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Five programs that should be pleased by the McDonald's All-American Game

© Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON – The 2024 McDonald's All-American Game is in the books and Tuesday’s game was highlighted by Co-MVPs Dylan Harper (Rutgers) and Derik Queen (Maryland), who combined to score 45 points and grab 14 rebounds. The East’s 88-86 victory was just the culmination of a week full of practices, scrimmages and other events. With the weeklong spectacle now in the rearview, national basketball analyst Rob Cassidy examines which colleges should be most pleased about what transpired this week in the Lone Star State.

MORE FROM HOUSTON: The Cassidy Awards | Drake Powell highlights | Karter Knox highlights | Airious Bailey highlights | Jalil Bethea highlights | Liam McNeeley highlights | Jayden Quaintance highlights | Derik Queen highlights | Cooper Flagg highlights | Flagg, Bethea lead Day 2 in Houston | Day 2 takeaways | Top performers from Day 1 | Day 1 takeaways | Dunk contest

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KENTUCKY

The fact that Kentucky-bound guard Boogie Fland finished Tuesday's game with 17 points and five boards was certainly encouraging. So was the fact Carter Knox, who posted nine points, knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer from NBA range. That said, the fact that none of the three Wildcat signees participating in the event seem at all bothered by the immense pressure they will be under next season while John Calipari coaches for his job is an even better sign than the 33 and 13 rebounds points Knox, Fland and fellow commit Jayden Quaintance combined to accumulate in the game. The trio fielded multiple questions about the enormity of next season in Lexington and each seems to not only understand the task that lies before him but fully embrace it. “The reason we go to [Kentucky] is because of that pressure,” Fland said. “Without pressure there’s no privilege.”

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MARYLAND

Maryland signee Derik Queen had a bit of an uneven week at practices but seemed to be at his best when the lights came out, showing out in both the formal scrimmage and the game, which he finished with 23 points and eight rebounds and was selected as one of the night’s co-MVPs. Queen showed his improved fluidity and ability to create extra possessions on the offensive glass. He also created space in the lane, where he did most of his damage. The 6-foot-10 center isn’t going to blow anyone away with lateral quickness or his jumper but the future Terrapins a certified weapon in block, out of which he’s a gifted and creative passer. He’s also a load on the glass, where he managed to dominate an opposing roster full of furniture high-major stars for stretches. Queen works well in the pick-and-roll game as well, which will please both Maryland fans and his future head coach, Kevin Willard, who has a reputation for developing bigs.

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NORTH CAROLINA

A case could be made that North Carolina had the event’s most dynamic offensive player and most dynamic defensive player in signees Ian Jackson and Drake Powell. Known for his versatility on the defensive end, Powell showed himself to be a truly elite, engaged and switchable defender from wire to wire this week, terrorizing passing lanes and showing an ability to stay in front of guards on the perimeter while also contesting shots in the paint. Meanwhile, Jackson showed off his trademark bounce and ability to creatively finish in traffic while also filling it up from deep during morning workouts. The future Tar Heel has become a more reliable 3-point shooter in the past year and the work he did on that front showed during McDonald’s week. Jackson, who wasn’t shy about letting it fly on game night, scored 21 points on a game-high 21 shots in Wednesday’s contest. Powell failed to score in 17 minutes of action but grabbed four rebounds and made a couple impressive defensive plays.

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RUTGERS

Having a pair of signees at the McDonald’s All-American Game was historic for the Scarlet Knights, a program that doesn’t usually find itself in such a position. So the fact that five-star guard Dylan Harper posted 22 points, five assists and six rebounds en route to game co-MVP honors is reason for jubilation. The fact that he didn’t turn the ball over once in the process is even more exciting. Still, it’s the obvious chemistry between Harper and fellow signee Airious Bailey that should be most tantalizing for Rutgers fans. Harper and Bailey are unmistakably close and spent a solid chunk of the week in each other’s orbits, joking, laughing and generally carrying on. The chemistry was so apparent, in fact, that the duo fielded a pair of questions about their relationship during media day. According to Harper, Bailey texted him the day he committed to Rutgers back in January of 2023 and began encouraging him to also sign with the head coach Steve Pikiell. The duo is in contact nearly every day since and their comfort level with each other is apparent, an encouraging sign for the future of Scarlet Knights hoops.

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TEXAS

Future Longhorn Tre Johnson had a steady week shooting the ball in workouts and erupted for 17 points on a tidy 6-for-9 shooting in the game. One of the most reliable long-range shooters in the class, the Texas-bound Johnson was 5-for-7 from the arc in Tuesday’s contest, which was no surprise seeing as though the five-star guard had a hot hand from range all week. Johnson, who wore a Karate Kid-style, tie-in-the-back headband for the majority of McDonald’s week, will arrive in Austin as a key part of a Longhorn squad that will need him to score in bunches as soon as he steps on campus. The good news on that front is that the versatile scorer appears prepared to do just that,

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