Mr. Basketball USA Dariq Whitehead, national junior of the year D.J. Wagner and two players each from NIBC powers Montverde Academy, Sunrise Christian Academy and IMG Academy highlight 28th annual All-American Elite Team produced by Ballislife.com Grassroots Editor Ronnie Flores. Elite honor squad includes 20-man first team and 30-man second team.
The 2021-22 All-American Elite Team, now published for the 28th consecutive season and on the Ballislife.com platform for the eighth time, includes twenty-seven of the nation’s best seniors, led by Mr. Basketball USA Dariq Whitehead of FAB 50 No. 2 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.).
Eighteen seniors and two juniors, including class player of the year DJ Wagner of FAB 50 No. 12 Camden (N.J.) and Ron Holland, the top honors candidate off the No. 1 ranked team in the FAB 50, Duncanville (Texas), headline the 20-player overall first team. The lone repeater off last year’s team is senior Amari Bailey, a third five selection as a junior. Bailey battled injuries put played well enough down the stretch to earn fourth five honors for FAB 50 No. 32 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.). Jalen Duren, last season’s national junior of the year and a first five selection, re-classified up to the 2021 class and enrolled at Memphis. This comes on the heels of Patrick Baldwin Jr., the national junior of the year in 2019-20, sitting out the majority of his senior year with injury. In addition to Duren, Emoni Bates also re-classed up and played at Memphis in 2021-22. Bates was the first sophomore since LeBron James in 2000-01 to earn five five All-American honors. In 2020-21, Bates joined Bailey as a third five honoree.
With Scoot Henderson of Kell (Marietta, Ga.), a fourth five selection last season, graduated early from high school to sign with the NBA G League Ignite and with Duren and Bates moving on, this year’s All-American Elite team was sure to have some few faces rewarded for their season-long production. The early departures does change the high school game and alter NBA Draft boards for 2022 and 2023, but there are always hungry and talented players ready to step up and take the place of those that likely would have been returning All-Americans. This year’s All-American Elite team is dominated by players from the eight-team National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC), which enjoyed its first full conference slate in 2021-22. In addition to Whitehead, six other talented NIBC players made the 20-man first team.
A 30-player second team includes 29 additional seniors. All underclassmen are eligible for All-American Elite team selection and this year’s second team includes Simeon Wilcher of Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.), the lone junior. No sophomore was selected for first or second team and in 28 seasons of publishing annual All-American teams (and on the retroactive teams dating back to the 1954-55 season), no freshman has ever made the first team.
Our national coach of the year is Joe Auer of Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.). He guided the Falcons to their sixth KSHAA state title since 2008-09. The Falcons finished 23-2 and ranked No. 19 in the final Southwest Region Top 20 Rankings.
National Grassroots Editor Ronnie Flores selects this performance-based All-American team with input from Mr. Basketball USA panelists. It is chosen after the conclusion of the season, which makes the All-American Elite team more reflective of players who made state championship runs.
This honors squad has been chosen in its current format since the 1994-95 season and is powered by Ballislife.com for the eighth consecutive season. This team is chosen regardless of class and is not exclusive or preferential for seniors named to the Ballislife All-American Game. To view archived All-American teams published under this format, please visit GrassrootsHoops.net.
2021-22 All-American First Team
G — Cason Wallace, Richardson (Texas) 6-3 Sr.
Although the Eagles were stunned in the UIL Class 6A regional quarterfinals when they were No. 7 in the FAB 50, Wallace was able to lead Richardson to a win over No. 1 Duncanville and to a 32-2 mark. Wallace went for 23 points vs. Duncanville and was named Whataburger Tournament MVP. The two-time District 7-6A Co-MVP averaged 19.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 6.1 apg after recording junior season averages of 19.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 4.3 apg when Richardson reached the UIL Class 6A semifinals. The Dallas Morning News Player of the Year, Wallace is a two-time all-state honoree and was noted as the team’s best scorer, rebounder and defender by coach Kevin Lawson. He had 7 points and 6 assists in the McDonald’s All-American Game and 15 points in the Jordan Brand Classic.
