March 28, 2007

Greatest McDonald's All-American snubs

Make no mistake about it, the McDonald's All-American game boasts the best of the best in high school basketball every year.

But as history has taught us, several fizzle out over time and several continue to improve and develop into basketball's most exciting players.

Six of the 10 best players to be snubbed by the McDonald's All-American game are amongst the top 50 greatest players in NBA history. One is in the NBA Hall of Fame and the other three are sure to be Hall of Famers.

Here is a look at the 10 best players that never played in the McDonald's All-American game:

Charles Barkley likely could have talked his way into the prestigious all-star game, but the Leeds (Ala.) High School graduate was a small time recruit. He had only one high-major offer - from nearby Auburn. He led the SEC in rebounding each year he wore a Tigers jersey, and three years later he turned pro. Barkley was the fifth pick of the 1985 NBA Draft. In his career he won a Most Valuable Player award, two gold medals and eventually was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Before Clyde Drexler ever did the mambo on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, the former all-star guard was one of the most notable omissions from the McDonald's game. A 1980 graduate of Houston's Sterling High School, Drexler was part of one of the most famed college lineups of all-time. Drexler and his Phi Slamma Jamma teammates at Houston went to two Final Fours. Drexler appeared in two NBA Finals with the Portland Trailblazers in the early 1990s. Drexler also won a gold medal on the 1992 USA Olympic team.

After a good career at McNeese State University, Joe Dumars enjoyed tremendous success with the Detroit Pistons. The Hall of Famer spent 14 years in the Motor City. He proved that he could be a tremendous defender, very capable scorer and all-around good guy. Dumars never received national attention while at tiny Natchitoches Central High School in Louisiana. Some wonder if Dumars would even have a chance to make the game in today's Internet age.

Allen Iverson was not snubbed from the McDonald's All-American game. Instead, his off-the-court issues kept him out of the all-star festivities. In the middle of his junior year at Hampton (Va.) Bethel High School, he was involved in a brawl at a bowling alley. He later served four months of a 15-year sentence before being pardoned by Governor Doug Wilder. His off-court issues and time spent incarcerated kept him from participating in the McDonald's game. His basketball story is no secret. The former Georgetown star has been one of the best scorers in NBA history. Iverson has been the most consistent scorer since Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

Karl Malone never had a national profile prior to his storied career at Louisiana Tech. The recruiting industry wasn't nearly as developed as it is today, so Malone didn't get any help putting his name in the national spotlight. So, it doesn't come as a big surprise that the small town Louisiana standout never saw the bright lights of the McDonald's All-American game. The all-star game was in the infant stages when Malone was a high school senior.

Gary Payton has been one of the best point guards in NBA history. He has nine all-NBA awards, two gold medals and the numbers to prove it. He doesn't, however, claim a McDonald's All-American appearance in his milestones. The defensive minded guard was one of the best point guards in the NBA during the 1990s, and proved to be a true iron man in the league while in his prime. Payton never received the highest honors at the prep level before a stellar career at Oregon State. He was picked second overall in the 1989 NBA draft.

Before playing with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen was a 6-foot-1 walk-on for NAIA school University of Central Arkansas. Regulated to team manager and a summer job as a welder, Pippen was never considered for the McDonald's All-American game. After taking the court for the Chicago Bulls, Pippen won world championships, a gold medal and was named one of the 50 best players in NBA history. The former fifth overall pick in the 1985 draft is the poster player for being a late-blooming prospect.

As a 6-foot-7 forward from Osbourn High School in Woodbridge, Va., David Robinson wasn't a highly recruited prospect at the prep level. He played one year of high school basketball and relied more on his incredible grades to enroll in the Naval Academy. The son of a Navy man, Robinson was one inch shorter than the maximum height allowable to enroll. He later grew to 7 feet 1 and became the No. 1 pick of the 1987 NBA Draft. He fulfilled two years of Navy duty before suiting up for the San Antonio Spurs. The patience paid off for San Antonio. Robinson helped the Spurs go from 21-61 to 56-26 when he joined the team. He eventually won two world championships with the Spurs before retiring in 2003.

John Stockton graduated from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash., in 1980. He moved on to the university of the same name. Gonzaga's basketball program was not recognized nationally as it was now. However, that didn't seem to matter to the soft-spoken floor general. Some argue that Stockton was the greatest point guard of all-time. It is hard to argue with that, considering the former Utah Jazz floor general holds the NBA's all-time assist record with 15,806, and the steals record with 3,265. Amazingly, Stockton missed only 22 games in his NBA career and one McDonald's All-American game.

Because of academic issues and a late growth spurt, Dwyane Wade held three scholarship offers after a good career at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Only Marquette, Illinois State and DePaul saw a potentially productive player. Needless to say, no one on the McDonald's All-American committee saw a potential star either. Wade's progression as a player is well-documented. He helped the Miami Heat win the 2006 NBA championship and is now one of the most recognizable players in the world.

Justin Young can be reached at jyoung@rivals.com.

Head to head: Best-ever McDonald's All-Americans | The McD.L.T Team: McDonald's busts





 

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