2016-17 Underclass All-American Team
National Grassroots Editor
Ronnie has evaluated basketball talent for 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in publishing, editing and managing high school sports websites for companies such as Student Sports, ESPN and Ballislife. Ronnie compiles the FAB 50 National Team Rankings while serving as an account manager and consultant for grassroots event run by Ballislife and other companies, in addition to serving as a color commentator on high school broadcasts.
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Class players of the year Marvin Bagley (Juniors), R.J. Barrett (Sophomores) and Jalen Suggs (Freshmen) headline the 2016-17 Underclass All-American team
Seven juniors and one special sophomore named to the 23rd Annual All-American Elite Team headline a group of 70 elite players selected to the 2016-17 Underclass All-American team powered by ballislife.com.
Forward Marvin Bagley Jr. of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.), this year’s National Junior of the Year, and Internet sensation Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg, S.C.) were named to the overall All-American first team. Both players were second five selections.
National Sophomore of the Year R.J. Barrett of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) was a fourth five selection on the first team. The only sophomore to earn first five honors in the last 23 years under the current selection format is NBA superstar LeBron James while at St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) in 2000-01.
The eight All-Americans and 62 other underclass honorees all had standout campaigns for their respective high school teams, while others are sure to emerge this summer as bona fide 2017-18 All-America candidates. Nearly every summer on the grassroots circuit, well-known players are eclipsed by lesser-known commodities, and every so often a prospect comes out of nowhere to emerge as a Mr. Basketball USA candidate as was the case in 2016-17 with first five All-American selection and Ballislife All-American Game MVP Collin Sexton of Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.).
It’s a yearly ritual for some underclass All-Americans to change programs. Freshman Kyree Walker of Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) is headed to Hillcrest Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.). That’s the program where Arizona-bound DeAndre Ayton played at the past two seasons after spending his sophomore year at Balboa School (San Diego, Calif.). More players each year are also re-classifying up in order to speed up the recruiting process or join a class that will be more advantageous to their development. Walker is expected to join the 2019 class while sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell of FAB 50 No. 2 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) is expected to re-classify to the 2018 class.
Expect more player movement and some reclassification as the summer rolls on.
This performance-based squad is selected by National Grassroots Editor Ronnie Flores with input from Mr. Basketball USA panelists. It is chosen after the conclusion of the season, which makes the Underclass All-American Team more reflective of players who made state championship runs.
Our national coach of the year is Freddy Johnson of Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.).
Juniors to Watch (2018)
F — Marvin Bagley III, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 6-10
C — Jordan Brown, Woodcreek (Roseville, Calif.) 6-10
F — Taeshon Cherry, St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) 6-8
G — Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park (Chicago) 6-4
G — Devon Dotson, Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) 6-2
F — Marcellus Earlington, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 6-4
G — Darius Garland, Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.) 5-11
G — Quentin Grimes, College Park (The Woodlands, Texas) 6-5
G — Mason Harrell, Carl Albert (Midwest City, Okla.) 5-8
G — Tyler Harris, Cordova (Memphis, Tenn.) 5-9
G — Nigel Hawkins, Cy Falls (Houston) 6-3
F — Joey Hauser, Stevens Point (Wis.) 6-8
F — Aaron Henry, Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 6-6
F — Kamaka Hepa, Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 6-9
F — Jaylen Hoard, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 6-9
G — Prentiss Hubb, Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.) 6-3
F — Brandon Johns, East Lansing (Mich.) 6-8
G — Tre Jones, Apple Valley (Minn.) 6-2
G — Tavon Jones, Linden (N.J.) 6-4
G — Romeo Langford, New Albany (Ind.) 6-4
F — Gerald Liddell, Steele (Cibolo, Texas) 6-7
G — Alex Lomax, East Memphis (Memphis, Tenn.) 5-11
G — Foster Loyer, Clarkston (Mich.) 5-11
G — Jordan McCabe, Kaukauna (Wis.) 5-10
F — Khavon Moore, Westside (Macon, Ga.) 6-8
F — Jontay Porter, Nathan Hale (Seattle, Wash.) 6-8
G — Immanuel Quickley, John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) 6-3
G — Jahvon Quinerly, Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.) 6-2
G — Courtney Ramey, Webster Groves (Mo.) 6-3
G — Desi Sills, Jonesboro (Ark.) 6-1
G — Javonte Smart, Scotlandville Magnet (Baton Rouge, La.) 6-4
F — Jalen Smith, Mt. St Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) 6-10
G — Joe Wieskamp, Muscatine (Iowa) 6-6
F — Zion Williamson, Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg, S.C.) 6-7
F — Robert Woodard, Columbus (Miss.) 6-6
2017 National Junior of the Year: Marvin Bagley III
Nipped Zion Williamson for this honor mainly because of similar production against much better overall competition. In fact, no team recorded as many quality regular-season wins as Sierra Canyon did, and Bagley was a big reason, averaging 24.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg while shooting 66 percent from the field. He might be the most talented all-around frontcourt player to play in California since 1984 Mr. Basketball USA John Williams of L.A. Crenshaw. Prior to Bagley, the last player from a California program to earn top honors among juniors was Tyson Chandler of Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) when the Dons were named FAB 50 national champions at the end of the 1999-2000 season.