G — Keyonte George, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 6-3 Sr.
Arguably the best scoring guard in the country, George had a terrific senior season in leading IMG Academy to a GEICO Nationals semifinal spot and 21-5 record against tough competition. With point guard Jaden Bradley out, George averaged 21.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg in IMG’s two games at GEICO Nationals. For the season, the Baylor recruit averaged 17 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 3.1 apg, including a 40-point outing in a double-overtime loss to fellow NIBC club La Lumiere (Ind.). He was named to the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand games and also appeared in the Nike Hoop Summit. George was also the third leading vote-getter in the final Mr. Basketball USA Tracker (64 points) and joined Dariq Whitehead as the only two players to appear on all 10 ballots.
G — Dariq Whitehead, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-5 Sr.
This Newark, New Jersey native spent five seasons at the famous Florida program and developed into the nation’s top player as a senior when he led the Eagles to a 22-4 mark and No. 2 final FAB 50 ranking. He contributed heavily to four teams that finished 93-8 against the finest competition in the nation. As a sophomore, he came off the bench and averaged 8.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg for one of the best teams in high school history. As a junior, he helped MVA win its second consecutive FAB 50 title by netting 10.4 ppg on another balanced team. This season Whitehead stepped up his game after 2021 junior player of the year Jalen Duren (Memphis) re-classed up. Whitehead hit the big jumpshot in the GEICO Nationals title game win over Link Academy and averaged 15.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, and 3.0 rpg in three games at the event. For the season, the 2022 Mr. Basketball USA averaged 17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 3.8 apg. He was named MVP at the McDonald’s All-American Game (13 pts, 7 rbs, 7 asts) and also shined for Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summit with a team high 17 points, including 5-of-7 3-pointers.
F — Gradey Dick, Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 6-6 Sr.
This Kansas-bound wing had a terrific senior campaign for a team that spent plenty of the regular season at No. 1 in the FAB 50. Although the Buffaloes were upset in the first round of GEICO Nationals and Dick didn’t finish his season as he would have liked, it doesn’t take away from his overall production and the step up in his game after a junior season in which he averaged 10.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg. In the first full season for the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC), which is comprised of many of the top independent academies in the country, Dick was its Player of the Year after averaging 18 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2 apg and 2 spg. The Gatorade National POY was selected for the Nike Hoop Summit and McDonald’s Game.
C — Dereck Lively II, Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.) 7-1 Sr.
No player in the 2022 national class kept improving as Lively did over the course of his career. He produced enough to finish as the No. 2 vote-getter in the final Mr. Basketball USA Tracker after not receiving any votes as a junior. He started high school backing up Jalen Duren (Memphis) on Team Final’s 15U team, but developed enough to led the 2021 EYBL in blocked shots (3.7 bpg) and added 8.4 ppg and 6.7 rpg in 15 outings. Lively then led Peach Jam in blocked shots, as Team Final captured the prestigious event title for the first time in program history. Lively followed up that terrific summer run with an outstanding senior campaign. He averaged 14 ppg, 15 rpg, and 4.5 bpg for a 31-7 team that won the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PISAA) state title.
G — Nick Smith, North Little Rock (Ark.) 6-4 Sr.
Teaming up with fellow McDonald’s All-American and second team selection Kel’el Ware (Oregon), this dynamic guard had a monster senior season for a 27-3 team that played a national schedule and finished No. 17 in the FAB 50. Smith averaged 26.5 ppg, 8 rpg, and 7.3 apg after pumping in 25 ppg during his junior season at Sylvan Hills (Sherwood, Ark.). A two-time State Player of the Year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Smith finished his season strong at the national all-star games. He was named MVP at the Jordan Brand Classic (27 points, 5-7 3-point FG) and had 10 points and three assists for Team USA at the Nike Hoop summit. At least one national recruiting service feels he’s the No. 1 prospect in the class and he’s the state’s highest rated recruit since 1992 first five selection Corliss Williamson (Russellville, Ark.). That season, Williamson finished ranked No. 2 by both All-Star Sports (behind Othella Harrington) and the Hoop Scoop (behind Mr. Basketball USA Jason Kidd). Similar to Williamson, Smith will play his college ball at Arkansas.
