DENVER, Colo. - All American games are intended to show off the talent of the senior class’s top players. Events like the Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago and the WBCA All-American game Saturday in Denver brought together 2012’s elite but there may be some question about whether or not folks on hand saw their best.
The McDonald’s game was well played and competitive with neither team posting 20 turnovers and generally avoiding the pot holes the usually come with all-star basketball. The WBCA game…well, not so much. No doubt there were plenty of moments and individual plays but it was hardly the kind game that would keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next big play. The Navy squad, led by team MVP Jewell Loyd’s (Lincolnwood, Ill.) 18 points got the win over White team and their MVP Nicole Kornet (Lantana, Texas) by a final score of 74 - 62.
Despite 14 first half turnovers the White team jumped out to a 44 – 27 halftime margin behind the Notre Dame bound Loyd who shot 5 of 7 for the half including 4 for 6 from three point range. Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook, Ill.) added six of her own with 3 for 4 shooting while Jonquel Jones (Ellicott City, Md.) and Michaele Mabrey (Holmdel, N.J.) chipped in six each as well. The Navy struggled to find the range in the first twenty minutes making just 10 of their 42 attempts and not one player registering double digits for the half.
The White team continued to turn it over in the second period but this time the frost was off the Navy rim as they were able to close the gap. Shooting 42 percent from the floor was a considerable step up from their poor first half effort and it did allow them to outscore the White 35 – 30 over the course of the second period. However, they weren’t the only ones to warm up as the White went an impressive 12 for 25 to hold off several runs from the Navy and post the final 12 point difference.
White MVP Loyd gave a glimpse of her dynamic and versatile game to some of the Notre Dame faithful on hand to watch their Irish in the NCAA Final Four. Scoring both off the drive as well as from long range she demonstrated explosive athleticism combined with smooth body control. She finished the night 6 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 8 from long range. Loyd was joined by fellow teammates Jones and Breanna Stewart (North Syracuse, N.Y.) in double figures with 14 and 10 respectively. Clemson signee Jones continues to show the advancements in her game that had folks talking last summer and this past December at the Nike Tournament of Champions. Everybody’s consensus player of the year and UConn commit Stewart got 6 of her 10 points at the line on perfect free throw shooting and had her usual impact defensively with 4 blocks.
MVP Kornet, a future Oklahoma Sooner, was one of three double figure scorers for the Navy team. UCLA bound Nirra Fields (Los Angeles, Calif.) followed up her 20 point McDonald’s performance with 14 to lead the way but also turned the ball over four times. Kornet was next with 12 followed by Duke signee Alexis Jones (Irving, Texas) with 11 of her own. Kornet and Jones combined to shoot just 8 of 27 from the floor and an ice cold 1 of 11 from behind the arch. Both still had some impressive moments with their ability to score both off the drive and from the perimeter.
Four players participated in the WBCA game that were not part of the McDonald’s event. Previously mentioned Nicole Kornet and Jonquel Jones as well as Tierney Pfirman (Williamsport, Pa.), and Jasmine Jones (Madison, Ala.) joined 15 of the 23 who had played Wednesday night. Pfirman is heading for the University of Maryland while Jasmine Jones will be calling Knoxville and the University of Tennessee home.
Both groups played the WBCA game with a much more relaxed and somewhat less intense approach than they did just three days before in Chicago. With six players headed to the Big East, five to the ACC and three each to the SEC and Big 12, you would have expected something special. Whether it was the fact that the McDonald’s game was broadcast on ESPN and the WBCA game was not, the travel schedule, the altitude or just sitting through the open practices of the Final Four teams prior to the game, it wasn’t their best effort. The talent is definitely All-American but their play in Denver simply was not up to the same standard.
Mark Lewis is a national evaluator and photographer for Blue Star Basketball as well as the lead columnist for Blue Star Media. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 Division I assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Washington State. Lewis also serves as a member of the prestigious McDonald’s All-American selection committee.