High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Findlay Prep

Toasting the Class of 2012

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
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Noel NerlensKelly KlineWe think UK recruit Nerlens Noel is headed toward a bright future both on and off the court.
With graduation right around the corner, it’s almost time to bid adieu to the class of 2012. Before the veteran ballers flip that tassel, we’re going to bless them with some last-second love and immortalize them in the form of senior superlatives. We’ll gaze into our crystal ball to make a few predictions as well as reflect on the myriad achievements of this talented crew.

These are our picks, but feel free to chime in with your selections on Twitter @espnhs.

Most important commitment
Kyle Anderson, St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
Sure, Anderson’s commitment to UCLA might have been overshadowed by the subsequent pledges of Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker. But who knows if the Bruins would’ve landed those two prized recruits had it not been for Anderson -- the ultimate team-first guy and winner -- jumping on board first. Anderson's versatility will be valuable as the heralded class looks to restore UCLA's lore after a tumultuous last few years.
Runner-up: Baylor lands Isaiah Austin, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)

Most likely to succeed in the NBA
Shabazz Muhammad, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
We’re not the only ones envisioning Muhammad going toe-to-toe with Bron Bron and the rest of the league's heavyweights. The consensus among pro scouts at the Nike Hoop Summit was that ‘Bazz was the most pro-ready domestic prospect in the class. His Kobe-like demeanor and ability to get buckets in a variety of ways should bode well for whatever squad scoops him up in the Association.
Runner-up: Anthony Bennett, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)

Most likely to land an acting role
Nerlens Noel, Tilton (Tilton, N.H.)
The high top fade alone should be enough to land this menacing shot blocker in the reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or if they ever recast Kid or Play for the next “House Party.” Combine his tight 'do with his affable personality and his ability to take over defensively on the hardwood, and we could be looking at a star both on and off the court.
Runner-up: Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)

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Bennett comes full circle; FAB 50 implications

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- It was a special moment for tournament MVP Anthony Bennett of Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). Not many of the national television audience realize the No. 7 player in the ESPNU 100 played only 10 games for the Pilots heading into the NHSI and missed the majority of their big wins this season.

With all the setbacks Bennett has endured over the past two seasons, he was relieved to finally lead Findlay Prep to an NHSI title by averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in the Pilots' three victories here.

As a sophomore, he was a member of the Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.) team that lost to Findlay Prep 68-53 in the semifinals. He scored 10 points in 22 minutes in that loss and netted 12 points in 29 minutes for Findlay Prep in its quarterfinal loss to Dwyer (Pompano Beach, Fla.) last season.

"This is the farthest I came in this tournament," said Bennett, one of five Pilots in double figures with 13 points to go with a game-high 9 rebounds in the championship-game comeback win over Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.).

"Coming in, I really wanted to win it this year," Bennett said.

The unsigned Bennett, who lists Washington, Oregon, UNLV, Kentucky and Florida as his college finalists, missed nearly half of his junior season at Findlay. His back injury flared up again at the beginning of this season. His hamstring injury lingered all season long and he was relieved to be healthy for the NHSI.

He's crossing his fingers about next season.

"Hopefully that doesn't happen in college," Bennett said. "Hopefully my college trainer will take care of me."

Now The Fun Part

The final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings, which will be released on April 2, will have some shuffling based on the results of this year's NHSI. With No. 12 Montverde Academy giving up an 18-point lead and losing to No. 2 Findlay Prep, there will be a spirited No. 1 versus No. 2 rankings debate between No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and the Pilots.

The big question is if one-loss Findlay has done enough to overcome 44-0 Oak Hill. On paper, the Pilots have a strong enough résumé to be ranked No. 1 in the country.

They own wins over No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas), No. 6 Simeon (Chicago) and No. 11 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). For the past few seasons, most of those big wins came on the road and this season was no exception.

Ironically, this game had the same feel as Findlay's only loss this season -- a one-point setback to No. 23 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) on Dec. 29 at the Mike Miller Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Pilots trailed in that game by the same margin as they did to Montverde, but the difference was at the NHSI they were able to complete the comeback win.

"At halftime, I told the guys 'Here we go again, December 29, La Lumiere,'" Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck said. "I pulled out all the different motivation factors. At first I really got into them, then I tried to be calm and use logic."

