The inaugural SI All-American Boys Basketball Team features 15 of the top high school basketball players in the country broken up into three teams who have displayed exceptional dominance during the high school season. Each player has exhibited a level of play this season that will make them a household name at the next level and beyond.
Prospect: Paolo Banchero
Status: SI All-American Third Team
Vitals: 6-foot-10, 235 pounds
School: O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.)
Schools of Interest: Washington, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, among many others
Why He’s an SI All-American: Banchero followed up a state title run as a sophomore with summer dominance that earned him Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Underclassmen of the Year honors. Banchro led Seattle Rotary averaging 21.8 points, 2.4 blocks and a league-high 11.2 rebounds a game. This past season he led O’Dea back to the state title game, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks a game for the Fighting Irish who finished 23-6.
Offensively, Banchero is a workhorse in the paint, keeping defenders off balance with the ability to knock down short jump shots and maneuver past slower bigs. He scores well with his back to the basket and has effective go-to moves to get better looks at high-percentage shots. He’s quicker than most opposing post players and his big frame allows his to finish through contact. He’s capable of handling the ball and creating for himself, but also igniting the break off of a defensive rebound. His motor and timing enable him to be an effective rebounder and rim protector.
What He Said: “I grew up reading Sports Illustrated so this means a lot. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work my whole life and to see it pay off in this way is motivating and humbling.”