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MaxPreps 2012-13 Preseason Top 25 high school basketball rankings presented by the Army National GuardNov 5, 2012 For two years, St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) has been home to high school basketball's national title.
But even with a 65-game win streak entering the season, Bob Hurley's Friars won't be the favorite this time around.
A rising crop of quality teams all across the country are set to show that they are the new national champs. And that means new names and faces to familiarize yourself with when it comes to knowing the nation's best teams.
Find out who has a chance to unseat St. Anthony as MaxPreps unveils the 2012-13 Preseason Xcellent 25 High School Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard.
And just in case you need a refresher on last year's happenings and the start of this year's coverage, here are some links to get you back in a hoops frame of mind: Final Xcellent 25, Final Freeman Rankings, Last season's Final Academy Top 10 and this season's Preseason Academy Top 10.
Head coach: Mergin Sina
2011-12 record: 27-4, Non-Public South B group champions
Players to watch: Jaren Sina (6-1, Sr., G, Northwestern verbal commit), Austin Colbert (6-8, Sr., F), Chris Jenkins (6-4, Sr., G/F, Florida Atlantic verbal commit), Tyus Battle (6-3, Fr., G)
Strengths: With Top 100 forward Colbert joining the mix via transfer this summer, the Knights should be even better than they were a year ago – a campaign that included an upset victory over eventual California state champ Mater Dei (Santa Ana). Coach's son Jaren Sina is back after earning second team All-State honors as a junior. He's a rock solid floor general with plenty of scoring punch. Colbert, a long, versatile forward being pursued by the likes of Illinois, Miami, Seton Hall and Miami, is a more-than-adequate replacement for departed All-State player Dominic Hoffman (Bucknell signee). Landing Battle – already tagged as the nation's No. 1 2016 prospect by one media outlet – was seen as a major coup for Gill St. Bernard's, as several of the state's perennial heavyweights coveted his services.
Question marks: Just two teams not coached by Bob Hurley or Kevin Boyle have captured New Jersey's Tournament of Champions crown in the last 11 years (Seton Hall Prep in 2005 and Trenton Catholic Academy in 2010). Do the Knights have what it takes to dethrone St. Anthony (Jersey City)?
Head coach: Eric Behrens
2011-12 record: 30-0, Class A state champions
Players to watch: Akoy Agau (6-8, Sr., F/C, Louisville verbal commit), Tra-Deon Hollins (6-1, Sr., G), Tre'Shawn Thurman (6-6, Jr., F), Kevin Scott (6-1, Sr., G), DeAndre Hollins-Johnson (5-10, Sr., G)
Strengths: Central has captured six of the last seven state Class A state titles in Nebraska and welcomes back its most talented cast during that run. Agau tallied a triple-double in last year's state championship game and was one blocked shot away from doing the same as a freshman. The future Louisville Cardinal is a Top 100 recruit nationally but just one of many weapons in the program's balanced attack. Hollins averaged more than 12 points per game as a junior and was a second team All-State selection. Thurman and Scott both posted more than eight points per game a year ago and were Omaha All-Metro picks.
Question marks: Are the Eagles simply a bully in a state not known for producing national-caliber high school basketball programs, or a genuine superpower? Central will have the opportunity to prove it belongs with the big boys at the City of Palms Classic in December. The Eagles will also host Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in February.
Head coach: Wayne Brent
2011-12 record: 24-6, Class 5A state champions
Players to watch: Malik Newman (6-2, So., G), TreShawn Bolden (6-8, Sr., F), Jarvis Williams (5-5, Sr., G), Dontarrius Simmons (6-3, Sr., G)
Strengths: The Chargers return four starters and nine of their top 11 scorers from last year's state championship squad. The headliner is super sophomore Newman, who averaged more than 22 points per game in 2011-12 and was named the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year. Bolden posted more than nine points and six rebounds per game as a junior. Junior Rod Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive line prospect on the gridiron, is also expected to contribute. Taylor has offers from the likes of Alabama in football.
Question marks: Callaway lost both games against out-of-state competition last season. That isn't a major red flag for a young team but certainly something to keep an eye on as the Chargers will make the trip to Fort Myers for the City of Palms Classic in December.