Peck's tactics worked against Montverde, but the La Lumiere loss is still a part of the equation when it comes to the final FAB 50 rankings. Another key part of the equation is the common opponent factor, which has always been an important aspect of the FAB 50. Oak Hill Academy defeated the same La Lumiere team by 18 points and owns five wins over opponents currently ranked in the FAB 50.

Another smaller factor which will be used in the final analysis is the fact La Lumiere lost in the quarterfinals of the NHSI to Montverde. The Lakers didn't look overly impressive in the 62-54 defeat. Findlay has to be thrilled about its comeback win over Montverde, but had La Lumiere advanced to the NHSI finals, an avenging win would have been sweeter from a rankings perspective.

No Oak Hill, No Problem

After knocking off No. 12 Montverde in the NHSI title game, the popular question for No. 2 Findlay was whether the win meant as much despite not coming against No. 1 Oak Hill Academy.

The Warriors opted not to compete in the NHSI for the first time since its inception in 2009. Oak Hill, which finished the season 44-0, traveled to China from March 7 to 19 to play nine games against international competition. The Warriors went on spring break when they got back, according to coach Steve Smith.

Findlay finished 32-1.

“All we could control was playing these games and winning these games,” Nigel Williams-Goss said. “Whatever happens on Monday with the rankings happens. We’re just happy about this win.”

Added Peck: “That’s something we can’t control. All we could do is control us. Steve [Smith] has his reasons and that’s his decision. We were focused on us.”

2012 ESPNHS NHSI All-Tournament

Anthony Bennett, Findlay Prep (MVP)
Brandon Ashley, Findlay Prep
Kasey Hill, Montverde Academy
Michael Carrera, Montrose Christian
Melvin Johnson, St. Benedict's

Jason Jordan contributed to this report.

Findlay steals NHSI title from Montverde

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Anthony Bennett knew it all along.

While everyone else had written him and top-seeded Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) off after falling behind by as many as 18 points late in the second half to No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational title game, Bennett knew it was only a matter of time before the Pilots turned the tables.

With 1.2 seconds left in overtime, Bennett tipped Eagles forward Patricio Garino’s inbounds pass out of bounds, clapped his hands together and yelled to the stands, “We ain’t losing fam! We ain’t losing!”

Bennett was right.

Findlay (32-1) managed an improbable comeback late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually steal an 86-83 win over the Eagles (23-3) to claim the ESPNHS NHSI title Saturday at Georgetown Prep, in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN.

It was the Pilots’ third ESPNHS NHSI title in four years. Findlay, which is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, won back to back in 2009 and 2010.

Brandon Ashley led the Pilots with 31 points, while Nigel Williams-Goss added 17 and Bennett, the tournament's MVP, chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kasey Hill led Montverde with 23 points and six assists.

“I pulled out everything motivational that I could,” Findlay coach Michael Peck said. “I tried everything, but at some point their switch went on and they got it done. It was all them. It was all them.”

Added Ashley: “This was the best way to go out. We fought hard and we got it done. We never got down or hung our heads. We always believed in ourselves and we got it done, man. We got it done.”

In the first half it was the Eagles who were getting it done, dominating Findlay in all aspects and claiming a 38-29 lead. Findlay’s big four -- Bennett, Ashley, Dominic Artis and Winston Shepard -- combined to shoot just 5-of-17 in the first half.

The Eagles continued to pour it on in the third quarter, beating the Pilots to loose balls, owning the offensive glass and beating them in transition. Michael Frazier made Findlay pay for switching to a 2-3 zone, draining three of the Eagles’ four third-quarter 3s to extend the Eagles’ lead to 54-39 headed into the fourth.

That’s when Ashley came alive.

He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, overpowering Montverde’s frontcourt in the paint. Ashley drained two free throws with 20.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.

“Brandon Ashley put the cape on,” Peck said. “He was the Brandon he was supposed to be.”

Montverde coach Kevin Boyle pointed out the fact that the Pilots lived at the free throw line late in the game. The Pilots made 24 of 27 free throws in the second half.

“They got a lot of calls and they were living on the line,” Boyle said. “So that means they’re scoring without the clock moving. They fought hard, but I thought they got a lot of whistles, too.”

