Bulls Derrick Rose named among best all-time McDonald’s All-Americans

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The McDonald’s All American Games unveiled its list of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All Americans, released in celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the McDonald’s All American High School Boys Game. The list is comprised of some of the top names in basketball history, a veritable basketball pantheon, including six players with Chicago connections (Isiah Thomas (1979), Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers (1980), Michael Jordan (1981), Kevin Garnett (1995), Jay Williams (1999) and Derrick Rose (2007).

Rose, Williams and Jordan, obviously, have suited up for the Bulls. Chicago hosts the Boston Celtics tonight at the United Center, so there will be a special ceremony, as Celtics Coach Doc Rivers will be joined (in addition to Garnett) Paul Pierce who is on the list below.

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Chicago Selected to Host McDonald’s All-American Game; 1st ever Back to Back Host Site

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Today it was announced that Chicago will become the first ever back-to-back host of the McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games when the 2012 Games take the court at the United Center on March 28. The 35th annual Boys Game will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. CT (ESPN) and will be preceded by the 11th annual Girls Game at 6:00 p.m. CT (ESPNU).

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Louisville Recruit, McDonald’s All-American Wayne Blackshear Scored 56

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Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to interview three of the top high school players/incoming college basketball freshmen in the nation right before they had the opportunity to meet Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose, a McDonald’s All-American in 2007.

When I brought up Wayne Blackshear’s 56 points in one game, Blackshear’s fellow McDonald’s All-Americans Anthony Davis and Branden Dawson were in reverence and astonishment of his scoring achievement.

“My coach said I need a big performance this year, to try to put me up there,” Blackshear said about his 56 point outburst.

“So I was just working out that whole week putting a lot of shots up, and that game I played, I got to the free throw line a lot, and I couldn’t miss, so I was really focused.”

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Kentucky Wildcats Super-Recruit Posted a Quadruple Double

A year or so ago, Kentucky Wildcats recruit and  McDonald’s All-American Anthony Davis wasn’t on anyone’s short list of blue-chip college basketball prospects. But after growing seven inches in a year, he now finds himself the #2 overall recruit in the nation (Duke commit Austin Rivers is #1) today.

I caught up to him Tuesday night; right before he had the opportunity to meet Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose, a McDonald’s All-American in 2007.

“I was 6′ 3,” then my junior year I was 6’5,” until this summer and now I’m 6’10,”” he said.

Kentucky and Duke lead all schools with four McDonald’s All-Americans in this class, and in the history of the designation, UK has scored the fourth highest number of McDonald’s All-Americans. All time, the state of Illinois has produced the 3rd most prospects of any state. Davis is a Chicago native who prepped at Perspectives Charter.

Davis was joined Tuesday night by Michigan State commit Branden Dawson and Louisville incoming freshman Wayne Blackshear.

By Paul M. Banks

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Branden Dawson Latest Michigan State Blue Chip Recruit

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This hasn’t been an ideal college basketball season in East Lansing, Michigan. In fact, it’s been nightmarish as the Spartans find themselves barely hanging on for a NCAA Tournament berth. Their meeting with the Illini on Saturday might be a “play-out game” for the big dance. But now’s not the time for MSU gloom and doom.

Instead let’s look ahead, to next year and another solid recruiting class. The crown jewel of that class is Branden Dawson, a 6-5 wing from Gary, Indiana who prepped at Lew Wallace.

The McDonald’s All-American Dawson is a Los Angeles Lakers fan should fit in well with Draymond Green next year, as he also prefers purple and gold.

By Paul M. Banks

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Bulls, Derrick Rose Greet Local McDonald’s All-Americans

Derrick Rose Bulls

Tonight’s NBA contest between the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Bobcats featured three Chicago-area McDonald’s All Americans debuting their official 2011 jerseys at Chicago’s famed United Center alongside 2007 McDonald’s All American and current Bulls guard, Derrick Rose.

Branden Dawson, Wayne Blackshear and Anthony Davis will join forces again at the United Center on March 30 as Boys West squad teammates during the 34th McDonald’s All American Boys Game.

It was a special night for all three local products as they took in a game at “the House that Michael Jordan Built,” on a night when Jordan himself was in attendance (along with his former running mate Scottie Pippen and former Chicago Bears Defensive end/newly crowned NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent)

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Illini Struggle, Get Beat By Sister School UIC- Seriously!