Head coach: Derrick Taylor
2011-12 record: 25-8
Players to watch: Isaac Hamilton (6-5, Sr., G), Daniel Hamilton (6-6, Jr., G/F), Tyler Dorsey (6-4, So., G), Devin Burleson (6-9, Jr., F), Brian Nebo (6-5, Sr., G/F)
Strengths: Taylor will roll out a long, active and productive trio in the backcourt, highlighted by five-star senior recruit Isaac Hamilton. The elder of the Hamilton brothers averaged more than 26 points per game as a junior and gets plenty of help from Daniel, who added more than 18 points and eight boards per outing. The Braves received a huge addition via the transfer train, adding a 2011-12 Frosh All-American in Dorsey, who poured in 20-plus points per game last year at Ribet Academy (Los Angeles).
Question marks: The Braves will have to step up in order to be the best team in their own league. The vaunted Trinity League also features Mater Dei (Santa Ana), which looks to be down from its state championship form of the last two years. But the Monarchs have won 31 games or more each of the last eight years, so dethroning Gary McKnight's squad is going to be a tall task.
Head coach: Eric Holland
2011-12 record: 20-8
Players to watch: Brannen Greene (6-7, Sr., G/F), Tadric Jackson (6-2, Jr., G), Donell Tuff (6-5, Sr., F), Austin Pickett (5-10, Sr., G), LaDarius Stewart (6-0, Jr., G), Rashawn Canady (6-4, Jr., G/F)
Strengths: A young group of Blue Devils were up and down last winter, beating eventual Class AAAAA state champion Milton but losing some headscratchers along the way and getting bounced in the first round of the state tournament. But Tift County has all five starters back and got a huge transfer in Kansas-bound wing Greene. Jackson gave up football this fall to concentrate on hoops and is a flat-out winner. The burly guard is a little reminiscent of Florida Gator quarterback Jacoby Brissett when he was playing basketball at Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.).
Question marks: Though Greene and Jackson have experience playing and winning at an elite level on the adidas and Nike summer circuit, respectively, neither has a particularly distinguished resume in high school ball. But they haven't had the luxury of leaning on one another to this point in their careers. If the pieces fit, Tift County should be tough to beat.
Head coach: Jesus Patino
2011-12 record: 15-15
Players to watch: LeRon Black (6-7, Jr., F), Chris Chiozza (5-11, Jr., G), Davell Roby (6-5, Jr., G/F), Derrick Dandridge (6-6, Jr., F), Nych Smith (5-10, So., G)
Strengths: Last year's disappointing 15-15 record snapped a 16-year streak of 20-plus win seasons for this storied Memphis program. Expect the Spartans to be back in a big way in 2012-13. Long regarded as a tantalizing forward prospect, Black appears to be coming into his own as a player after a big summer with Team Thad. One analyst tabbed him the nation's top 2014 prospect in recent weeks. Chiozza, a transfer from Bartlett, is the floor general White Station was missing last winter. He specializes in pushing the pace and finding teammates in transition. Roby, Dandridge and Smith round out a cast of nine returning varsity players.
Question marks: Are the Spartans still a year away? Going from 15-15 to preseason Xcellent 25 is a big step. Is Patino's team ready to contend, or will this simply be the run-up to a potentially special 2013-14 campaign?
19. DeSoto (Texas)
Head coach: Chris Dyer
2011-12 record: 33-6, Class 5A regional finalist
Players to watch: Matt Jones (6-5, Sr., G, Duke verbal commit), Terry Maston (6-6, Jr., F), Devin Wyatt (6-5, Jr., F), Takedrick Brown (5-9, Jr., G)
Strengths: The Eagles are led by a special guard in Jones, who has already delivered a verbal pledge to Duke. Jones was a MaxPreps Junior All-American a year ago after producing 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The DeSoto star is also a longtime summer teammate of Prestonwood Christian star Julius Randle. Junior forwards Maston and Wyatt put themselves on the radar of college programs over the summer and should give the Eagles a major inside presence. DeSoto will get an early test at the McDonald's Texas Invitational – a mega-showcase for Texas public schools outside of Houston. The Eagles also travel to the HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational in North Carolina in December, a bit of a preview for Duke fans wanting a glimpse of Jones.