Late in overtime, Williams-Goss hit a floater to give the Pilots an 84-83 lead, then Shepard corralled a miss from Hill, got fouled and made both free throws to secure the win.

“This was pretty fun,” Ashley said. “It’s been a lot this week with [the] McDonald’s All-American Game and this tournament, but we got it done. This was the best way to go out. Better than I ever imagined it.”

Star points Artis, Hill clash for NHSI title

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
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Dominica Artis and Kasey HillJoe Faraoni/ESPN ImagesMontverde coach Kevin Boyle said he wants Kasey Hill, right, to play "more cocky" and sees an NHSI matchup with Findlay point guard Dominic Artis as the perfect opportunity to up his on-court swag.


BETHESDA, Md. -- Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) coach Kevin Boyle likes his point guards to have a certain pizzazz.

After 23 years at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), Boyle became accustomed to guards like Kyrie Irving, Shaheen Holloway and Dexter Strickland, who were so dominant it was hard not to have an on-court swagger about them.

That’s where he wants his current floor general, Kasey Hill, to get mentally.

“This kid’s so humble and nice,” Boyle said of Hill. “I almost want him to be a little cocky on the court. That’s something that he’s developing now so I like for him to play in games or against guys that help with that.”

Hill will get a key opportunity to build that bravado when he and the No. 3-seed Eagles face No. 1 seed Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and dynamic point guard Dominic Artis Saturday (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational boys' title game.

Findlay, which is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, is going for its third NHSI title (2009, 2010) in four years. The Pilots beat Montverde, which is ranked No. 12, 59-46 to claim the title in 2010.

“I’m looking forward to matching up against Dominic, for sure,” Hill said. “I don’t know if that’ll make me more cocky. I’m just not that kind of player, but it’d definitely give me even more confidence playing well against a big-time player like that.”

Artis, a senior who is signed to Oregon, is the No. 8 point guard in the ESPNU 100. Boyle referred to him as “Findlay’s head.”

“If you can cut off the head then you’ve got a real shot, you know,” Boyle said. “Kasey’s a great defender and he’ll have his hands full with Dominic, but Kasey’s more than capable of being a lockdown defender against anyone.”

Hill certainly proved that in the semifinal win over Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), last year’s NHSI champ. He held Mustangs star forward Justin Anderson, a senior who is signed to Virginia, to just one field goal and three points.

“I really try and go hard on defense,” said Hill, a junior who is the No. 3 point guard in the ESPNU 60. “Some guys rest on defense, but I go hard on both ends. I’ll definitely do that tomorrow against Dominic.”

Despite Boyle’s hope for Hill to use the matchup with Artis as a way to build a court-conceited mentality, Artis was quick to point out that, “I’m not the guy people make a name off of.”

“But either way, Kasey’s a great player,” Artis said. “He’s gonna be tough to stop, but we’ll do it together as a team. That’s the best way to stop a player like him.”

Through two games Hill is averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 assists. Artis is averaging 13 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals.

Findlay coach Mike Peck coached Hill at the freshman All-American Camp in Lexington, Ky., back in 2010 and said that Hill reminded him of a young Rod Strickland, the former All-NBA point guard who averaged 13.2 points and 7.3 assists over 17 years.

“He’s shifty and he’s got a great feel for the game,” Peck said of Hill. “One thing he’s gotten a lot better at is his ability to shoot it. Obviously he’s having a great tournament here, so he’ll be a handful, there’s no question.”

Peck said that the Pilots would employ the same “elbow block” defensive scheme on Hill that they used against Irving in 2010 when they beat St. Patrick 71-70 at the Hoophall Classic.

“Basically any time Kasey has the ball, the strong-side elbow or block needs to be occupied,” Peck said. “That way if he gets by his man, which he’s good at, the help is right there. Sometimes that will discourage a guy from challenging that first line of defense.”

Artis doesn’t anticipate Hill being discouraged by any defensive scheme the Pilots throw his way.

“I know how great point guards think, and I know that whatever another team tries to throw at me won’t matter," said Artis. "I’m still gonna do my thing. That’s my mentality, and I know that Kasey probably thinks that same way.”

Good guess.

Hill initially downplayed the matchup against Artis, but later admitted that a strong showing against him and the Pilots would “be a win for everyone.”

