Dereck Lively can vividly recall watching James Wiseman dunking balls and taking names in the McDonald’s All American Game in 2019. Lively also watched Duke’s dominant quartet of Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett in 2018 and he always thought it was cool to see the different YouTube clips of the players visiting the Ronald McDonald House during the week of the game.
“I just wanted to be a part of it all,” said Lively, a center at Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.), who is ranked No. 1 overall in the SI99. “Definitely one of my goals.”
On Tuesday, Lively and 23 of the top players in the country learned that it’s finally a goal they can cross off their vision boards as they prepare to converge on Wintrust Arena in Chicago on March 29 for the McDonald’s All American Game.
All 24 of the players named to this year’s roster were represented in the SI99.
The game had been cancelled for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while in-person games are being planned this year, McDonald’s said in a statement that they’re “closely monitoring COVID-19 and consulting with medical experts.”
“This is such an honor to be a part of the McDonald’s game,” Lively said. “I’ve worked really hard, and it just shows you what hard work and dedication can get you.”
Florida leads the way among states represented with six, while California and Texas boast four apiece. Among colleges, Duke and Kansas lead the way with three apiece, while UCLA, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas each have two.
Duncanville (Texas) point guard Anthony Black is the lone undecided prospect among the All Americans.
"All of us have put in the work to be the best and this is just a testament to that," Lively said. "It's something that we can all be proud of. It'd definitely something I'll celebrate."
To that end, Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) shooting guard MJ Rice plans to celebrate in the most fitting way.
He’s been on a clean eating regimen since August as he prepared for the grueling season ahead, dropping 15 pounds and adding lean muscle which he said has been a major catalyst to his dominant senior season for the Crew.
That said, he’s looking forward to a cheat meal this evening to commemorate his induction into the prestigious list of high school basketball stars who can call themselves McDonald’s All Americans.
“I’m either gonna get a Big Mac meal or two McChicken sandwiches and a large fry!” Rice said. “I mean it’s only right. I’m definitely excited and honored to be a McDonald’s All American. For me, it’s a blessing and I’m truly thankful, but the way I’m wired this will just make me take my work up a notch. That’s the real win right there.”
2022 McDonald’s All American Roster (Alphabetical Order)