High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: ESPNHS boys basketball

Inside the FAB 50: Where's New York?

February, 29, 2012
New York has a rich tradition of high school basketball but no teams from the state have been part of the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings for the last five weeks.

There are a couple reasons. First, New York has several competitive teams, but no dominant ones this season. Second, some of the state’s top-ranked teams also have not fared well against out-of-state opponents.

For example, defending Class AA Federation state champion Mount Vernon is ranked No. 1 in state polls with an 18-2 record. But the Knights' two losses have been to FAB 50 No. 33 Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 69-35 and to regionally ranked Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) 65-61 with no other games against nationally or regionally ranked squads.

New York's top-ranked Class A team, Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, N.Y.), is 19-2 with its two losses to two FAB 50 ranked teams -- No. 7 Milton (Milton, Ga.) 93-52 and No. 19 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 83-57. Although J-D is led by 6-foot-10 Syracuse recruit and McDonald's All-American DaJuan Coleman, the margin of those losses are hard to ignore.

The two top-ranked New York City teams can’t be considered, either, because both Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) have six losses and would be behind Mount Vernon.

When the smoke clears after state titles are decided, a New York team may crack the FAB 50 but it’s not looking good at this point of the process.

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week
Dominic Artis, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)

Findlay Prep players can’t win state championships since they do not compete in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association playoffs, but Artis was part of a state title team as a freshman playing varsity at Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) in 2009. Artis also was on the floor last season as a starter for Salesian when it lost in the CIF Division IV state final to Windward (Los Angeles, Calif.).

The 5-foot-11 guard went to Findlay Prep for his senior year and has become a major contributor for the Pilots, who are No. 2 in this week’s FAB 50. He had 33 points and seven rebounds in a 109-81 victory last week over La Jolla Prep (La Jolla, Calif.) and has frequently been near or above the 20-point mark. Artis, who has signed with Oregon, is the No. 67 player in the ESPNU 100.

Salesian hasn’t exactly fallen off the map without Artis, either. The Pride moved up to No. 24 in this week’s rankings and continue to be led by junior Jabari Bird.

Looking Ahead: Unbeaten teams in state playoffs

There are seven undefeated teams in this week’s FAB 50 that still have a chance to finish with a perfect record to go with a state championship.

Not including No. 1 Oak Hill Academy, which doesn't participate in a state tourney, here’s the probability of each undefeated team accomplishing that feat:

No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.): Riding a nation-best 59-game win streak, the Friars show no signs of not repeating as Non-Public B and Tournament of Champions' state king. St. Anthony, after a bye, opens Non-Public B North play on Thursday with the finals set next Tuesday. Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.) should be the top challenger in that field but the major test could be against the Non-Public B South winner, where Gill St. Bernard's (Gladstone, N.J.) is favored. The overall Non-Public B winner advances to the T-of-C where the Group 3 survivor could be the top contender. Unbeaten Teaneck (Teaneck, N.J.) and Plainfield (Plainfield, N.J.) are favored in that group.

No. 4 Chester (Chester, Pa.): The Clippers pushed their win streak to 52 games Tuesday night with a 67-52 District 1 semifinal win over Wissahicton (Ambler, Pa.). But the major playoff threat to the streak and title hopes could come in the finals Friday at Villanova when Chester takes on the state No. 2 ranked Class AAAA Lower Merion (Ardmore, Pa.). Lower Merion, the alma-mater of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, advanced Tuesday with a 68-54 win over Abington (Pa.).

No. 18 Proviso East (Maywood, Ill.): The Pirates improved their unbeaten record to 27-0 Tuesday night with a 68-43 Class 4A regional semifinal win over Hoffman Estates (Ill.). It's no secret in Illinois prep circles that a state semifinal showdown could be brewing between FAB 50 No. 6 and two-time defending champion Simeon (Chicago). Simeon is unbeaten vs. in-state foes with its only loss to FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

No. 27 Tulsa Union (Tulsa, Okla.): It could be just the same as flipping a coin for the Redskins in this year’s Class 6A state tournament. They certainly deserve favorite status, but the problem for them is that defending champion Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) also is outstanding. Edmond Memorial was in this week’s FAB 50 as well at No. 42 and could climb pretty close to Tulsa Union if the two teams were to meet in the March 8-10 event at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.

