After two years without any high-school showcase game to celebrate, we’ll back at it this spring/summer. And you better believe it, because COVID or not, everything has already been set in motion with the announcement of the McDonald’s All-American Game rosters involving the class of 2021 studs. Whether we will have a game or not, it’s yet to be known, but odds are we are (the NBA is on, the G League just wrapped its season, and we’re talking about a single game here) this one takes place later down the road.
As it is often the case, the two named squads are loaded and packed full of talent, and the 24 players chosen to build them can’t get much better. Or can they? I was curious to see where the 2021 class ranks in the all-time MCDAAG history of rosters judging by scouting services and prospect rankings, so that’s what I tried to shed a little bit of light on.
Before jumping to that, though, let’s review the 24-man roster ahead of the game, presenting the players named to it, their rank in the 2021 class (per 247Sports Composite), and the positions they’re tagged with judging by their HS game.
Presenting the 2021 MCDAAG’s 24-man roster
No game last year, no highlights uploaded to YouTube, no fun had. Jeez, this COVID thing... Anyways, look at the bright side of the story: we’re about to enter the showcase-circuit after a two-year hiatus, so we’re all super excited about what the upcoming MCDAAG will bring to our streaming devices and televisions.
Without further ado, here are your 2021 MCAADG’s participants, as currently ranked on 247Sports Composite:
2021 MCDAAG’s Roster
|1||Chet Holmgren||Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, MN)||C|
|2||Jaden Hardy||Coronado (Henderson, NV)||CG|
|3||Paolo Banchero||O Dea (Seattle, WA)||PF|
|4||Patrick Baldwin Jr.||Hamilton (Sussex, WI)||SF|
|5||Jabari Smith||Sandy Creek (Tyrone, GA)||PF|
|6||Hunter Sallis||Millard North (Omaha, NE)||CG|
|7||AJ Griffin||Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, NY)||SF|
|8||Caleb Houstan||Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL)||PF|
|9||JD Davison||Calhoun Sch (Letohatchee, AL)||PG|
|10||Peyton Watson||Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, CA)||SF|
|11||Daimion Collins||Atlanta (Atlanta, TX)||PF|
|12||Harrison Ingram||St. Mark's (Dallas, TX)||SF|
|13||Kennedy Chandler||Sunrise Christian (Wichita, KS)||PG|
|14||Michael Foster||Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, AZ)||PF|
|15||Kendall Brown||Sunrise Christian (Wichita, KS)||SF|
|16||Nathan Bittle||Prolific Prep (Napa, CA)||C|
|17||Max Christie||Rolling Meadows (Rolling Meadows, IL)||SG|
|18||Moussa Diabate||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||PF|
|19||Aminu Mohammed||Greenwood Laboratory School (Washington, DC)||SG|
|20||Trevor Keels||Paul VI Catholic (Fairfax, VA)||SG|
|31||Nolan Hickman||Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, UT)||PG|
|42||Kobe Bufkin||Grand Rapids Christian (Grand Rapids, MI)||CG|
|47||Daeshun Ruffin||Callaway (Jackson, MS)||PG|
|67||Jackson Grant||Olympia (Olympia, WA)||C|
Now, that’s a loaded field of names. As a quick rundown of things, we have:
- Every player ranked first through 20th in the 2021 HS class. That’s is, simply put, insane. Compared to last year, “only” the 1st-through-17th (at the moment of the announcement) kids made the list. Now you get why I needed to look at the history of the game, with such a packed roster being selected this year
- The no. 31 prospect on the board and future Kentucky Wildcat, Nolan Hickman.
- Two 40-to-50 ranked kids in no. 42 Kobe Bufkin (Michigan commit) and no. 47 Daeshun Ruffin (Ole Miss).
- Only one player outside of the top-50, Washington’s commit and no. 67 Jackson Grant.
Just in case you weren’t convinced to tune in come April, I guess all of that makes for a strong case to get you glued to the TV by the time these guys get to ball together.
How does the 2021 class rank among all-time MCDAAG rosters?
With all top-20 players at the time of the announcement making the list, I was definitely curious to see where the full class would rank among all-time MCDAAG rosters. The truth is that even after achieving that excellent mark, the 2021 class falls surprisingly short of what other past squads have accomplished. Seriously. For the purposes of this article, I have looked at the 24 senior HS classes from 1999 to 2021, as those are the ones I have prospect ranks of.
The simplest way to check how good or bad a class was historically is to run a set of simple mathematical operations. Just add the ranks of all selected players, and the lowest mark would be the best class among them, right? There are the results if using that method.
Best Classes Judging by Combined-Overall Rk
As you can see, this year’s class is pretty much average, or middle-of-the-pack, when it comes to the addition of all selected prospects’ rankings. That makes sense, mostly because although it contains all top-20 players (thus, the lowest possible score for the 20-first picked players (210 points), it also has two players outside of the top-40 and another one outside of the top-60. That hurts it. A lot.