“Of course I can’t wait to play against a guy like Dominic,” Hill said. “We’re both competitive, and I know we’ll both bring it. I want to play well because it will help my team win a national championship. That’s what’s most important. I know that everything else that comes with that will be a good opportunity for me, too.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Findlay Prep one win from third NHSI crown

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis of No. 1 seed Findlay Prep's (Henderson, Nev.) 68-55 victory over No. 4 seed St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) in Friday's semifinals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep.

Overview: Findlay Prep, ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, had moments of sluggish play but outscored No. 15 St. Benedict's in every quarter to pull out a 13-point victory. St. Benedict's simply did not shoot well enough against a longer and deeper team. The Gray Bees made 19 of 57 field goals (33 percent) while Findlay Prep shot 24 of 45 (53 percent).

St. Benedict's coach Mark Taylor, in his first season after taking over a program that went 13-12 in 2010-11, felt his two star guards, Melvin Johnson and Tyler Ennis, didn't get their legs under them in the first half. Findlay Prep led 28-17 at halftime and outscored the Gray Bees 18-3 during a stretch late in the third and early in the fourth quarter.

Findlay Prep's lead grew to 51-36 at the conclusion of that run, but three late 3-pointers by Johnson gave the Gray Bees some life. Johnson's final triple made it 63-55 with 1:02 remaining in the game, but St. Benedict's could get no closer.

"They are a scrappy team, they got good guards and they played hard," Findlay Prep coach Mike Peck said.

Turning Point: When Findlay Prep point guard Dominic Artis (12 points) failed to fight over a pick and allowed St. Benedict's Kamall Richards (9 points) to nail a 3-pointer with one second left in the first quarter. The Pilots outplayed the Gray Bees in the first quarter, but only led by two points (15-13). Peck gave his players a tongue-lashing at the break and they picked it up defensively the rest of the way.

"We came out flat in the first quarter and we didn't get to the rim," Taylor said. "We played better in the second half, but I thought we over-dribbled and didn't move the ball in the second quarter. We gave up too many transition buckets because of that."

Key Player: Findlay Prep wing Winston Shepard. The 6-foot-8 San Diego State recruit is the Pilots' best defender and most consistent performer on both ends of the floor. He loves the challenge of guarding the opposition's best player. He did a solid job on Johnson, a Miami recruit who came into the tournament averaging 22.5 points.

Johnson finished 5 of 16 from the field for 15 points, while Shepard led four Findlay Prep players in double figures with 17. Shepard made 7 of 8 field-goal attempts and added two assists and three steals.

Key Stat: St. Benedict's only made two field goals in the pivotal second quarter. The first came from Johnson at the 3:46 mark and made the score 21-15. Standout freshman Isaiah Briscoe (team-high 17 points) made the other at 1:17 to make the score 26-17. That was it for St. Benedict's in that eight-minute period as Findlay Prep outscored them, 13-4.

"We just picked it up in the second quarter," Shepard said. "We played hard defense and shot the gaps. We did our best to take out their two best players (Ennis and Johnson)."

St. Benedict's did not attempt a free throw in the first half and made only 7 of 26 field goals in the first half. For a team that did not get to the line, the Gray Bees needed to shoot a higher percentage from the field in order to win the game.

Up Next: The top-seeded Pilots will play No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) for the 2012 NHSI title Saturday at 2pm ET on ESPN. It's a rematch of the 2010 NHSI title game when Findlay Prep defeated the Eagles, 59-46. Findlay Prep will look to win its third NHSI championship in four years while Montverde Academy will look to capture its first title.

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

Findlay Prep cruises into NHSI semis

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 1 seed Findlay Prep's (Henderson, Nev.) 79-44 victory over No. 8 seed Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) in Thursday's quarterfinals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep.

Overview: Findlay Prep coach Mike Peck didn't start forwards Anthony Bennett and Brandon Ashley, McDonald's All-Americans who played in Chicago on Wednesday night. It hardly mattered as the Pilots were just too big and talented. Nearly every field goal Coolidge made was a chore and Coolidge was out rebounded, 60-29.

After leading 18-12 at the end of the first quarter, Findlay Prep doubled up on the Colts by the middle of the second quarter and never looked back. "Rebounding was the difference in the game," Coolidge coach Mike Jones said. "Our speed usually gives top teams problems, but we just missed the shots we needed to make."