G — DJ Wagner, Camden (Camden, N.J.) 6-3 Jr.
This year’s national junior of the year has been much publicized since entering a school where his father (Dajuan Wagner) and grandfather (Milt Wagner) had All-American careers. D.J. has been named all-state twice and also earned national freshman of the year honors in 2019-20 and the national sophomore of the year in 2020-21, the latter when he averaged 22 ppg and led his team to a 13-0 mark. This season Wagner finally got a full campaign against a national schedule after COVID-19 protocols slowed Jersey teams in his first two years, and he was equally spectacular. Wagner led The High to a 31-3 mark and its first appearance in the NJ TOC title game since 1999-2000. Along the way, he averaged 19.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.5 spg, and 3.3 apg and was named NJ.com Player of the Year. A two-time Gatorade State POY with his senior season left to go, Wagner has led Camden to a 73-4 mark in his three varsity seasons.
G — Chris Livingston, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va) 6-6 Sr.
This talented wing has been one of the best players in his class since he averaged 23.7 ppg as a freshman at Butchel (Akron, Ohio). He would be in similar position, honors-wise, if he stayed in Ohio, but Livingston wanted to challenge himself against better players more similar in size to the defenders he’ll see in college. This competitive big guard was the Warriors’ top offensive threat and also played hard on the defensive end. For the season, Livingston averaged 18.1 ppg, 9.11 rbg and 3.2 apg in leading Oak Hill to a 33-8 mark and No. 8 FAB 50 ranking in Steve Smith’s final season as coach. Smith’s 34th and final McDonald’s All-American, Livingston had 13 points and five assists in the East’s victory over the West and also had a 21-point, 3-steal outing at the Jordan Brand Classic.
F — Ron Holland, Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 6-8 Jr.
Was edged by D.J. Wagner for national junior player of the year, but he would have been a fine selection nonetheless as one of the two big guns on the No. 1 team in the FAB 50. Despite playing on a talented and balanced team that had four players average over 9 ppg, Holland’s individual talent shined on both ends of the floor. As a freshman, Holland came off the bench (4.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg) for a club that was denied a chance at the UIL Class 6A state title because of COVID-19 and last year averaged 13.8 ppg and 10.1 rpg for a 29-1 club that finished No. 10 in the FAB 50. One of the better rebounders in the country, Holland developed into the leading scorer for the Panthers playing alongside McDonald’s All-American and second team All-American selection Anthony Black. Black was named District 11-6A Offensive Player of the Year, but it was Holland who was its overall POY after averaging 15 ppg while shooting 60 percent from the field while adding 8 rpg and 2 spg.
C — Braden Huff, Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) 6-11 Sr.
One of the best and most versatile pivots in the country, Huff beat opponents with an array of offensive moves, defensive smarts and team play. After averaging 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 2.8 apg for a 13-1 team whose 2020-21 season was cut short by COVID-19, big things were expected of Huff and the Hilltoppers in 2021-22. They more than delivered, finishing No. 13 in the FAB 50 with a 37-1 record after starting out at No. 29. Huff was the catalyst, as he averaged 16.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.5 bpg for a team that lost its only game to a nationally-ranked foe at the buzzer. The Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, Huff was also the top vote-getter on the A.P Class 4A All-State Team. He was focused to have a big season, delivered and is now headed to Gonzaga.
G — Donovan Dent, Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 6-2 Sr.
Perhaps no player in the country elevated his All-American candidacy based on his senior year as much as this New Mexico-bound point guard. He was the catalyst for the No. 5 team in the FAB 50 that finished with a 33-1 record and won the program’s first ever CIF Open Division title. Even quality defensive players can’t stay in front of Dent because of his first-step quickness and instincts. Dent averaged 16.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.7 apg and 1.9 spg after leading the team in scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg) as a junior when the Huskies went 21-2 and won their first of two consecutive CIFSS open division titles. The Player of the Year by the Riverside Press Enterprise and L.A. Times, he’s also been named State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.