Question marks: Dyer led DeSoto to state titles in 2003 and 2009. Is Jones' supporting cast up to the task of helping the highly respected coach notch No. 3? The state's coaches seem to think so, as the Eagles appeared at No. 2 in the Class 5A preseason rankings, just behind 2012 state runner-up Fort Bend Travis (Richmond).
Head coach: Glenn Farello
2011-12 record: 35-3
Players to watch: Jamall Robinson (6-5, Sr., F, Niagara verbal commit), Tim Higgins (6-10, Sr., F, Cornell verbal commit), Marcus Derrickson (6-6, So., F), Franklin Howard (6-4, So., G/F), Kevin Dorsey (6-0, So., G)
Strengths: Oh, what could have been for Paul VI. Following a magical 2011-12 campaign, the Panthers were regarded as serious national title contenders until Indiana verbal commitment Stanford Robinson elected to spend his senior year at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). It was a huge hit, but the shelves are still stocked for a repeat run at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. Doing so will require a very promising trio of sophomores in Derrickson, Howard and Dorsey to come of age quickly. Few freshmen nationally had a bigger impact in the type of competitive environment the WCAC offers than Derrickson did last year. He could develop into one of the top 2015 prospects in the country.
Question marks: The Panthers met rivals DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) seven times last season and won six of those grudge matches – including five wins by three points or less. Minus Stanford Robinson, will this Paul VI squad be too young to maintain the program's momentum in the rough-and-tumble WCAC?
Head coach: Jeff Turner
2011-12 record: 29-4, Class 4A state runner-up
Players to watch: Joel Berry (6-1, Jr., G), Jay Henderson (6-4, Jr., G), Denzel Davis (6-8, Sr., F, Rice verbal commit), Landon Stokes (6-5, Sr., F, Vanderbilt football commit), B.J. Simpson (6-1, Sr., G)
Strengths: The Highlanders return their top five scorers from a team that reached Florida's 4A state championship game. The headliner is reigning State Player of the Year Berry, who pumped in more than 23 points per game last winter as a sophomore to go along with nearly six rebounds and three assists. The scoring point guard is being pursued by the likes of Florida, Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State. Berry will get plenty of help from another major Division I target in Henderson (15.8 points per game as a sophomore) and Davis (8.5 points, 7.9 rebounds per game in 2011-12).
Question marks: Turner has his bases covered with this roster. Sealing the deal this season with a state championship and turning in a solid showing at the City of Palms Classic in December will determine just how high his program can climb.
Head coach: Joey Rollings
2011-12 record: 29-6, Division I state runner-up Players to watch: Dakarai Allen (6-5, Sr., G/F, San Diego State verbal commit), D'Erryl Williams (6-3, Sr., G, San Diego State verbal commit), Darin Johnson (6-4, Sr., G, Washington verbal commit), Ryan Manning (6-5, Sr., G/F), Armani Hampton (6-2, Sr., G)
Strengths: The Huskies are loaded in the backcourt and on the wings, and battle-tested after last season's run to the Division I state championship game. Allen and Williams were the backbone a year ago, posting remarkably similar stats at around 14 points and seven rebounds per game. Allen was elevated to Top 100 status after a huge summer on the club circuit, earning a reputation as one of the nation's top defenders. Johnson's transfer from nearby Franklin (Elk Grove) solidified Sheldon's status as a preseason Top 25 team. The Washington pledge posted 16.8 points per game as a junior.
Question marks: Sheldon doesn't have much in the way of a true post presence, which could be trouble when it faces five-star forwards Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) and Marcus Lee of Deer Valley (Antioch). Managing a run of 12 tournament games in three different states over an 18-day span during the holidays will also be a major challenge.
Head coach: Andy Fagan
2011-12 record: 20-4
Players to watch: Collin Hartman (6-6, Sr., G/F, Indiana verbal commit), Jalen Coleman (6-3, So., G), Mo Evans (5-11, Sr., G, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne verbal commit), Collin Barthel (6-6, Jr., F), Devin Dixon (6-8, Sr., F)
Strengths: The Fighting Irish return four starters from a team that suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss in the section semifinals last season to Roncalli (Indianapolis) – a squad it rocked by 22 points a few weeks prior. That disappointment fueled an unbeaten run through summer competition. Hartman and Coleman – a top sophomore nationally – averaged in double figures a year ago while Evans posted more than eight points and five assists per game.
