The 2012 Jordan Brand Classic features the top 10 players in the ESPNU 100. The boys from Jordan Brand don’t miss on many targets and they leverage the brand of the greatest player in basketball history to help populate their rosters. It’s no surprise that once again, this game will be right up there with the McDonald’s All-American Game in terms of talent.
In order to understand how the rosters are assembled, one needs to know the dynamics. The Jordan game often represents the best and brightest from Nike-based Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) travel teams. However, at day’s end, the best way to make the game is for a player to demonstrate he's good enough to one day be a potential NBA player. After all, with Michael Jordan’s name on the game, what other criteria could one expect to use than high-level projection of talent?
Seventeen of the ESPNU 100's top 25 players were named to the team. J.P. Tokoto (Menomonee Falls, Wisc./Menomonee Falls) is ranked No. 65, Jerami Grant (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) is No. 40 and Brice Johnson (Edisto, S.C./Edisto) checks in at No. 29. Both Tokoto and Johnson have signed with North Carolina and the game is in Charlotte. Jordan, being a Tar Heel alum, probably doesn’t mind stuffing the ballot box for a few of his family members anyway.
Three players in North Carolina’s four-man class was named to the game but it’s not the only school with three participants. Arizona’s three big men Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Marks), Grant Jerrett (LaVerne, Calif./Lutheran) and Brandon Ashley (Oakland, Calif./Findlay) also made the team. Kentucky had two recruits, Archie Goodwin (N. Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills) and Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast) make the cut.
In terms of surprises, the highest-rated seniors who weren’t selected were Pitt signee Steven Adams (New Zealand/Notre Dame Prep), Oklahoma State signee Marcus Smart (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus), Syracuse-bound DaJuan Coleman (DeWitt, N.Y./Jamesville-DeWitt), future Texas LonghornCameron Ridley (Houston, Tex./Bush) and Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa./Friends Central); these were the lone ESPNU 100 recruits in the top 20 not named to the roster. Michigan signee Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster) was also a notable omission.
Over the next few days, don’t be surprised to see another name added to the East roster. The recent news of Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton School) switching back into the 2012 class came at a rough time for the roster announcement. However, there’s an excellent chance we see Noel get named to the Jordan Brand game for the simple reason that he’s the top prospect in the country.