Oak Hill Academy of Virginia and La Lumiere Academy of Indiana are in the No. 1 and No. 2 preseason positions for this year’s FAB 50 national boys basketball rankings. These rankings, and many others, were topped last year by unbeaten Golden State squad Chino Hills. There are four California teams in the top 25 of this year’s preseason FAB 50 and the Cowboys are indeed one of them. For the complete preseason FAB 50 package, powered by BallisLife, CLICK HERE.
Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50
National Team Rankings
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
Look for the Cal-Hi Sports preseason state rankings on CalHiSports.com very soon.
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 17 years ago.
(Final 2015-16 ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; Look for preseason Region-By-Region Top 20 Rankings on Thursday, November 10 and for the preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker on Tuesday, November 22.)
Complete Team Capsules: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (16-30) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (31-50)
1. (2) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 45-1
Key Players: PF Billy Preston 6-10 2017 (No. 5 247Sports.com), PG Lindell Wiggington 6-2 2017 (No. 40 Rivals.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PG Matt Coleman 6-2 2017 (No. 27 ESPN.com), SG Devontae Shuler 6-2 2017 (No. 100 Scout.com, Ole Miss commit), SG Ty-Shon Alexander 6-4 2017 (No. 64 ESPN.com, Creighton commit). Note: Preston was a former player at Redondo Union (Redondo Beach).
2. (4) La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) 27-4
Key Players: SF Brian Bowen 6-8 2017 (No. 10 Hoop Scoop, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PF Jaren Jackson 6-10 2017 (No. 15 Rivals.com, Michigan St. commit), PG Tyger Campbell 6-0 2019 (No. 23 Rivals.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SG Jordan Poole 6-5 2017 (No. 58 ESPN.com, Michigan commit).
3. (34) Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) 23-6
Key Players: C Nick Richards 6-11 2017 (No. 12 ESPN.com), PG Jamir Harris 6-1 2017 (No. 224 247Sports.com, Minnesota commit), PG Jordan Walker 5-10 2017, SG Myles Cale 6-4 2017 (No. 63 ESPN.com, Seton Hall commit), C Buj Ajang 6-9 2017.
4. (NR) Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 22-6
Key Players: PG Darius Perry 6-3 2017 (No. 58 ESPN.com, Louisville commit), SF Jordan Tucker 6-7 2017 (No. 38 247Sports.com), SG Jordan Usher 6-7 2017 (No. 97 Rivals.com, USC commit), PF E.J. Montgomery 6-10 2018 (No. 9 Rivals.com, Auburn commit), SF Terry Armstrong 6-5 2019 (No. 19 Scout.com).
5. (5) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 26-2
Key Players: SG R.J. Barrett 6-7 2019 (No. 1 Scout.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SF Rechon “Leaky” Black 6-7 2018 (No. 32 ESPN.com, North Carolina commit), PG Marcus Carr 6-2 2017 (No. 134 247Sports.com), PG Andrew Nembhard 6-3 2019 (No. 15 ESPN.com), PF Sean Mobley 6-9 2017 (No. 147 247Sports.com, Virginia Commonwealth commit).
6. (10) Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Ga.) 30-2
Key Players: C Ikechukwu Obiagu 7-0 2017 (No. 34 Scout.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PF Victor Enoh 6-9 2017 (No. 163 247Sports.com, Memphis commit), PG Justin Forrest 6-1 2017 (Ballislife Underclass All-American), PF Abayomi “Baybe” Iyiola 6-7 2017.
7. (36) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 28-3
Key Players: SG Ethan Thompson 6-4 2017 (No. 23 Hoop Scoop, Oregon St. commit), SF Jordan Schakel 6-5 2017 (No. 137 Rivals.com, San Diego St. commit), SG David Singleton 6-4 2018 (No. 37 Hoop Scoop, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PG Gianni Hunt 6-2 2019.
Why This Ranking: The Knights begin the season in the same rankings position they had heading into last January’s showdown with top-ranked Chino Hills. Bishop Montgomery had a six-point lead late before a couple of poor possessions doomed it in an eventual 71-67 loss. With five underclass starters in that game, it wasn’t a secret coach Doug Mitchell’s team was going to start off the season highly-ranked, especially since Hunt and fifth starter Fletcher Tynen (6-5, 2018) have shown marked improvement since last year. Both Thompson and Singleton are legitimate California Mr. Basketball candidates, as the latter made a big jump in his game as a sophomore when he was named area player of the year by the South Bay Daily Breeze. This ranking may seem a bit high for a team without a true post presence, but as a unit they are physically stronger than last season and Mitchell (618-154) always fields outstanding defensive teams that know how to compete against taller teams.
