CHICAGO (AP) — Dariq Whitehead showed why he’s headed to Duke and set to become part of the first freshman class since 1979 not to play under retiring Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.
Cam Whitmore, meanwhile, put on a performance that should please Villanova coach Jay Wright.
Future Wildcat Whitmore scored 19 points, Whitehead took game MVP honors, and the East beat the West 105-81 at Wintrust Arena on Tuesday night.
The showcase event that has shined a light on greats including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James made its return after being canceled the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. The current crop showed why they are the best high school players in the country, whether they were throwing down vicious dunks or making acrobatic layups.
Whitmore had eight rebounds. Whitehead wanted to show fans he is an all-around players and did just that with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to help the East roll to an easy win.
“Coming into it the game, I didn’t think of it so much as me getting stats,” he said. “I just wanted to win the game, most importantly. That’s something we emphasized.”
Duke-bound Mark Mitchell led the West with 19 points.
“Not having the games the last two years, I think it was just an honor that they could put on the games this year,” he said. “We had to go through a lot of protocols. It was definitely all worth it in the end.”
Former NBA star Jermaine O’Neal sat courtside wearing a Louis Vuitton jacket and Chicago rapper G Herbo was four chairs to his left. Lil Baby performed at halftime.
The East had already put on quite a show by then, racing out to a 58-38 lead.
Whitehead nailed three 3s and had 11 points to go with five assists in the half. Whitmore scored nine points, and the 6-foot-7 guard from Archbishop Spalding near Baltimore punctuated it with a windmill dunk in the closing seconds that drew the loudest roar from the crowd until Lil Baby took the floor.
“When I first got on the big stage, playing in front of thousands of people, it was a little nerve-racking,” Whitehead said. “I wasn’t used to playing in front of tons of people. When I got used to it, it became something that you looked forward to. It also makes you go out and perform better, just knowing that you’ve got people paying to come watch you play.”