High School / Feb 11, 2011 / 3:00 pm

McDonald’s All-American Game shows its East Coast bias

Tony Wroten (photo. Rosie Dienhart)

Maybe I’d been spoiled over the last few years and become too familiar with seeing my hometown represented at the McDonald’s High School All-American Game.

Since 2003, when Aaron Brooks ended a drought of nearly 20 years as the Seattle area’s first McDonald’s selection since Quin Snyder (1985), we’ve been cranking out certified All-Americans pretty consistently — namely Marvin Williams, Martell Webster, Jon Brockman, Micah Downs, Spencer Hawes, Abdul Gaddy, Peyton Siva and Josh Smith.

So going into yesterday’s 2011 McDonald’s roster announcement, I guess I just assumed Tony Wroten (Garfield H.S., Seattle) would be the next name added the list. I’d penned a Dime Magazine profile on Wroten the summer of his 8th-grade year, when he was considered by many to be the best player in the nation for his class. While other stars like Austin Rivers and Michael Gilchrist emerged between then and now, Wroten remained a mostly consensus Top-10 or Top-20 talent in the Class of 2011, even when a knee injury cost him his entire junior season. (Wroten is currently ranked 16th in the nation, regardless of class, by High School Hoop.) So when Wroten was left off this year’s McDonald’s roster, it was the snub heard ’round high school ball.

Politics. That’s the scapegoat in almost every basketball award controversy, NBA All-Star Game snub, or high school All-American selection process. The McDonald’s committee has been accused before of paying more attention to what college a player is committed to than what they did on the high school level — e.g., Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky commits have an automatic advantage — and if you come from where I come from, there is also the omnipresent threat of the dreaded East Coast bias.

This isn’t only about Wroten, either. Just take a look at the McDonald’s All-American rosters and see if you notice a trend.

Only two of the 24 All-Americans picks are based on the West Coast: Kyle Wiltjer from Portland, Ore. (Jesuit H.S.) and Myck Kabongo, who goes to school in Henderson, Nev. (Findlay Prep), but is originally from New Jersey via Canada. Kabongo is signed to Texas, while Wiltjer is taking his talents to Kentucky next year. Meanwhile, there are zero Pac-10 recruits headed to Chicago next month for the McDonald’s game.

Arguably the three biggest snubs are Wroten, Jabari Brown (Oakland, Calif.) and Nick Johnson (Henderson, Nev.), all players based on the West Coast, and all three committed to Pac-10 colleges: Wroten to Washington, Brown to Oregon, and Johnson to Arizona. Other notable snubs with arguable Top-25 credentials include Arizona-bound Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif.) and Arizona State-bound Jahii Carson (Mesa, Ariz.).

How much are this year’s rosters lacking in West Coast talent? The “West” team includes Austin Rivers, who is from Florida; Adonis Thomas from Memphis; and Khem Birch, who plays in Massachusetts and is originally from Montreal, Quebec. The rest of the West squad is full of guys from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Texas, alongside the aforementioned Kabongo from Nevada and Wiltjer from Oregon.

(According to the McDonald’s All-American official selection process document, “There is no specific line that determines the East and West breakdown. We take the players for each position and divide them based on relative geographic location. Because there are sometimes more players at one position on one team than others, they are usually exceptions to the rule. Most likely, at least 90 percent of the players will fall in their appropriate region, but McDonald’s also wants to have the best players in the nation represented in the Games.”)

The committee itself is made up of writers, scouts and analysts from around the country. The chairman is Morgan Wootten, retired Hall of Fame coach from DeMatha H.S. in Maryland.

While I don’t doubt the McDonald’s people aim to have the entire country represented in its committee, it’s only natural that things will lean toward the East. Just watch “SportsCenter” a couple times a week and you can tell that the media revolves around New York and Boston. Meaning once again, the West Coast is at a disadvantage.