The Skinny: Last season, Cal-Hi Sports had a rankings dilemma in determining its preseason No. 1 between Chino Hills and Sierra Canyon. The choice ended up being Chino Hills and it proved to be the correct one, as that team went on to an unbeaten national championship season while the Trailblazers lost their first game. Sierra Canyon starts two spots behind Bishop Montgomery this season and the difference between the two clubs in determining its preseason FAB 50 spot was miniscule. Sierra Canyon has a legit claim to start higher than Mitchell’s club; it beat the Knights 78-69 in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Similar to Chino Hills last season, however, we have a hunch this year’s Montgomery team will live up to expectations. We’re going to take a wait-and-see approach with Sierra Canyon, which plays a tougher national schedule than does Montgomery, the latter which can’t afford a slow start to its season in order to maintain a lofty ranking. The country will get to see just how Mitchell’s undersized juggernaut stacks up nationally when it takes on No. 5 Montverde Academy in a nationally televised affair at the Hoophall Classic on January 16.
8. (14) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.) 28-3
Key Players: SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker 6-5 2017 (No. 29 ESPN.com, Virginia Tech commit), PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 6-5 2017 (No. 43 247Sports.com), SG Therren Shelton-Szmidt 6-5 2017 (Middle Tennessee St. commit).
9. (41) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 26-5
Key Players: PF Marvin Bagley III 6-10 2018 (No. 1 Hoop Scoop), PF Cody Riley 6-8 2017 (No. 30 Hoop Scoop, UCLA commit), PG Remy Martin 5-10 2017 (No. 91 Hoop Scoop, Arizona St. commit), SG Adam Sieko 6-3 2017 (No. 98 Hoop Scoop, San Diego St. commit).
Why This Ranking: This ranking gives the Trailblazers extra motivation since they field one of the most talented and experienced units in the country, but still sit No. 2 in California behind No. 7 Bishop Montgomery. Sierra Canyon returns four starters and adds Bagley, a legitimate Mr. Basketball USA candidate as a junior and one of the best players in the nation regardless of class despite sitting out his sophomore season. If Bagley flourishes with the veterans and they realize he’s the most talented player, this club could be scary good. In fact, more than one coach whose team is in FAB 50 nominated the Trailblazers as preseason No. 1. Sierra Canyon goes eight deep, as Terrence McBride (6-2, 2017) is a three-year starter who would be a star for a vast majority of California programs, while Michael Feinberg (6-3, 2018) has tons of experience in high-level games. As if that wasn’t enough, Marcus Bagley (6-6, 2020), Marvin’s younger brother, is an excellent offensive player who is pushing the starters.
The Skinny: Last season got off to a bad start when the Trailblazers lost before December and the season came to an end a few games earlier than expected when unranked Cathedral Catholic of San Diego knocked them off in the opening round of the SoCal Open regional playoffs. Coach Ty Nichols knows his team must finish off the close games in order to meet its goal of winning the CIF Southern Section and CIF State Open Division title. That loss in the regional playoffs is the reason Sierra Canyon is ranked lower than Montgomery because it beat that club 78-69 in the section semifinals in a game Riley dominated. Martin is the fastest guard in the state and Seiko is underrated nationally, so if the Trailblazers survive their schedule there is no reason why California can’t have the FAB 50 champion for two consecutive seasons. Sierra Canyon plays top-ranked Oak Hill on December 15 in Indiana, could face No. 5 Montverde Academy and No. 10 Gonzaga at the Les Schwab Invitational and will do the Bass Pro TOC-Hoophall Classic double dip MLK weekend.
10. (NR) Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 24-10
Key Players: PG Chris Lykes 5-8 2017 (No. 20 Hoop Scoop, Ballislife First Team All-American, Miami commit), SG Prentus Hubb 6-3 2018 (No. 18 Hoop Scoop), SF Myles Dread 6-5 2018 (No. 111 Hoop Scoop, Penn St. commit).
11. (23) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 27-4
12. (11) Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 32-2
13. (7) DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 32-5
14. (1) Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) 35-0
Key Players: SF Li’Angelo Ball 6-5 2017 (No. 147 247Sports.com, UCLA commit), PG La’Melo Ball 6-1 2019 (No. 18 247Sports.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American, UCLA commit), C Onyeka Okongwu 6-9 2019 (No. 7 ESPN.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SF Eli Scott 6-4 2017 (LMU commit).
