For the first time in a long while, the game itself was enjoyable and competitive. The players respected the game, acted accordingly and most importantly, had enough respect for each other to keep their wits and not allow the contest to disintegrate into a showcase of bad basketball.
Overall, this class has plenty of character and the manner in which this group approached Wednesday's contest hopefully will be a model for future all-star games.
As for the game, it was a tale of two halves. The East surrendered an 8-point halftime lead and watched the West storm back for the dramatic win.
Jared Sullinger: He's been trying to develop his face up game so its only fitting his first shot was a made 3-pointer. Somehow we think Thad Matta may find value for him on the blocks. Sullinger grew stronger as the game went on. His team's MVP, Sully had a game-high 22 points to go with 7 rebounds.
Kyrie Irving: Speed. Command. Tricky with the ball yet under control. 1) Jay Williams 1A) Kyrie Irving 3) Chris Duhon. The best guard in the country in the senior class and he did nothing but prove it here this week. 13 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers.
Tobias Harris: He was the main attraction in the first half for the East and showed well vs. Barnes. Unfortunately, he broke his toe in practice yesterday and was on crutches in the second half. Point made, he belongs and he's a serious prospect. Harris is the kind of guy who enacts winning on the big stage. 13 points, 4 rebounds, 6-7 FG.
Josh Selby: This guy is going to be extremely hard to guard. He's going to scare a lot of coaches in the pre-game scouting report next year. Finished with 13 points, 3 assists. He was sensational during practice this week.
C.J. Leslie: In the first half he was lively and got himself going with the rebounds and starting the break. If you like athleticism, you saw what he could do. Finished with 7 points and game-high 9 rebounds.
Reggie Bullock: After taking the first half off, Bullock got it going in the second. Finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Perry Jones: No question in terms of sheer "prospect" there aren't five better. He wasn't very active in this one and his production is something that must go up for him to take the next step and ascend from prospect to impact player. He's capable, the tools are there. 6 points, 0 rebounds.
Deshaun Thomas: Like Sullinger, he was playing on his future home court. Thomas started cold from deep (0-5) but mustered up 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Jelan Kendrick: He was sick and sat out most of the practice sessions. Way too much talent in the building for a guy to come out here without a full tank. Regardless, he had a great attitude afterwards. 5 points.
Kendall Marshall: Never got into the flow outside of a few hits ahead. Like Jackson he was held without a hoop but dished the rock. 2 points, 5 assists.
Joe Jackson: Would have thought this venue would be conducive to him but he went without a hoop. 2 points, 2 assists.
Jayvaughn Pinkston: Wasn't his night. His shot didn't fall and the freight train never got on track. 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2-8 FG.
Harrison Barnes: It's an impressive package between the strength, perimeter game and overall body of work. Barnes took home MVP honors with 18 points and 5 rebounds. He's the No. 1 prospect overall and played to his ranking in the game. He logged 22 minutes, most on the team.
Terrence Jones: This young man had a good game. He remained active and had energy at the rim. Jones had 14 points and 3 rebounds but seemingly turned in a bigger impact on the game.
Brandon Knight: The Gatorade POY salvaged a rough shooting night by drilling the game winner. The final shot had a kind of Jordan-Ehlo overtone to it as Knight "created space" and then smoked the game-winner. How many guys can say they ended the McDonald's game with a jumper? Rough shooting night, proud ending. 9 points, 2 assists, 3-11 FG, 1-7 3s, game-winning shot.
Fab Melo: Two blocks in the first few minutes and he was on his way to a nice evening. Melo rebounded and looked to advance the ball. 2 points, 3 blocks and 7 rebounds plus a nice closing impression.
Doron Lamb: He'd shot the ball so well during practice that you would have pegged him for a big night. Lamb finished with a dozen on 6-for-11 shots and contributed in each half.
Tristan Thompson: Part of the resurgence in the second half, Thompson had 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Patric Young: This is why all-star games are tough on bigs. He was efficient but lacked touches. Young went 3-4 from the field for 7 points and 9 rebounds. He playfully hung on the rim twice. "And I slapped the backboard (hard) once," Young joked afterward.
Cory Joseph: He's got all the tools. There's calmness to his game. He sports the trademarks of an elite winner in college. Having said that, the future Canadian Olympian was held to 2 points on 1-6 shooting. In our experience with Joseph, he's a much better player in team setting then in all-star or camp games.
Jereme Richmond: Rough first half, strong second effort. For Richmond, it was the mid-range and ability to get himself looks that stood out. 11 points, 3 rebounds.
Josh Smith: He wasn't in prime shape but he did camp out in the lane and finish 4 of the 5 chances that came his way. 10 points, 6 rebounds. His commitment level to conditioning will go a long way toward defining his career.
Ray McCallum: Another guy that doesn't strike us as comfortable in an all-star setting. McCallum had 4 points and 3 assists on 2-7 FG.
Keith Appling: We'll hand it to him, he was bound and determined to get a few down from the wing. Appling finished 4-15 from the field for 10 points.
Jared Sullinger had food poisoning Tuesday night and was questionable for the game. … Kendrick had a stomach bug most of the week. …
A tip of the cap to the coaching staffs of the two sides. It's not easy to keep the attention of the players focused on the game in this setting. Somehow, this group was able to do an admirable job controlling minutes while fielding competitive matchups. …
The squads combined to shoot 8 for 43 from downtime. No one made more than two 3-pointers. … Kendall Marshall had 5 dimes, Fab Melo 4. …