By LARRY VAUGHT
ATLANTA — There are so many storylines to check when you attend the McDonald’s All-American Game that it’s almost impossible to know where to start.
This year is no different leading up to Wednesday night’s games on ESPN.
Here are few things that jumped out to me during Monday’s practice session and interview and then the Powerade Jam Fest.
— Players this year are competing much, much harder than what participants did overall last year. Barely 30 minutes into the first practice session Monday both Memphis signee James Wiseman and Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey dove on the floor after a loose ball. That was missing much of last year and made me think back to 2017 when former Cat Quade Green actually took charges in practice.
— Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney is really athletic and competitive. He did a circus dunk during the Dunk Contest wearing a Powerade cape where he had future UK teammate Tyrese Maxey throw the ball off the backboard to him.
— Georgia signee Anthony Edwards, who many thought was coming to Kentucky, looked like a future superstar. He has great size and strength. He can flat shoot the basketball, too.
— Wiseman said “certain scenarios” just led him to pick Memphis over UK but that he still respected John Calipari for all he did for him.
— Watching Stanford signee Francesca Belibi dunk in the dunk contest — and seeing the reaction of every other player (male and female) — was special. It was the second straight year a girl dunked in the contest and she became the first girl to win the dunk contest since Candace Parker in 2004. She jumped over another player and dunked to beat Florida signee Scottie Lewis and Precious Achiuwa in the final.
— Matthew Hurt, who has not made his college choice, is even better than I thought. I knew he could shoot but he also rebounds well and gets his shot off under pressure. He’s far more athletic than I anticipated and it’s no wonder Kentucky coach John Calipari is telling him that he can be the “final piece” in UK’s 2019 recruiting class. He’ll make a college choice between UK, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, home state Minnesota and Memphis on April 19 but his father says speculation on where he’s going is just that — speculation. Hurt did say that Duke has told him he can “make a big impact on both the offensive and defensive end.”
— Alabama’s Trendon Watford plans to make his college choice at the Jordan Brand Classic on April 20, but the 6-8 star has some complication may have one of the most complicated recruitments in the Class of 2019. Alabama recently fired coach Avery Johnson and LSU has suspended coach Will Wade, two schools on Watford’s final list. He likes Duke but has no scholarship offer yet. His other options include Indiana and Memphis.