Keldon Johnson steps up defensively in McDonald’s All-American Game


Kentucky head coach John Calipari reacts to the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky was defeated 61-58. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Two future UK basketball players took to the basketball court Wednesday evening as they participated in the McDonald’s All-American Boys’ Game in Atlanta.

Small forward Keldon Johnson and point guard Immanuel Quickley, both future Wildcats, faced off on opposite teams in the high school all-star game in Phillips Arena. Johnson earned the bragging rights over his future teammate as the East defeated the West, 131-128.

Neither player showed out much in the first half, as they were two of only four players in the game without any points after the first 20 minutes. They were shooting a combined 0-4 after each had played eight minutes in the first half.

Quickley and Johnson contributed to their teams in other ways in the first period, however. Quickley picked up five assists, while both players grabbed three rebounds.

The second half belonged to Johnson, at least on the offensive end. He picked up eight second-half points, while also drawing a charge with just over a minute to play.

He also made important stops while being the primary defender on ESPN No. 1 overall player R.J. Barrett. Johnson blocked Barrett with 8.2 seconds left in the game to seal the win for the East, capping off an impressive showing on the night.

Johnson was a crucial piece for the East, but with players like Barrett and Zion Williamson playing for the West, Quickley didn’t see the floor as much in crunch time as his future teammate did. He was still able to contribute to the West, scoring three second-half points in the loss.

Future opponents of the Cats also made their mark on the all-star event, as Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry, LSU commit Nazreon Reid and Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Simisola Shittu all participated in the game. All of these players will likely be facing off against the Cats in the future.