Question marks: Teams in Indiana don't have much of an opportunity to test themselves against out-of-state competition. That means Cathedral's margin for error is miniscule if it wants to remain in the national rankings.
Head coach: Tim Kennedy
2011-12 record: 31-3, Division II state champions
Players to watch: Aaron Gordon (6-8, Sr., F), Brandon Farrell (6-6, Sr., F), Brandon Abajelo (6-3, Sr., G/F), Connor Peterson (6-2, Jr., G), Dakari Monroe (5-11, So., G)
Strengths: After putting up more than 22 points and 12 boards per game as a junior while winning State Player of the Year honors, Gordon has a chance to go down as one of California's most decorated hoopers ever with another big season. He is regarded as the No. 5 overall senior prospect in America by MaxPreps. While the other four starters from 2011-12 are gone, the cupboard is never empty at Mitty as the program has averaged 27-plus wins per season since 2005. Farrell, Abajelo and Peterson gained experience a year ago and big things are expected from Monroe, who also had some bright moments on the gridiron this fall.
Question marks: Can Gordon avoid mononucleosis this season? Some sarcasm intended there, but the Monarchs lost all three games a year ago while he battled through sickness and lost 10-15 pounds. The strain could increase this season as programs like Washington, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and Oregon scrap for his attention.
Head coach: Donnie Boyce
2011-12 record: 32-1, Class 4A state runner-up
Players to watch: Sterling Brown (6-4, Sr., G/F, SMU verbal commit), Paris Lee (5-11, Sr., G), Branden Jenkins (6-3, Sr., G), Jevon Carter (6-0, Jr., G)
Strengths: The Pirates emerged as an absolute buzzsaw under Boyce a year ago, winning 32 games in a row before falling to Simeon in the state final. Proviso East polished off opponents by an average margin of 23 points per game, and returning guards Brown and Lee were a major factor in that dominance. Brown, the younger brother of Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown, is in line to have a huge senior campaign. Boyce, who helped PE win a state title as a player in 1991, has experience coaching in the NBDL and would love to spoil Jabari Parker's victory parade at Simeon (Chicago) by taking the Pirates one step farther this season.
Question marks: Proviso East lost a major playmaker in Saint Louis signee Keith Carter. In order to overcome loaded teams at Simeon and Whitney Young (Chicago), Brown and Lee will have to fill that void – and then some.
Head coach: Bob Hurley
2011-12 record: 32-0, NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winners, Xcellent 25 national champions
Players to watch: Josh Brown (6-3, Sr., G, Temple verbal commit), Hallice Cooke (6-3, Sr., G, Oregon State verbal commit), Kentrall Brooks (6-8, Sr., F, Marist verbal commit), Aaron Ariri (6-8, Jr., F), Tarin Smith (6-0, Jr., G)
Strengths: St. Anthony's biggest strength is the guy on the bench, 1,000-game winner Hurley. But that's not to discount the talent on this year's roster. Brown and Cooke did major damage over the summer playing for club team Sports U, even leading their team to a win over Aaron and Andrew Harrison. Ariri is a promising transfer from Canada. It's virtually guaranteed that the Friars will be nasty on the defensive end.
Question marks: The Friars lost MaxPreps National Player of the Year Kyle Anderson, now a freshman at UCLA. Hurley produces and seamlessly replaces Division I players every year, but Anderson was special, going undefeated in two years with the program. How will this squad handle the pressure of entering the season with a 65-game win streak?
Head coach: Carl Arrigale
2011-12 record: 29-3, Class AAA state champions Players to watch: Ja'Quan Newton (6-1, Jr., G), John Davis (6-4, Sr., G/F, Towson verbal commit), Lamarr Kimble (5-10, So., G), Hanif Sutton (5-9, Sr., G), Troy Harper (6-1, Jr., G), Jamal Custis (6-5, Jr., F), Tony Toplyn (6-5, Jr., F)
Strengths: The Saints return their top two scorers from a year ago in Newton and Davis. Newton is one of the nation's top junior point guards and will get plenty of help in the backcourt from Sutton, Harper and Kimble – a star on the rise. Few programs in the country have a tighter stranglehold on in-state competition. According to Philadelphia prep guru Ted Silary, Neumann-Goretti is 91-1 in league play, city title games and state playoff action over the past four years.