No. 36 Germantown (Wis.): The Warhawks have been wire-to-wire No. 1 in Division 1 state polls and enter post-season regional play on Friday versus Hartford. Down the tournament trail, the two major hurdles could be FAB 50 No. 43 Rufus King (Milwaukee), which is unbeaten vs. in-state teams, or one-loss De Pere (De Pere, Wis.). Odds are probably better than 50-50 that Germantown gets it done.

No. 40 Dunbar (Dayton, Ohio): The Wolverines have been ranked No. 1 all season in the Division II state polls and are currently in sectional eliminations. They should advance to the regional finals, which is one step from the state tournament and where they could face their toughest challenge against Taft (Cincinnati), which won last year's Division III crown before moving up a class this season. Four-loss Taft is unbeaten vs. in-state foes.

No. 46 Omaha Central (Omaha, Neb.): Looking at the previous six years, there may only be a 10 percent chance or less that the Eagles are not going to win the Class A crown. They have won the hardware five times in those years and should enter this year’s state tourney on March 8 at the Devaney Center with a 15-game state tourney win streak.

Inside the FAB 50: La Lumiere makes debut

February, 22, 2012
This week’s highest-ranked newcomer to the FAB 50 is No. 32 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.).

The Lakers created national headlines on Dec. 29 when they defeated current FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 67-66 at the Mike Miller Classic event in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Since the 200-student, 47-year-old private co-ed boarding school had no previous comparable wins over an elite prep program, observers couldn't help but wonder if the northern Indiana school was a "one-hit wonder."

After that holiday contest, neither team has lost a game.

Findlay has won 13 in a row, including wins over three top-ranked foes -- No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas), No. 6 Simeon (Chicago) and No. 15 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) -- and it is a solid No. 2 in the FAB 50 behind unbeaten Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.). The Lakers, meanwhile, are now riding an 18-game win streak with a 24-2 overall record and moved into the FAB 50 for the first time.

To be eligible for the FAB 50, schools must not accept post-graduates and confirm they are allowed to participate against member schools that belong to the state high school association where the program resides. Once the Indiana State High School Association confirmed the Lakers met those requirements, the only reason they wouldn’t be ranked was if their on-the-court resume was not strong enough.

Until a few years ago, La Lumiere was noted mostly for its academics and college prep curriculum. With graduates like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the reputation was well-earned.

In 2005, the school, in an effort to improve its athletic program, hired former Indiana high school basketball All-American Delray Brooks as basketball coach. The Lakers improved their talent level under Brooks before he departed after a five-year stint.

Enter current coach Alan Huss in 2010, who had coached at Culver Academics (Culver, Ind.). Beefing up the schedule and talent base even more, the Lakers currently have five college scholarship players on the roster, including 6-foot-5 Raphael Davis (Purdue), 6-foot-8 Hanner Perea (Indiana) and point guard Andre Drummond (Southern Illinois). A touted sophomore is 6-foot-10 Johnathon Wilkins.

Newcomer Mitty familiar with Jeremy Lin

This week’s other newcomer to the FAB 50 is No. 50 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.). And since Jeremy Lin connections are sought wherever possible, we can bring it to the FAB 50 through the Monarchs.

When Lin was a senior at Palo Alto (Calif.) in the 2006 season, Archbishop Mitty stood in the way of Lin’s team as it was going for the CIF Division II state title. Palo Alto had to beat Mitty to win the Central Coast Section crown and then had to get past the Monarchs again in the Northern California championship. Palo Alto won both times (the second time it took a last-second 3-pointer by one of Lin’s teammates) and eventually won the state title.

Mitty’s team that season was led by sophomore Drew Gordon, the older brother of current Monarchs’ sensation Aaron Gordon. Drew is now starring at the University of New Mexico. Aaron still has one more year left of high school.

