The 2023 boys McDonald’s All-American Game has some obvious points of intrigue as the top high school basketball players in the country come to Houston for the annual All-Star showcase. This has long been considered a star-making event as the last chance for players to make impressions before the final recruiting rankings are locked in. Having NBA scouts in the gym only raises the stakes and the level of play during practice sessions, which can be more meaningful than the game itself.
The big question coming into this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game is the race for the No. 1 overall player. There is typically a consensus choice for the best player in the class by the time the All-Star circuit arrives, but that’s not the case this season. ESPN has Philadelphia-bred wing Justin Edwards at No. 1, 247 Sports has Atlanta-based point guard Isaiah Collier in the top spot, and On3 has Arizona native Cody Williams ranked first in the class. Will anyone stand out and solidify themselves as the No. 1 prospect during the week?
Beyond that, everyone else is wondering what’s next for Bronny James. James was selected for the McDonald’s Game and still hasn’t made his decision on where he’ll play next, though most expect he’ll go the college route.
Here’s an introduction to the 2023 boys McDonald’s All-Americans.
Who’s No. 1?
Here’s a look at five front-runners to be the No. 1 player in the class (and potentially the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft). Each player has their college or pro commitment next to their name.
Matas Buzelis, G/F, G League Ignite: At 6’9 or 6’10, Buzelis is a big forward who can handle the ball like a guard and make plays as both a scorer and passer. He has advanced ball handling ability for his size, and will earn the ‘point-forward’ label as he makes some flashy passes, especially in the open floor. Buzelis’s shooting is a question mark at this point: he has a long, slow release, and his high school percentages have been mediocre at times. Scouts will get a good look at if he can compete physically next season when he becomes the new star of the G League Ignite after bypassing offers from college basketball’s heavy hitters.
Ron Holland, F, Texas: Holland has the positional size, athleticism, winning pedigree, and two-way proficiency to matchup with anyone in this class. A 6’8 wing, Holland has tremendous speed, quickness, and leaping ability that he leverages to score at the rim on offense and lock down a variety of assignments defensively. He’s had a winning impact at every stop, helping lead Duncanville High School in Texas to multiple state championships while also winning two gold medals with USA Basketball over the summers. Scouts will wonder if he has the takeover scoring ability typically associated with a No. 1 overall player, but Holland’s high-motor and well-rounded skill set at both ends of the floor makes him an intriguing bet at the top of the class.
D.J. Wagner, G, Kentucky: Wagner has long been considered at or near the top of this class for his scoring ability and famous bloodlines. A third-generation McDonald’s All-American as the son of Dajuan Wagner and grandson of Milt Wagner, D.J. is a 6’3 combo guard who has impressive burst as a driver and tough shot-making ability. The hope is that John Calipari will put the ball in his hands at Kentucky, and pro scouts will be able to see how he balances a high-usage blend of scoring and playmaking. Wagner needs to prove he has the decision-making skills to be a primary option. Where his jump shot is at — both off the dribble and on spot-ups — will also be fascinating to monitor. Wagner is probably the biggest name in this class and should have every opportunity to prove he’s still its best player.
Isaiah Collier, G, USC: Collier is a big guard with an advanced feel for the game who can make every pass in the book. At 6’3 with broad shoulders and a solid build, Collier uses his size and strength to run pick-and-roll, keep defenders “in jail,” and pressure the defense with his passing ability. While he lacks elite athleticism, he can often bully smaller guards to the basket and continues to refine his finishing craft. The big question is his jump shot: Collier seems solid on his mid-range pull-up, but he’ll have to prove he has range beyond the three-point line to be the first pick. For now, there’s no better facilitator in the class and that makes him easy to project at both the college and NBA levels.
Justin Edwards, F, Kentucky: A 6’7 wing out of Philly, Edwards feels like he should be an instant-impact producer at Kentucky, in part because he’s older than most of his peers (he’ll turn 20 in Dec. of his freshman year). The lefty has a smooth mid-range pull-up game that has won him plenty of fans, and he has the size and burst to get downhill, too. If he shoots a good ball from three, it’s easy to see him as a top-10 or even top-5 pick in 2024 despite his age a la Brandon Miller.
Where does Bronny James fall in?