Question marks: The schedule is brutal. The Philadelphia power opens with Class AAAA runner-up Lower Merion (Ardmore) and will travel to events in Oregon, West Virginia and Massachusetts during a pivotal 25-day stretch in late December and January. N-G's regular season finale comes against defending Class AAAA state champ Chester.
Head coach: Bill Mellis
2011-12 record: 33-3, Division IV state champions Players to watch: Jabari Bird (6-5, Sr., G/F, California verbal commit), Mario Dunn (6-0, Sr., G, Montana verbal commit), Markel Leonard (6-0, Sr., G, Cal Poly verbal commit), Jermaine Edmonds (6-4, Sr., F), Jonathan Galloway (6-8, Jr., F), Lance Coleman (6-5, So., F), Ben Kone (6-7, Fr., F)
Strengths: Salesian's roster may feature as many as seven future Division I players, but ultra-athletic wing Bird and feisty guards Dunn and Leonard will be the backbone. That trio has helped the Pride go 52-4 since January of 2011. Bird is a Top 25 prospect nationally in the senior class and generally good for a couple of highlight-quality dunks every night out. Edmonds and transfers Galloway and Coleman will man the frontcourt. The freshman class is promising, according to Mellis, highlighted by Kone.
Question marks: The Pride lost some major beef in the middle in the form of 6-foot-7, 340-pound Freddie Tagaloa, now a freshman offensive lineman for the California Golden Bears. Salesian will look to replace his contributions with athleticism and length. As is the case with many nationallyranked teams, the schedule is beastly, featuring in-state powers Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), De La Salle (Concord), Deer Valley (Antioch), Serra (Gardena) and Sheldon (Sacramento). A trip to West Virginia in January for the Cancer Research Classic to face defending Pennsylvania Class AAA state champ Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) is also slated.
Head coach: Paul Edwards
2011-12 record: 27-4 Players to watch: Johnathan Williams III (6-8, Sr., F, Missouri verbal commit), JaJuan Johnson (6-4, Sr., G), Payton Hulsey (6-4, Sr., G, Lipscomb verbal commit), Deckie Johnson (6-4, Sr., G/F)
Strengths: The Jaguars are led by four talented seniors who should be hungry following an abrupt ending to their season a year ago. Williams helped USA Basketball's U17 team win a world championship in Lithuania over the summer and was one of the most coveted forward prospects in the country before committing to Missouri. JaJuan Johnson led Southwind in scoring a year ago, then blew up nationally over the summer playing on the Nike EYBL circuit with the Bluff City Legends. He's a long, lean shooting guard that can flat-out fill it up.
Question marks: Can the Jaguars get out of Memphis this year? The city's high school hoops scene is loaded and a year ago Southwind was knocked out of the running by rival Ridgeway before the state playoffs even got underway.
Head coach: Tyrone Slaughter
2011-12 record: 16-10 Players to watch: Jahlil Okafor (6-10, Jr., C), Paul White (6-8, Jr., F), L.J. Peak (6-4, Jr., G/F), Miles Reynolds (6-1, Jr., G), Joseph Toye (6-4, So., G/F), Rodney Herenton Jr. (6-1, Fr., G), Ausar Madison (5-10, Sr., G)
Strengths: The Dolphins will revolve around Okafor, the top center prospect in the country regardless of class. He was the MVP of the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania over the summer and should have significantly more help around him this season than he did as a sophomore. Slaughter expects a breakout season from versatile big man White, who has drawn the interest of Arizona and UCLA among a long list of college suitors. Peak is a Top 100 transfer from South Carolina who will add athleticism and talent to a young WY backcourt.
Question marks: It seems like Whitney Young looks great on paper every fall. Due in part to youth and ambitious scheduling, Michelle Obama's alma mater hasn't always lived up to lofty preseason expectations. Slaughter is optimistic that this squad will be in better position to handle the challenging slate than it was a year ago, when he rolled out his youngest lineup – including three sophomore starters – since taking over at the school. Even with a trip to Fort Myers for the City of Palms Classic, the most highly anticipated date on the schedule is Jan. 26. That's when the Dolphins take on rival Simeon (Chicago).
