Last year just three underclassmen occupied spots on the inaugural SI All-American teams, pushing seniors out of contention as a result of their undeniable dominance on the court.
On Monday, SI released its list of the 50 finalists still duking it out for a spot on one of the three All-American teams which will be announced next month.
Of the 50, five underclassmen remain in contention.
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Skyy Clark, Ensworth (Nashville, Tenn.), CG, 2022
Why He Made the Cut: Clark moved from California to Tennessee last summer and managed to elevate his game and production with a new team. Clark averaged 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists a game for the Eagles before he recently made the decision to shut down his season as a cautionary measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clark’s dominance was a carryover from the summer and fall when he dominated against other elite players at select tournaments.
Emoni Bates, Ypsi Prep (Ypsilanti, Mich.), SF, 2022
College: Michigan State
Why He Made the Cut: Bates is the only underclassmen on the list who made the SI All-American team last year. This season, Bates is averaging more than 30 points a game against an impressive slate of competition. His consistency is impressive considering he’s worn “the next big thing” label for three years and lived up to the hype.
Jalen Duren, Montverde (Fla.) Academy, F, 2022
Why He Made the Cut: Duren is the best player on the best team in the country, and he’s managed to dominate this season despite playing on a roster loaded with high major Division I talent. Duren is pumping in 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks a game for the Eagles. He’s consistently been one of the most dominant low post threats on both ends of the floor all season.
Scoot Henderson, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), PG, 2022
Why He Made the Cut: Henderson is obliterating the competition this season to the tune of 31 points, five rebounds and six assists a game. Whether equally elite or unranked and off the national radar, Henderson has dominated all comers this season. He broke his school’s single-game scoring record with a 53-point performance in January and also became Kell’s all-time leading scorer.
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D.J. Wagner, Camden (N.J.), PG, 2023
Why He Made the Cut: Wagner is the only sophomore to make the final list, but his play this season has been more reminiscent of a seasoned veteran, averaging 22 points and six assists a game for the top team in New Jersey. Wagner’s squad is riding a 36-game winning streak dating back to last season. Wagner has great pedigree as the son of former McDonald’s All American DaJuan Wagner and grandson of Milt Wagner, a McDonald’s All American who won an NCAA title at Louisville and an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers.