2017-18 Underclass All-American Team Announced!
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 Vernon Carey Jr. (Juniors), Jalen Suggs (Sophomores) and Michael Foster Jr. (Freshmen) headline the 2017-18 Underclass All-American team.
Four juniors named to the 24th Annual All-American Elite Team headline a group of 65 elite players selected to the 2017-18 Underclass All-American team powered by ballislife.com.
Forward Vernon Carey Jr. of FAB 50 No. 2 University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), this year’s National Junior of the Year, was named to the overall All-American first team. Carey was a first five selection, the first junior since DeAndre Ayton of Hillcrest Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.) in 2015-16 to be considered among the nation’s five best players.
Three junior big men were honored as fourth five selections: recent USC pledge and Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills (Calif.), James Wiseman, the leading scorer for FAB 50 No. 4 Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.), and Charles Bassey of Aspire Academy (Louisville, Ky.), the national freshman of the year in 2015-16.
No sophomore or freshman was named to the overall first team. The only sophomore to earn first five honors in the last 24 years under the current selection format is NBA superstar LeBron James while at St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) in 2000-01.
The four All-Americans and 61 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.
It’s a yearly ritual for some underclass All-Americans to change programs and each year, more players are classifying up in order to speed up the recruiting process or join a class that will be more advantageous to their development.
Two talented sophomore All-Americans from Arizona, Kyree Walker of Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Nico Mannion of Class 6A state champ Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) are expected to join the 2019 class. Junior All-American Ashton Hagans of Newton (Covington, Ga.) has pledged to Kentucky and is expected to join the Wildcats in 2018-19. Another junior who has talked about potentially re-classifying is Jalen Lecque of Christ School (Arden, N.C.).
Expect player movement and some more 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 Josh Luedtke of Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.).
Juniors to Watch (2019)
F — Precious Achiuwa, St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 6-9
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.) 6-10
C — Charles Bassey, Aspire Academy (Louisville, Ky.) 6-10
F — Vernon Carey Jr., University (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 6-9
F — Eric Dixon, Abington (Pa.) 6-7
G — Joe Girard III, Glens Falls (N.Y.) 6-1
G — Brycen Goodine, St. Andrew’s (Barrington, R.I.) 6-4
G — Ashton Hagans, Newton (Covington, Ga.) 6-4
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
G — Rylon Jones, Olympus (Salt Lake City, Utah) 6-0
G — Jalen Lecque, Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 6-4
G — Scottie Lewis, Ranney School (Eatontown, N.J.) 6-5
G — E.J. Liddell, Belleville West (Ill.) 6-7
G — Tyrese Maxey, South Garland (South Garland, Texas) 6-3
F — Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way (Federal Way, Wash.) 6-8