Head coach: Mike Bethea
2011-12 record: 27-3 Class 3A state champions Players to watch: MarQuis Davis (5-9, Sr., G), Shaqquan Aaron (6-7, Jr., G/F), Djuan Piper (6-6, Sr., G/F), Elijah Foster (6-6, Jr., F), Will Dorsey (5-9, Sr., G), Fuquan Niles (6-9, Sr., F), Naim Ladd (5-10, Jr., G)
Strengths: With state tournament MVP Davis back along with Piper, Dorsey, Foster, Niles and Ladd, the Vikings were already the favorite to repeat as Class 3A state champs. Then Aaron – a Top 20 player nationally in the 2014 class – showed up in the fall and suddenly the storied Seattle program found itself with an embarrassment of riches. Davis, also a football and track star, is an underappreciated point guard prospect nationally who brings serious swagger to the floor for the Vikings.
Question marks: How will Aaron mesh with a group of returnees that probably felt they could win a state title on their own? Things didn't work out for Aaron at two programs in Southern California and he spent his sophomore year being home-schooled. In addition to their highly competitive Metro League schedule, the Vikings will participate in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic and take on Class 4A favorite Bothell at the King Holiday Hoopfest in January.
Head coach: Quincy Lewis
2011-12 record: 22-3, Class 5A state champions Players to watch: Nick Emery (6-1, Sr., G, Brigham Young verbal commit), Eric Mika (6-8, Sr., F, Brigham Young verbal commit), T.J. Haws (6-3, Jr., G, Brigham Young verbal commit), Connor Toolson (6-3, Sr., G), Talon Shumway (6-3, Sr., G, Brigham Young football commit), Zach Frampton (6-2, Jr., G), Spencer Curtis (6-8, Jr., F)
Strengths: According to Lewis, this is a season Lone Peak has been building toward for a decade. The Knights served notice last winter that they can compete on the national level with wins over Illinois power Whitney Young (Chicago) and New York dynasty Lincoln (Brooklyn). Emery is a dangerous scorer, pouring in 29.7 points per game at the prestigious Beach Ball Classic last December. Mika and Haws are both capable of taking over as the No. 1 option if Emery is the focal point of opposing defenses. Glue guy Shumway will play football at BYU but Lewis believes could just as easily have a hardwood career at the college level.
Question marks: Lewis will take his team to the City of Palms Classic and it's a longshot for any program to return from Fort Myers unscathed. The challenge for Lone Peak will be to avoid a letdown against an in-state program. Orem and American Fork both crept up on the Knights and knocked them off last season.
Head coach: Larry Yarbray
2011-12 record: 32-0, Class AAAA state champions Players to watch: Rondae Jefferson (6-6, Sr., G/F, Arizona verbal commit), Conrad Chambers (6-0, Jr., G), Richard Granberry (6-5, Sr., F), Darius Robinson (6-1, Sr., G), Isaiah Warren (5-7, Sr., G), Rashan DeJarnette (5-9, Sr., G), Diamonte Reason (6-3, Sr., G), James Kirksey (6-4, Sr., F), Marquis Collins (6-6, Fr., F)
Strengths: Chester expects to win and win big each and every season. The program owns eight state titles – including two in a row – and with Jefferson back along with six other returners and nine experienced varsity performers on the roster, the expectations have never been higher. Jefferson is a consensus Top 50 recruit nationally that can play virtually any position on the floor at the high school level. Robinson was a clutch performer a year ago and the Clippers beefed up in the offseason with three talented transfers in Chambers, Warren and Kirksey. Collins is a highly touted freshman.
Question marks: The Clippers enter the season riding a 58-game win streak. Will the pressure of extending the unbeaten run be too much for Yarbray's squad to handle? In addition to a trip to Florida for the City of Palms Classic, Chester will bump heads with Patterson (Baltimore), Whitney Young (Chicago) and defending Pennsylvania AAA state champ Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) in nonleague action.