It’s more of a reach, but two other current FAB 50 schools with ties to Lin would be No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and No. 17 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.). Oak Hill is the alma-mater of Lin’s New York teammate, Carmelo Anthony, while St. Benedict’s is the alma-mater of another teammate, the newly acquired J.R. Smith.

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week
Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas, Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.)

The 6-foot-3 senior guard helped the Hornets advance to last year's Class 5A state title game before they lost to St. Augustine (New Orleans).

This year, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun recruit wants to close the deal as his team has been seeded No. 1 in the state playoffs that start this week.

Earlier in the season, Thomas led the Hornets to a 54-53 revenge win over St. Augustine.

Last week, in a tune-up game for the playoffs, Thomas scored a game-high 28 points to pace the Hornets to an 86-41 victory over Walker (La.) and push the team's record to 31-2 and up to No. 18 in the FAB 50.

At Louisiana-Lafayette, Thomas will join brother J.J. on the Ragin' Cajun roster.

Looking Ahead: Bishop Gorman season to end

Several teams in this week’s rankings have just two weeks left before hopefully wrapping up their seasons with a state championship.

For No. 15 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), though, its attempt at finishing off its year with a state crown will take place this weekend.

The Gaels, led by Mr. Basketball USA front-runner Shabazz Muhammad, open the Class 4A state tourney Friday night at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno against Douglas (Minden, Nev.).

If Bishop Gorman wins, its state championship opponent will be either Proctor Hug (Reno, Nev.) or Green Valley (Henderson, Nev.).

Last year, just like this year, the Gaels (26-4) were a huge favorite to win their state title, but they were upset in the semifinals by Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nev.).

Of the teams potentially finishing in two weeks, No. 36 Wayne County (Waynesboro, Miss.) already knows it will be in the Class 5A state semifinals on Feb. 28 with a matchup against Starkville (Miss.). The War Eagles are the defending champions and have won 62 of their last 63 games.

Inside the FAB 50: Scaling new Heights

February, 15, 2012
There’s been documented high school basketball games in Kansas for 101 years, and one of the state’s most hallowed records fell Tuesday night after POWERADE FAB 50 No. 10 Heights (Wichita, Kan.) defeated Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.) 54-42.

With McDonald’s All-American and Kansas signee Perry Ellis scoring 19 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, Heights won its 60th straight game to break the previous state mark of 59 set in 1994 by Moundridge.

Ellis and teammate Terrence Moore have been involved in all of the 60 wins.

Coach Joe Auer’s team will now focus on trying to extend another streak by winning a fourth consecutive Class 6A state championship.

Winning streak notes on other FAB 50 teams

1. The 39-game win streak by No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which includes Monday's 75-69 victory over Quality Education (Winston-Salem, N.C.), is not a school record. The Warrior school record of 65 in a row was set from 2000-02, including a 33-0 mark by the 2001 national title team.

2. The 53-game win streak by No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) is not a school record, either. The Friars won 65 in a row from 1995-97, including a 31-0 mark in 1996 when they were crowned national champ. Both marks are far short of the state and national record of 159 consecutive wins posted by Passaic (N.J.) from 1919-25.

3. The 48-game win streak by No. 4 Chester (Pa.) is a school record, but is still 20 wins shy of the state mark of 68 posted by West Philadelphia (Pa.) from 1976-78. That included the 30-0 record that the 1977 team piled up on its way to being a mythical national champion.

McDonald's All-Americans lead FAB 50 teams

Nine FAB 50-ranked teams are anchored by McDonald's All-American Game selections.

No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) -- Tyler Lewis, a 5-foot-11 point guard and North Carolina State recruit.

No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) -- Brandon Ashley, a 6-foot-9 power forward and Arizona recruit plus Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-7 uncommitted wing forward.

No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) -- Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-8 guard and UCLA recruit.

No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) -- Marcus Smart, a 6-foot-4 guard and Oklahoma State recruit.

No. 10 Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) -- Perry Ellis, a 6-foot-8 power forward and Kansas recruit.

No. 14 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) -- Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot center and Baylor recruit.

No. 18 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) -- Shabazz Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 uncommitted forward.

No. 31 Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) -- Gary Harris, a 6-foot-4 guard and Michigan State recruit.

2013 McDonald’s All-Americans on FAB 50 teams?

Not all the top teams are led by seniors, of course. Some juniors appear primed to star in the contest next year. Here’s some top Class of 2013 players representing FAB 50 ranked teams:

No. 4 Chester (Pa.)Rondae Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 forward

No. 6 Simeon (Chicago)Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward who is No. 1 in the ESPNU Super 60.

No. 13 Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward

No. 28 Olympic (Charlotte)Allerik Freeman, a 6-foot-4 guard

No. 29 Salesian (Richmond, Calif.)Jabari Bird, a 6-foot-6 guard

No. 40 Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas)Andrew Harrison, a 6-foot-5 point guard, and his twin brother, Aaron Harrison, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard

Spotlight Player of the Week
Coleman Johnson, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)

The 6-foot-6 senior forward had a game to remember in a thrill-packed 85-83 double-overtime victory over Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rival Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).

Johnson, a Fairfield University recruit who averages 11.8 points game, scored a career-high 33 points and collected 16 rebounds to power the Panthers. He nailed his first career 3-pointer, which tied the game with six seconds left in the first overtime, then added the go-ahead basket in the second extra frame.

Johnson's 33-point effort also boosted his career total past the 1,000-point mark. He was named the team’s MVP last season as a junior.

The victory was the 11th straight for the Panthers and helped keep them at No. 9 in this week’s rankings.

Inside the FAB 50: PrimeTime primer

February, 8, 2012
Nate Britt IIKelly Kline/ESPNHSJunior guard and North Carolina recruit Nate Britt II will lead No. 14 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) against No. 29 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) on Friday night on ESPN2.

The New Jersey-based PrimeTime Shootout has been around since 1976 and in recent years the event has served as the last major showcase for some FAB 50 teams before postseason playoffs and tournaments.

The 10-game, two-day event Saturday and Sunday at Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) features four top 20 teams, including all three New Jersey teams in the FAB 50 -- No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), No. 20 Gill St. Bernard (Gladstone, N.J.) and No. 24 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.). The other ranked team playing is No. 4 Chester (Pa.).

Last season, PrimeTime Shootout results had a major impact on crowning the FAB 50 national poll champion. Eventual No. 1 St. Anthony didn’t take part, but Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) did and lost its only game of the season 57-53 to Linden (N.J.). Montrose later ended at No. 2 and would have been ahead of St. Anthony if it hadn’t lost that game.

This weekend, St. Anthony, riding a 48-game win streak entering the week, faces a major Shootout challenge from once-loss Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), a private academy ineligible for the rankings that has already handed one FAB 50 ranked team its only loss -- No. 35 Northland (Columbus, Ohio).

Another long win streak is also on the line in the Shootout. Chester entered the week with a 45-game run and will face Neptune (N.J.).

Gill St. Bernard will be tested by East Region-ranked Plainfield (N.J.), while St. Benedict's, which lost its only game this season by one point to St. Anthony, plays two Shootout games. The Gray Bees go up against Lakewood (N.J.) Saturday, then meet St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) Sunday.

No. 14 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) at No. 29 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
7:30 p.m. ET, Friday on ESPN2

This Washington Catholic Athletic Conference showdown is a rematch of a Jan. 21 game won by a shorthanded Gonzaga team 76-74.

Gonzaga’s Nate Britt II, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who has committed to North Carolina, missed that game after injuring his left calf on Jan. 14 at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., and was sidelined until last week's 75-48 win over Bishop Ireton (Alexandria, Va.). Britt came off the bench and scored 11 points with five assists.

Britt continued his comeback Tuesday night with 17 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win by the Eagles over Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.). In Britt's absence, 6-6 junior forward Kris Jenkins has picked up the scoring slack.