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This was not college basketball at it’s finest. Not by a long shot. The Illinois Fighting Illini, playing in their second home, the near west side’s United Center struggled with their sister school, the UIC Flames all day.

Despite the presence of two local teams, the crowd was small. The UC looked 40-60% empty all day, but perhaps that because basketball fans are saving themselves for the NBA headliner, instead of this college hoops matinee. Coincidentally, the Chicago Bulls opponent in that game will be the Los Angeles Clippers and Eric Gordon, the one and done Indiana Hoosiers two-guard who is considered one of the biggest enemies of Illini nation.

But today, the Illini hand their hands full with a program who who celebrated the big upset win like they had just won the Final Four.

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Blackhawks set to face League’s Best Team

By Paul M. Banks

The Winter Classic may have received all the hype, but few regular season games will have more importance than Wednesday night, when the Hawks welcome the NHL points leading San Jose Sharks to the United Center. “It’ll be a good test, a huge game we gotta be up and ready for,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. On Sunday the Hawks (38-22-11, 87 pts) broke their five game winless streak.

“We needed a win for our confidence across the board and we can use this confidence going into our next game to build some momentum,” Coach Joel Quenneville said at the postgame presser. The Hawks can feel good knowing they just beat a California team (L.A. Kings) that like the Sharks, allows very few shots on goals. San Jose allows the fewest shots per game (27.4) in the league, L.A. is second at 27.6. Chicago managed 32 shots on Los Angeles.

Currently, San Jose is seeded first and Chicago fourth in the Western Conference. Both will be favored to win their first round match-up, and possibly meet in the Conference Semifinals.

Right now these Sharks (48-14-10, 106 pts) are causing more excitement in San Jose than the latest Intel microprocessor. Ok, maybe there isn’t a ton of stuff to do in Silicon Valley, but the local NHL team currently dominates the league in the same manner San Jose based companies dominate the Nasdaq.

Center Patrick Marleau is the league’s fourth leading goal scorer and Joe Thornton is 5th in assists. Both are among the top 20 in scoring complementing their top line defensemen, Dan Boyle and Rob Blake, who rank 5th and 14th respectively among scoring leaders for defense. San Jose is also very adept at scoring short-handed goals or “shorties” as they’re known colloquially. With representation near the top of every short-handed scoring category, people following the Sharks have gotten to utter the phrase “shorty” about as often as Nelly, Lil Jon, or T-Pain.

And if this team wasn’t complete enough, there’s goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who’s 2nd in the league in wins and third in shutouts. He handles opposing offenses about as poetically and dominantly as the Russian novelist sharing his name handled intricate wordplay and descriptive detail.

Deron Williams Exclusive Part II Chi/2016

Paul M. Banks’ exclusive with D. Will

D. Will, who’s currently second in the NBA in assists per game, was once again snubbed for the NBA All-Star game. Since being disrespected, he’s played with a bigger chip on his shoulder- scoring at least 31 points in each of the last five. He was All-NBA second team in 2008, and looks like he’ll be there again this year.

In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, point guard Deron Williams hit big shots and played major minutes. And at age 24, his best professional and Olympic basketball is still ahead of him. In part one of this interview, I discussed Williams’ relationship, past and present, with the University of Illinois. In the second part, we discuss his Olympic experience and the prospects for Chicago 2016.

I spoke with D. Will after a game on the Milwaukee Bucks home court, where 3 Redeem Teamers were on display, if he wanted to play for the United States again in 2012. “If they ask me, barring injuries or anything like that, I’d love to play. It was a great experience, a chance to represent my country, my organization, my family and win a Gold medal, something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” he responded.

As anyone who’s attended a Bulls-Jazz game at the United Center will tell you, Deron gets a fantastic reception anytime he visits Chicago. He answered my question about Chicago sports fans thusly:

“They’re great, I went to Illinois, there’s a lot of Illinois fans in Chicago, so they treat me great. I love Chicago, it’s my second home, I love being there, I spend a lot of time there in the summer. It’s a great city.”

Finally, I asked him his thoughts on Chicago’s 2016 Summer Olympics bid and what their prospects were as a host city. “They’d be a great host, I saw the 3D plans for what they want to do with it, how they’re gonna change everything around, all the facilities, it looks amazing,” Williams responded.

Inaugural Blackhawks Exchange