CHICAGO - Arizona Wildcats signee Brandon Ashley had a quiet start to the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday, but he figured out the best way to start speaking up.
He rebounded. And rebounded. And rebounded.
While Las Vegas guard Shabazz Muhammad restated his case as the nation's best high school player early in Wednesday's McDonald's All-American Game, winding up with 21 points and MVP honors while leading the West to a 106-102 victory, Ashley made his presence known by collecting 10 rebounds.
Ashley even had three rebounds on one possession early in the second half, one off a teammate's miss and two others on his own misses.
"Honestly, it's just the fact that in all-star games big men don't get a lot of touches," Ashley said. "For a big man to really want to get involved, you've got to hit the glass. That was my way to get involved in the game."
From there, he was a key factor in the game, helping the West hold off the East despite its 26-6 run in the second half that cut the West lead to just five points.
Fellow UA signee Grant Jerrett helped finish off the East with a 17-foot jumper to give the West a 98-90 lead with 2:15 left. The West had led 87-62 with 9:37 to go, but the East went on a furious run to cut it to 93-88 with 3:42 left.
Ashley finished with a team-high 10 rebounds and six points, and Jerrett had eight points and two rebounds. Kentucky-bound Alex Poythress led the East with 11 points and one rebound, and Syracuse signee DaJuan Coleman had 12 rebounds for the East.
The West benefited from Muhammad, who scored in a frightening number of ways, and collected 11 early points. His dominance meant guys like Ashley and Jerrett had relatively quiet starts.
"It's almost impossible to get going when you don't even touch the ball," Ashley said. "But you still want to come out and compete and give it your best. that's what I tried to do."
Muhammad had 15 points at halftime, when the West led 58-46, and added six more points in the second half to collect MVP honors. He finished with 21 points on 10-for-18 shooting and six rebounds, but his aggressive play also led to six turnovers.
Jerrett said he was hardly surprised to see Muhammad pull it off.
"You expect that from him," Jerrett said.
Muhammad said he had an early intensity to the game that drove him.
"When you come to every event, you want to be the best player," Muhammad said. "This is the elite top 24 guys."
Muhammad's sentiments were pretty much the way everyone felt, Ashley said.
Even though Ashley plays with talented prospects every day at Nevada's Findley Prep, this was a different environment, one he said in which everybody wanted to shine.
"I feel like everybody wanted to touch the ball, but at the same time you don't come into it expecting to be the man because there's so many great players," Ashley said. "But it was still a great experience. A great, great experience."
On StarNet: Bruce Pascoe will keep you informed of Arizona Wildcats basketball news at azstarnet.com/pascoe
UA's Fogg is invited to predraft camp
Departing Arizona Wildcats guard Kyle Fogg has been invited to showcase himself at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament next month.
Fogg is one of 64 players scheduled for the April 11-15 seniors-only predraft camp, which typically attracts both NBA and overseas scouts. Former UA guard Nic Wise played in the 2010 event and now plays professionally in France.
"I'm happy to be invited," Fogg said in a UA statement. "This is a great opportunity for me to play in front of professional scouts. Hopefully, I'll be able to use this opportunity to my advantage."
Fogg led Arizona in scoring with an average of 13.5 points, scoring in double figures 25 times. He was named to the Pac-12's 10-man all-conference and to its five-man all-defensive teams.