ANNOUNCING THE 2008 EA SPORTS ALL-AMERICAN BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
Torrance, Calif. -- Eighteen of the nation's very best seniors and two special juniors highlight the 2008 EA SPORTS All-American Boys Basketball team. Although many of our picks are not too surprising if one followed our weekly national player of the year tracker, the manner in which the nation's top player emerged from the nation's most well-known and highly-publicized prep program was somewhat surprising.
It was truly a season of firsts and records for Brandon Jennings from Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. The 6-foot-2 left-handed point guard not only set point and assist records at the famed private school powerhouse but has now become the first Warrior named EA SPORTS National High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
That's more significant when one considers the all-time player of the year list selected by the editors of Student Sports dates back to 1955 and the Warriors have produced more All-America honorees the last two decades than any other school. Previous Warrior standouts who didn't earn the honor include Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Ty Lawson, Carmelo Anthony, Nolan Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Ron Mercer, Josh Smith, Rod Strickland, and Calvin Duncan.
"We've had a lot of talented players over the years at Oak Hill," 23-year coach Steve Smith states, "and Brandon would have to be among the 10 best ever in a Warrior uniform. He has no weaknesses and plays both ends of floor very well."
While the California native, who played his final two seasons at Oak Hill after attending California power Dominguez of Compton, is best noted for his offensive production, it was his defensive skills that played prominent roles in the Warriors winning four games this season which were decided by three or fewer points. Two came over teams ranked in the Top 10 of the Rivals.com FAB 50 -- Duncanville, Texas, and Norcross, Ga. In the 78-77 overtime win over the nation's preseason No. 1 ranked team, Duncanville, Jennings had the ball stolen from him, but he quickly recovered, stole the ball back and passed it up court to a teammate who converted it into a game-winning lay-up.
Taking on a more prominent offensive role this season after averaging 15 points and 11 assists a game as a junior playing alongside EA SPORTS First Team All-American Nolan Smith, Jennings set school records by averaging 35.5 points a game; scoring 1,927 career points; and scoring 63 in one game which featured 13 three-point goals.
"I felt like I had to take over and do a lot of the scoring," Jennings said. "When people look back, I want them to say 'that guy holds Oak Hill's scoring record.'"
He also averaged 7.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 steals a game. He shot 53 percent from the floor and 84 percent from the foul line.
During Jennings' two seasons in a Warrior uniform, Oak Hill was 74-5 and ranked No. 1 and No. 6 nationally in the Rivals.com FAB 50.
"Brandon loves to play the game and matured greatly this season," Smith states. "He's not your typical high school senior."
"I want to be a positive role model for my brother (12-year old Terrance)," Jennings explained. "I want him to see what I am doing and think he can accomplish the same with hard work."
Jennings committed to the University of Arizona, which featured a star freshman guard in Jerryd Bayless this season. Bayless was a first team EA SPORTS All-American last season. No underclass players were honored last year as one of the deepest and best classes ever, led by the likes of past EA SPORTS All-Americans such as UCLA's Kevin Love, Kansas State's Michael Beasley, Memphis' Derrick Rose, USC's O.J. Mayo and Indiana's Eric Gordon, made a huge impact on the college basketball landscape this year.
This class isn't considered on par with the Class of 2007, at least not yet, and two juniors were able to crack the 20-man first team, led by EA SPORTS National Junior of the Year Lance Stephenson. The 6-foot-5 Lincoln of Brooklyn standout led the Railspitters to their second consecutive New York Federation title and he was the Class 2A tournament MVP for the second consecutive season. Joining Stephenson as EA SPORTS National Players of the Year in their respective class are wing forward DeShaun Thomas (Bishop Luers, Ft. Wayne, Ind.), our sophomore choice, and guard Tony Wroten Jr. (Garfield, Seattle, Wash.), our choice as the nation's top freshman.
