CHICAGO — Antonio Blakeney isn’t afraid to throw down a dunk.
He sure make everyone was aware of that Wednesday night. Blakeney and East teammate Benny Simmons performed a little razzle dazzle for the fans at the United Center during the 38th annual McDonald’s All-American Game. Blakeney and Simmons led the East squad to a 111-91 victory over the West.
Blakeney and Simmons looked smooth teaming up together. It’s a little preview when the two high fliers will play for the LSU men’s basketball team next season.
The game lived up to the expectations of both Simmons and Blakeney.
“This was something I always dreamed of, and just to accomplish it is great,” Blakeney said.
Simmons, the No. 1-rated player in ESPN’s Top 100 for the Class of 2015, and Blakeney, rated No. 14, loved getting on the court together again.
“Especially with me running the point, it helps a lot,” Simmons said. “I like to find him when he’s open on the 3, and he likes to shoot it, so it works well.”
East coach Robert Smith saw a lot of chemistry from Simmons and Blakeney.
“They look like they’ve been playing together for a while,” Smith said. “I know they haven’t played much together, but (LSU is) getting two good ones.”
Blakeney picked up a few things about his future Tigers teammate during the game.
“I learned that he’s very unselfish, even though I already knew that,” Blakeney said. “It’s just crazy he can be around a lot of good players and still be unselfish. And you’re on TV, and you want to shine and still be unselfish, that’s great.”
Blakeney finished with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and had four rebounds. Simmons had a great all-around game with seven points (3-for-8 shooting), 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Simmons felt like he didn’t have to be a score too much to make an impact in the game.
“When you play with a bunch of scorer’s, it’s different,” Simmons said. “I’m not a scoring, I’m a point-forward. As you can see, I like to pass the ball a lot and I’m a team player and I like to win.”
Being a well-rounded player is what make Simmons so unique, Smith noted.
“He can do a whole lot of different things, he just doesn’t have to score to be effective in the game,” Smith said. “I saw him push it up on the break. He gave up a good pass, and the guy got a dunk.”
The East team trailed 11-4 early before Simmons hit a jumper and Blakeney put down a dunk on an alley-oop from Isaiah Briscoe. Blakeney also hit a layup as the East still trailed 14-10. The East took its first lead later in the opening half, and a Simmons free throw made it 28-25. Simmons also had a tip-in late in the half as the East went into the break up 49-46.
The West made a comeback and took the lead in the second half, but a dunk and layup by Blakeney turned the tide and put the East back up three, 67-64. The East never trailed after that point.
Blakeney finished with three highlight-reel dunks to electrify the crowd.
“I didn’t know he was that athletic until he went up and dunked that one,” Smith said. “He’s very athletic and can shoot the ball very well, too.”
Blakeney had a fun time talking trash with Malik Newman from the West team. Newman is getting recruited by LSU, and Blakeney and Simmons are pushing him hard to come to Baton Rouge.
“Always,” said Blakeney about trash-talking. “With anybody, I’m going to talk trash regardless.”
Newman had a rough game with just one point on 0-for-7 shooting.
“I think he got the best of me tonight,” said Newman of Blakeney. “I couldn’t really throw it in the ocean. But I think they played a great game together.”