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All-American honor

February 24, 2017 GMT

La PORTE — When the banner behind the podium at a news conference has photos of National Basketball Association stars Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis, you can bet the event is serious stuff.

Well, except for the brief attempt at humor by La Lumiere Head of School Adam Kronk when he began Thursday’s important basketball event.

“I just want to put it out there that I’m taller than Kevin Durant,” he said, standing next to Durant’s photo from when he was a senior in high school that definitely wasn’t to scale.

Kronk, and almost everyone one else in the room at La Lumiere, from students to teachers to administration, wasn’t as tall as the two Lakers being honored as McDonald’s All-Americans. Well, at least one fellow basketball player in the room is listed as an inch taller.

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Jaren Jackson, listed at 6-10, and 6-7 Brian Bowen were named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American squad that has existed since 1978, and they will be part of the boys and girls games on March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.

“I’m a McDonald’s All-American … it seems so unreal to say,” said Bowen, who hasn’t decided on his college destination yet. “I thank God to have given me the ability to be here today. I also thank the coaching staff for bringing out the best in me. All the early mornings and late night are worth it.”

The head coach, Shane Heirman, behind much of that hard work gets to add to his resume the tidbit that Bowen and Jackson are La Lumiere’s first McDonald’s All-Americans, and the rare duo from the same school.

“We’ve had Jordan All-Americans before (both Bowen and Jackson were also named to that team and will play in Brooklyn, N.Y., in April at the Jordan Brand Classic), but never McDonald’s, which has been around much longer,” Heirman said. “I’m proud more of the people (Bowen and Jackson) are than the players they are. To have one McDonald’s All-American is an unbelievable individual accomplishment. To have two is an unbelievable team accomplishment and shows the character that makes this school great.”

The event on Thursday is part of a new endeavor by McDonald’s and co-sponsor American Family Insurance called “Hometown Heroes” in which all 24 boys and girls on the McDonald’s All-American squad are honored at their high school with a news conference in front of their peers. On hand from the McDonald’s All-American program was Susie Sternard.

Bowen and Jackson are part of a Lakers squad that has lost just one game this season and is ranked No. 3 in the USA Today national rankings and No. 11 on Maxpreps.com.

“This milestone is one of the greatest for a high school athlete, and it’s only the beginning and a stepping stone to my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA,” said Jackson, who has committed to play at Michigan State University.

The players’ parents, Jaren and Terry Jackson, and Brian and Carrie Bowen, also received a “Dream” plaque from McDonald’s and American Family Insurance as part of the Hometown Heroes program.