G — Justin Moore, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-4
F — Wendell Moore Jr., Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) 6-6
C — Onyeka Okongwu, Chino Hills (Calif.) 6-9
G — Isaac Okoro, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 6-5
F — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 6-8
F — Isaiah Stewart, La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 6-8
G — Marcus Tsohonis, Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 6-5
F — Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.) 6-8
F — Anton Watson, Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.) 6-7
F — James Wiseman, Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-11
F — Romeo Weems, New Haven (Mich.) 6-6
2018 National Junior of the Year: Vernon Carey Jr.
Wasn’t a difficult choice over three talented other big men who also were named to the overall All-American team, as Carey had the best combination of team success and individual production. The son of former Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Vernon Carey, Junior used a nice combination of size and agility to dominate foes inside. Against a rugged schedule, Carey averaged 26.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 4 bpg for the No. 2 team in the FAB 50. For his efforts, Carey was named Florida’s Mr. Basketball over a strong in-state class of senior candidates. Carey is the first junior honoree from Florida since Austin Rivers of Winter Park and Brandon Knight of Ft. Lauderdale Pine Crest were honored in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Sophomores to Watch (2020)
G — Adrian Baldwin, St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) 5-11
F — Scottie Barnes, University (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 6-7
F — Brandon Boston, Norcross (Ga.) 6-3
F — Greg Brown III, Vandegrift (Austin, Texas) 6-7
F — Jaemyn Brakefield, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.V.) 6-8
G — Josh Christopher, Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.) 6-4
G — Sharife Cooper, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 5-10
G — Cade Cunningham, Bowie (Arlington, Texas) 6-5
F — N’Faly Dante, Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Air, Kan.) 6-11
C — Hunter Dickinson, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-11
G — Lynn Greer III, Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 6-3
G — Jalen Green, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) 6-4
G — R.J. Hampton, Little Elm (Texas) 6-5
F — Jalen Johnson, Sun Prairie (Wis.) 6-7
F — Keon Johnson, The Webb School (Bell Buckle, Tenn.) 6-5
G — Nico Mannion, Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-2
C — Evan Mobley, Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.) 7-0
G — Moses Moody, North Little Rock (Little Rock, Ark.) 6-5
G — Jeremy Roach, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 6-2
G — Jaden Springer, Rocky River (Mint Hill, N.C.) 6-3
F — Julian Strawther, Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 6-7
G — Jalen Suggs, Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) 6-3
F — Isaiah Todd, Marshall (Richmond, Va.) 6-9
F — Kyree Walker, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-5
F — Terrence Williams, Gonzaga (Washington, D. C.) 6-6
2018 National Sophomore of the Year: Jalen Suggs
Last year’s top player among freshman, Suggs is again the honoree in his class as he edges an impressive group of candidates in what is shaping up as a strong class. A smooth ball-handler who can facilitate and score, Suggs became more of a physical player this season on the boards and on defense in leading the Redhawks to a second consecutive Class 2A state crown. After first starring on the varsity as a seventh-grader, Suggs averaged 17.5 ppg as an eighth-grader and 21.5 ppg last season as a ninth-grader. This past season on a more balanced offensive team, the Grid-Hoop standout averaged 16.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 4.5 apg and 3.4 spg for a 28-4 team that didn’t play home games because of a tragic school explosion right before the school year started. Suggs had 27 points, five rebounds and eight assists in the state title game and 19 points and 14 rebounds in a victory over third five All-American Tre Jones and 4A finalist Apple Valley. Jones was named first five A.P. all-state along with three others honored on one of our All-American teams and is Minnesota’s first tenth-grade honoree dating back to the 1974-1975 season.
Freshmen to Watch (2021)
F — Patrick Baldwin Jr., Hamilton (Sussex, Wis.) 6-8
F — Terrence Clarke, The Rivers School (Weston, Mass.) 6-5
C — Michael Foster Jr., Washington (Milwaukee, Wis.) 6-9
G — Adrian Griffin Jr., Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 6-4
G — Jaden Hardy, Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 6-4
G — Zion Harmon, Adair County (Columbia, Ky.) 5-10
G — Meechie Johnson, Garfield Heights (Ohio) 5-11
F — Aminu Mohammed, Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) 6-5
F — Trey Patterson, Rutgers Prep (Somerset, N.J.) 6-7
G — Daeshon Ruffin, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) 5-9
2018 National Freshman of the Year: Michael Foster Jr.
Last season there was a fantastic group of guards and this year there is yet more high-scoring ninth-graders. The most talented front-court players who had big impacts on their respective team, however, both played within a short drive of each other. Foster has been a well-known commodity in Milwaukee for many years and the region added Patrick Baldwin Jr. when his father took the UW-Milwaukee job. The choice came down to those two, and we go with Foster based on his statistical output and team success. After skipping eighth-grade to enroll at Washington, Foster averaged 19.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg and 2.5 bpg for a team that advanced to the WIAA D2 state title game. Baldwin, who is more of a traditional wing forward, was nearly as successful, averaging 16.0 ppg and 5.4 rpg for a team that advanced to the WIAA D1 semifinals. Foster, who has drawn some caparison to former Milwaukee Hamilton standout and 2014 third five All-American Kevon Looney and had already committed to Arizona St., is the first ever ninth-grade honoree from the state dating back to the 1976-1977 season.
National Coach of the Year: Josh Luedtke, Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.)
Note: 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.