Intensity and toughness are two things that Cheick Diallo is known for, and on high schools biggest stage, it was just that which catapulted him to the McDonald’s All-American game MVP.
Diallo, a 6-foot-9 big man, helped the East team to a 111 - 91 victory over the West. Diallo led the game in scoring and rebounding. He finished with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting and reeled in 10 rebounds.
“I played good,” the Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American standout said after the game. “My teammates weren’t passing me the ball, so I would get on the fast break and block shots.”
“That’s the first time playing in front of a crowd like that,” he added. I was nervous and scared, but when I was playing I got so excited.
While Diallo was the best player of the night for the East team, it was Brandon Ingram, who impressed all week, that performed the best for the West.
Ingram, a 6-foot-9 forward, scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and also added five rebounds. The wiry wing attacked the basket, finished off plays and made a mid-range pull-up.
“It’s kind of stock booster for me coming in here,” Ingram said after the game. “I was very confident and everything just transferred over here. The players we just developed great chemistry. They believed in me and I believed in them too.”
Cheick Diallo, C: Not surprisingly, Diallo played with more ferocity than anyone else on the floor. The unsigned big man scrapped for rebounds, ran the court tirelessly and brought continuous toughness to the East squad. He earned the MVP award with his 18 points (8-14 FG), 10 rebounds and three assists. There’s nothing terribly creative about his offense and he needs to make strides in that area, but he makes so many simple plays with his elite athleticism and effort, the production should largely translate. He also made one gorgeous, spinning finish that surprised us and nearly everyone else.
Perry Dozier, SG: This South Carolina-bound wing played a quiet, yet efficient game. It isn’t in his nature to play selfishly, even in an all-star setting, and he racked up 14 points (6-11 FG) along with four rebounds and three assists. He did encounter some foul trouble attempting to defend Jaylen Brown and others, but at least he was trying. …
Brandon Ingram, WF: This undecided wing emerged as the story of the week, and in the first half it appeared he might walk away with MVP honors. He showcased what he can do, however, and he made some of the most impressive basketball plays of the night.
|Ingram’s week hardly could have gone better|
He utilized his length to pull down one freakish offensive rebound (with a putback), put the ball on the floor and drew fouls, knocked in a long jump shot and didn’t play outside the team concept. His 15 points were highly impressive and a reflection of his play throughout the week.
Ben Simmons, PF: One of the most versatile players in 2015, Simmons showed a lot of what makes him a good prospect on Wednesday. He was terrific on the glass and has an elite ability to start the break for a four man due to his handle and aggressiveness. Simmons successfully got to the basket and made some terrific passes to teammates, especially in transition. He shot just 3-8 from the floor but added 10 rebounds and three assists.
Antonio Blakeney, SG: An explosive shooting guard, Blakeney's jump shot wasn't always falling - although the lift he gets on it is really impressive - but he played hard and got to the basket. His athleticism and motor helps him thrive in transition, and in the game he tallied 14 points on 6-14 from the field.
Diamond Stone, C: A big body center who always plays hard, Stone's skill is amongst the best in 2015. He constantly fought for position in the paint and when he received the ball did a finished at a high rate. Stone has very good hands and feet and soft touch around the basket. He should be very productive right away at the next level. He shot 7-9 from the field to finish with 14 points.
Ivan Rabb, PF: Rabb didn’t post huge stats but did convert 5-7 from the field en route to 10 points, and he got some tough offensive rebounds as well. As he did all week, Rabb brought some physicality to the game and looked to score with his left hand around the basket. Though not overwhelming in any one regard, he’s simply a very good basketball player and — in the event he plays two years — could explode as a college sophomore.
Evan Daniels, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report