2018-19 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 Sharife Cooper (Juniors), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Sophomores) and Emoni Bates (Freshmen) headline the 2018-19 Underclass All-American team.
Seven juniors named to the 25th Annual All-American Elite Team headline a group of 67 elite players selected to the 2018-19 Underclass All-American team powered by ballislife.com.
Point guard Sharife Cooper of FAB 50 No. 2 McEachern (Power Springs, Ga.), this year’s National Junior of the Year, was named to the overall All-American first team. Cooper was a first five selection and last year the top junior was also a first five choice off the nation’s No. 2 ranked team. That player is Vernon Carey Jr. of University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who made third five on our performance-based club this season. Prior to Cooper and Carey, DeAndre Ayton of Hillcrest Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.) in 2015-16 was the last junior to be considered among the nation’s five best players.
Two juniors were honored as fourth five selections: Forward Jalen Johnson of FAB 50 No. 24 Nicolet (Glendale, Wis.) and big man Evan Mobley of FAB 50 No. 39 Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.). Johnson was the Wisconsin A.P. State Player of the Year for the WIAA D2 state champs. Mobley had a breakout junior season and was a finalist for Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball along with second team All-American choice Jalen Green of San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.), fellow fourth teamer Cassius Stanley of FAB 50 No. 9 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) and eventual honoree and third five choice Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills (Calif.), a two-time Elite All-American choice.
No sophomore or freshman was named to the overall first team. The only sophomore to earn first five honors in the last 25 years under the current selection format is NBA superstar LeBron James while at St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) in 2000-01.
Patrick Baldwin Jr., this year’s National Sophomore of the Year, was the only tenth-grader on the Elite All-American second team. The unofficial runner-up for National Freshman of the Year in 2017-18 to fellow Wisconsin player and Underclass All-American Michael Foster Jr. of Washington (Milwaukee), this year Baldwin earned the nod after improving his production and game to the point where some feel he’s the best prospect in the national 2021 class. Baldwin joined Foster and Johnson (his travel team running mate on Phenom University) on the A.P. all-state first team and Baldwin is the first ever Wisconsin tenth-grader to earn top billing dating back to the 1974-75 season.
In 25 years of publishing our annual All-American teams and including our retroactive teams dating back to the 1954-55 season, no freshman has ever been a first team Al-American selection. Emoni Bates, a prodigal 6-foot-8 forward with incredible offensive skill from Lincoln (Ypsilanti, Mich.) is this year’s National Freshman of the Year. Bates, who is quickly turning into the poser child as leading the next prep-to-pro generation of talent once the NBA rids of its one-and-done rule, is the third freshman ever to earn All-American acclaim and was given consideration for first team. Marvin Bagley of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings made the second team as a freshman in 2014-15 while at Corona Del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.). The first ninth-grader to receive All-American acclaim was 6-foot-8, 215-pound man child Wayne McKoy of Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) back in 1973-74. McKoy remains high school basketball’s only four-time All-American, as Bagley left for college early after his junior season at Sierra Canyon (Calif.) and played one season at Duke before joining the NBA.
The nine All-Americans and 58 other underclass honorees all had standout campaigns for their respective high school teams, while others are sure to emerge this summer as bona fide 2019-20 All-America candidates. Nearly every summer on the grassroots circuit, lesser-known commodities eclipse well-known players.
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.
Green will spend his senior season at Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) after three seasons at San Joaquin Memorial. Expect more player movement and some more reclassification as the summer rolls on.
National Grassroots Editor Ronnie Flores selects this performance-based squad 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 Carl Kremer of Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Juniors to Watch (2020)
G — Adrian “Ace” Baldwin, St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) 5-11
F — Scottie Barnes, University (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 6-7
G — Reece Beekman, Scotlandville (Baton, Rouge, La.) 6-2
F — Brandon Boston, Norcross (Ga.) 6-6
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 — Jalen Cook, Landry Walker (New Orleans, La.) 6-0
G — Sharife Cooper, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 5-10
G — Cade Cunningham, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-5
G — Andre Curbelo, Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head N. Y.) 6-0
C — N’Faly Dante, Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Air, Kan.) 6-11
G — Jyare Davis, Sanford School (Hockessin, Del.) 6-7
G — Jalen Green, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) 6-4
G — R.J. Hampton, Little Elm (Texas) 6-5
F — Jalen Johnson, Nicolet (Glendale, Wis.) 6-7
F — Keon Johnson, The Webb School (Bell Buckle, Tenn.) 6-5
F — Adam Miller, Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 6-4
C — Evan Mobley, Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.) 7-0
G — Ethan Morton, Butler Area (Butler, Pa.) 6-5
C — Day’Ron Sharpe, South Central (Winterville, N.C.) 6-9
G — Jaden Springer, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 6-3
G — D.J. Steward, Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 6-4
F — Julian Strawther, Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 6-7
G — Jalen Suggs, Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) 6-3
G — Cam Thomas, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 6-3
G — Bryce Thompson, Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) 6-5
F — Earl Timberlake, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-5
F — Kyree Walker, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-5
F — Terrence Williams, Gonzaga (Washington, D. C.) 6-6
2019 National Junior of the Year: Sharife Cooper
Wasn’t a difficult choice as this dynamic point guard was the only junior named to the first five on the overall Elite All-American team and was one of four All-Americans to appear on nine of the 10 ballots in the final Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. It’s quite remarkable that Cooper was seriously considered for national player of the year as only three of the game’s all-time greats (LeBron James, Lew Alcindor, Jerry Lucas) have been selected the nation’s best as eleventh-graders. McEachern was simply on a mission this season after coming up short in the playoffs the previous two seasons and Cooper was the catalyst, averaging 28.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 8.2 apg and 4.spg and scoring over 40 points four times for a team that won its first ever GHSA Class 7A crown. He put up those numbers against one of the best schedules in the country while leading McEachern to a 32-0 record and nine wins over FAB 50 ranked clubs and three more against teams that were ranked at the time of the contest. Cooper is the third junior honoree from Georgia dating back to the 1969-70 season, joining Lithonia Miller Grove’s Tony Parker (2011) and Snellville South Gwinnett’s Lou Williams (2004).
