,” Sullinger extended. “DeShaun and I wanted to let them know what OSU has coming. I was just fortunate tonight to have unselfish teammates that let me get going.”

The West MVP was Barnes, who was nicknamed “H” by his mother,  finishing with 18 points and five rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting. Barnes, who sounds intelligent beyond his years, had high praise for Sullinger and was elated for the big man in his hometown.

“Jared is a phenomenal player,” Barnes noted. “It had to be a joy for him to play in front of stadium packed full of Buckeye fans.”

Games Notes and Observations

-The East had five players in double figures including Sullinger. Irving (Duke), Harris (Tennessee), and Selby (Undecided) all contributed 13 points while DeShaun Thomas (Ohio State) added 11 points, seven boards, and three assists.

-The West, who was led by Barnes with 18 markers, placed six individuals in doubles. Jones (Undecided) had 14 points, Lamb notched 12, Richmond (Illinois) with 11, and Appling (Michigan State) and Joshua Smith (UCLA) evenly split 20 counters. Smith added six rebounds.

-Free-throw shooting was very good for both teams combining for a 25-of-34 performance.

-Turnovers are expected in an all-star game, and the teams didn’t disappoint with 39 errors.

-Congratulations to Dru Joyce (Akron SVSM), Norm Persin (Oak Hill), Eric Flannery (Lakewood St. Edward’s), and Carl Kremer (Cincinnati Moeller) for a successful job coaching the two teams.

-In the girl’s game, the West recorded an 84-75 victory but Toledo Waite’s Natasha Howard earned MVP honors for the East. Howard, who was Ohio’s Ms. Basketball and will attend Florida State, scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dropped five dimes. Tennessee signee Meighan Simmons scored a game-high 21 points leading to her MVP award for the West.

-Harrison Barnes was named Morgan Wooten Player of the Year along with Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) on the girl’s front.

-Barnes is an excellent student along with playing musical instruments and singing bass in his school’s chorus.

– Kentucky had nary a player in the game, but three current Wildcats were in the building in John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. Wall is expected to be the top pick in the upcoing NBA Draft and Cousins is projected Top 5 along. Bledsoe is considered to be a Top 20 pick. The decision of Wall, which isn’t all too suspenseful, will most likely lead to the landing of Brandon Knight.

– Besides the three Wildcats, other big names seen in the crowd were Evan Turner, Joey Galloway and Alonzo Mourning.

– Reporters asked Sullinger if he had spoke to Turner about his decision to jump to the NBA or remain a Buckeye. “I told him I was behind him 100-percent no matter what he did. I support him all the way.”

– The crowd was not quite as big as we expected considing a record 18,728 fans packed the then Gund Arena in Cleveland to witness LeBron James and his classmates in the 2003 game.

– Kyrie Irving, who was born in Austrailia, marked the 16th straight year a Duke signee participated in the game.

– Doron Lamb’s appearance in the game marked the 10th year in a row an Oak Hill Academy (VA) player took part in the festivities.

– It was disappointing to know beer was being sold at this “high school” event. The name of the game is the McDonald’s All American “High School” Game. From this point of view, there is no place for alcoholic beverages at a high school encounter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *