The final, expanded 2018-19 Mr. Basketball USA ballots are in and after they are tallied, there is a clear-cut top candidate. Washington-bound power forward Isaiah Stewart of FAB 50 power La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) out paces explosive point guard Cole Anthony of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia with 93 overall points out of 100. Besides Anthony, the candidates that received at least one second-place vote are Memphis-bound James Wiseman, Arizona-bound Nino Mannion, Georgia-bound Anthony Edwards, and juniors Evan Mobley and Sharife Cooper.
Over the years, there have been two tried and true factors in determining individual accolades in elite high school basketball. Those two factors are on-court production and winning and this is clearly reflected in the results of the final 2018-19 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com.
Isaiah Stewart, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, led La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) to a perfect 28-0 regular season mark and a No. 3 finish in the FAB 50 with a 30-1 overall mark. Stewart closed strong and the national all-star game circuit clearly helped his candidacy after he trailed point guard Cole Anthony of national power Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) by four points (84 to 80) in the previous Mr. Basketball USA Tracker.
Stewart went from two first place votes (10 points are awarded for a first place vote) in the second-to-last tracker to leading the pack with six first place votes and two second place votes to out-pace Anthony. The North Carolina-bound point guard finished with four first place votes, one second place vote and 84 overall points, nine less than the Pac-12’s premier 2018-19 recruit. Stewart and Anthony were the only candidates to appear on all 10 panelists’ ballots.
In addition to the talent and production level of Stewart and Anthony, two other happenings shaped this season’s national player of the year race. They were the injuries to Duke-bound big man Vernon Carey Jr., last year’s National Junior Player of the Year from University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and the emergence of juniors Evan Mobley and Sharife Cooper. Carey was third in last season’s final tracker behind eventual Mr. Basketball honoree R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson. After missing the state championship game, the University School standout also did not play in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic because of a bothersome ankle injury. In this year’s final balloting, Carey appeared on only five ballots and finished with only one vote higher than sixth place for 25 total points.
Mobley, a seven-foot junior from Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.), was the leading candidate along with Anthony at one point during the 2018-19 season. Cooper, meanwhile, built his resume all season long as the catalyst for a McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) team that finished 32-0 and No. 2 in the FAB 50. Against tough competition, including victories over eight teams that finished FAB 50 ranked, Cooper averaged 28.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 8.2 apg, and 4.0 spg while going over 40 points four times. His production was rewarded, as Cooper received one second place vote and finished with 38 points while appearing on nine ballots. It seems, however, that McEachern’s absence from GEICO Nationals and not being able to evaluate Cooper (and to an extent Mobley) against some of the other top national player of the year candidates on the all-star circuit hurt his candidacy.
GEICO Nationals and the post-season all-star games is where Stewart took advantage of his opportunity. The powerfully built “traditional four” averaged 17.7 ppg and 10.0 rpg as La Lu advanced to the championship game, where if fell to eventual FAB 50 No. 1 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). In the GEICO Nationals semifinals, Stewart had 14 points and 16 rebounds as La Lumiere defeated Anthony and Oak Hill Academy, 58-57, in a game in which Anthony missed 12 of his 16 shots from the field and finished with 11 points.
On the season, Stewart averaged 18.1 ppg, 11.3 rpg and over 3 blocks while shooting 60 percent from the field. Anthony averaged 18.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 10.2 apg and led Oak Hill to a 33-5 record.
Anthony turned in MVP performances at McDonald’s, Jordan Brand Classic as well as the Nike Hoop Summit. Stewart was also Impressive at McDonald’s (16 points, 8-11 FG, 5 rebounds) and Jordan Brand Classic (16 points, 9 rebounds) drawing raves from peers and coaches alike.
“Isaiah Stewart gets the No. 1 ranking, as he stepped and did it when it counted,” said panelist Clark Francis of the Hoop Scoop. “That’s what good players are supposed to do. Does he have the most potential in his class? Maybe not, but baed on merit he’s the only guy that stepped up and deserved it over Evan Mobley.”
In all, 24 candidates earned recognition as a national player of the year candidate in the final, expanded tracker. The panel has made it clear, however, that this year’s eventual Mr. Basketball USA honoree will emerge from the two most productive players when combining all the elements that make up a single season (regular season, post-season, GIECO Nationals, all-star events).
Editor’s Note: Click on the “+” sign next to each player’s number to view how many first, second, third or fourth place votes he got and his overall point total. Preseason tracker results are also listed (“Prev.”).
|1||2||Isaiah Stewart (10)||La Lumiere (IN)||6||2||1||1||93|
|2||1||Cole Anthony (10)||Oak Hill (VA)||4||1||2||1||84|
|3||3||Evan Mobley (8)||Rancho Christian (CA)||0||2||2||2||55|
|4||4||James Wiseman (9)||Memphis East (TN)||0||2||1||2||54|
|5||5||Anthony Edwards (8)||Holy Spirit (GA)||0||1||1||1||44|
|6||8||Sharife Cooper (9)||McEachern (GA)||0||1||0||0||38|
|7||7||Scottie Lewis (8)||Ranney School (NJ)||0||0||1||0||35|
|8||6||Vernon Carey (5)||University School (FL)||0||0||1||0||25|
|9||9||Precious Achiuwa (7)||Montverde Academy (FL)||0||0||0||0||22|
|10||10T||Onyeka Okongwu (4)||Chino Hills (CA)||0||0||0||1||18|
|11||10T||Nico Mannion (3)||Pinnacle (AZ)||0||1||0||0||17|
|12T||12||Cade Cunningham (3)||Montverde Academy (FL)||0||0||0||0||11|
|12T||14||Trendon Watford (1)||Mountain Brook (AL)||0||0||1||0||11|
|14||NR||Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (2)||IMG Academy (FL)||0||0||1||0||9|
|15||NR||Armando Bacot (1)||IMG Academy (FL)||0||0||0||1||7|
|16T||NR||Jalen Johnson (2)||Nicolet (WI)||0||0||0||0||6|
|16T||NR||Jaden McDaniels (1)||Federal Way (WA)||0||0||0||0||6|
|18||NR||Greg Brown (1)||Vandegrift (TX)||0||0||0||0||5|
|19T||NR||Patrick Baldwin (1)||Hamilton (WI)||0||0||0||0||3|
|19T||NR||R.J. Hampton||Little Elm (TX)||0||0||0||0||3|
|21T||NR||Jonathan Kuminga (1)||Our Savior (NY)||0||0||0||0||2|
|21T||16T||Khalil Whitney (1)||Roselle Catholic (NJ)||0||0||0||0||2|
|23T||15||Jalen Green (1)||San Joaquin Memorial (CA)||0||0||0||0||1|
|23T||16T||Dashien Nix (1)||Simply Fundamental (NV)||0||0||0||0||1|
2018-19 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Paul Biancardi, ESPN National Director of Basketball Recruiting
Frank Burlison, BurlisonOnBasketball.com Publisher
Van Coleman, TheBasketballChannel.net VP of Content
Ronnie Flores, Ballislife.com National Grassroots Editor
Clark Francis, Hoop Scoop Editor & Publisher
Bob Gibbons, All-Star Sports
Jerry Meyer, 247Sports.com Director of Scouting
Scott Phillips, NBC Sports National College Basketball Writer
Patrick Stanwood, Patrick Stanwood Basketball
Dinos Trigonis, Fullcourt Press Editor & Publisher
About Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Ballislife.com’s panel of 10 experts, which includes six McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in the previous tracker.