Harrison basketball coach Jim Masterson was watching the McDonald's All-American festivities on Monday night, thinking, you know, his star player Xavier Ford was every bit as talented as those in Chicago.

So, when his phone rang and he received word that Ford was selected to the PARADE Magazine All-America third team, he felt a hint of vindication for a player he calls one of the best he's had in more than 30 years of coaching.

"I'm biased, because I got to see him every day," Masterson said. "But I think he's the best player in Colorado. He's deserving of everything he gets."

Ford was the state's only player listed among the four, 10-player teams that PARADE released to select newspapers on Monday and will make available to the public on Thursday. Only seniors are eligible.

The team was highlighted by Duke signee and national player of the year Austin Rivers of Winter Park, Fla. Rivers is the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

The selection of Ford, listed at times at either 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8, comes after a season in which he led all 4A players with 27.4 points per game and carried the Panthers to a 20-5 record, including a second-place finish in the difficult 4A Metro League.

"I'm happy to make it," Ford said, "but I've got keep working hard and strive to get better."

Ford signed a letter of intent with Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference prior to the season. The senior has taken note of what other mid-majors have done in the NCAA tournament in this and previous years and he knows that, though the spotlight of the McDonald's All-American game may have passed him by, his opportunity may arrive in the future.

"I'm just going to keep practicing hard and God-willing, we'll see what happens," Ford said.