G — Cameron Whitmore, Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.) 6-7 Sr.
Had an honors-filled career for the Cavaliers and closed his high school career strong on the national all-star circuit. He had 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists at the Jordan Brand Classic and a team-high 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals at the McDonald’s All-American Game. A model of consistency at Archbishop Spalding, Whitmore averaged 21.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.6 spg as a senior after putting up 22.0 ppg and 11.7 rpg game as a junior. The two-time Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year is headed to Villanova.
F — Dillon Mitchell, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-7 Sr.
Similar to Dent, Mitchell was another who elevated his game as a senior after playing at two different Florida programs as an underclassman. The Mr. Basketball panel took notice of his improved play after helping the Eagles finish No. 2 in the FAB 50, as he appeared on five final ballots, including two fourth-place votes. After averaging 12.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 4.4 apg at Sickles (Fla.) as a sophomore, Mitchell helped Bishop McLaughlin (Spring Hill, Fla.) to the Class 3 state final last season by averaging 17.6 ppg and 10.6 rpg. His numbers at MVA were modest, but it was an honors-filled season for one of the most athletic and versatile players in the nation. Mitchell was named MVP of the City of Palms Classic and played well at GEICO Nationals (11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg). He also had nine points, four rebounds and two steals at the McDonald’s All-American game, and led his team to the win and copped MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic with 18 points.
F — Jarace Walker, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 6-6 Sr.
This physical forward has been on the national scene since middle school and we recall him providing a spark off the bench (7.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg) on the Ascenders’ FAB 50 title team as a freshman. He was a terrific defender who did a bit of everything as a sophomore (8.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg), but battled injuries as a junior when he averaged 10.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 3.5 apg. Walker improved his all-around offensive repertoire as a senior while still being physically dominant on both ends of the floor. It resulted in 16.7 ppg (68 percent from the field), 8.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, and 2.2 bpg for a GEICO Nationals semifinalist. He’s headed to Houston.
F — Brandon Miller, Cane Ridge (Nashville, Tenn.) 6-8 Sr.
Draws positive raves for his long-term potential, but backs it up with terrific production for the Ravens. As a junior, Miller led Cane Ridge to the Division I Class AAA state finals by averaging 23.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 2.6 bpg. Individually he was even better in 2021-22, even though the Ravens fell in the state quarterfinals and finished 25-7. Miller averaged 26.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.4 apg and 2.1 spg and was named TSAA Class AAAA Mr. Basketball. He finished with over 2,100 career points.
G — Collin Chandler, Farmington (Utah) 6-5 Sr.
Arguably the biggest snub in the national all-star game selections, Chandler is a high-level athlete, a terrific scorer and fearless competitor. He led Farmington to the second round of the Class 6A state tourney after averaging 21.7 ppg. 4.3 rpg, 2.8 apg and 1.7 spg. For his efforts, the three-time all-state honoree was chosen Gatorade State Player of the Year. He’s headed to BYU and will take a two-year Mormon Mission before enrolling in college in 2024.
G — Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 6-5 Sr.
One of the most explosive players in the country, Bailey is the only repeat first team selection after earning California Mr. Basketball honors as a junior when he averaged 29.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 6.5 apg. He is a talented scorer, but also a capable defender and spark plug on that end of the floor. He drops to fourth five in 2021-22 because he played a fragmented season, averaging 18.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.9 apg in 15 games as Sierra Canyon juggled multiple lineups throughout the season. Bailey closed strong, however, netting 15 points in the Jordan Brand Classic and 10 points apiece in the McDonald’s Game and Nike Hoop Summit.
G — Fletcher Loyer, Homestead (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) 6-4 Sr.
