Grading the McDonald's East Roster

Wrapping up our coverage of last week's McDonald's All-American boys' basketball game, assigns out grades to all the players who participated in the event. We're starting with the winning East roster today, and tomorrow we'll hand out grades to the West roster.

Keep in mind that these grades reflect only how each player performed during the East's 126-96 win over the West in last Wednesday's McDonald's All-American game — though we did factor in performances from last Monday's slam dunk contest and 3-point shootout whenever appropriate.

You'll also notice we haven't handed out many low grades. That's because no matter how poorly somebody might have played, these are still the 24 best high school ballers in the country. As long as they didn't trip over themselves, they aren't getting a "D" from us. So maybe we're guilty of a little grade inflation. These kids deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Here are the grades for the East roster. Remember to check back tomorrow for the West roster grades.


Dwight Howard
Southwest Atlanta Christian (Ga.)
Undecided (NBA)

Although he wasn't as jaw-dropping as LeBron James last year, Howard showed in the McDonald's game why he'll be either the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in this year's NBA Draft. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound big man shot 9-for-13, scored 19 points, grabbed eight rebounds and even hit a 3-pointer to earn co-MVP honors. But more than the stats, he flashed his trademark smooth play for a big man, including one sequence where he brought the ball all the way up the floor before finishing with a dunk.
Grade: A

J.R. Smith
St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.)
North Carolina (NBA?)

Smith raised his stock more than any other player in the McDonald's game, sharing co-MVP honors with Howard after scoring a game-high 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. When the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Smith wasn't elevating above the rim for highlight dunks, he was draining 3-pointers from beyond NBA range, finishing 5-for-11 from behind the arc. And yet he still managed to dish out five assists, the second-highest total in the game. Smith's combination of shooting ability and athleticism led to comparisons with both J.J. Redick and Vince Carter. He did, however, disappoint in the dunk contest after entering as the favorite, but we won't hold that against him. Based on his performance in the game, there's a lot of NBA buzz around Smith right now.
Grade: A

Sebastian Telfair
Lincoln High (N.Y.)
Louisville (NBA?)

It's practically become a national pastime to player-hate on this kid, but you won't find that here. No, Telfair didn't score much in the game, netting just two points on 1-for-2 shooting. But he dished out a game-high 11 assists, and only three players in the history of the McDonald's game have handed out more dimes than that. Maybe he didn't live up to the hype created by being a Sports Illustrated cover boy, but he did what a point guard in an all-star game is supposed to do: pass the ball. And he did it better than almost anyone in the history of the event. Last year we gave Chris Paul an "A" for tallying four points and 10 assists in the McDonald's game, so we'd be hypocrites if we gave Bassy much lower. Whether NBA scouts grade him as high remains to be seen.
Grade: A–

Al Jefferson
Prentiss High (Miss.)
Arkansas (NBA?)

At 6-foot-10, 265 pounds, Jefferson is a beast, no doubt. And he definitely proved himself as the most powerful player in the game, scoring 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds and blocking two shots in just 16 minutes. He's also extremely athletic, proving that those comparisons to Amare Stoudemire are pretty accurate. He has signed with Arkansas but is reportedly mulling a jump to the NBA. His performance in the McDonald's game — which was pretty similar to Stoudemire's two years ago — certainly won't hurt his stock.
Grade: A–

Rudy Gay
Archbishop Spalding High (Md.)

Maybe Gay, a smooth 6-foot-9, 215-pound small forward, looked so subtly impressive because he wasn't worried about impressing NBA scouts. Or maybe it's just that this kid is so talented that the game comes easy for him and he didn't feel the need to show off. Whatever the case, Gay finished with a solid 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and two blocks, but he looked more impressive than his stats indicate. UConn fans are no doubt celebrating their national title, but they should also be celebrating that the Huskies landed this kid.
Grade: B+

Darius Washington
Edgewater High (Fla.)

Washington's stock has slipped a bit in the past year, but the 6-foot-2, 190-pound combo guard was impressive last week — not just in the game but also in the slam dunk and 3-point contests. In the game, he scored nine points, dished out three assists, swiped two steals and made his most intelligent play by avoiding a collision with 6-foot-9, 330-pound Glen Davis of the West squad. But Monday's festivities proved Washington's potential, as he won the 3-point contest and made the finals of the dunk contest. Anyone with that combination of skills has some game.
Grade: B+

D.J. White
Hillcrest High (Ala.)

An all-star game probably isn't the best venue for White's skills, but he was still very impressive with his aggressiveness around the basket and on the boards. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward scored seven points and grabbed five boards in 17 minutes, but most impressive was his ability to get to the line and make his foul shots, shooting 5-for-6 from the free-throw stripe. With his big body and aggressive nature, he'll be a serious force at Indiana.
Grade: B

Mike Williams
Wilcox Central High (Ala.)

Almost everything we said above about White could be said about Williams, who even has the same dimensions at 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds. Williams finished with a solid eight points and four boards, but he'll be a great fit at the next level for the Longhorns' physical style of play. He should fill the role played so well by James Thomas the past few seasons at Texas.
Grade: B

Rajon Rondo
Oak Hill Academy (Va.)

Rondo proved once again that he belongs among the nation's elite, tallying 14 points, four assists and two steals and shooting 7-for-10 from the field. And there's no doubt the 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard is as quick as anyone in the country. But we would have liked to see Rondo shoot a little less and flash those passing skills a little more. After all, he had 31 assists in one game this season. But we won't penalize him for that.
Grade: B

Josh Smith
Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
Indiana (NBA)

Smith, a super-athletic, 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward, has signed with Indiana but is expected to enter the NBA Draft. And yet he didn't exactly play like a guy looking to impress NBA scouts, which may be because he knows his place in the lottery is all but assured. Smith scored a mediocre seven points and grabbed four rebounds, but he did have arguably the highlight of the game when he came out of nowhere to flash his athleticism and block a dunk attempt by DeMarcus Nelson. Smith also disappointed in the dunk contest, failing to advance past the first round.
Grade: B–

Randolph Morris
Landmark Christian School (Ga.)
Undecided (NBA?)

Morris' fundamentally sound post game isn't really suited to run-and-gun all-star games, so it's not surprising he didn't have a phenomenal performance with eight points and three rebounds. So while he doesn't earn a high grade for his play in the McDonald's game, the 7-foot, 270-pound center is still a phenomenal prospect with a ton of size and skill.
Grade: B–

Corey Brewer
Portland High (Tenn.)

We don't know whether to be disappointed or impressed that Brewer was the only player in the game who didn't even attempt a shot. On one hand, you have to wonder how he didn't manage to hoist a single shot, but on the other, you have to be impressed that he didn't give into the selfishness that usually accompanies all-star games. Ultimately, Brewer finished with one point and four rebounds and didn't really make a mark in the game.
Grade: C+

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