UK Recruiting

This would have been their senior year. Where are the 2015 McDonald’s All-Americans now?

Briscoe embraces fresh start

Isaiah Briscoe, the point guard who did not play point guard, embraces a fresh start as a NBA prospect.
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Isaiah Briscoe, the point guard who did not play point guard, embraces a fresh start as a NBA prospect.

This week, future Kentucky basketball players Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney will be joined by 22 of their peers in the 2019 recruiting class for another McDonald’s All-American Game.

Many of the prospects in this year’s event will end up as one-and-done college players before heading off to the NBA Draft next year. Getting to the NBA is the dream of every recruit in attendance this week, but the McDonald’s Game from four years ago shows it’s no sure thing.

Of the 24 competitors in that 2015 game — those who would be college seniors if they had stayed in school — only seven were selected in the first round of an NBA Draft, and several have yet to play a single game at the NBA level.

Here’s a closer look at what happened to every player from the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game:

Dwayne Bacon

The Florida native was a star player for Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and ranked as the No. 17 overall player in the 2015 class before heading to Florida State for his college career. Bacon averaged 16.5 points per game over two seasons with the Seminoles, leaving school after his sophomore year — when he was selected in the 2017 draft with the No. 40 overall pick. He’s split time between the Hornets and the G League over the last two seasons — playing more than 80 games at the NBA level so far.

Pro ball: 5.3 ppg. 1.8 rpg, 13.7 mpg for the Hornets this season

Antonio Blakeney

Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 2015 was on UK’s recruiting radar and actually committed to Louisville, a pledge that lasted less than two weeks before he re-opened his recruitment. He was prominently mentioned in the U of L escort scandal, though it didn’t have any effect on his college eligibility. Blakeney ultimately ended up at Louisiana State, where he was the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore and averaged 14.8 points per game over two seasons. He went undrafted in 2017 and signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls. Blakeney has played most of this season at the NBA level. He was the No. 16 recruit in the class.

Pro ball: 7.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 13.7 mpg for the Bulls this season

Carlton Bragg

Another one-time UK recruiting target, Bragg committed to Kansas out of high school and played in 69 games — with just five starts — over two seasons with the Jayhawks. He moved to Arizona State and was forced to sit out the 2017-18 season as a transfer, but he left that program before ever playing a game. Bragg ended up at New Mexico and averaged 10.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 24 games this season. He still has one more season of college eligibility remaining because of his previous transfers. The Cleveland native was the No. 24 player in the class.

Pro ball: Not among Top 100 prospects for NBA Draft

Isaiah Briscoe

Though Kentucky targeted several different players in this game, Briscoe ended up being the only McDonald’s All-American in his class to pick the Wildcats. The New Jersey native was the No. 12 overall prospect in the class and a standout on the Nike EYBL circuit. He started 69 of 70 games in two seasons with the Cats, averaging 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Briscoe was not drafted in 2017 and played some summer and preseason NBA ball before heading to Estonia to play the 2017-18 season.

He signed a contract with the Orlando Magic last summer and played 39 games this season before undergoing meniscus surgery earlier this month. The only other recruiting class under John Calipari with just one McDonald’s All-American was Calipari’s first with the Wildcats in 2009, when DeMarcus Cousins was the lone UK recruit in the game.

Pro ball: 3.5 ppg, 2.2 apg, 14.3 mpg for the Magic this season

BriscoeRoselle.JPG
Isaiah Briscoe was a standout recruit in New Jersey before coming to Kentucky in 2015. AP

Jaylen Brown

One of UK’s biggest recruiting targets in the 2015 class, Brown was ranked No. 4 overall nationally, and the Cats appeared to be possible favorites going into his college decision day. He ended up picking California instead and averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Bears as a freshman. It was his only season of college basketball. Brown was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and has developed into an important player for the Boston Celtics, starting 70 games in his second season and averaging double-digit scoring over each of the past two seasons.

Pro ball: 12.9 ppg. 4.3 rpg, 25.9 mpg for the Celtics this season

Jalen Brunson

No recruit from this McDonald’s All-American Game had a better college basketball career than Brunson, the No. 22 overall prospect in the class who became a national player of the year and two-time national champion at Villanova. The Illinois high school standout won titles as a freshman and junior with the Wildcats, averaging 18.9 points and 4.6 assists per game while leading Villanova to the championship last season. He left for the NBA after that and was chosen with the No. 33 overall pick in last year’s draft. Brunson has emerged as a starter for the Dallas Mavericks during his rookie season.

Pro ball: 8.9 ppg, 2.8 apg, 21.0 mpg for the Mavericks this season

Thomas Bryant

UK got involved in the latter stages of Bryant’s recruitment, but the Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout did not have a committable scholarship offer from the Cats when he committed to Indiana, where he played two seasons and averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. (Bryant scored a team-high 19 points in IU’s NCAA Tournament win over UK in 2016). He was chosen with the No. 42 overall pick in the 2017 draft, played 15 games for the Los Angeles Lakers as a rookie and is now a starter for the Washington Wizards in his second NBA season. Bryant was the No. 20 overall recruit in the 2015 class.

Pro ball: 9.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 19.3 mpg for the Wizards this season

Deyonta Davis

Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 2015 stayed close to home to play for Michigan State, averaging 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in one season with the Spartans before turning pro. Davis — the No. 26 recruit in the class — was chosen with the No. 31 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and has averaged about four points per game in parts of three NBA seasons. He signed a 10-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks last week after spending the rest of this season in the G League.

Pro ball: No stats in one game for the Hawks this season

Cheick Diallo

Diallo’s recruitment was long tied to UK, but the Wildcats were not actively pursuing him toward the end of the process. He ultimately signed with Kansas and missed the first few games of his college career due to eligibility concerns. The Mali native averaged just 3.0 points, 2.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game before turning pro and being selected with the No. 33 pick in the 2016 draft. Diallo was the No. 5 overall recruit in the 2015 class. He’s been a role player for the New Orleans Pelicans over the last three seasons.

Pro ball: 5.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 13.2 mpg for the Pelicans this season

PJ Dozier

One of the star players on South Carolina’s unlikely Final Four run two years ago, Dozier was a star recruit before that — ranked as the No. 25 overall prospect in the 2015 class. He averaged 13.9 points in his sophomore season with the Gamecocks before going undrafted in 2017. He’s played in just six games over the past two NBA seasons and was named a G League all-star this season.

Pro ball: 1.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 2.5 mpg in four games with the Celtics this season

Henry Ellenson

The Wisconsin native was a star player as a freshman for Marquette and opted to jump to the NBA Draft after one season of college ball. He was selected with the No. 18 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons, but had a disappointing stay there — averaging 3.8 points in 59 games over three seasons. Detroit cut ties with him earlier this year, and he was signed by the New York Knicks. Ellenson was the No. 9 overall player in the 2015 class.

Pro ball: 5.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 12.9 mpg for the Pistons and Knicks this season

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Jawun Evans

A Dallas high school standout and the No. 27 overall player in the 2015 recruiting class, Evans committed to Oklahoma State and averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 assists per game over two seasons. He was the No. 39 overall pick in the 2017 draft and played 48 games as a rookie with the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s played in seven games with the Phoenix Suns this season.

Pro ball: 0.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 9.1 mpg for the Suns this season

Brandon Ingram

The North Carolina native rocketed up the recruiting rankings late in his high school career — finishing up as the No. 3 overall player in the class — and chose Duke over scholarship offers from UK, UNC and other top schools. He averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his one season of college before being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft. Ingram has spent his first three NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers — starting every one of his games the past two seasons — but is currently sidelined after being diagnosed with deep venous thrombosis.

Pro ball: 18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 33.8 mpg for the Lakers this season

Chase Jeter

The No. 15 player in the class, Jeter committed to Duke but played just 7.9 minutes per game as a freshman and was sidelined with a back injury for much of his sophomore season. He transferred to Arizona after that, sat out last season, then averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season. He has one more year of college eligibility remaining.

Pro ball: Not among Top 100 prospects for NBA Draft

Luke Kennard

One of UK’s earliest recruiting targets in the 2015 class, Kennard grew up a Kentucky fan but ended up accepting a scholarship offer from Duke instead. The Ohio native averaged 11.8 points per game as a freshman and 19.5 points per game as a sophomore before leaving for the NBA Draft, selected with the No. 12 overall pick in 2017 by the Detroit Pistons. He’s averaged about 20 minutes per game over the past two NBA seasons. Kennard was the No. 21 player in the 2015 class.

Pro ball: 9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 22.5 mpg for the Pistons this season

Dedric Lawson

A Memphis native, Lawson originally signed with and played for the hometown Memphis Tigers after then-coach Josh Pastner hired his father as part of the program’s staff. He earned conference freshman of the year honors, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in his first season. Lawson transferred to Kansas — along with his brother K.J. — following the 2016-17 season and, after sitting out a year, was one of the best players in college basketball this season — averaging more than 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was the No. 36 player in the 2015 class.

Pro ball: No. 43 on Top 100 prospects list for this year’s draft

Malik Newman

A longtime UK recruiting target, Newman instead stayed close to home and signed with Mississippi State — his father’s alma mater — and first-year coach Ben Howland. It was a disappointing stint in Starkville for Newman, who averaged 11.3 points per game as the Bulldogs limped to a 14-17 record. He left MSU for Kansas — sitting out the following season as a transfer — and averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while making it to the Final Four in his one season with the Jayhawks before declaring for the NBA Draft. Newman, who was the No. 8 recruit in his class, was not drafted and has spent this season coming off the bench in the G League.

Pro ball: No NBA experience

Ivan Rabb

Yet another UK recruiting target, Rabb was always seen as a long shot for the Wildcats and ended up staying on the West Coast to play for California, alongside fellow McDonald’s All-American Jalen Brown. Rabb averaged 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over two seasons with the Bears — playing in just one NCAA Tournament game — before being selected with the 35th pick in the 2017 draft. He’s played about 75 games for the Memphis Grizzlies over the past two seasons. Rabb was the No. 7 recruit in the class.

Pro ball: 5.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 12.7 mpg for the Grizzlies this season

Malachi Richardson

The New Jersey standout averaged 13.4 points per game as a freshman, leading Syracuse to an improbable Final Four run before declaring for the NBA Draft after one season. He was selected with the No. 22 overall pick in the NBA Draft and has split time with the Spurs, the Raptors and the G League over the past three seasons. Richardson was the No. 34 overall recruit in his class.

Pro ball: 1.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 4.7 mpg for the Raptors this season

Ben Simmons

The consensus pick as the top recruit in his class, Simmons has lived up to the distinction. Despite a disappointing freshman season for LSU — the Tigers missed the NCAA Tournament — Simmons was a terrific individual player and was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He missed what would have been his first NBA season with a broken foot, returned to win rookie of the year honors the following season and made the NBA All-Star team this year. Still just 22 years old, the Australia native is considered to be one of the game’s brightest young stars.

Pro ball: 17.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 7.8 apg, 34.5 mpg for the Sixers this season

Diamond Stone

The Wisconsin native averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in one season at Maryland before being selected with the No. 40 pick in the 2016 draft. He has played just seven games at the NBA level — all for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2016-17 season — and has spent the rest of his pro career in the G League. Stone was the No. 6 recruit in the class.

Pro ball: Has not played in the NBA this season

Caleb Swanigan

The former UK target — ranked No. 19 overall in the class — ended up at home-state Purdue and won Big Ten player of the year honors as a sophomore before heading off to the NBA Draft. Swanigan was the No. 26 overall pick in the 2017 draft and has played sparingly for the Portland Trail Blazers over the past two seasons, though he was traded to the Sacramento Kings for former UK player and fellow 2015 recruit Skal Labissiere earlier this year.

Pro ball: 1.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 8.1 mpg for the Blazers this season

Allonzo Trier

The Findlay Prep (Nev.) standout signed with Arizona and averaged 16.8 points per game over three seasons with the Wildcats before opting for last year’s NBA Draft. He was not drafted, but he signed a two-way contract with the New York Knicks and has spent all of this season at the NBA level. Trier was the No. 13 overall recruit in the 2015 class.

Pro ball: 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 22.8 mpg for the Knicks this season

Stephen Zimmerman

Another longtime UK recruiting target, Zimmerman chose to stay in his hometown and play for UNLV, ultimately averaging 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in his one season of college basketball. Zimmerman was selected with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2016 draft and played 19 games with the Orlando Magic during the 2016-17 season, but he has not been back at the NBA level since. He’s played this season with the Westchester Knicks in the G League. Zimmerman was the No. 11 recruit in his class.

Pro ball: Has not played in the NBA this season

All draft projections for current college players are from ESPN; recruiting rankings from 247Sports composite; NBA stats through Friday’s games.

Draft position of 2015 McDonald’s All-Americans

PickPlayerYear
1Ben Simmons2016
2Brandon Ingram2016
3Jaylen Brown2016
12Luke Kennard2017
18Henry Ellenson2016
22Malachi Richardson2016
26Caleb Swanigan2017
31Deyonta Davis2016
33Cheick Diallo2016
33Jalen Brunson2018
35Ivan Rabb2017
39Jawun Evans2017
40Diamond Stone2016
40Dwayne Bacon2017
41Stephen Zimmerman2016
42Thomas Bryant2017
Antonio Blakeney2017
Isaiah Briscoe2017
PJ Dozier2017
Malik Newman2018
Allonzo Trier2018
Carlton BraggStill in college
Chase Jeter Still in college
Dedric LawsonStill in college
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