McDonald’s All-American Game: 8 Top Performers Who Impressed Scouts in the High School Basketball Showcase

Omaha Biliew of Iowa State attends the Powerade Jamfest as part of McDonald’s All-American Week March 27, 2023 in Houston. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON — The McDonald’s All-American Game is one of the highest honors in high school basketball. Each year, 24 boys basketball players from across the country are selected to compete in three days of practice, a scrimmage, and an All-Star game in front of multiple NBA scouts.

“This is a great gauge of where players are and a chance to see their game growing,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports.

There are several players representing Blue Blood programs, but it was a few players outside of the top contenders that impressed the scouts the most. Yahoo Sports takes a look at eight players who performed during McDonald’s All-American week.

Ron Holland, Texas

There’s a small separation gap between the top players in the senior division, and Holland walked onto the court with something he had to prove in front of NBA scouts and executives in the first two days of practice. He is a tall 6-foot-8 in length and consistently put down hard shots during drills and scrimmage play. Holland has plenty of room for improvement as an NBA wing and made a strong first impression. His ball handling and downhill decisions still have room for improvement after being a bit turnover-sensitive during his senior season at Duncanville High School, Texas.

Holland will join a Texas squad who have had an incredible run to the Elite Eight alongside five-star guard AJ Johnson. The program has some more stability as Texas announced the hiring of interim head coach Rodney Terry as permanent head coach.

“I’m really happy about that,” Holland said during the media day. “I just know how hard he let those guys play, he really deserves that job and just to see him achieve that goal and they give him a chance to coach that team. I remain committed to this team, me and AJ Johnson can go out and try to secure a national championship next year.

Texas commitant Ron Holland came into McDonald's All-American week with something he had to prove.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Texas commitant Ron Holland came into McDonald’s All-American week with something he had to prove. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

DJ Wagner, Kentucky

Wagner was considered one of the best guards in his class since he was a high school freshman. No moment is too big for Wagner, and he consistently delivers against tough competition. Rather than forcing shots and trying to make contact on the edge, he has developed a little patience and is better at creating separation when trying to ease in the lane.

Wagner has been looking visibly stronger since the start of his senior season and his shot selection has improved. Wagner comes along with a bunch of young talents, Give Kentucky the #1 recruiting grade in the country. He shares backcourt with five-star players Rob Dillingham and Justin Edwards and plays alongside sharpshooter Reed Shepard and 7-foot center Aaron Bradshaw.

Isaiah Collier, USC

Collier is a consensus top 3 player in the class and one of the top passing guards in the country. He’s already a great height at 6-5, 210 pounds and is so strong with the ball turning the corner of a screen. Collier is teammates with Bronny James on the West team and the two have discussed potentially working together at USC next season.

“I’m looking forward to [playing with him] and I’m definitely trying to recruit him,” Collier said. “He’s a great shooter. I think he’s one of the best all-around players in the country. So he’s a great player and knows how to play the game and he’s not going to overdo it, I’m just telling him he can stay home, that’s all I have to say.”

Since head coach Andy Enfield took over in 2013, USC has now received five commitments from five-star recruits, and this is the second top-three recruit since Evan Mobley landed in 2020.

Omaha Biliew, State of Iowa

Biliew’s defensive presence and versatility were most impressive during McDonald’s All-American week. NBA scouts are always on the lookout for young players with 3-and-D advantages, and Biliew has shown progress in his development this season. He’s not yet a consistent outside shooter, but makes good readings from high ball screens and can make 6-9 passes over defense.

Choosing Iowa State over Kansas and Oregon, Biliew will be a player to watch NBA scouts closely for next year, particularly his defensive-looking influence playing in the Big 12.

Justin Edwards, Kentucky

Some recruiting pundits consider Edwards No. 1 in class, and for NBA potential and upside, he passes the eye test and then some. Edwards is an athletic 6-7 guard who is a three-pronged goalscorer and loves to push the ball on court. The game comes so easily to him and at times it seems to the scouts that he’s a little smug or going through the moves, but when Edwards wants to turn it on he’s the best player on the pitch.

He’s a great addition on the wing to both Wagner and Dillingham and has already started to build chemistry in the East team alongside Wagner and Bradshaw.

“We’ve definitely started to build that team chemistry,” Edwards said. “The way we start to find each other on the pitch. I find out where Aaron is [Bradshaw] want the ball and djs find me of different cuts.

Jared McCain, Duke

McCain may not be the biggest or flashiest guard in the senior division, but he’s a winner and finds new ways every night to positively impact the game for his team. McCain has won three California state championships and comes next year with a loaded Duke recruit class. He shoots the ball extremely well at point guard (he even took home top honors in the 3-point contest) and isn’t afraid to make big plays on the course.

The NBA tends to value longer point guards, but there is an opportunity for McCain, particularly with how well he shoots the ball from 3-point range. He’s a hard worker who plays right. When he succeeds as a freshman guard and serves as floor general for a Duke team that always seems to be under scrutiny, NBA scouts have no choice but to take a closer look.

Matas Buzelis, G League Ignite

Buzelis chose the G League Ignite over the Blue Blood programs in North Carolina and Kentucky. What’s immediately noticeable is his length in the guard position and how springy he is when playing over the edge. He needs to add some muscle to his 6-9 frame, especially when facing stronger, older guards in the G League. But NBA scouts who value youth and potential can shape their system over older, more established players in the draft. Buzelis has many positive qualities that NBA scouts look for in young guards.

Stephen Castle, Connecticut

Castle has great pace and has made great strides in improving his overall game this season. He’s a bigger guard at 6-7 and has solid body control around the perimeter. He plays with confidence and has a consistent midrange game when popping the pick and roll option. He’s not a big shooter like Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, but both guards are of similar size and tendencies when the ball is in their hands.

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