The 2019 class of McDonald’s All-Americans lacks the outright star power of the previous few years. There is no recruit in this class with the hype of Zion Williamson, DeAndre Ayton, Ben Simmons, or Jayson Tatum. Instead, the debate over the best high school player in the country remains an open question heading into the most prestigious event on the all-star circuit this year.
It could be Cole Anthony, a shot-making point guard with NBA bloodlines who remains uncommitted. James Wiseman is another fine choice, an agile 7-foot center committed to Penny Hardaway at Memphis. Jaden McDaniels might be the group’s best long-term prospect as a 6’10 wing with burgeoning scoring ability. There’s also Anthony Edwards, an explosive 6’4 scoring guard committed to Georgia who can get buckets from all three levels.
Despite the lack of an obvious superstar, this year’s group of McDonald’s All-Americans has something for everyone. Need a dependable two-way big man? A heady floor general? An athletic wing? They’re all here, even if ESPN, Rivals, and 247 Sports each rank a different player as No. 1 in the class. These are the players you need to know before the McDonald’s All-American Game goes down on Wednesday in Atlanta.
Cole Anthony leads the point guards
Cole Anthony isn’t the No. 1 player in the class, but it feels like he’s going to be the most talked freshman in the country next year. The 6’3 point guard is the son of Greg Anthony, an 11-year NBA veteran, and he has even more upside as a player than his famous father. Ranked as a consensus top-four prospect by ESPN, Rivals, and 247 Sports, Anthony is the kind of floor general who looks for his own offense first. He has great pull-up shooting ability and impressive athleticism, while remaining a bit raw around the edges as a facilitator. Can he eventually be like Damian Lillard? How does a more athletic Jalen Brunson sound?
Nico Mannion is also the son of a pro. His father Pace starred at Utah and then played for six NBA teams. The younger Mannion is committed to Arizona and finds himself ranked as high as No. 8 overall in this class. He’s a high-level shooter and passer who makes up for a lack of elite athleticism with advanced skill.
Josiah James and Tre Mann are two other point guards to watch. James, a Tennessee commit, has great size and length at 6’6 and tries to get his teammates involved before looking for his own offense. Mann is the younger brother of Florida State’s Terance Mann. At 6’4, he’s a good athlete who thrives attacking the rim, but is also making improvements as a shooter.
Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey are elite scorers
The two best bucket-getters in the class are a pair of 6’4 combo guards who can play on or off the ball. That would be Georgia commit Anthony Edwards and Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey.
Edwards was originally a 2020 recruit, reclassified late last year to get him closer to college and the NBA. The Atlanta native was named MVP of the Under Armour Association by averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game on 37 percent shooting from deep. He’s a powerful athlete going to the basket who has also made big strides as a shooter. It’s not fair to compare any young player to James Harden, but that’s a comparison Edwards often gets. He’ll need to continue to improve as a passer and three-point shooter, but should be in the mix for the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick come June 2020.
Maxey looks like a star at Kentucky next season, whether he’s starting at point guard or playing off-the-ball. He put up huge scoring numbers on Nike’s EYBL and won a gold medal with USA Basketball last summer. Maxey is also impressive defensively, racking up huge block and steal numbers on the grassroots circuit. With a big year at Kentucky, he could sneak into the top-five of the 2020 NBA Draft.
We’ll put high school teammates Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis in this section, as well. The New Jersey natives have each been considered five-star recruits for their entire prep careers. Antoine, a Villanova commit, is a skilled 6’5 scorer. Lewis, a Florida commit, is a hyper-athletic swingman with elite speed and leaping ability, a non-stop motor, and tremendous defensive potential.
Wendell Moore, a rugged 6’5 shooting guard who plays both ends of the court, is another name to remember. He’ll be at Duke next year.
Jaden McDaniels leads the big wings
Jaden McDaniels was projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by ESPN earlier this year. The 6’10 forward is the brother of San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels, an NBA prospect in his own right but one that doesn’t have as much upside as his younger sibling. McDaniels’ length, scoring touch, and defensive versatility are all valued in today’s game. He’s drawn comparisons to both Brandon Ingram and Jonathan Isaac, who are obviously very different players. His shooting and defense will be under the microscope in college, though he remains uncommitted.
Josh Green joins Mannion for an impressive recruiting haul at Arizona. Green is a 6’6 wing who came to the United States by way of Australia for high school ball. He’s an athletic swingman who thrives going downhill but can also hit a jump shot. NBA teams will hope he can be a high-caliber 3-and-D prospect.
Kahlil Whitney is another Kentucky commit with great size (6’7) and major athleticism. Whitney excels in transition and on the glass where he can use his physical gifts to gain an edge. He has all the tools to turn into an elite defender under John Calipari. His jump shot (48 percent from three in the EYBL, but only 44 percent from the foul line) has showed signs of promise, as well.
Other top wings in this class include: Precious Achiuwa (an uncommitted 6’9 forward from the Bronx), Samuell Williamson (6’6 and going to Louisville), and Trendon Watford (an uncommitted 6’9 forward from Alabama).
Vernon Carey Jr. leads the offensive bigs
Vernon Carey Jr. is the No. 1 player in the country according to Rivals and the crown jewel of Duke’s recruiting class next year. The son of a former NFL offensive lineman, Carey is a hefty lefty low post scorer with soft touch. He’s also a willing jump shooter. Defensively, Carey struggles to move his feet laterally. He should be a dominant inside scorer from day one at the college level, but it feels like he’d fit better in the NBA game 15 years ago.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, at 6’9, 230 pounds, is an intriguing offensive talent who will be in the front court for Jay Wright and Villanova. He’s a high IQ big man who gets off the floor quickly, making him an active rebounder and capable shot blocker. Robinson-Earl is also a willing passer and skilled finisher. This is an “energy guy” who feels like he’s too productive for the label.
Matthew Hurt, a 6’9 forward out of Minnesota, remains uncommitted for college but has been a consensus top-10 player in this class for years. Hurt is a smart and effective scorer who lacks elite athleticism but should be productive from day one in the college game.
Armando Bacot should also be a day one contributor for North Carolina as an inside scorer and rebounder. USC will hope for the same from skilled 6’9 forward Isaiah Mobley, who isn’t even the best prospect in his family. Mobley’s brother Evan, who is one year young, might be the best player in all of high school basketball.
James Wiseman could be the No. 1 player in the class
Wiseman is a 7’1 center out of Memphis who will stay home to play his college ball for Penny Hardaway and the Tigers. He currently tops ESPN’s class of 2019 rankings. Wiseman has always had a high ceiling because of his length, coordination, and fluidity. He’s just starting to put it all together, and he’ll look even better if Memphis can put him in an uptempo system and surround him with space. With a big freshman year, he’ll be contention to be the top pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
Isaiah Stewart is ranked No. 4 overall by ESPN as he heads to Mike Hopkins’ Washington Huskies. The Rochester, NY native is a man-child at 6’9 with super long arms, wide shoulders, and a developed frame. He’s a monster on the glass, a powerful finisher, and a capable shot blocker.
Oscar Tshiebwe is a terrific get for West Virginia. He’s a powerful athlete and intimidating shot blocker with a 7’5 wingspan who finishes plays above the rim. Trayce Jackson-Davis is the son of Dale Davis who should be an instant impact two-way player for Indiana.