Julius Randle could be added as the 25th McDonald’s All-American this year if he proves he’s healthy enough in the next few weeks, committee chairman Morgan Wootten told SNY.tv Friday.
“What we’ll certainly do with Julius — one of the great players in the country, no question, a legitimate four-year man — we’ll take a real good look and see how he comes back physically,” Wootten told SNY.tv. “That’s the key. Everybody knows he can play. It’s just a question of whether he’s physically sound or not.”
The 6-foot-9 Randle out of Prestonwood (TX) Christian was left off the 24-man McDonald’s roster announced Thursday. He has been out since Thanksgiving with a foot injury, but is expected to debut with his team tonight (Friday).
If he plays well and proves himself over the final weeks of the season, he could add a McDonald’s All-American selection to his Jordan Brand Classic selection.
Wootten said there is precedence for adding injured players after the initial list comes out, pointing out that former DeMatha Catholic star Dereck Whittenburg was added late in 1979 after he returned from a broken foot.
“In the fourth game, it was a five-overtime game down in Lake Charles, he broke his foot early in the first quarter and he was out until the last three games of the year,” Wootten said. “And of course we picked the team by then, but then he came back the last three games of the year, we won all the championships.
“And he actually made the winning basket [in the McDonald's Game]. The game was played in Charlotte; it was the second McDonald’s All-American.”
Sam Perkins was also added late in 1980.
Randle is considering Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Florida, N.C. State and Oklahoma and will be at Kansas this weekend on a visit.
As for Syracuse-bound point guard Tyler Ennis of St. Benedict’s Prep, Wootten said he simply did not receive enough votes.
“We’re the only All-Star team that is selected by ballot, by vote, and quite simply Ennis was in the Top 30, but not the Top 24,” Wootten said. “And obviously he’s a great player, I’m not knocking that but the reason he didn’t make the team was that he was not one of the Top 24 vote-getters.”
Wootten said an exception might have been made had the Top 24 players only had two point guards.
“Now, I would have to work within the Top 30 to make sure we had enough point guards to have a game,” Wootten said.
The East squad features point guards Anthony “Cat” Barber (N.C. State), Kasey Hill (Florida) and Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame), while the West has Andrew Harrison (Kentucky) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington).
Ennis, who last summer led CIA Bounce to the finals of Peach Jam and Team Canada to the finals of the Nike Global Challenge, responded to being left off the team by scoring a school-record 53 points Thursday night in a rout of Eastern (N.J.).
Ennis and his teammates and coaches at St. Benedict’s were furious that he was left off the the list after making the Jordan Brand Classic, and Mike George, Ennis’s AAU coach with CIA Bounce, went off on Twitter on his omission.
“This whole process needs to be reevaluated and looked into bc it’s not fair for kids that should be obvious selections not being rewarded,” George Tweeted.
George Tweeted that some of the McDonald’s voters were “donut eaters,” adding: “Lastly, I say this if you want to be eligible to b a voter in this game u should be able to do a left handed layup while eating a donut!!!!”
Wootten said Ennis’s failure to make the team had nothing to do with whether or not he may be a fifth-year player. (Ennis, who was born in 1994, could have graduated high school in 2012, but spent another year at St. Benedict’s, as I wrote in this story two years ago.)
“I wouldn’t know if he’s a fifth-year kid or not,” Wootten said. “I know that Terri Lynn [Wootten] requested a transcript and everything on him because there was some question but apparently she never got any paperwork. I told her it’s not an issue because he’s not one of the Top 24 vote -getters.”
McDonald’s does not allow fifth-year players in the game, but current UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett was named a McDonald’s All-American last year although he was widely considered to be a fifth-year player.
“We know that issue came up and we contacted the school,” Wootten said, referring to Findlay Prep. “We explained the rules. We asked for a transcript, we wanted to know when he began the ninth grade and we were sent a transcript and all the paperwork said he was nothing but a four-year player once he started the ninth grade.
“Now if somebody falsified those transcripts, there’s not much we can do about it. But I would trust that principals of high schools would never do anything like that.”
Some have suggested that the McDonald’s committee should abandon the fifth-year exclusion and simply decide based on a player’s birth year.
As things now stand, a player is too old if he turns 19 by Sept. 1 of his senior season.
At least one player on the current team was born in December 1993 and thus met the McDonald’s criteria.