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Plenty Wrong With Post Season All-Star Game Selection Process

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

The McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic are the two most prestigious post-season all-star games in the country when it comes to high school basketball. However, we believe that the selection process with respect to choosing the players for each game is severely flawed. With that being said, we thought we would take a few minutes to point out the idiosyncrasies and offer a suggestion for improvement.

First of all, we extend our congratulations to 6'9 Michael Dunigan from Farragut and 6'4 Iman Shumpert from Oak Park. Dunigan and Shumpert were each named to compete in both the McDonald's All-American Game, which will be played in Milwaukee on March 26 and the Jordan Brand Classic, which will take place at Madison Square Garden on April 19. While we are happy for both Dunigan and Shumpert, the problem we have is that we believe there are a handful of other players from the class of 2008 in Illinois who have performed well all season long yet in all likelihood will not get the opportunity to compete on a national stage once the postseason arrives. Homewood-Flossmoor's Kevin Dillard, Decatur Eisenhower's Lewis Jackson, Batavia's Nick Fruendt and Simeon's Stan Simpson are ones who immediately come to mind.

This gets at the #1 thing that is wrong with the selection process in connection with all of these all-star games. It is the fact that the selection committees for most of the top all-star games are comprised of national analysts, many of whom we call "big game" people, meaning that they only watch prospects in marquee environments, such as a prominent AAU event or top holiday tournament or in-season shootout. Knowing that, the question we have is how can they consistently monitor and track the progress of all of these players throughout their high school season? The answer is they can't.

As a result, it means that the entire setup as it relates to choosing players for any national postseason all-star game tends to be elitist in nature. This is immediately noticeable when looking at the overall makeup of this year's McDonald's All-American team. The first thing that sticks out is how the selection process is influenced by the player's recruitment. Once again, the majority of players chosen for the game will be playing their college basketball for schools that either compete in one of the nation's top conferences or are a consistent top 25 program. Of the 24 players selected for the 2008 McDonald's game, 8 will be attending a school in the ACC, 5 will be playing in the Pac Ten, 4 in the Big East, 2 in the Big Ten and one in the SEC and Big 12. Two players remain undecided.

Secondly, getting back to the problem we have with the selection committees being controlled by "big game" people, it means that voting is finalized much to early and without any regard whatsoever to how the player performs during his senior year. Instead, more weight is given to how well a player fares during the spring and summer on the AAU circuit. All it takes is one outstanding performance at a prominent national AAU event in front of numerous college coaches and all of the national gurus. If the player accomplishes that and then signs with a top 25 college program to boot, he is a virtual lock to be a McDonald's All-American.

The perfect case in point is Shumpert. Prior to this past spring, Shumpert was a relative unknown amongst the majority of national recruiting analysts. And then it happened. He "blew up" (a scouting term that we detest) on the AAU circuit, and achieved his coming out party with an outstanding performance at the King James Classic in Akron, OH last April. Then in September Shumpert signed a letter of intent with Georgia Tech and at that point he was in as far as being named to the McDonald's team. Unfortunately, it also meant that nothing that he did during his senior year at Oak Park would matter. Just another example of why we say that a high school basketball player's national reputation is made by how well he performs during the spring and summer.

We use Shumpert as an example because we have watched him on plenty of occassions this season and while he has come on strong in the last month, overall we believe that he has had a less than spectacular senior season. While we are not members of the McDonald's selection committee, we are part of a regional panel that recommends players from our geographical area (Illinois) for the game. With that being said, while we nominated Shumpert as a candidate for the McDonald's game, had we been on the committee we would not have voted for him when it came time to turn in the final ballot.

Let us emphasize that we are not national recruiting analysts and therefore can't comment on whether every player chosen to be a McDonald's All-American is truly deserving. However, being regional analysts, we certainly believe we are qualified to speak on players from the state of Illinois. With that in mind, a player who has performed as well (if not better than) any other player in the state from the 2008 class in Illinois this season is Kevin Dillard. While he may not be the frontrunner, Dillard has a chance to be named the Player Of The Year in the Chicago Area and is also among the leading candidates for the prestigious Mr. Basketball award. Yet the best that he might end up doing when it comes to postseason all-star games is playing in a few local contests. Once again, that tells us that something is wrong with the process and offers yet another indication of how the regular season in high school basketball has been rendered more and more meaningless.

How can this problem possibly be fixed? It probably can't, as most people probably believe that the set-up is fine the way it is. Nevertheless, we are going to offer a suggestion. In our opinion, more regional analysts need to be added to the selection committees, as they see players from a specific geographical region on a much more consistent basis than the national gurus, which is why their vote should weigh just as heavily. That way, more emphasis is likely to be put on regular season performance in addition to how a player fares over the spring and summer.

The difficulty lies in being able to balance the regional votes vs. those of the national analysts. There is probably no simple solution, but it is something that we believe needs to be looked at closely. Unfortunately, it will probably end up going no further than this blog.

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Dear Roy & Harv,
What you said was correct, there are plenty of deserving kids out there, and there may not be a perfect way to select the best ones out of the thousands, but throwing Iman under the bus is a classless move guys. Go ahead and promote whoever you like, but to say that Iman has underperformed or that he has been less than spectacular is an opinion you should have kept to yourselves. Iman has arguably just put together the best career of any OPRF basketball player ever. He is a team leader who plays a complete game in an offense that doesn't lend itself to high-scoring or big-number games. He is a great talent and a great person who deserves to be SINCERELY congratulated, not torn down for what he had no control over. I apprecitate your frustration but c'mon guys... show a little class!