Sophomores to Watch (2019)
G — Avery Anderson, Northwest (Justin, Texas) 6-3
G — Bryan Antoine, Ranney School (Eatontown, N.J.) 6-3
G — Cole Anthony, Archbishop Malloy (Queens, N.Y.) 6-2
F — Armando Bacot, Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, Va.) 6-9
G — La’Melo Ball, Chino Hills (Calif.) 6-2
G — R.J. Barrett, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-7
C — Charles Bassey, St. Anthony (San Antonio, Texas) 6-10
F — Keion Brooks, North Side (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) 6-8
G — Tyger Campbell, La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) 6-0
F — Vernon Carey Jr., University (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 6-9
G — Joe Girard III, Glens Falls (N.Y.) 6-1
G — Jaelen House, Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-1
F — Matt Hurt, John Marshall (Rochester, Minn.) 6-9
F — D.J. Jeffries, Olive Branch (Miss.) 6-7
F — Chandler Lawson, Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-9
F — Michael Moreno, Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) 6-6
F — Wendell Moore Jr., Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) 6-6
F — Paul Mulcahy, Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.) 6-3
C — Onyeka Okongwu, Chino Hills (Calif.) 6-9
G — Isaac Okoro, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 6-5
G — Marvin Price, Patterson (Baltimore, Md.) 6-5
F — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 6-8
G — Cassius Stanley, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 6-4
F — Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.) 6-8
F — Romeo Weems, New Haven (Mich.) 6-6
2017 National Sophomore of the Year: R.J. Barrett
Last year’s top player among freshman, Charles Bassey, had a tumultuous season in terms to his team’s eligibility status and by missing the TCAL playoffs because of injury. That opened up the door wider for Barrett, and he was so impressive this season the issues Bassey dealt with may not have mattered anyway. For a team vying for the mythical national championship every season, it’s quite impressive to see a tenth-grader dominate games in the fashion this smooth and talented guard did. In addition to being Montverde’s leading scorer the past two seasons, Barrett averaged 18.4 ppg and 4.6 rebounds for Team Canada’s 17U club last summer. He’s the first sophomore selection from a Florida program dating back to the 1974-75 season, as 2015 Mr. Basketball USA Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy did not join the Eagles until late in the 2012-13 season.
Freshmen to Watch (2020)
G — Nimari Burnett, Morgan Park (Chicago) 6-2
G — Sharife Cooper, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 5-9
F — Jyare Davis, Sanford (Hockessin, Del.) 6-5
G — Jalen Green, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) 6-4
G — R.J. Hampton, Little Elm (Texas) 6-5
G — Nico Mannion, Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-1
G — Jaden Springer, Rocky River (Mint Hill, N.C.) 6-3
G — Jalen Suggs, Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) 6-3
F — Isaiah Todd, Marshall (Richmond, Va.) 6-9
F — Kyree Walker, Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) 6-5
2017 National Freshman of the Year: Jalen Suggs
There wasn’t a dominant or potential generational big man entering high school basketball like there was the past two seasons with Charles Bassey (2016) or Marvin Bagley (2015), so this pick was a bit more difficult. It came down to a stellar group of guards and wings that handle the ball and score a ton. At the end of the day, we decided to go with Suggs for his production on a winning team and his mature disposition. A smooth and tight ball-handler who makes the game look easy at times, Suggs led Minnehaha Academy to the state Class AA title by averaging 21.5 points a game while handling point guard duties. Also a great prospect at quarterback on the gridiron, Suggs is already one of the most watched players on the 17U travel ball circuit and could develop into one of Minnesota’s best players in a generation. He’s is the first ever ninth-grade honoree from the state dating back to the 1976-1977 season.
National Coach of the Year: Freddy Johnson, Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)
Note: Grassroots Hoops selections 2013-2015; ESPN selections 2010-2012; EA SPORTS selections 2003-2009; Student Sports selections prior to 2003; Selections are based on high school accomplishment, not future college/pro potential, and are reflective of those that lead their teams to state championships. The editors of Ballislife.com do not knowingly select fifth-year players, and those ineligible due to age or academics, Mr. Basketball USA or to its various All-American teams.