From Mitch McGary picking Michigan over Duke to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) winning a double-overtime thriller over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the ESPNHS National High School Invitational, 2011 had lots of memorable moments.
Our guess is that 2012 won’t be any different.
Here are 12 bold predictions for the new year.
1. Phoebus’ (Hampton, Va.) Troy Williams, who is ranked No. 8 in the ESPNU 60, will become the most famous basketball player in his family after a show-stopping performance on the summer circuit. Right now that honor belongs to his uncle, Boo Williams.
When Boo, a 6-foot-7 forward, graduated from Phoebus in 1977, he was an all-state selection and went on play at St. Joseph's University. Of course, he's most famous for his tireless contributions to the explosion of AAU basketball in the South with his flagship program, the Boo Williams Summer League. Regardless of how good a player Troy becomes, uncle Boo can always tease Troy that he wore his uncle’s retired jersey No. 5.
2. Tony Parker will pick Ohio State. Parker, a senior forward at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) who is ranked No. 31 in the ESPNU 100, won’t be able to resist the draw of becoming the next Jared Sullinger and opt for the Buckeyes over Duke, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA.
3. Julius Randle will pick Duke. This is sure to rattle a few fan bases’ feathers, but Randle, a junior forward at Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 60, will take his five official visits then sign on to join college basketball’s Evil Empire because of his relationships with Mike Krzyzewski and his close friend and Texas Titans AAU teammate Matt Jones, who recently committed to Duke.
4. Nerlens Noel will lead BABC (Boston) to repeat as champs of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this summer. The trio of Noel, a junior center at Tilton (Tilton, N.H.) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 60; Jaylen Brantley, a junior point guard at Wilbraham Monson (Wilbraham, Mass.); and Wayne Selden, a sophomore shooting guard at Tilton who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 25, will be too much for teams to handle.
5. The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, will lead the Houston Defenders (Texas) to the ESPNHS Super Showcase title again this July. Last year the junior tandem, which leads a talented Travis (Travis, Texas) team, handily beat BABC and will prove to be too much for teams on the AAU circuit again come spring. Andrew is ranked No. 4 in the ESPNU 60 and Aaron checks in at No. 7.
6. Damon Harge Jr. will lead the North Carolina Rising Prospects to the 13-and-under AAU national title. Coach Kendrick Williams’ talented young bunch already took home the King James Classic title and finished No. 18 in the nation last summer with Jordan Riley anchoring the paint.
Add Harge, the country’s top sixth-grader, at the point, and the Prospects will be a problem. Harge is currently running the point for Williams on Christian Faith Center Academy’s (Creedmoor, N.C.) varsity team, and the last time he played 13- and 14-year-olds he averaged 35 points per game. The Prospects could go undefeated.
7. Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) forward Mitch McGary, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100, will take home MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic. Much like James McAdoo last season, McGary -- a senior who is signed to Michigan -- will clean up the misses from guards who are trying to do too much in the all-star setting.
8. Mitty’s (San Jose, Calif.) Aaron Gordon, the No. 6 recruit in the ESPNU 60, will become the first underclassman to win Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honors since 2000. That year, 7-footer Tyson Chandler led Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) to the FAB 50 national title and was named national junior player of the year by ESPNHS.
9. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) forward Anthony Bennett will win MVP honors at the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago on March 28 and challenge Shabazz Muhammad and junior Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago) for 2011-12 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honors.
10. Harrison Barnes will become the third consecutive Boost Mobile Elite 24 alumnus to earn NCAA tournament most outstanding player honors. That obviously means we're predicting North Carolina to win its third NCAA title in the past eight seasons. Barnes will follow 2011 MOP Kemba Walker of Connecticut (2007 game) and Kyle Singler of Duke (2006).
11. Oak Hill Academy will finish No. 1 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. It will be the seventh mythical national title under veteran coach Steve Smith. The Warriors finished No. 1 in the FAB 50/National Prep Poll in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2007.
12. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 recruit in the ESPNU 100, will make fans in his hometown rejoice by choosing to stay home and play college basketball for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
He will be UNLV's most important recruit since forward Larry Johnson picked the Runnin' Rebels in 1989 out of Odessa Junior College in Texas. Johnson originally signed with SMU out of high school but was a non-qualifier and led the Runnin' Rebels to their only NCAA title in his first season.