Roy & Harv Respond:

First of all, we don't promote any players. We promote the game of high school basketball. Secondly, we didn't throw Iman under the bus or tear him down. We simply thought that he was a perfect example which illustrates our point. Part of our job as evaluators is to offer our opinion based on what we see. And in our opinion, Iman has been less than spectacular this season based on the reputation that he carved out last spring and summer. With that being said, we wish Iman and everyone at Oak Park the best of luck as they begin state tournament play.

Kevin Dillard derserves to play in any of the three all-star games. His senior season has been outstanding. Kevin has proven himself time and time again. It is time he gets his do.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We couldn't agree more!

Yes i agree that Kevin Dillard had a great season, but so did a lot of other kids. The game should be based on being able to compete with the best players in the country. I don't see Kevin Dillard being able to do that because when u look at whats out there in the state of Illinois basketball, that isn't that much compared to recent years. So, yeah i also believed that it is solely based on what u do in the off season, but who cares. Iman Shumpert and Kevin Dillard there is no comparison in my eyes. Iman is a team player, and Kevin Dillard has a great team but is not that much of a team player so thats a big difference in there games, and iman is an explosion waiting to happen. We'll talk in a couple of years when he's in the league

Roy & Harv Respond:

Just curious--have you seen Kevin Dillard play? If you have, you wouldn't be saying that he isn't a team player. That is as inaccurate an assessment of his game as any that we have ever heard. In fact, Dillard's greatest asset is his ability to make his teammates better, which he has done all season long. And he has proven that he can compete against the best competition. Ask any college coach who watched him this past summer. Simply put, Dillard does whatever it takes to win, and that is what makes him a strong Player Of The Year candidate.

My son is Mark Adams and plays for Aurora Central Catholic.He was M.V.P in Football.He is M.V.P for basketball scoring over 1500 points in career..The team set a school record for wins with 24.First team to win Suburban Catholic Conference.Mark will be M.V.P.for baseball as he was last year.All we hear about is Nick Fruendt who was out several games with an illness and his team still won.I'm sure there are alot of great players that get overlooked because they are 3 sport stars.Mark means more to his schools overall sports program than probably most superstars.Mark broke alot of records at A.C.C.in Basketball,Football and Baseball.He will never receive the recognition he deserves because he was not selfish and dedicated himself to one sport.If he played two minutes in the allstar game everyone would know what I am talking about.Thanks Mark Adams

Let's not stop with the boy's as is usually the case. There are several ladies in the state deserving of the same honor.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We are sure that you are right. However, we can't comment because girl's basketball is not our area of expertise.

Roy and Harv you are right. Nobody is trying to tear down Iman Shumpert it is just that Kevin Dillard was more deserving of being McDonalds All-American. He had the better season and also his team is 27-1. So whoever said that Kevin Dillard is a selfish player is way off base. I guess his team finished 500 or less. He is playing with a bunch of football players and his team is #1 in the state of Illinois. HMMMMMM!!!!!!!

Congratulations to A.C.C. on a fine season and to Mark Adams on a great career, and not just in basketball. But dedicating yourself to one sport does not make one selfish, just as playing 3 sports doesn't. Guys play 3 sports because they love each one, or they wouldn't play all 3. I assume it's your son's decision to play 3 sports and I personally commend him, but stop with the sour grapes. I also assume your son has a few teammates that helped earn all those wins too, including his brother.

The selection process is flawed, but when you're dealing with high school athletics almost any selection process would have major flaws. If you based it on how well they perform in their senior high school season- which I'm not necessarily saying is the wrong thing to do- then how do you compare the level of competition and level of teammates for a kid in the Chicago area to a kid in Texas? Or California? Or anywhere else?

Those two things- level of competition and the level of their teammates- vary so much exponentially more in high school ball than they do in college.

For all that's wrong with AAU, the one great thing it does is give people a chance to see all of the elite prospects go against each other for a few months. Shumpert proved himself with outstanding performances against top players from across the nation.

Did Dillard have a better senior year? Yeah, I'd probably agree that he did. Does that mean he's qualified to share the stage with the nation's elite guard prospects like Jrue Holiday, Demar Derozen and Brandon Jennings? Probably not.

While I agree Shumpert's a little overrated (personally, I think all three of the Illini's 2009 guard commits are better), that just means neither him or Dillard belong in the McDonald's game. This is the worst year for in-state talent in Illinois that I can remember in the 10-12 years I've followed it. It seems like Shumpert and Dunigan got the nod simply because they felt the state of Illinois had to have a guy or two just because it's Illinois, because I don't see either as an elite prospect. Very good, Top 100? Sure. All-American? HELL no.

Back to the original point, no matter how you do it, it's a flawed selection process. There's as many problems, or more, for basing it on their senior high school season as there is for basing it on AAU stuff. And as far as getting recognition for signing with elite college programs...well, those elite programs are such because they sign elite prospects regularly. I don't think it's a coincidence, personally.


Roy & Harv Respond:


You are right and that is exactly what needs to change with respect to the selection process. By the way, don't let Chris Lowery hear you calling SIU a mid-major (LOL!).


Roy & Harv Respond:

We most certainly do!!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on February 25, 2008 9:38 AM.

About Player Rankings was the previous entry in this blog.

Dion Dixon Commits To Big East School is the next entry in this blog.

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