Sophomores to Watch (2021)
F — Trey Alexander, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 6-4
G — Devin Askew, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 6-4
F — Patrick Baldwin Jr., Hamilton (Sussex, Wis.) 6-8
C — Nate Bittle, Crater (Central Point, Ore.) 6-11
G — Kennedy Chandler, Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.) 6-1
F — Paolo Banchero, O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.) 6-9
F — Max Christie, Rolling Meadows (Rolling Meadows, Ill.) 6-6
F — Terrence Clarke, Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N. H.) 6-6
G — Zaon Collins, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-1
G — Rashool Diggins, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) 6-1
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 — Chucky Hepburn, Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 6-1
F — Daron Holmes, Millennium (Goodyear, Ariz.) 6-9
F — Will Jeffress, McDowell (Erie, Pa.) 6-6
G — Jackie Johnson, Wichita Southeast (Wichita, Kan.) 5-10
G — Trevor Keels, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 6-5
F — Harrison Ingram, St. Mark’s (Dallas, Texas) 6-6
G — Langston Love, Steele (Cibolo, Texas) 6-4
G — Carson McCorkle, Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N. C.) 6-4
F — Aminu Mohammed, Greenwood Laboratory (Springfield, Mo.) 6-5
F — Jonathan Kuminga, Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) 6-8
F — Trey Patterson, Rutgers Prep (Somerset, N.J.) 6-7
G — Daeshon Ruffin, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) 5-9
2019 National Sophomore of the Year: Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Last season Michael Foster Jr. edged Baldwin as the honoree among freshmen, but this time around the skilled wing forward gets the nod. Both are considered among the top prospects nationally in the 2021 class and are part of a terrific group of talented underclassmen in Wisconsin. In fact, some recruiting experts consider Baldwin the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the class. He followed up a terrific freshman campaign where he averaged 16 ppg and 5.4 rpg with averages of 18.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 3.1 apg for a 24-5 club that advanced to the WIAA D1 quarterfinals. Along the way, Foster was named a first team A.P. all-state selection, which only had one senior chosen among the first five. In 2017-18, Foster was the first freshman ever from Wisconsin to earn top billing among first-year players and this season the son of UW-Milwaukee coach Patrick Baldwin is the first ever among tenth-graders dating back to the 1974-1975 season.
Freshmen to Watch (2022)
F — Emoni Bates, Lincoln (Ypsilanti, Mich.) 6-8
G — Jameel “Milzy” Brown, Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.) 6-1
G — Zion Cruz, Hudson Catholic (Hudson, N.J.) 6-3
C — Jalen Duren, Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 6-9
G — Bryce Griggs, Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City, Texas) 6-1
G — Ricky “Pop Pop” Isaacs Jr., Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 6-1
G — Chris Livingston, Buchtel (Akron, Ohio) 6-5
G — Knasir “Dug” McDaniel, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 5-9
F — Tai Manning, Grandview (Mo.) 6-6
F — Mark Mitchell, Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 6-6
G — M.J. Rice, Durham Academy (Durham, N.C.) 6-5
F — Jarace Walker, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 6-6
2019 National Freshman of the Year: Emoni Bates
This year produced another bumper crop of first-year players, but it didn’t take long to peg the 6-foot-8 forward with a sweet shooting touch as the best of the lot. In fact, Bates was so impressive in leading Lincoln to the MHSAA D1 state title he was named D1 state player of the year by the Associated Press and Gatorade State Player of the Year. Bates led Lincoln to the D1 state crown by scoring 23 points in a 64-62 victory over University of Detroit Jesuit, but it was senior Jalen Fisher that hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer. It’s pretty safe to say Lincoln wouldn’t have been in position to win a state crown without its top shelf first-year player, as Bates had 31 points and 14 rebounds in a 72-56 state semifinal win over Howell and hit two game-winning post-season shots. For the season, Bates averaged 28.7 points and 10.2 rebounds. He’s not only considered the best player in the class of 2022 at this stage, he’s already considered one of the best long-term prospects in all of high school basketball and a candidate to turn pro out of high school should the NBA end the one-and-done era that has been in place since 2006. Bates is Michigan’s first freshman honoree since Marcus Taylor of Waverly (Lansing, Mich.) for the 1996-97 season and rivals 1988 honoree Chris Webber (Detroit Country Day) as the best freshman the state of Michigan has ever produced.
National Coach of the Year: Carl Kremer, Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)
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.