Head coach: Sharrief Metoyer
2011-12 record: 29-3 Players to watch: Roschon Prince (6-5, Sr., G/F, USC verbal commit), Jordan Bell (6-7, Sr., F), Kameron Chatman (6-6, Jr., G/F), Brandon Staton (6-0, Sr., G), Ke'jhan Feagin (5-9, So., G), Chris Sullivan (6-2, Jr., G), Kameron Murrell (6-2, Jr., G)
Strengths: There may be other seniors nationally who project better at the college level and beyond, but few have been as successful and productive as Prince, who averaged 21.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a junior. The Jackrabbits are 88-10 since he set foot on campus and have been a mainstay in the national rankings. If McDonald's All-American voters are serious about rewarding high school success, Prince deserves legitimate consideration. Bell is a freakish athlete that can be a game changer on the defensive end. Chatman, a transfer from Jefferson in Portland, Ore., is a versatile addition to the roster that can facilitate and score.
Question marks: This may be Metoyer's most talented team, but he admitted it lacks the maturity of the 2010-11 Poly squad that featured five key seniors and went 31-2. The trio of Prince, Bell and Chatman is impressive, but the Jackrabbits got a lot of help in 2011-12 from gritty, unheralded role players. Who will step up for Poly this winter?
Head coach: Chris Mayberry
2011-12 record: 27-4, TAPPS Class 5A state champions Players to watch: Julius Randle (6-8, Sr. F), Mickey Mitchell (6-7, So., G/F), Marquan Botley (5-8, Sr., G), Chas Taylor (5-10, Sr., G)
Strengths: Randle, who at 6-8 and 240 pounds has the look of an NBA veteran, is the No. 4 overall prospect in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100 and posted more than 21 points and eight rebounds per game as a junior. He was the MVP of the City of Palms Classic and has Florida, Kansas and Kentucky – among others – battling for his services. Mitchell, also a burgeoning quarterback prospect, is a versatile perimeter player. He averaged 10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as a freshman.
Question marks: PCA's roster appears to be a little more top-heavy than some of the other elite teams nationally. That could make things more difficult as they attempt to manage a grueling schedule. Mayberry's club will return to the City of Palms Classic as the defending champions and also heads to the always-tough Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in January. Games against No. 1 Simeon (Chicago) and Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) also dot the slate.
Head coach: Craig Brownson
2011-12 record: 36-4, Class 5A state runner-up Players to watch: Aaron Harrison (6-5, Sr., G, Kentucky verbal commit), Andrew Harrison (6-5, Sr., G, Kentucky verbal commit), John Burnett (5-9, Sr., G), Chris Idi (5-8, Jr., G)
Strengths: High school basketball is a guard's game and the Tigers have the nation's top backcourt in twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison – both top five prospects in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100. The Harrisons made a highly publicized pledge to Kentucky in early October, allowing them to focus on winning a state title after falling short as juniors. Collectively, they put up more than 30 points, 10 rebounds and nearly 10 assists per game in 2011-12. Expect Travis to be tough on the defensive end after allowing less than 48 points per game a year ago.
Question marks: Tough to poke holes in a team that features the Harrisons, but the Tigers lost several key role players and the supporting cast will be a bit of a mystery heading into the season. Finishing this high in the final national rankings next spring would require the Tigers to capture the Class 5A state title, which is never a given considering the 132-team, single-elimination format.
Head coach: Robert Smith
2011-12 record: 33-1, Class 4A state champions Players to watch: Jabari Parker (6-8, Sr., G/F), Kendrick Nunn (6-2, Sr., G, Illinois verbal commit), Jaylon Tate (6-2, Sr., G, Illinois verbal commit), Russell Woods (6-8, Sr., F), Kendall Pollard (6-5, Sr., G/F), Sean Moore Jr. (6-2, Sr., G), Ricky Norris (6-3, Sr., G), Quron Davis (6-8, Sr., F), D.J. Williams (6-6, So., G/F), Ben Coupet (6-5, Fr., G/F)
Strengths: Experience, size, guard play, depth and arguably the best player in the country in Parker. And the Wolverines play stifling defense. Anything else? Simeon was an easy pick for the No. 1 ranking. All that's left for this group is a national title and they have made no secret about their desire to accomplish just that.
Question marks: Aside from perhaps a dominant big man (and only a microscopic number of teams at the high school level have that), Smith's squad is virtually without weakness. But they will be tested by a daunting schedule that will include games against Montverde Academy (Fla.), Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas).