Last weekend, 24 of the best high school seniors gathered in Houston, Texas for the 46th annual McDonald’s All-American game. NBA scouts and selective media lined the courts each time the gym was opened.
With the COVID pandemic, gyms were shut down. Many NBA teams lost valuable scouting time over the past couple of years. They have not been able to follow a player’s journey as they grow through the process.
Over the last year, the NCAA has loosened its rules, now allowing NBA personnel in more gyms, giving them further access to watch high school players in various events.
The NBA scouts had a lot to look at during the McDonald’s All-American festivities. Players came to the event site for a week prior to the game. They go through multiple practices, a scrimmage, and do charity work, among other activities. The practices in the week leading up to the game are traditionally where the competitive fire burns.
The 2023 class is one where NBA scouts will need to dive in head first. It has been written previously; many say the level of talent in this class is down from years past. One NBA scout said, “This class is down. We’re looking at a draft class next year where the No. 1 guy might go seven or eight in a normal year.”
There is a lot of parity at the top of this class. Each of the players at the top has standout features, along with areas they will need to improve. In speaking with NBA scouts throughout the week, not only is there not a consensus No. 1 guy in the class, there is not a consensus top five.
PG Isaiah Collier – USC
Isaiah Collier of Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler is currently the No. 1 player in the 2023 On3 Industry Ranking. He was also the co-MVP of the game finishing with a game-high 25 points. He brought tenacity to the game, showcasing a competitive fire to attack the paint and get to the rim.
Collier was a popular topic among NBA scouts as well. His passing is a level ahead of his peers in this class. He is also adept in the pick and roll, able to draw the defender and create open lanes to operate.
“I like Collier,” one NBA scout told On3. “He’s a great passer, excellent in the pick and roll.”
Collier finished the game two-of-four from three, but he was also five-of-12 from the free throw line. While his playmaking, ball skills, and creativity are not in question, some do have questions about his shooting.
“He’s going to have to get that shot right. It is so hard for playmakers who can’t shoot it to make it,” an NBA scout said.
“Collier is a terrific playmaker, but his lack of shooting scares the hell out of me,” another NBA scout told On3.
CG Bronny James – Uncommitted
All eyes were on Bronny James of Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon. He is the No. 9 player in the 2023 On3 150 and tops the On3 NIL 100 with a NIL Valuation of $7.2 million. James is the most viewed high school athlete, having his name trend across social media platforms each time he plays.
The lens of evaluation started to change for James, the oldest son of NBA all-time leading scorer LeBron James, during Nike EYBL’s Peach Jam. His evaluation as a prospect has continued to grow throughout his senior campaign, which culminated at this event.
James finished the McDonad’s All-American game with 15 points on a game-high five threes.
“Bronny won’t get drafted because he’s LeBron’s kid,” an NBA scout said. “He’ll get drafted because he’s an NBA player. He works hard, goes about his business, and is tough.”
The feedback on Bronny James’ top-end ceiling was mixed. Many liked the effort he consistently gave and the shooting that he showed off all week in each setting. While no one questioned his ability to play, there were questions about his draft stock.
“Bronny is a good, two-three year college player,” another NBA scout said.
Ron Holland, DJ Wagner notes
Kentucky signee DJ Wagner, son of former lottery pick Dajuan Wagner, was the game’s co-MVP with Collier. Wagner finished the game with 19 points, all coming in the second half of a come-from-behind win.
“He plays so hard,” an NBA scout said. “You know he is going to touch the paint; I do worry about the decision-making.”
Texas signee Ron Holland was another standout throughout the week. The five-star used his lengthy frame and high motor to consistently make plays and be productive in each setting.
“I love the way Holland plays,” an NBA scout said.
However, it was his ability in the half-court to make plays that opened eyes. On the first day of practices, Holland knocked down six threes in the full-court portion.
“Holland could end up the best pro prospect in the class,” an NBA scout said. “He’s always been a high-motor guy, but his game and his skill set are coming along. He’s shooting it a little now, plus the defense.”
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