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  • K Dizzle

    Junk. West coast always gets shafted. Wroten’s not one of the top 24 prep players in the country? That’s a joke…

  • Mutombo’s Ghost

    Omm’A Givens from Aberdeen made McDonald’s Game in 1994 I think, but maybe you didn’t consider Aberdeen as part of ‘the Seattle area.’


    I’ve been so sick of that East Coast bias for the past 10-15 years!

  • Mutombo’s Ghost


    (hopefully this will link right)

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    omm’A Given (1994, Aberdeen) and Luke Ridnour (2000, Blaine) were McD’s picks, but no, they’re not in the Seattle area.

  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    Truth. I’m an East coaster but the bias is ridiculous. How do they select the players anyway??

    “Just watch “SportsCenter” a couple times a week and you can tell that the media revolves around New York and Boston.”
    There’s not only an East coast bias in basketball… I’ll take it a step further and say, listen to the radio. Most of today’s “musicians” (and I use that term VERY loosely), they’re all from the East.

  • dagwaller

    Totally disagree. I’m tired of hearing all about the Lakers, actually, and I hardly consider this line to be indicative of East Coast Bias:

    “The rest of the West squad is full of guys from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Texas, alongside the aforementioned Kabongo from Nevada and Wiltjer from Oregon.”

    None of those states are anywhere near the East Coast, Austin. C’mon now.

    East Coast Bias is a myth.

  • Blk Caesar

    umm.. the night broadcast of Sportscenter is actually from the west coast(LA).. and get a grip there are so many great players in the League and NCAA from the Pacific Northwest.. On the same token there are many east coast players that don’t make the McD game either. Maybe Wroten will make the Jordan game and take out his frustration like Corey Fisher did when he didn’t make the McD game. Your article title and argument is geographically incorrect.. It should be entitled Mid-West/South West bias not east coast, but good attempt to try to stir up an east coast debate.. Funny

  • Promoman

    Nick Johnson was really shafted if you ask me. I can sort of understand Tony Wroten’s stock dropping because of concerns of a major injury but he was screwed too but not as bad as Nick.

  • matt

    Apparently there’s 3 canadians in the mcdonalds all american game, the most canadians ever in it. good news for basketball canada. one quebecker, 2 guys from the GTA. Magloire + Nash – Canadian but too old and don’t play for Canada anymore internationally. (Jamal never did for some reason. Dalembert – raised in Montreal, originally from Haiti, played for Canada for one summer. Matt Bonner – grandfather is Canadian, I don’t remember if he got his passport in time, but will probably play for canada. Joel Anthony – current Canada team member. Rautins – born in Syracuse but plays for Canada. Tristan Thompson + Kris Joseph – 2 canadians to be drafted this year. Cory Joseph – Thompson’s canadian teammate (maybe gets drafted in a year or 2) Jonny Flynn – he should try to play for Canada – was born in Niagara Falls, NY. Also, i don’t see USA basketball calling him up any time soon.

  • aznemesis

    The term “east coast bias” explains a very real phenomenon, but is a bit of a misnomer. The players and teams–especially on the college level–who get the most attention are in the eastern and central time zones. Once you hit the mountain time zone and into the pacific, the players are more likely to be ignored. I remember when Marcus Williams (also from Seattle), an Arizona-bound star who led high school scoring in Washington, was left off the roster, the suspicion in Tucson was that the committee felt they already had “too many” West Coasters on the roster. Micah Downs went that year, and I believe there was another Washington-based player on that roster. So, Marcus was snubbed. It’s not new. We’re going to hear how many “McDonald’s All Americans” Duke et al have, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Commit to Duke, and your likelihood of getting selected increases.

  • shaw32

    Dave telp had an article the other day talking about how califoria has the most micky d all americans.

  • rza_console

    has anyone seen ryan boatright play this year?

    just sayin

  • kobekold

    where the hell is quincy miller at on these lists? he’s the best player in the country. wow