Turning Point: When Findlay Prep took the floor and jumped out to a 7-2 lead. The Pilots quickly established it would take a near miracle for the Washington D.C. Public Schools champs to stay within single digits. Outside of two spectacular lay-ups by Central Connecticut State recruit Khalen Cumberlander (team-high 13 points) that cut Coolidge's deficit to three points (12-9) midway through the first quarter, once-beaten Findlay Prep was firmly in control. To put it into perspective, Coolidge lost to POWERADE FAB 50 No. 13 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) in the Abe Polin City Title Game on March 20 by six points, 70-64.

Key Player: Bennett. When he entered the game with 4:32 remaining in the first quarter it changed its complexion. Bennett, ranked No. 7 in the ESPNU 100, played 13 minutes in the McDonald's Game. While Ashley's fatigue from his 15 minutes in that game, combined with the travel from Chicago to Maryland, caused him to play sluggishly, Bennett was dialed in. The unsigned recruit played inspired on the defensive end and was a difficult match up for Coolidge's defense. He constantly drew fouls underneath and finished plays in transition.

Bennett finished with a game-high 23 points in 18 minutes. He made 14-of-17 free throws and also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. "I didn't want to have the same thing that happened to us last year (a quarterfinal loss) happen again," Bennett said. "I want to play for the opportunity to win a national championship."

Key Stat: Findlay Prep made 18-of-23 free throws in the first half when they built a 43-25 lead. Coolidge just didn't have the size inside to contend with the two-time NHSI champions. When the Pilots got fouled, they went to the line and converted to create separation. For the game, Findlay Prep went 31-of-43 from the charity stripe, whereas Coolidge went 8-of-15.

Up Next: The Pilots, ranked No. 2 in the FAB 50, will meet No. 15 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) in tomorrow's second boys' semifinal at 1:30 PM ET. All the top seeds and higher ranked team won in their openers.

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

All-American Pilots promise champion effort

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
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CHICAGO -- Brandon Ashley had to admit that the point was valid, but he wasn’t about to agree with it completely.

Last year, Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers and Myck Kabongo were all adamant that their hectic schedule during the week of the McDonald’s All-American Game plus the minimal amount of sleep they got the night before they flew from Chicago to Bethesda, Md., to play in the National High School Invitational wouldn’t have any bearing on how they performed in the opening round.

The result?

Kabongo’s Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and Rivers’ Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) squads both got sent packing on the first day, while Cook and the Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Warriors made it to the title game and lost in double overtime to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.).

All three later conceded that fatigue from a week’s worth of Windy City grinding played a major role in their teams' ultimate demise.

“I hear all that, and that makes sense, but I’m gonna say exactly what they said,” said Ashley, a forward at Findlay Prep who suited up for the West in the McDonald’s All-American Game. “I’m gonna say it won’t affect my game in the least.”

Added Ashley’s Findlay Prep and West teammate Anthony Bennett: “We do this. We will be ready to go out there and do what we’ve got to do at the NHSI, no question.”

We’ll find out Thursday (8 p.m. ET on ESPNU) when the top-seeded Pilots take on No. 8 Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) in the quarterfinals at Georgetown Prep.

“See, what most people don’t understand is that the schedule we’ve been on this week isn’t even as bad as our AAU schedule,” said Ashley, an Arizona signee. “It’s way crazier during the summer. Three games a day; play at 10 p.m. one night and 8 a.m. the next morning. This is nothing.”

Their “nothing” would be overwhelming for many high school players, but at Findlay Prep, even with a lighter load, the travel schedule is more Division I college than high school.

“What’s crazy is we haven’t even traveled as much as we did in the past,” said Bennett, a forward who is ranked No. 7 in the ESPNU 100. “We still play in the big tournaments, but the schedule hasn’t been as hectic this year.”

That’s something that “shocked” Ashley, who transferred to Findlay from Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) for his senior season.

“I expected the travel to be a little worse,” said Ashley, who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 100. “Because it’s ‘Findlay’ and all that. It hasn’t been that bad at all. This week may have been the craziest week, travel-wise, for us.”

Ashley and Bennett will hop on a plane Thursday morning and plan to head straight to the shootaround. After that, both said they plan to grab a long nap before tonight’s game.