DeMatha improved to 20-3 Tuesday with a 64-37 win over Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) and faces Bishop Ireton on Thursday before the Gonzaga showdown. The balanced Stags have five players with double-figure point averages, including 6-foot-9 junior BeeJay Anya, 6-foot-8 senior Jerami Grant and 6-foot-3 senior James Robinson. Grant is a Syracuse recruit, while Robinson has committed to Pittsburgh.

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior shooting guard is making the most of his only year on the Warrior roster. A Georgetown recruit, he has been a consistent scoring threat as the FAB 50 No. 1 ranked Warriors have posted a 35-0 record entering the week.

Last weekend, Smith-Rivera scored 37 points to help the Warriors hold off Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 71-63 in overtime after netting 29 points in a 93-73 romp past previously unbeaten West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.).

Smith-Rivera transferred to Oak Hill last summer after starting the last two seasons for Indiana power North Central (Indianapolis). He was a sophomore starter on an underclass-led Class 4A state title team and helped the Panthers advance to the 2011 state semifinals before bowing to eventual champion Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.).

Without Smith-Rivera, North Central is 16-4 this season and is ranked No. 3 in Indiana.

Highest-Ranked Newcomer
Trinity Christian (Lubbock, Texas)

Whether the Lions get another upset or get dumped in Saturday’s matchup in Lubbock against FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), they have certainly put themselves on the map this season.

Last week’s 57-56 win against previous FAB 50 No. 3 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) improved Trinity Christian’s record to 34-1 and avenged an earlier 68-55 loss to Grace Prep.

Senior guard Parker Wentz netted a game-winning shot with 3.5 seconds left and finished with 31 points. The team’s leading scorer is senior guard Dave Miller at 11.5 points per game.

Just a few years ago, it seemed impossible that a Texas school not part of the massive University Interscholastic League could be in the national rankings. With Trinity Christian going in this week, the Texas Association of Private Prep Schools (TAPPS) now has four schools in the FAB 50. The UIL has two.

Inside the FAB 50: WCAC toughest league?

February, 1, 2012
If the FAB 50 rankings are any gauge of overall team strengths and competition, one high school league can just about claim the "best in the country" tag this season: the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

No less than three WCAC members are ranked among the top 29 teams entering this week's play. And the trio play each other twice in the regular season, including a showdown Tuesday night between No. 9 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and No. 28 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).

Paul VI scored its second-straight win against a higher-ranked WCAC team with a 66-53 triumph over the Purple Eagles. Last weekend, Paul VI bested No. 29 ranked DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 64-62. DeMatha, which at one point this season was No. 5 in the FAB 50, also lost earlier this season to Gonzaga 76-74.

This league is just getting warmed up, too. Rematches remain for all three teams: Paul VI versus Gonzaga, Paul VI versus DeMatha; and Gonzaga versus DeMatha.

While Gonzaga now has two losses on the season to WCAC foes, it has wins against three non-WCAC teams that have been ranked in the FAB 50. That only further shows the conference’s strength this season.

The other WCAC members include St. John's (Washington, D.C.), which is the team with a win over Gonzaga; Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.); Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.); Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.); Good Counsel (Olney, Md.); and St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.).

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week: Jordan Bell, Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)

The 6-foot-8 junior forward only averages 8.6 points per game so how could he be in the spotlight? It’s about his defense and the shots he routinely swats with either hands or by pinning off the backboard in transition. Bell, whose offense is developing with pressure taken off him due to the presence of high-scoring 6-foot-6 junior Roschon Prince, led the No. 22 Jackrabbits with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 16 blocked shots in their 68-59 win last week against rival Jordan (Long Beach, Calif.).

Bell’s 16 blocks gets his name into the state record book. According to the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports record book, it’s not the record -- that total is 20 for a single game -- but any total above 14 makes the list. Bell, who also averages 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game, is the No. 51 player in the ESPNU 60.

Super Bowl alums from FAB 50 schools

Neither Benjarvus Green-Ellis or Sergio Brown played basketball when they were in high school, but the two members of the New Englands Patriots who will play in this year’s Super Bowl are from currently FAB 50-ranked basketball schools.

