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Mercedes Russell takes home MVP honors in McDonald's All American girls game



Mercedes Russell earned MVP honors in the girls game after scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. / Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO -- The biggest player on the court didn't disappoint Wednesday in the girls game at the McDonald's All American basketball games. Mercedes Russell, a 6-5 center from Springfield, Ore., had 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds to lead the West squad to a 92-64 defeat of the East.

"Everybody on my team did a good job of getting me the ball," Russell said.

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Russell, who has signed with Tennessee, was assisted underneath by a future Volunteer teammate, Jordan Reynolds of Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.), who had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

About the only downside for Russell was watching Louisville's women defeat Tennessee 86-78 on Tuesday. Russell's final two schools were Louisville and Tennessee.

"We'll be better next year," Russell said.

Wildcats make an impression

One of the more entertaining parts of the girls game came in the second half when two Kentucky signees took over for a while. Linnae Harper of Whitney Young (Chicago), playing for the West, had eight points and her team won 92-64. Epps of Marion County (Lebanon, Ky.) finished with 13.

"I had never seen her play until now," Harper said. "It's going to be nice having her in the same backcourt next year."

Good for Gwinnett

Two guards from the same county in North Georgia were two of the top players for the East squad with Kaela Davis of Buford getting 10 points and Diamond DeShields of Norcross putting in 15. The two played together at Norcross their freshman years.

A third Gwinnett County player, Lexie Brown of North Gwinnett (Sugar Hill) had two points. Gwinnett County is also the same county that produced WNBA players Maya Moore, who played at Collins Hill (Suwanee) under coach Angie Hembree, now the coach at Norcross.

Greenwell re-aggravates knee

When West shooting guard Rebecca Greenwell drove the lane late in the first half of the McDonald’s All American girls’ basketball game Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago she got fouled and came down awkward on her already injured right knee. When she got up limping, Greenwell was taken to the back for evaluation.

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Greenwell, a Duke signee, tore the ACL in her right knee in September of 2011 while playing for Team USA in Italy. That sidelined her during her junior year.

In December, Greenwell suffered a tear in the lateral meniscus in the same knee, but was cleared to play.

“She’s fine,” West coach Anthony Smith said. “She just tweaked it a little bit. She ended up coming back to the bench and sitting out the second half, but she was fine. She’s planning to have some corrective surgery after the season so she can make sure everything is OK. But she’s fine.”

In January, Greenwell, who scored eight points in the West’s 92-64 win over the East, made national headlines when she drained 17 3-pointers to break the National Federation of High Schools’ record for made threes in a game.

She went 2 of 3 in the game Wednesday.

Harper’s farewell

Whitney Young (Chicago) guard Linnae Harper wasn’t sure how she’d feel after playing for the last time in front of her home city.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Harper, a Kentucky signee. “But surprisingly I wasn’t really nervous.”

She coolly scored eight points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out four assists in the West’s big win over the East.

“I’ve just learned to cherish these moments,” Harper said. “I’m excited about getting down to Kentucky and hopefully I can help them get to a Final Four next year.”

All in the genes for the East

At least three of the McDonald’s All American girls’ basketball players seemed destined to excel on the hardwood since their fathers played in the NBA.

Buford (Suwanee, Ga.) forward Kaela Davis’ father Antonio Davis played from 1993-2006, North Gwinett (Suwanee, Ga.) guard Lexi Brown’s father Dee Brown played from 1990-2002 and Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) forward  Taya Reimer’s father Ben Davis played from 1996-2000.

All three suited up for the East.

Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) guard Diamond DeShields’ father Delino DeShields played MLB from 1990-2002. Diamond also suited up for the East.

Reimer and Davis are the first father-daughter duo in the game’s history. Davis was a McDonald’s All-American in 1991.

“It was definitely a plus having a father who played professional sports,” Diamond said. “I think we all benefited from it just being more competitive.”

 

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