Last year’s SI All-American Boys Basketball Team yielded everything from Final Four stars to dominant pro careers in their first post-high school year.
This year’s group of All-Americans will hold that standard and could potentially raise the bar.
After a painstaking evaluation process, we zeroed-in on 15 of the top high school basketball players in the country broken up into three teams.
Montverde (Fla.) Academy shooting guard Dariq Whitehead was named SI All-American Player of the Year after averaging 16.5 points, five rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals a game.
From nationally televised games to marquee tournaments, Whitehead, to Duke signee, consistently dominated other SI All-Americans all season, and, despite playing alongside multiple SI99 stars, he was the best player on the best team in the country.
“It’s a blessing,” Whitehead said. “As a kid you look forward to this type of stuff. It was something I wanted to check off before my senior year started, but I didn’t think too much on it stats-wise; I just wanted to go out there and play to win. Obviously, it got the job done to win such a prestigious award being Sports Illustrated’s Player of the Year.”
Whitehead had stiff competition all season but managed to pull away from the pack in the end, taking home the MVP trophy at the McDonald’s All American Game, leading Team USA to the win at the Nike Hoop Summit and winning GEICO.
Here’s a look at the players that pushed him all year and earned their way onto the SI All-American first team in the process.
Player of the Year
SG: Dariq Whitehead, Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 2022
Why He’s the Player of the Year: Whitehead guided the Eagles to their sixth GEICO Nationals title wearing many hats dominantly and consistently. From playmaker to scorer to defender, Whitehead thrived at the controls for Montverde, averaging 16.5 points, five rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals a game.
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C: Derek Lively, Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) Academy, 2022
Why He’s an SI All-American: Lively is the top ranked player in the SI99 and lived up to the hype all season, averaging 14 points, 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks a game en route to leading the Moose to a state title. In the championship game, Lively posted 11 points and 12 blocks. His senior year dominance was a carryover from a summer where he led Team Final (Penn.) to the prestigious Nike Peach Jam title.
PG: Keyonte George, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 2022
Why He’s an SI All-American: George was second in scoring in the most grueling league in the country, the NIBC, averaging 16.9 points a game on a team stocked full of SI99 stars. He recorded the NIBC’s first 40-point game against La Lumiere and averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists at GEICO Nationals. Often times, George put the Ascenders on his back and willed them to wins, including two over GEICO Nationals champs Montverde Academy.
SF: Gradey Dick, Sunrise Christian (Bel Aire, Kan.), 2022
Why He’s an SI All-American: Dick led the NIBC in scoring, averaging 17.9 points a game to go along with 5.2 rebounds. He shot a blistering 47% from the three-point line and dominated the practices at the McDonald’s All American game, widely regarded as the most competitive aspect of the all star game’s festivities.
C: Kyle Filipowski, Wilbraham (Mass.) and Monson Academy, 2022
Why He’s an SI All-American: Filipowski has been one of the most consistent stat sheet fillers all season and has dominated prestigious tournaments consistently. Filipowski averaged 19.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, two steals and 1.4 blocks this season at Wilbraham and Monson. At 6’10”, Filipowski can dominate the game in multiple facets and plays with a competitive edge that is infectious.
SG: Nick Smith Jr., North Little Rock (Ark.), 2022
Why He’s an SI All-American: Smith dominated the competition all summer running with Brad Beal Elite (Mo.) then carried that over to the high school season, posting 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds a game for North Little Rock (Ark.). Smith capped off his high school finale with a state title, posting 25 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win. Smith was the best player during practices at the McDonald’s All American games, telling feat for what is widely regarded as the most competitive practices of the year.