Green-Ellis hails from No. 16 St. Augustine (New Orleans). As New England’s No. 1 running back, he could be very important in the Patriots’ slowing down the vaunted New York Giants’ pass rush. Brown is from No. 26 Proviso East (Mayfield, Ill.). He’s a defensive back and special teams player for the Pats.

The five most likely undefeated teams for the regular season

There are 12 teams in this week’s FAB 50 that begin February with unbeaten records and look for perfect regular seasons.

Here are the five we think are most likely to accomplish that feat:

No. 5 Chester (Chester, Pa.): The defending Class 4A state champion Clippers took a 43-game win streak into this week. With five regular-season games remaining, Chester already has wins over four in-state foes and closes its regular season against Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) at the PrimeTime Shootout event.

No. 11 Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.): The three-time defending Class 6A titlists sport the nation's second-longest win streak, 56 games, and the Falcons' only remaining pre-playoff challenge could be against city rival Northwest on Feb. 10.

No. 26 Proviso East (Maywood, Ill.): The Pirates have only had two of 17 wins by less than double-digit margins. With five regular season games left, Proviso East not only could take an unblemished record into the Class 4A state playoffs, they could make a run at dethroning two-time defending champion Simeon (Chicago).

No. 42 Eastview (Apple Valley, Minn.): The Lightning not only have been a dominant team vs. instate foes but have handed Wisconsin contender Madison Memorial its only loss. Eastview also has wins against all of its remaining regular season opponents.

No. 43 Germantown (Germantown, Wis.): Wisconsin's No. 1 ranked Division 1 team continues to pile up lopsided victories with the closest margin of victory being 11 points. The Warhawks, in fact, could be the best bet among these five to wrap up an unbeaten regular season.

Mr. Basketball USA Tracker week 4

January, 27, 2012
Debating whether a player deserves to land in the ESPNU 100, or whether he's a mid- or high-major player, is fun but it's not an exact science.

With the updated ESPNU 100 published earlier this week, combined with little movement in this week's Mr. Basketball USA Tracker, it's a good time to discuss why some of the players deemed the nation's best don't excel in the NBA.

First off, it's important to note the majority of the top five players in each class will enjoy NBA careers. In fact, every season since 1989-90, the ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honoree has eventually played in the NBA. Only two all-time selections dating back to the 1954-1955 season did not.

To read the rest of this story and see the Mr. Basketball USA voting results, CLICK HERE.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Inside the FAB 50: Streaking along

January, 26, 2012
Four of the nation's five longest win streaks belong to teams ranked in the top 11 of the POWERADE FAB 50.

Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.), No. 11 in the FAB 50, has won its last 55 games while seeking a fourth straight Class 6A state championship. The Falcons' last loss was on Dec. 19, 2009, when Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) prevailed, 75-70. Heights ended that season with 19 straight wins before recording a 25-0 record in the 2010-11 campaign. The Falcons are off to an 11-0 record this season.

The next-longest win streak in the nation is claimed by No. 4 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.). The Friars captured last season's FAB 50 national crown with a 33-0 record and have extended the two-season run to 45 wins in a row. The Friars' last setback was on March 13, 2010, in the state tournament when Trenton Catholic (Trenton, N.J.) registered a 57-56 decision.

The defending Pennsylvania Class 4A champion, Chester (Pa.), holds the fourth longest streak. The Clippers, No. 7 in the FAB 50, took a 41-game streak into this week. Chester's last loss, its only one last year, was on Dec. 30, 2010 to Sanford (Hockissen, Del.), 62-57.

The FAB 50’s top-ranked team, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), is off to a 30-0 start after losing in last season's finale. Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) defeated the Warriors, 71-64, in the finals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

Oak Hill Academy also could make national rankings history if it runs the table with a record that could reach 47-0. At the start of this week, the Warriors have 14 scheduled regular season games on tap and three more wins in the NHSI would result in an unmatched 47-0 mark for a national title team.