James finally stepped into a primary option role as a senior at Sierra Canyon this season, and minted himself as a worthy McDonald’s All-American and borderline five-star recruit. You would never know the 6’3 guard is the son of an all-time great from watching him play: James plays a truly egoless game where he’s happy to take on tough defensive assignments, fight for 50/50 balls, space the floor, and attack the hoop in transition. He’s rarely put up spectacular scoring numbers or operated at ultra-high usage during his high school career, but that’s okay: James profiles as the sort of winning role player any superstar would want to play with for his ability to do the dirty work out on the perimeter. Check out our deep dive into James’ game following his junior season.
No one is sure of what James will do after high school, but most indications are he wants to play college basketball rather than pursuing pro options. USC and UCLA have been mentioned as hometown schools, while Oregon makes sense for the Nike connections with his father. Wherever Bronny goes, he should make a winning impact as an athletic two-way guard even if he isn’t putting up big scoring nights every game.
Cody Williams is the fastest-riser because of his NBA brother
Jalen Williams has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this season after the Oklahoma City Thunder selected him at No. 12 overall following a standout three-year college career at Santa Clara. College evaluators who let Williams slip to the mid-major level were determined not to do the same thing with his younger brother Cody Williams. Jalen’s rise into a lottery pick and stud rookie sure seems to have helped his brother, who is suddenly the fastest-rising prospect in his high school class.
Cody Williams was ranked around No. 80 in his class after his junior year at Perry High School in Arizona, according to Rivals. By the time he committed to Colorado, he was ranked No. 42 in his class. Now Williams is being projected as the No. 2 overall pick ESPN’s early 2024 NBA mock draft.
Williams has a great frame for a wing at 6’8 with long arms (his brother measured at 6’6 with a 7’2 wingspan). He’s comfortable handling and passing the ball on the perimeter, and has shown improved finishing craft near the basket. His three-point shot has been streaky to this point, and will certainly be a big factor in his long-term evaluation. It’s tough to know what to make of such a fast riser so late in the process, but Williams certainly won’t be flying under the radar like his big brother did.
Who else stands out in this class?
Jared McCain, G, Duke: After a standout high school career at Los Angeles’ Centennial High, McCain feels ready to be an instant-impact freshman at Duke. The 6’2 guard isn’t an elite athlete or the flashiest passer, but he’s a well-rounded guard who can take care of the ball while also flashing connective passing traits and knockdown shooting ability. McCain felt like the best three-point shooter in the class even before he won the McDonald’s three-point contest.
Omaha Biliew, F, Iowa State: The highest ranked recruit from the state of Iowa since Harrison Barnes, Biliew is a high-motor 6’8 wing who projects as one of the most versatile defenders in the class. He has a great frame to make a defensive impact with long arms, a strong base, and some perimeter quickness. SB Nation evaluated Biliew up close during a game at Waukee High School, and his three-point shot looked better than advertised. While he may not have a super deep scoring bag yet, Biliew fits into almost any lineup with his size, effort, and defensive ability as long as his spot-up jumpers are falling.
Aaron Bradshaw, C, Kentucky: Super tantalizing 7-footer with flashes of perimeter skill who needs to be more physically imposing on a consistent basis. Bradshaw looks the part defensively with good athletic fluidity on the perimeter while also showing rim protection skills. Offensively, he shoots a good ball with impressive range, but may settle for jumpers a little too much. This is a new-school big man who is just scratching the surface of his long-term potential.
Stephon Castle, G, UConn: Castle is huge for a guard at 6’6 and maybe even bigger. He’s more comfortable playing on the ball than off it at this point, both because he can overwhelm traditional point guards with his size and because he still struggles to shoot from the outside. He’s shown an impressive ability to score in the paint and set up teammates so far, and he should be a plus defender with his tools. UConn is adding another high impact piece to an already loaded team.
Mackenzie Mgbako, F, Duke: Mgbako is a 6’8 forward from New Jersey with tough shot-making ability and a solid if not elite blend of size and athleticism for combo forward. He has a soft jumper from mid-range and at times can get hot from three. While he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, he can take on a variety of matchups defensively and also contribute on the glass.
2023 boys McDonald’s All-American Game roster
How to watch the 2023 McDonald’s All-American Game
Date: Tuesday, March 28
TV: ESPN and ESPN 2
Girls game start: 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Boys game start: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Stream: Watch ESPN
Both games will be played at Toyota Center in Houston, and can be streamed on Watch ESPN.