2023 McDonald’s All-American Game guide: What to watch for in the all-star recruiting game

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With the 2022-23 Kentucky men’s basketball season now over, all involved with the UK program can begin to shift their focus toward the future.

A milestone moment in that regard will come Tuesday night, when four incoming Kentucky freshmen will put a bow on their high school careers by playing in the 2023 edition of the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards, Reed Sheppard and DJ Wagner are the four future Wildcats who were named Burger Boys.

Kentucky’s fifth incoming freshman for next season, guard Robert Dillingham, was not eligible to be chosen as a McDonald’s All-American because he spent his final high school season at Overtime Elite, a professional basketball league based in Atlanta.

This year’s showcase event — which features 24 of the best boys’ and girls’ players each from around the country — will take place Tuesday at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The McDonald’s All-American boys’ game will air at 9 p.m. on ESPN, with the girls’ game taking place at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Here’s what you need to know for this year’s edition of the prestigious basketball showcase.

Kentucky contingent

Kentucky leads all schools with four All-Americans in the boys’ game: Bradshaw, Edwards, Sheppard and Wagner.

The Wildcats have the consensus No. 1 recruiting class for 2023.

Bradshaw and Wagner both played at Camden (N.J.) High School and gave UK fans in the commonwealth an advance look at what they’ll bring to Lexington during a game they played in early February in Frankfort.

Edwards, who just won a Pennsylvania state championship with Imhotep Institute (Philadelphia), also played in the commonwealth in December.

Sheppard has been a longtime Kentucky high school star and recently wrapped up his high school career with another trip to the state tournament at Rupp Arena with North Laurel.

Sheppard is the first boys’ player from a Kentucky high school to receive a McDonald’s All-American nod since Chane Behanan (Bowling Green) in 2011.

Bradshaw (No. 2), Edwards (No. 3), Wagner (No. 4) and Sheppard (No. 46) all occupy lofty positions on the 247Sports Composite player rankings for 2023 recruits.

Bradshaw, Edwards and Wagner will all be on the East team for Tuesday night’s game. Sheppard will be the lone UK recruit on the West team.

Dillingham is ranked No. 13 in the 247Sports Composite player rankings for 2023 recruits.

North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard (3) makes a pass against George Rogers Clark during a first-round game in Boys’ Sweet 16 state tournament on March 16. Sheppard is the first boys’ basketball player from a Kentucky high school to be named a McDonald’s All-American since 2011.
North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard (3) makes a pass against George Rogers Clark during a first-round game in Boys’ Sweet 16 state tournament on March 16. Sheppard is the first boys’ basketball player from a Kentucky high school to be named a McDonald’s All-American since 2011.

Top 2023 recruit also will be in Houston

Recruiting rankings change frequently during the year, and significantly over the course of a high school prospect’s career.

As things currently sit, the No. 1 player in the 2023 recruiting class — according to the 247Sports Composite — is point guard Isaiah Collier, who will be going to Southern California.

The 6-3, 190-pound Collier was recently named the McDonald’s Morgan Wooten Player of the Year, and boasts significant size and playmaking ability.

Collier is one of three 2023 commits for Southern Cal The Trojans have the No. 12-ranked recruiting class for 2023, according to 247Sports.

Kentucky basketball signee DJ Wagner (21) dribbles the ball during Camden (N.J.) High School’s game against Combine Academy (N.C.) at the William Exum Center at Kentucky State University in Frankfort on Feb. 3.
Kentucky basketball signee DJ Wagner (21) dribbles the ball during Camden (N.J.) High School’s game against Combine Academy (N.C.) at the William Exum Center at Kentucky State University in Frankfort on Feb. 3.

The Bronny James question(s)

Of the 24 boys’ McDonald’s All-Americans set to compete in Tuesday night’s game, only one is yet to announce his college choice or post-prep basketball playing pathway.

That’s Bronny James, the eldest child of LeBron James and a top-35 recruit in the 2023 class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

James’ recruitment has been notoriously kept under wraps, and it remains to be seen what James plans to do following his high school career at Sierra Canyon (California).

Ohio State, Oregon and Southern Cal are viewed as some of the favorite schools to potentially land James if he opts to play college basketball.

James won’t be participating in any media interviews during the week’s festivities in Houston.

2023 McDonald’s girls’ game

There will be no future Kentucky Wildcats or Louisville Cardinals in the McDonald’s All-American girls’ game Tuesday night, nor are there any players who play high school basketball in Kentucky.

This likely won’t be the case in the near future, though.

According to the ESPN HoopGurlz rankings, the class of 2025 features two players from the commonwealth that are ranked among the top 20 players in the class: ZaKiyah Johnson (Sacred Heart guard) and Leah Macy (Mercy forward).

For 2023 though, the SEC commitments in the girls’ McDonald’s All-American Game are as follows:

Essence Cody (post-Alabama).

Aalyah Del Rosario (post-LSU).

Milaysia Fulwiley (guard-South Carolina).

Tessa Johnson (guard-South Carolina).

Laila Reynolds (guard-Florida).

Taliah Scott (guard-Arkansas).

Mikaylah Williams (guard-LSU).

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