By Robert Wilson
Callaway senior guard Daeshun Ruffin was selected as one of 24 players for the McDonald’s All-American Game Tuesday, the first time since 2015 a Mississippi player has been selected and the 18th Mississippi in the history of the game, which began in 1978. It is one of the most prestigious honors for a high school basketball player.
The 5-foot-9 Ruffin is also the first Ole Miss signee out of high school to ever be selected for the game, which for the second year in a row will not be played due to the coronavirus.
Ruffin, rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and No. 7 point guard in the country, is the first Mississippian since Malik Newman, also of Callaway, was selected in 2015. Ruffin is only the fifth Mississippian in the past 15 years to be selected to the game.
“Daeshun has done things the right way,” Callaway coach David Sanders said. “He stayed home, worked hard and he proved that Jackson can still produce elite players. He is the first player under 6 feet to make the McDonald’s game from Mississippi and it speaks to his level of intelligence and drive.”
“Being selected to the McDonald’s All Game means a lot to me,” Ruffin said. “Knowing that my hard work and dedication got me to another dream in my life. I’m just happy and excited.”
“This is one of the most prestigious honors a high school player can receive,” said Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis. “At Callaway High School, Daeshun has put together one of the very best careers in the history of Mississippi high school basketball. Congratulations to Daeshun and his wonderful family as well as Coach Sanders and Callaway High School.”
Ruffin is averaging 33.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.0 assists for 9-0 Callaway, which has won 29 straight games against Mississippi teams. He would rank No. 8 in the nation in scoring by MaxPreps if he had played enough games. Ruffin had his No. 24 Callaway Charger jersey retired two weeks ago at the Class 5A, Region 4 Tournament at Callaway. He has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week twice this season. He has a high of 39 points this season against Vicksburg.
Ruffin now has 2,475 career points and has moved into third place this season in the storied tradition of great Callaway scorers behind Malik Newman (3,108 from 2011-15) and Deville Smith (2,538 from 2007-11). Ruffin passed Mario Bland (2,363 from 1992-96) and Eddie Archie (2,360 from 1977-80) earlier this season.
Ruffin is the fourth Callaway boys player to have his jersey retired, joining Newman, Smith and Bland.
Ruffin scored a career-high 50 points against Ridgeland two years ago as a sophomore despite playing just two and half quarters due to senior night.
“Daeshun has consistently dominated his competition this season and over the course of his career,” Sanders said. “He definitely goes down as one of the greatest scorers to ever play in the state of Mississippi. His national footprint gives him a case to be an all-time great. Daeshun is a generational talent who will be irreplaceable.”
Ruffin was the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of the Year last season. He averaged 26.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals and led Callaway to a 25-5 record – undefeated against Mississippi teams — and the Class 5A state championship, a No. 1 Mississippi and No. 38 national final ranking by MaxPreps, this past season. Ruffin shot 50 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range (averaging 2.2 per game), and 76.7 percent from the free throw line.
Ruffin burst onto the high school basketball scene as a freshman. He averaged 19.6 points and led Callaway to a 25-6 record and the Class 5A state semifinals. As a sophomore, Ruffin averaged 26.4 points and led the Chargers to a 21-8 record and the 5A state quarterfinals. He took it to another level last season. And so did Callaway, playing in showcase games across the country. Ruffin showed off his game as well. He averaged 30.1 points in eight games across the South. Ruffin had only one game below 27 points with highs of 37 points twice. Callaway had a 5-3 record against some of the best teams in the country and Ruffin going up against some of the best players in the country.
Chris Jackson, now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, of Gulfport and Litterial Green of Moss Point were the first Mississippians selected to the McDonald’s Game in 1988. Othello Harrington of Murrah and Jonathan Bender of Picayune were named MVPs in the 1992 and 1999 games respectively.
Here is a list of the Mississippians named to the Game: Daeshun Ruffin (Callaway, 2021), Malik Newman (Callaway, 2015), Devin Booker (Moss Point, 2014), DeVonta Pollard (Kemper County, 2012), Johnny O’Bryant (Cleveland East Side, 2011), Monta Ellis (Lanier, 2005), Al Jefferson (Prentiss, 2004), Travis Outlaw (Starkville, 2003), Jackie Butler (McComb, 2003), Mo Williams (Murrah, 2001), Darius Rice (Lanier, 2000), Jonathan Bender (Picayune, 1999), Jerod Ward (Clinton, 1994), Ronnie Henderson (Murrah, 1993), Othello Harrington (Murrah, 1992), James Robinson (Murrah, 1989), Chris Jackson (Gulfport, 1988), Litterial Green (Moss Point, 1988).