The best unbeaten record posted by a No. 1 team in the nation was 46-0 in 1975 by Kashmere (Houston). Since then, the best perfect mark was 40-0 for another Texas team, Lincoln (Dallas) back in 2002. That squad was led by current Miami Heat star Chris Bosh. Oak Hill’s best record of 38-0 was achieved in 2004.

While Wichita Heights, St. Anthony, Chester and Oak Hill are piling up impressive streaks, they all have to take a back seat to a Missouri private school team that doesn't compete for a state championship. True Divine Word Academy (St. Louis) hasn't lost in the 96 games during its three years of existence. True Divine Word was sitting at 19-0 to start this week after going 41-0 and 36-0 in its first two seasons.

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week:
Tony Cochran, Vianney (Kirkwood, Mo.)

Speaking of perfection, Cochran’s near-perfect shooting from the free throw line and strong overall play has helped the No. 41 Golden Griffins to a 17-0 start this season.

In a 69-48 win last week over Chaminade (St. Louis), Cochran poured in 30 points as Vianney set a school record for consecutive wins in a season, breaking a mark that was set during the 1997-98 season.

On the year, the 5-foot-11 senior guard already has made 52 shots from behind the 3-point line while averaging 17.2 points per game. He averaged 16 points per game last season and has pushed his career 3-point total to nearly 300.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cochran also leads the St. Louis region by making 94.9 percent of his free throws. In 59 attempts heading into this week, Cochran has only missed three.

Highest-Ranked Newcomer: No. 45 Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.)

After a pair of league wins last week, the Eagles improved their winning streak to 16 games and jumped into this week’s FAB 50.

Etiwanda’s lone loss came in early December at the Rose City Classic in Pasadena to defending CIF Division III state champ La Verne Lutheran. After that, the Eagles won three other tournaments they entered. Twelve of the teams Etiwanda has beaten so far this season also have won at least 13 games, which shows a better-than-average strength of schedule.

Sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin has been the top player for coach Dave Kleckner with 16.9 points per game.

Kleckner has had nationally ranked teams before, such as in 2005 when the Eagles featured point guard Darren Collison and power forward Jeff Pendergraph. Those two former prep teammates are now playing together with the Indiana Pacers.

War-themed mascots prevail in this week’s rankings

In the same week in which the movie “War Horse” was nominated for six Academy Awards, the FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings saw big gains for the War Eagles and Warhawks. It’s just too bad the Warhorses aren’t still in the mix.

The War Eagles from Wayne County (Waynesboro, Miss.) debuted at No. 49 after winning for the 53rd time in their last 54 games. The Warhawks from Germantown (Wis.) are new as well, checking in at No. 50.

It’s very possible that the Warhorses from Peabody (La.) will go back into the rankings. Peabody was No. 35 until a loss knocked them from the list.

Other war-themed mascots in this week’s FAB 50 include the No. 1 Oak Hill Academy Warriors (Mouth of Wilson, Va.); the No. 25 Pershing Doughboys (Detroit); the No. 39 Orlando Christian Prep Warriors (Fla.) and the No. 42 Rufus King Generals (Milwaukee).

Soldiers serving in World War I were commonly referred to as Doughboys, and bore little resemblance to an animated character in TV commercials.

Inside the FAB 50: Hoophall Preview

January, 11, 2012
The No. 1-ranked team in this week’s POWERADE FAB 50 and 10 other nationally rated squads might learn from history in the upcoming Spalding Hoophall Classic.

Last season, top-ranked Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) took a 16-0 record into the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass., but was knocked off by Milton (Ga.) 75-69.

At the same event, FAB 50 No. 2 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) dominated DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), another ranked team, 75-25, and took over the No. 1 ranking for the rest of the season. The FAB 50 champion Friars ended with a 33-0 record.

This weekend, FAB 50 No. 1 Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) could face its stiffest challenge of the season against No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), while No. 2 Oak Hill Academy takes on No. 19 Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas).

If Simeon loses to Findlay and Oak Hill beats Prestonwood, history could repeat with Oak Hill on the other side of the rankings move.

