2012 Powerade Jam Fest Recap
Chicago shows love to the 2012 McDonald’s All-Americans.
by Bryan Crawford / @_bryancrawford
The Powerade Jam Fest is the official kick-off to the annual McDonald’s All-American Game and, returning for its second consecutive year in Chicago, the event drew a capacity crowd in the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center in Hyde Park.
Last year’s event was held at Chicago State University’s basketball arena, a facility that seats 5.500. The Ratner Center seats 1,658 and the place was rocking against an impressive (and massive) backdrop of former McDonald’s All-American’s LeBron James, Maya Moore, Kevin Durant, Candace Parker, Chris Paul and hometown hero, Derrick Rose. Fans were entertained with music, hilarious commentary from Chicago’s hottest morning DJs, Leon Rogers and Tony Sculfield, and watching this year’s collection of the best boys’ and girls’ high school basketball players show off their skills in their version of All-Star Weekend.
The qualifying rounds of both the girls’ and boys’ three-point shooting competition started slowly as neither side showed the sense of urgency. Three contestants didn’t get through all of the racks and, for those who did, it almost always came down to the last two shots being rushed in an attempt to beat the clock.
On the girls’ side, Notre Dame signee Michaela Mabry and her Rapunzel-like hair put up 16 points in the first round. Not to be outdone, Alexis Prince, who will play next year at Baylor, matched Mabry’s 16 with one of her own. Morgan Tuck from nearby Bolingbrook, a suburb of Chicago, backed into the final round with 11 points, edging Jordan Adams (USC), Jordan Jones (Texas A&M), and another local standout, Jewell Lloyd (Notre Dame) from suburban Lincolnwood, IL.
But the last shall be first as Tuck immediately set the tone in the final round, putting up 17 points which ultimately proved to be enough to win the competition.
Mabry struggled through the first three and half racks but then caught fire and made six of the last seven shots she took. But the last miss proved costly as it was the two-point money ball, which could’ve put her in a tie for the lead. Alexis Prince cooled off a bit and only put up 13 points in the final round.
The first round of the boys’ three-point contest was littered with low-scoring outputs as five of the seven contestants couldn’t crack double digits, including the first three competitors. The energy picked up a bit when the future North Carolina Tar Heel, Marcus Paige, dropped 16 points, a great reprieve from 9 points, 7 points and 7 points. After two more lackluster performances of 6 points and 7 points, Duke signee Rasheed Sulaimon quickly became the crowd favorite to win it all as he registered 14 points, burying the last four shots on the rack. Memphis Tiger signee William “Shaq” Goodwin advanced to the finals with the 9 first-round points.
Once again Sulaimon set the tone in the finals, as he scored an improbable 18 points after making no shots on the first rack then getting hot and burying 14 consecutive shots over his next three racks which included draining three money balls. It would prove to be too much for both Paige (11 points) and Goodwin (7 points) to overcome and Coach K’s newest threat from long-range took home the trophy.
The Skills Competition carried its own brand of excitement if you like to see players showcase their ball handling, passing and shooting.
The qualifying rounds of both the boys’ and girls’ competitions saw some pretty good scores in terms of time. But the slowest time on the boys’ side came from Kyle Anderson who is committed to play ball next year at UCLA. He completed the course in 46.1 seconds. Of course if you’ve seen Anderson play and are familiar with his game, you know that everything he does is slow and methodical. Ironically enough, Nirra Fields who, like Anderson, will also play collegiately for the Bruins next year, put up the slowest time on the girls’ side, completing the course in 1:08. She had trouble knocking down the jump shot at the top of the key and also struggled with her passing as well.
Qualifying for the girls’ final was Alexis Jones (Duke) who completed the course in 38.9 seconds, Niya Johnson (Baylor) had a time of 36 seconds and Jordan Jones (Texas A&M) with a time of 32.4 seconds, which could’ve been faster had she not blown the finishing layup.
Qualifying for the boys was Amile Jefferson from Philly who has yet to decide where he’ll play his college ball. He registered a time of 33.5 seconds. Tyler Lewis, the diminutive guard from Oak Hill Academy who’ll play collegiately at North Carolina State in the fall, tied with Jefferson with a time of 33.5 seconds, and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell—the purest PG prospect seen by these eyes in a long time and signed to play for Indiana next year—finished the course in 30.3 seconds and went 100 percent as made every pass and shot he attempted the first time out.
The girl’s final was exciting as Alexis Jones set the pace at 30.7 seconds, and Niya Johnson followed up by besting her with a time of 29.2 seconds. As the final competitor, Jordan Jones had all the pressure to win squarely on her shoulders. She did not disappoint as she took home the trophy with a time of 28.5 seconds, in a thrilling final that had everyone in attendance on their feet and cheering her on.
The boy’s final had a similarly thrilling ending.
After the aforementioned Jefferson struggled through the final round with a time of 45 seconds, Tyler Lewis stepped up and registered a time of 31.2 seconds, setting up Ferrell to try and come through like Jordan Jones… and he almost did. Yogi got through the first three stations fairly quickly but once he got to the fourth station—the top of the key jumper—he missed his first couple of shots which set him back a few seconds and he finished with a final time of 33.1 seconds, making Tyler Lewis the 2012 champion.
The final event—the one everyone came to see—was the slam dunk contest.
SLAM HS diarist, Shabazz Muhammad, who’s still undecided, took home the trophy by registering perfect scores on each of his dunks including one where he jumped over Marcus Paige, who will play ball next year for Roy Williams and North Carolina. After the first couple of unsuccessful attempts, Muhammad threw it down to a standing ovation from the crowd.
There were also nice dunks from Marcus Smart, Archie Goodwin and Anthony Bennett, who was robbed by the judges when he received him 63 points on a reverse windmill jam off the lob.
Also receiving a standing ovation were all of the girls who participated in the dunk contest with UConn signee Breanna Stewart receiving a standing ovation for being the only young lady in the contest to actually complete a dunk. Brittney Sykes—the shortest female competitor—who’s going to Syracuse, came very close.
It was once again a successful evening for Powerade, McDonald’s and newcomer, adidas, who has the apparel licensing, as everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed themselves, setting up Wednesday night’s game nicely.