Why This Ranking: It was a magical ride to the 2016 mythical national championship for the Huskies, which pulled out some tough, close games at the City of Palms Tournament to springboard an unbeaten season. By the time the section and state Open Division playoffs rolled around, Chino Hills was completely dominant against strong competition, defeating eight opponents by an average of 29 points. So with four starters back, including its leading scorer and anchor in the middle, why isn’t the defending champ ranked higher? The loss of 2016 Mr. Basketball USA Lonzo Ball (UCLA) is big despite the returning talent and experience. He dictated the outcome of high school games more than any individual player last year and replacing 23.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 11.7 apg, 5.1 spg, 2.0 bpg and a state record 25 triple doubles is impossible. Chino Hills also has a new coach in former assistant Stephan Gilling, but the strategy will be the same: force turnovers, create havoc and let it fly. Gelo Ball (27.5 ppg) is taking more of a point forward role this season, but is still letting it fly at a moment’s notice. His younger brother Melo Ball (16.1 ppg, 4.0 apg) has grown three inches since last season and will improve in the rebounding and defense department this season.
The Skinny: Watching Chino Hills in summer and fall league, it will win many games because of its style and experience, but its press and offensive attack isn’t as formidable minus the oldest Ball brother. With Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year Okongwu (7.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 bpg) back in the fold, however, this is a national level team because he’s so disciplined on defense and unselfish on offense. If he’s utilized in the offense more and if Scott (14.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is dominant like he’s been in the fall, this team could challenge for another CIF Open Division title. The development of Andre Ball (6-8, 2018) and the bench contributions of guard Phaquon Davis (5-9, 2019) and two-way player Ofure Ujadughele (6-3, 2018) will be key in order for the Huskies to remain among the Top 15 and challenge for a second consecutive state title.
15. (18) Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Ill.) 32-2
Complete Team Capsules: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (16-30)
16. (NR) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 27-10
17. (22) St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 35-2
18. (30) West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 25-4
19. (NR) Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 20-9
20. (NR) Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 24-6
21. (42) Curie (Chicago, Ill.) 29-3**
22. (49) Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 28-5
23. (BB) Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 24-6
24. (BB) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 27-5
Key Players: PG Spencer Freedman 6-0 2018 (No. 14 Hoop Scoop), SF Justice Sueing 6-7 2017, PF Michael Wang 6-9 2018, SG Harrison Butler 6-5 2018.
Why This Ranking: The 11-time CIF state champions had some success, and took some lumps, last season and the experience should pay off because this team is deeper and stronger. Sueing looked much improved offensively this summer and Butler is beginning to live up to the advanced billing he entered high school with. Freedman is one of the nation’s best shooters and the improved weapons around him make his own game more dangerous. As a unit, this team defends well, plays smart and will be a tough out for any team on its schedule.
The Skinny: There are three teams from California ranked ahead of the Monarchs and a couple nipping at their heels, such as Crespi of Encino, so this team must prove it’s closer to the upper echelon than it is to the remainder of the pack. If La Salle commit Miles Brookins (6-9, 2017) has a breakout season, Mater Dei could slowly move up the rankings ladder. It will be a slow move because coach Gary McKnight (1051-95) doesn’t have the usual one or two monster games against a national power on the docket this year. Mater Dei actually looked better than defending FAB 50 champ Chino Hills at times this summer, but when it counted last year the Huskies won 102-54. There’s no question the gap has narrowed between the two clubs (because it has), just a case of, how much?
25. (3) St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 32-0
26. (BB) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 25-7
Key Players: SF Charles O’Bannon Jr. 6-6 2017 (No. 17 Hoop Scoop), SG Christian Popoola Jr. 6-4 2017 (No. 122 247Sports.com, BYU commit), SF Jamal Bey 6-6 2018.
27. (NR) Westlake (Austin, Texas) 30-4
28. (33) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 29-4
29. (20) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 28-2
Complete Team Capsules: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (31-50)
30. (BB) Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 26-3
31. (31) New Albany (New Albany, Ind.) 27-1
32. (BB) Westlake (Atlanta, Ga.) 27-4
33. (NR) Clarkston (Clarkston, Mich.) 19-3
34. (NR) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 20-14
35. (32) Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 22-8
36. (NR) Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 19-10
37. (25) Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas) 36-2
38. (NR) Nathan Hale (Seattle, Wash.) 3-18
39. (NR) Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 23-10
40. (BB) Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 22-4
41. (BB) Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 26-4
42. (NR) Gray Collegiate Academy (West Columbia, S.C.) 19-3*
43. (NR) Jackson (Massillon, Ohio) 21-5
44. (NR) Mae Jemison (Huntsville, Ala.) 0-0
45. (NR) Webster Groves (Webster Groves, Mo.) 26-3
46. (NR) St. Anthony (San Antonio, Texas) 32-6
47. (BB) Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 22-3
48. (NR) Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) 29-7
49. (27) Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) 30-4
50. (NR) Meridian (Meridian, Miss.) 27-5
Complete Team Capsules: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (16-30) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (31-50)
For in-depth national player rankings, please visit hoopscooponline.com.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores