Merriman: Ranking Big Ten's McDonald's All-Americans

The 37th annual McDonald’s High School All-American game is set to take place tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET at the United Center. The game will feature three future Big Ten players in James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) and Melo Trimble (Maryland), all of who will play for the East Team.

The McDonald’s All-American game is known as being the most prestigious high school all-star game around, bringing together the top prep players in the nation for one night of exciting hoops action. There is a long list of former Big Ten standouts who have participated in this game, but who is the best of the best?

Here is my list of the top 10 Big Ten McDonald’s All-Americans. And to be clear, this list is based on how players performed during their college careers. NBA careers were not taken into account.

10. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, 2010-2012  – Sullinger took the college basketball world by storm as a freshman and will go down as one of the most dominant big men in OSU history. He averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during his two year career in Columbus and was named an AP All-American both years. Even more impressive is that the Buckeyes went a combined 63-10 during those two seasons.

9. Jalen Rose, Michigan, 1991-1994 – The floor general of the Fab Five made his mark in Ann Arbor during the early 90’s. He was a two-time All-American and led the Wolverines to back-to-back national championship appearances in 1992 and 1993, both of which were later vacated due to the Ed Martin scandal. Rose posted a career scoring average 0f 17.5 points and 3.9 assists per game during his three years at Michigan.

8. Dee Brown, Illinois, 2002-2006 – Brown was the leader of Illinois’ memorable 2005 NCAA runner-up team. He averaged at least 12 points and 4.5 assists all four years he played at Illinois. But most impressive is how much of a winner this kid was. He posted a combined 114-23 record during his time in Champaign. What a stud.

7. Roy Marble, Iowa, 1985-1989 – Marble was a standout four-year player for the Hawkeyes and left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,116 career points. He also ranks first all-time in games played with 134, games started with 131, field goals made, field goal percentage and steals. When it comes to Hawkeye hoops history, the conversation should start and end with Roy Marble.

6. Chris Webber, Michigan, 1991-1993 – The MVP of the 1999 McDonald’s All American game, Webber was a stud during his two years in Ann Arbor. He averaged a double-double in both seasons at Michigan and finished with career-averages of 17.4 points and 10 rebounds per game. Webber helped lead the Wolverines to back-to-back NCAA Championship appearances in 1992 and 1993, while being named a consensus first-team All-American in his sophomore season.

5. Isiah Thomas, Indiana, 1979-1981 – Like Webber, Thomas only spent two years in college, but they were two exceptional years. He led the Hoosiers to back-to-back Big Ten Titles in 1980 and 1981. During his sophomore campaign, Thomas averaged 16 points and 5.8 assists en route to leading the Hoosiers a national championship. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player and was also selected as a first-team All-American. Simply dominant.

4. Jim Jackson, Ohio State, 1989-1992 – This guy was one of, if not the greatest player in Ohio State basketball history. Jackson spent three seasons in Columbus, two of which he was named the conference’s player of the year. He was also a two-time consensus first team All-American at OSU. His career averages of 19.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4 assists per game are flat out impressive.

3. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State, 1996-2000 – Numbers wise, Cleaves probably wouldn’t even crack the top 10 of this list. But when you look at what this guy did over a four-year career in East Lansing, you realize how special of a player he truly was. Cleaves is the only player in MSU history to be named a three-time All-American. He was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and led the Spartans to a national championship in 2000, the last time a Big Ten team won the national title. He finished his four-year career as the Spartans’ all-time assists and steals leader, while posting a combined record of 104-32.

2. Glenn Robinson, Purdue, 1992-1994 – Yes, Robinson was only at Purdue for two seasons, but no player was more dominant throughout all of college basketball during those two years. The Big Dog is the only player in Purdue basketball history to have more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 steals, 100 assists and 50 blocked shots in a career. He averaged 30.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game during his second season on his way to being named the AP College Player of the Year. Robinson will go down as one of the greatest players in college basketball history.

1. Earvin “Magic” Johnson,1977-1979 – It’s tough to argue with this one. Magic had a memorable two-year college career in East Lansing, averaging 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game. He led the Spartans to back-to-back Big Ten Championships, as well as the 1979 NCAA Championship where Johnson and the Spartans beat Larry Bird and Indiana State, 75-64 in what will go down as one of the most memorable title games in college basketball history. During the 1979 season, Johnson was named a first-team All-American and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player on his way to being the first pick in the NBA Draft. You simply can’t top that.

About Sean Merriman web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men’s basketball and provides original content for You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (5 Comments)
doug mack on 4/2/2014 @ 10:04pm EDT Said:

as far as roy marble the greatest hawkeye well Ronnie Lester is the greatest in my book

D. Thornton on 4/3/2014 @ 1:30am EDT Said:

Chris Webber was a cheat…took a 1/4 share of $616,000 dollars as a freshman at Michigan in the Ed Martin scandal and, as his records at the school had to be vacated, abdicates his right to be included in this list of esteemed B1G players.

negele on 4/3/2014 @ 9:55pm EDT Said:

These lists are too predictable because anytime Magic or Jordan is mentioned, they automatically get the popular votes.
If you base this on their college careers, Isiah Thomas was the most accomplished Big 10 player.
Isiah won two Big 10 outright titles in two years and Magic did not.
Isiah was the first freshman named Big 10 first team and Magic was not.
Isiah helped the US win Pan AM gold and Magic did not.
Isiah, like Magic, won a NCAA title as sophomores and were NCAA MOPs. However, Isiah was the MOP in the regional prior to that Final Four, Magic was not.
Isiah was the better shooter and defender in college.
As freshman when they lost in the NCAA Tournament, Isiah lit Purdue up for 30 in a 8 point loss. When MSU lost by 3 to Kentucky, Magic shot a poor 3 of 18 in that loss.
Too many people judge Magic based on his NBA career but always sell Isiah short.
He won a national title like Magic, as many Big 10 titles like Magic, won more individual honors than Magic and Magic gets voted first and Isiah 5th?
How does Cleaves and Jackson rate higher than Isiah?

negele on 4/3/2014 @ 10:06pm EDT Said:

If I am not mistaken, the greatest margin of victory per game in the 5 game NCAA Tournament belonged to the 1981 Indiana team led by Isiah.
That team beat two ACC teams in Maryland and Indiana and beat the SEC’s LSU squad.
They beat teams that had Buck Williams, Albert King, Rudy Mackin, Al Woods, James Worthy and Sam Perkins.
MSU in 1979 played one of the weakest fields ever beating schools like Penn, Lamar and Indiana State-hardly top schools.
Their toughest game was against independent Notre Dame.
Magic’s team faced Larry Bird, Orlando Woolridge, Bill Laimbeer and Kelly Tripucka.

negele on 4/4/2014 @ 10:41pm EDT Said:

I still don’t get Merriman’s logic for Cleaves and Jackson being rated higher than Isiah.
Cleaves in four years in college could not consistently make a jumper and MSU did well without him for a portion of his senior year.
Jackson ended his college career struggling in a loss to freshmen with nine turnovers and in three years, never reached a Final Four.
Isiah, in his final college game, helped beat a future Hall of Fame coach and a future NBA Top 50 all time player to claim a national title.
Magic was elevated for two outstanding years while Isiah had two years just as great and he gets pushed back behind guys who were not as dominant nor the talent he was.