Capped an honors-filled career by earning Gatorade State Player of the Year honors and winning a national 3-point contest during Final Four weekend in Louisiana. The younger brother of Foster Loyer, he joins his older brother as a first team selection, as the Michigan State guard was a first five selection at Clarkston (Mich.) in 2018. Fletcher also started his career at Clarkston, where he started as a freshman and averaged 21.8 ppg as a sophomore. As a junior in his first season at Homestead, Loyer shot at a 50-40-90 clip and finished the season averaging 24.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 4.5 apg. His big senior season saw him average 26.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.6 apg and 2.2 spg for a team that reached the regional semifinals. The Purdue recruit finished with 2,163 career points.
F — Mark Mitchell, Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 6-8 Sr.
After earning underclass All-American honors in each of his three seasons at Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.), this talented left-handed slashing scorer joined a Buffaloes program that competed for the NIBC title. He helped the program spend a majority of the regular season at No. 1 in the FAB 50 by averaging 16.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 2.7 apg. He joins teammate Gradey Dick on first team, as two other NIBC clubs (Montverde Academy, IMG Academy) also had two players honored on first team. Mitchell netted a team-high 19 points in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
C — Donovan Clingan, Bristol Central (Bristol, Conn.) 6-10 Sr.
One of the best players in state history, Clingan capped a stellar four-year career by averaging 30.1 ppg, 18.4 rpg and 6.2 bpg for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Division II champs. Clingan’s in-state dominance included shooting 73 percent on two-point field goals and 33 percent from outside the arc for a 28-0 team. In 2020-21, he led his team to a 15-0 mark and its first Central Connecticut Conference title since 2002-03 by averaging 27.3 ppg, 17.2 rpg and 5.8 bpg. A four-time All-CCC selection, Clingan was a three-time all-state choice and two-time GameTimeCT State Player of the Year. The Connecticut recruit finished with 2,268 career points (No. 7 all-time in CIAC) and set school career marks with 1,518 rebounds and 540 career blocks.
2021-22 All-American Second Team
G — Dylan Andrews, AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) 6-4 Sr.
F — Terrance Arceneaux, Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 6-7 Sr.
G — Mark Armstrong, St. Peter’s Prep (South Orange, N.J.) 6-2 Sr.
F — Tobe Awaka, Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 6-8 Sr.
G — Anthony Black, Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 6-7 Sr.
C — Adem Bona, Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) 6-9 Sr.
F — Darren Buchanan, Wilson (Washington, D.C.) 6-7 Sr.
F — Barry Dunning, McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.) 6-7 Sr.
F — Derrian Ford, Magnolia (Ark.) 6-4 Sr.
F — Taylor Hendricks, Calvary Christian (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 6-9 Sr.
C — Joe Hurlburt, Enderlin Area (Enderlin, N.D.) 6-11 Sr.
F — Jasen Green, Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) 6-8 Sr.
G — Rylan Griffen, Richardson (Texas) 6-4 Sr.
G — Ja’Kwon Hill, Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 6-2 Sr.
G — Trejuan Holloman, Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) 6-2 Sr.
G — Joseph “JoJo” Hunter, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) 6-4 Sr.
G — Ricky “Pop Pop” Isaacs Jr., Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 6-2 Sr.
G — Aidan Mahaney, Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 6-2 Sr.
G — Arterio Morris, Kimball (Dallas, Texas) 6-3 Sr.
F — Tarris Reed, Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) 6-9 Sr.
G — Brice Sensebaugh, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 6-6 Sr.
G — Braden Smith, Westfield (Ind.) 6-1 Sr.
G — J.J. Starling, La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 6-4 Sr.
G — Bruce Thornton, Milton (Ga.) 6-2 Sr.
G — Seth Trimble, Menomonee Falls (Wis.) 6-3 Sr.
F — Jordan Walsh, Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) 6-7 Sr.
C — Kel’el Ware, North Little Rock (Ark.) 7-0 Sr.
G —Tre White, Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) 6-5 Sr.
G — Simeon Wilcher, Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 6-4 Jr.
F — Darrion Williams, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-6 Sr.
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.