Compared to 1999, the no. 1 class by this metric, the difference is absolutely insane. But that comes with a small quirk: in my dataset, there are only 21 players in the 1999 ranks that got picked to the game, thus lowering the overall score.
The actual lowest/best class would be that of 2004, as it contained all-expected 24 players in it. In fact, the 23 first players among those selected ranked precisely in that order by year’s end, with only no. 30 Arron Afflalo breaking the trend. And, let’s be honest, judging by Aarron Afflalo’s yet-to-come pro-career, it is not that his addition was precisely a bad one...
Best Classes Judging by Average Rk
While using the average rank of all selected prospects softens the lead of the 1999 class a bit, it stills retains that asterisk-marked distinction. The same goes for the 2004 and 2001 classes, although it is interesting to highlight the drop that the 2003 class suffers using this method.
Back in 2003, there were 23 players picked (this is the data that my dataset contains, again). Of those 23, 13 were ranked at the top of the list, followed by the 15, 17-to-19 prospects, 21, 22, 26, 28, 34, and 44. That’s a great, low addition of ranks overall. No player ranked outside of the top-45, and only one dropped below the no. 35. The problem is that on average, four of those kids fell off the top-24 ranked players, dropping the average of the group.
Best Classes Judging by Lowest Rk-Deviation
This is, by far, the metric that hurts our 2021 class the most. Boiling it down to the simplest of explanations, what that high deviation mark means is that this year’s class is top-heavy in that it includes all top-20 prospects, but then things fall off a cliff with the inclusion of four players outside of the top-30 list, including two outside of the top-45 and no less than the no. 67 (!!!) at the time of the announcement.
There have been only three players in the MCDAAG since 1999 who carried a lower rank than no. 67 Jackson Grant: Luke Ridnour (no. 68), Elliot Williams (no. 77), and Demond Carter (no.78). If the McDonald’s AAG is about elite talent, then the 2021 class wouldn’t even make the top-10 as far as that goes. Having a player outside of the top-50 ranks has only happened in 8 editions, and the classes of 2000, ‘05, ‘06, and ‘11 boasted a couple each.
In fact, no player ranked outside of the top-50 had been picked since 2013 when Kennedy Meeks made the roster as the no. 58 prospect in the nation. Yikes.
Best Classes Judging by Best 247 Composite Average Rk. Score
Finally, and although there is no data in 247Sports Composite ranks prior to the class of 2003, I wanted to look at the average rank score of the selected prospects for each year. If you know how 247Sports Composite ranks work, you know about this already; if not, the closer to 1.0 a player’s score is, the most-consensus the opinion is on how high he is ranked among the different scouting services that provide rank-data to the composite rank.
Looking at the rosters from this angle, there was no class as consensus-highly ranked as the 2006 one and its prospects. That might have caught you by surprise. That class had two players outside of the top-51, but it also had two of the most-coveted prospects to ever come out of HS and two surefire pros (judging by their HS/college careers at the time of the NBA draft). Those two: Greg Oden, the consensus no. 1 prospect as ranked by every scouting service back then, and Kevin Durant, who was widely considered the second-best kid to play senior HS ball that year.
On top of that, the scouting businesses out there were very high on Brandan Wright, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Youn, Chase Budinger, and Ty Lawson. But looking at the actual addition of ranks, things look a little bit different...
Best Classes Judging by Best 247 Composite Combined Rk. Scores
This is definitely closer to reality, am I right? The 2017, 2019, and 2004 classes rank at the top of the leaderboard. There was a clear-cut no. 1 prospect in 2004, Dwight Howard, who made the jump straight to the pros that very year and became a no. 1 draft pick by the Orlando Magic.
After that, there is a tie between the 2017 and 2019 classes: the two of them had a consensus no. 1 player (Marvin Bagley and James Wiseman) but they also had a ton of similarly-ranked kids below them in the likes of Michael Porter, Mo Bamba, and Deandre Ayton back in 2017; and Anthony Edwards, Isaiah Stewart, and Cole Anthony in 2019.
While the 2021 class also has no-brainer no. 1 in Chet Holmgren, only two players are widely considered part of the top-3 (Jaden Hardy and Paolo Banchero), while things get a little bit more random and muddy going down the board. That’s why at the end of the day, and looking at different MCDAAG rosters and squads from the past, the most probable case for the 2021 class of HS seniors is one of an average crop of players that are far from the greatest of them all, but that also rank higher than half of the squads that made the game in the past 23 years, at least from a recruiting/HS point of view.
There is a lot—heck, everything—yet to be written about all of those kids’ pro-careers, and surprises are always waiting to pop down the ranks, so this doesn’t mean that the 2021 class won’t produce some highly productive players that would thrive at the brightest of stages in 10 to 15 years. And that’s precisely the best part of this: we think we know a lot, but we still don’t know anything about what lies ahead.