"We're proud to honor these young men and are looking forward to seeing these players continue to compete at a high level as they move on in their basketball careers," said Brian Movalson, EA SPORTS Director of Sports Marketing. "The EA SPORTS All-American honor is becoming one of the best in high school athletics because of the way they are done and because of the people who do the research behind the scenes. These student-athletes truly represent the best in the game in high school athletics."
Also named along with the players as the EA SPORTS National Coach of the Year in boys basketball is Fred Pickett from Chester High in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Pickett's team lost only to FAB 50 No. 2-ranked St. Benedict's of Newark, N.J., 68-55, in December and won its last 25 games for a 33-1 record. Pickett, after serving as assistant coach for three state title teams, ended a 13-year head coaching career at Chester High with a third state Class 4A title after placing as runner-up in 2007 to Pittsburgh Schenley. Pickett, who also is retiring after serving as a coach at the school for 27 years, also won state titles in 2000 and 2005. The winningest coach in school history with a 331-79 record, he coached 13 straight 20-win teams and qualified for all 13 state tournaments with eight Final Four berths. The most famous player he's coached is Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic. This year's team was led by 6-foot-5 Nasir Robinson, a Pittsburgh recruit and second team EA SPORTS All-American.
The editors of Student Sports, which have named All-American teams and compiled national rankings in numerous sports for over 20 years, select the annual EA SPORTS All-American Teams. The format for the team calls for it not to be selected until all teams have finished their seasons, which makes the EA SPORTS honors more reflective of players who led their teams to state championships. The teams also are chosen after almost all of the numerous all-state teams around the country have been released.
Over the next month, EA SPORTS also will be bringing the All-American program into households across the nation with an hour-long syndicated television special that will air in almost all the major markets in the U.S. The TV special begins airing in some areas of the country on April 19th.
Both the boys basketball and girls basketball All-American teams are included in that broadcast, along with previously announced All-American teams in football and girls golf. Still to come later this year will be EA SPORTS All-American teams in baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer and boys golf.
ABC college football reporter Todd Harris and Oakland Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison will host the EA SPORTS High School All-American TV show.
To view the 2008 EA SPORTS All American Boys Basketball first and second teamCLICK HERE.
About EA SPORTS EA SPORTS, the leading interactive sports software brand in the world, delivers real sports simulation games for sports fans. With EA SPORTS "if it's in the game...it's in the game." EA SPORTS is a brand of Electronic Arts (EA), the world's leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software for personal computers and advanced entertainment systems. Top-selling titles and franchises include FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL Football, NCAA Football, NBA® LIVE Basketball and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® Golf. The EA SPORTS All-American program honors the nation's top high school players in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball and softball and, in conjunction with Student Sports, recognizes the top student-athletes for their achievements both on and off the field.
About Student Sports Based in Torrance, Calif., Student Sports has been the leader in high school sports coverage since 1979 with divisions specializing in events, marketing, television and the Internet. In addition to aiding with the development of the SPARQ Rating, a sport-specific numeric value which gives high school athletes a way to gauge overall athleticism, the company also provides editorial information for several major Web sites including StudentSports.com (www.studentsports.com), StudentSportsFootball.com, StudentSportsSoccer.com, StudentSportsSoftball.com, StudentSportsBasketball.com, StudentSportsBaseball.com, Dyestat.com (track & field), CalHiSports.com and MDVarsity.com. Except for Dyestat.com, all are part of the Rivals.com network of sports team and affinity sites. The company also provides content for SPARQ and Rivals.com and also publishes an array of newsletters and record books including the "National High School Football Record Book" and "National High School Boys Basketball Record Book." Student Sports created and implements such events as the NIKE Football Training Camps, the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and the Area Code Games. The company earned four Emmy Awards for its "Inside Cal-Hi Sports" show and has developed TV programming airing on ESPN, CSTV, and ESPN2, including the "EA SPORTS Elite 11 Quarterback Show."