East County Sports

Leaf is first east county McDonald’s All-American



By James McHugh

© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (1-18-16) – Foothills Christian’s T.J. LEAF was named to the 2016 McDonald’s All American Team late Sunday evening (Jan. 17) in an event broadcast on ESPNU. Leaf becomes the first San Diego section selectee to the game since current Minnesota Timberwolves star Chase Budinger was selected out of La Costa Canyon for the 2006 game held in San Diego.


This year the 39th Annual McDonald’s All American game will take place at the United Center in Chicago. Leaf is one of just four San Diego Section players ever to be selected for the prestigious honor. Along with Budinger and Leaf, Jelani McCoy was selected in 1995 for Saint Augustine and Mike Pitts of Sweetwater was selected as an alternate for the 1979 team.


The development of Leaf’s game throughout his career into one of the highest sought after talents in the nation, along with brutal scheduling throughout his high school career at Foothills Christian helped in landing Leaf on the West squad.


Leaf is joined on the West roster by Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills, whom Leaf and the Knights faced twice this season, taking the National No. 1 Huskies down to the wire in their last encounter. Frank Jackson of Lone Peak (UT) also made the West roster. Last season Leaf turned in a 39-point, 19 rebound and 9 assist performance at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, topping Jackson’s Lone Peak team 71-66 in the process.


De’Aaron Fox of Cypress Lakes was named to the East roster. Leaf put up 36-points in an ESPN televised game earlier this season with Leaf and the Knights coming out on top 57-55. This Saturday (Jan. 16) Leaf and the Knights knocked off Sacred Heart of Waterbury Connecticut, ending the Hearts 40-game winning streak and damaging their No. 16 National ranking. Mustapha Heron of Sacred Heart is thought to have been one of the final omissions from the All-American roster and is the highest ranked player not to make the team.


Leaf has 2,593 career points and will likely become one of a handful of players from California to top the 3,000 career scoring mark. The total is good for fifth on the San Diego Section scoring list. Leaf also ranks fifth in career rebounds (1,278), 15th in career assists (543) and seventh in career blocks (345) in the section.


The 39th Annual McDonald’s All-American game will air March 30, 2016. The McDonald’s All-American Game will be carried at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

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