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.