Oak Hill plays on Saturday, while the Simeon-Findlay matchup headlines a five-game slate on Martin Luther King Day.

Findlay may be without 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior forward Anthony Bennett, who has been nursing an injury and has seen limited game action the past couple of weeks.

Three games Saturday feature FAB 50-ranked teams: No. 2 Oak Hill Academy vs. No. 19 Prestonwood Christian; No. 5 DeMatha vs. Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.); and No. 9 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) vs. No. 50 Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.).

The first four games on Monday also will feature FAB 50 teams: No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 6 Findlay Prep; No. 4 St. Anthony vs. No. 34 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.); No. 5 DeMatha vs. No. 24 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas); and No. 22 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) vs. Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.).

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week:

Gary Harris, Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.)

The 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard has helped the Royals return to the FAB 50 at No. 42 after they were No. 44 in the preseason.

One of the nation’s top two-sport athletes (football and basketball), the Michigan State-bound Harris scored 30 points as the Royals handed previous No. 46 Muncie Central (Muncie, Ind.) its first loss, 60-51.

A Mr. Basketball candidate regarded as Indiana's top senior prospect, Harris will lead the Royals in a pair of road games this weekend -- at Brownsburg (Ind.) on Friday and against Troy (Ohio) at the Flyin' to the Hoop event Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.

FAB 50’s best two-sport schools

This week’s basketball rankings include two schools that also were among the nation’s best in the final football FAB 50.

Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), which is No. 24 this week in basketball and is playing at the Spalding Hoophall Classic also was No. 8 in the final FAB 50 in football. The Gaels went 15-1 on the gridiron and won their third straight Class 4A state title.

One athlete at Bishop Gorman that plays both sports is 6-foot-6, 280-pound Ronnie Stanley, an offensive tackle and power forward.

The other school is Union (Tulsa, Okla.). The Redskins entered this week at No. 48 in the FAB 50 at 9-0 on the season. They recently won their fourth straight Class 6A state football title and were No. 24 in the final FAB 50.

Here are a few other schools that have been FAB-ulous in both sports so far this year:

Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) – No. 44 this week in basketball; went 10-2 in football with both losses to national powerhouse Hoover (Hoover, Ala.).

De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) – Just dropped out of the FAB 50 in basketball but could go back in later this season as one of the top teams in Northern California; went 13-1 in football and were No. 10 in the final FAB 50 after winning third straight CIF state open division bowl game.

Heights (Wichita, Kan.) – No. 11 this week in basketball; went 12-1 in football and was going for third straight state title before loss to Olathe South (Olathe, Kan.).

Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) – No. 40 this week in basketball; made it to the Class 6A state semifinals in football before loss to eventual champion Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, Ore.).

Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) – No. 38 this week in basketball; won CIF North Coast Section Division IV title in football and went 14-0. Freddy Tagaloa (6-8, 320) is committed to Cal for football and starts at center in basketball.

Preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker

November, 17, 2011
Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 recruit in ESPNU 100, leads voting in preseason ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. Jabari Parker, Kyle Anderson and Marcus Smart also collect first-place votes.

Last season, Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) was being mentioned in the same breath with the nation's top players such as Bradley Beal (Florida), Anthony Davis(Kentucky), Austin Rivers (Duke) and 2011 Mr. Basketball USA Michael Gilchrist (Kentucky).

Muhammad's junior season ended with a thud, as Bishop Gorman was stunned in its state playoff semifinal game. As a result, the uncommitted recruit dropped nine spots to 15th place in last season's final Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. He was named a first team ESPNHS All-American, but wasn't seriously considered for national player of the year.

Despite nursing a sore ankle in that state semifinal contest, the 6-foot-6 wing made no excuses -- he used the motivation created by that stunning loss to work on his game during the spring and summer.

By fall, Muhammad's talent and unmatched work ethic vaulted him to the top of the ESPNU 100 as the top prospect in the class of 2012 . It also put a bulls-eye on his chest as the player to catch in the race for this year's Mr. Basketball USA honor.

To read the rest of this story and see the Mr. Basketball USA voting results, CLICK HERE.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN