Now in its 13th year, the McDonald's high school all-star basketball game is several things rolled into one. It's a promotion: Indianapolis was awash in golden arches last week. It's a benefit: Gate receipts from Sunday's game at Market Square Arena went to charity. It's a reward: The 20 McD's All-Americas got new sweat suits and sneakers and an excuse to blow off a week or so of school.
What the game is not is an occasion to swing the ball around and milk the shot clock. As the players fast-broke, alley-ooped and whipped the crowd of 12,033 into a frenzy with slam after thunderous slam, it was clear that they understood what was expected of them. As Duke signee Grant Hill, a 6'8" scoring machine from Reston, Va., said, "These people came here to see offense. They want dazzling passes and slam dunks. It's our duty to provide them."
Clearly, the East squad was better equipped to attend to its duties. With its greyhound guards—three of them from New York City—creating turnovers and cuing up fast breaks, the East romped 115-104. One of the New Yorkers, future Arizona Wildcat Khalid Reeves, was the East's MVP, with 10 steals and 22 points.
In addition to buttressing New York's claim that it begets more blue-chip guards than any other city, the game was a national TV coming-out party for three players at least seven feet tall:
•Shawn Bradley, a 7'6", 215-pound farm boy from Castle Dale, Utah, was the top surprise. "I thought he'd be sorry," said Michael Smith, a Providence Friar-to-be from Dunbar High in Baltimore. "But he can run, and he's got a nice jumper."
Besides contributing 12 points and 10 rebounds, Bradley, the McD co-MVP with Reeves, had six blocks and forced opponents to alter countless other shots. Bradley also plays golf and tennis, water-skis and, until this season, played first base for Emery County High. He batted .407 as a junior and, remarkably, even drew a walk. He'll enroll at BYU.
•Befitting his square jaw and crew cut, 7'½" Eric Montross of Lawrence North High in Indianapolis plays a hard-nosed inside game that brims with sturdy virtues—witness the four stitches he took over his left eye following a scrimmage earlier in the week. Yet as Montross was introduced on Sunday, he heard a smattering of boos. They were his reward for choosing an out-of-state college: He'll attend North Carolina, along with three other McDonald's All-Americas.
•The East's answer to Bradley and Montross was Luther Wright, a 7'2", 300-pounder from Elizabeth, N.J. Wright chose Seton Hall so that he could remain close to his mother, Mae. Sure, Wright flung up a few bowling balls on Sunday. No matter—normally he has a much softer touch. And yes, as Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo says, "He'll need to redistribute some of that weight."
In scrimmages during the week, Wright swatted Bradley around as if Bradley were a noisome insect. Mindful of this, the West coaches had Montross guard Wright on Sunday and assigned Bradley to Wake Forest-bound Rodney Rogers, a 6'7½", 230-pounder who calls to mind a lardless Charles Barkley. The game was close at intermission, largely because Rogers had been quiet. However, when he got going late in the second half, the paint became Mr. Rogers' neighborhood. In fact, the East's final three baskets were recorded thusly on the play-by-play sheet:
Rogers Slam Dunk
Rogers Slam Dunk (Autry)
Steal—Rogers, Rogers Slam Dunk.
Then the horn sounded, and Rogers was mobbed by members of both teams. The final dunk, a 360-degree job, may have seemed a bit gratuitous, but Rogers was only doing his duty.
The 7'6" Bradley may not have the beef, but he's a fierce shot blocker with a good touch.