Duke's Cooper Flagg and Rutgers' Ace Bailey lead 8 players that impressed during McDonald's All American practices

HOUSTON — Over 100 NBA scouts and executives were in the gym for three days for a pair of practices and a highly competitive scrimmage featuring high-school players who could be hitting the NBA in a little over a year. Some teams rolled four or five deep to watch the group, which includes a few players who would be top draft prospects in this year's draft.

"The top two players here could go one and two in this year's draft, easily," one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports.

Cooper Flagg is currently ranked No. 1 in the senior class and is heading to Duke next year, while Ace Bailey is right behind him at No. 2 and will be playing at Rutgers. Both players showed why they're the top prospects in the class the last three days.

Ahead of Tuesday night's McDonald's All American Game, Yahoo Sports breaks down eight players who made lasting impressions on the NBA scouts and how their games are progressing at the end of the high school season.

Cooper Flagg, Duke

All eyes were on Flagg every time he hit the court over the weekend. He competed hard and wanted to win every rep whether it was in a pick-and-roll drill off the wing, 3-on-3, or 5-on-5 scrimmage play. Flagg is one of the best shot-blockers in high school, regardless of class, and has improved his timing, chasing down blocks in fast-break situations. North Carolina commit Drake Powell thought he could finish through contact by jumping into Flagg during a fast break, but the 6-foot-9 forward was patient with his timing, didn't foul, and swatted it away.

There were some nice moments on the East Team between Flagg and fellow Duke commit Isaiah Evans. Flagg found Evans a couple times during the scrimmage for open transition 3s and even caught Evans off a backdoor cut for a nice dunk during practice. Flagg was intentional during drills in picking up the opposing point guard in the backcourt to work on his defense, recognizing he'll have to guard faster guards off the switch on the wing next season. There's so much to like about his all-around game and he gets progressively better each time he plays.

"I just want to show the NBA scouts here my leadership and how vocal I can be on the court," Flagg told Yahoo Sports. "Also just my versatility on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and just get more consistent on my shot creation."

Ace Bailey, Rutgers 

Bailey is a pure scorer and very athletic as a 6-8 forward. He is so quick with his first step off the wing and cuts really well off the ball. His passing has improved, too, and it was especially impressive in this setting while playing alongside new teammates. Rutgers fans will get a glimpse of what's to come next year with teammate Dylan Harper also playing on the West Team. Harper found Bailey plenty of times in 2-on-2 drills and both seem to really like playing with one another. If any player is going to challenge Flagg for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 NBA Draft, it's Bailey with his superstar upside and scoring instincts as an inside-out player.

Donnie Freeman, Syracuse 

Freeman was the biggest surprise in practices with his length at 6-9 and how well he shot the ball. He was consistently knocking down 3s and has seemed to find another level to his game, peaking at the right time. Freeman has improved his footwork, getting his feet set when he shoots, and doesn't hesitate when he has a hand in his face. There's always a player who leaves a lasting first impression during this time and becomes a player to watch next season. Freeman is that guy with this McDonald's group.

V.J. Edgecombe, Baylor

Edgecombe was one of the biggest risers in the senior class, going from a top-80 player to a five-star prospect and McDonald's All American all within a year. He chose Baylor over Duke, Alabama and Kentucky and will most likely be filling the role of Ja'Kobe Walter next season as Walter leaves for the NBA. Edgecombe is a player who first got recognition for being an incredible athlete, but he has started to put together a complete game. He was splitting defenses off the wing, weaving passes in transition and showing creativity with his shot selection. He's also really quick off the dibble and strong enough to finish through contact.

Jalil Bathea, Miami

Bathea took a little time to settle into practices and find his rhythm. During the first two practice sessions, he was trying too hard to facilitate for his teammates and was forcing passes. By Monday morning, he was letting the game come to him and looked much more comfortable. Bathea, at 6-4, is a score-first shooting guard who is so good off the bounce. He was consistently hitting tough shots in the corner pocket and ran the floor well in transition. He chose Miami over Kansas, Penn State and Rutgers.

Boogie Fland, Kentucky 

Fland is a point guard who dictates the pace and has a natural feel for the game. He made some tough shots when the shot clock was winding down and tightened up his ball-handling. Fland understands what is at stake next season with Kentucky and looks ready to step in right away and take Reed Sheppard or Rob Dillingham's place in the backcourt.

"There's always pressure coming into a new situation, but we all definitely feel it after how this season ended," Fland told Yahoo Sports. "We have to go in there with the mindset that we're not freshmen. The big thing for us is we need to make it about the team's success first. We all want to reach that next level and make the NBA. The key is to not skip steps and really buy into what coach Cal says and do whatever is necessary to win."

Ian Jackson, North Carolina

Jackson has one of the quickest releases while getting a shot off and was really patient in the lane when getting downhill. North Carolina was one of the best defensive teams in the country this season and it all started with its guard play. Jackson has the quickness and athleticism to guard both positions in the backcourt and is so quick in turning defense into offense, advancing the ball in transition. He was the best guard during Saturday night's scrimmage, limiting turnovers and making the right read consistently.

Liam McNeeley, Uncommitted 

McNeeley hit the game-winning 3 during the scrimmage and has had the hot hand all season long for undefeated Montverde Academy (Florida). He recently decommitted from Indiana and says he doesn't plan on taking any visits until after his high school season.

“Kansas, UConn, Kentucky, Houston, Michigan … and a few I’m sure I’m missing,” McNeeley said when asked which programs are involved in his second recruitment. “Those are the ones at the top of my mind."

Honorable mention

Bryson Tucker (Indiana) made some really great plays in the pick-and-pop during the scrimmage and during practice on Monday. His consistent shooting is exactly what Mike Woodson and staff will need next season.

Karter Knox (Kentucky) is a three-way scorer who hit a tough fadeaway jumper over Ace Bailey right where the NBA scouts were sitting. Teams are familiar with his older brother Kevin, who was the 9th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and are hoping to see more offensive upside when Knox hits Kentucky in the fall.

Flory Bidunga (Kansas) was so forceful at the rim and really plays much bigger than his listed 6-9 size. The Jayhawks struggled with versatility in the front court this year, relying heavily on 7-2 Hunter Dickinson, and Bidunga will bring some fresh legs and athleticism next year.

Carter Bryant (Arizona) passes the eye test at 6-7 and is a player that can get hot from 3-point range. It was what he did on defense that was most impressive during practices, challenging everyone at the rim and establishing position when shots went up.

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