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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / May 22.
  • McDonald’s All Americans Prepare to Join Forces Next Year at Duke, Kansas and other top programs

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    CHICAGO – The 2022 McDonald’s All American Game on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) will feature players committed to some of the top schools in the country, including Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, among others.

    With the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2022, Duke has three commits in this year’s McDonald’s All American Game – Dereck Lively II, Dariq Whitehead and Mark Mitchell.

    “It definitely is really exciting knowing that I’m playing with some of my future teammates,” said Lively, who took home the 2022 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Award Monday.

    The 7-foot-1, 220-pound center from Westtown (PA) School, is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2022.

    Meanwhile, Whitehead, the 6-foot-6, 190-pound small forward from Montverde (FL) Academy, says the group of Duke commits has been in contact every day.

    “The fans can definitely expect a class that’s going to come in and give it all they’ve got,” Whitehead said. “Being a young class, a lot of people doubt us and say there’s a lot of things we can’t do or we’re going to be too young to get it done, but I feel like this class has been through a lot and we’re really going to be battle-tested. I feel like we can come in and people can expect us to give it all we’ve got every game and hopefully we’ll win a national championship.”

    Whitehead says the group is looking to take some of the pressure off head-coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer in his first season as head coach.

    “We all talked amongst each other and decided that’s something we can do to take the pressure off him, come in, make sure we have a great first year and god-willing, we win a national championship,” he said.

    Mitchell, the 6-foot-8, 205-pound small forward from Sunrise Christian (KS) Academy, gave fans a preview of next year’s Duke recruiting class.

    You’re going to see a dynamic group next year,” Mitchell said. “We’re all versatile. We’re not one position-type players. It’s definitely going to bring another dimension to what we can do on the court.”

    Mitchell says the Duke 2022 recruiting class is taking pride in being the first class after coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s retirement.

    “We’re going to keep Duke basketball where it’s at and keep it as the upper echelon of college basketball,” he said. “It’s definitely cool. We’re excited to get started as a new group that’s going to continue the Duke legacy.” 

    Kansas, with the nation’s No. 4-ranked recruiting class in 2022 – also has three commits in the game with Gradey Dick, Ernest Udeh Jr. and MJ Rice.

    Dick, the 6-foot-7, 195-pound small forward from Sunrise Christian (KS) Academy, says he’s remained in constant contact with his fellow commits.

    “I’ve been with (them) the past couple weeks in our group chats, chatting it up,” Dick said. “Fans should be excited because we already have that chemistry early.”

    Udeh, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound center from Dr. Phillip’s (FL) High School, spoke about the connection between him and the other two commits at the game.

    “Just going into the games next year, with our focus, we want to win every single game and make it to the tournament and be the best group we can be coming out of this class,” Udeh said.

    Udeh also broke down the games of both Rice and Dick, saying, “They’re both dogs. They get after it. They’re hard-workers. Their motors are crazy. Gradey can shoot the lights out. MJ, he’s a dog, he can attack the rim.”

    Rice, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard from Prolific Prep (CA), highlighted the rest of the recruiting class, which includes four-star forward Zuby Ejiofor.

    “We do have three McDonald’s All Americans, but our whole team is going to be through the roof,” Rice said. “Everybody is going to grow, buy in and get better.”

    The game also features two commits apiece from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas and UCLA.

    This story has been updated.

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