“We’ll just rest up and relax as much as possible,” Bennett said. “We know how important this tournament is and we know what happened last year, so we won’t have a repeat of that.”

Kabongo, who just finished his freshman season running the point at Texas, said that the Pilots should be playing “with an enormous chip on their shoulders” after falling so early in last year’s NHSI.

“We fell short of the Findlay standard,” Kabongo said. “They will have to come out and play hard to regain that. I know they will.”

Even if that means they won’t get a shot at knocking off Oak Hill, the top team in the POWERADE FAB 50. Warriors coach Steve Smith opted not to participate in the NHSI this season for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2009 due to the timing.

The Warriors just returned from a 12-day trip to China on March 20 and immediately went on spring break.

“As a competitor we would’ve loved to see Oak Hill because they’re No. 1 and we’re No. 2,” Ashley said. “But they went and did their thing in China, so it’s all good. We’re focused on what’s in front of us and that’s Coolidge. That’s all we’re worried about.”

To the casual observer, a No. 1 facing a No. 8 is a gift, but Bennett was quick to point out that such thinking was “fool’s gold.”

“I don’t know a whole lot about Coolidge, but I know you’ve got to be good to get in this tournament,” Bennett said. “Only big-time teams get in this.”

Added Ashley: “This isn’t the NCAA tournament. It’s not like a 16-seed playing the top seed. This is a small tournament and everyone is elite. You can’t come in and expect a blowout. I’m not guaranteeing a championship, but what I will say is that we’ll be giving a championship effort.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

NHSI preview: Calvin Coolidge

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
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Team: No. 8 seed Calvin Coolidge (Washington, D.C.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 29-7, (No. 19 in the East)
Head Coach: Vaughn Jones (5th year at school, 153-40 career record)

Key Players:

Khalen Cumberlander
The 6-foot-3 senior guard is the Colts’ leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points per game to go with five rebounds and 5.3 assists. Cumberlander, a Central Connecticut State signee, is the Colts’ floor general, but also hunts his shots and typically has no problem finding them with more than 1,000 points in his career. Cumberlander is an exceptional athlete who gets into the lane at will.

DeShaun Morman
Morman is arguably the toughest matchup problem for opposing teams because of his relentless athletic ability. He averages 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, five assists and five steals per game and has turned in more highlights for the Colts than any other player. Morman dropped 30 points in the Colts’ big win over Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) this season and has led the Colts in scoring over their last 10 games.

Maurice Jeffers
Jeffers anchors the paint for the Colts and pumps in 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks per game despite only playing organized basketball for four years. Jeffers, a 6-foot-9 forward who is signed to Delaware, is the king of intangibles and has a knack for being wherever the ball is at the right time.

Road to NHSI:

The Colts are riding a 20-game winning streak and had one of their most impressive wins over NHSI No. 2 seed Montrose Christian in early February. That gave Coolidge an incredible amount of confidence to finish out the season strong. The Colts went on to win the DCIAA league title for the first time in 25 years. Coolidge will face Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), who is ranked No. 9 in the POWERADE FAB 50, Tuesday for the city title.

“We’ve had our plate full this year,” Jones said. “But our guys have really risen to the challenge and battled hard. I definitely feel like we’re one of the top teams in the country, and that’s what we want to prove in the NHSI.”

Inside Scoop:

You better lace up your track shoes when facing Coolidge, as the Colts push the ball up the floor every chance they get. With exceptional guards like Morman and Cumberlander, the Colts effectively utilize the dribble-drive offense and make 11 threes on average every game. Omar Roberts and Sam Briggs are the Colts' most deadly 3-point marksmen.

“We’re definitely not shy about letting the shots go up,” Jones said. “We just attack at all times and just try and bring it to the opposing team on the offensive end. We also defend really well.”

The Colts hold teams to just 55 points per game and score 78 points per game.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Findlay Prep gets No. 1 seed for NHSI

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
2:01
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ESPNHS has announced the seedings for the eight boys' teams that will compete in the fourth annual ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

The year's event, which features six POWERADE FAB 50-ranked teams, will be March 29-31 at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. ET March 31 on ESPN.

As expected, two-time NHSI champion Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) was awarded the top seed and will face No. 8 seed Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) March 29. Coolidge (29-7) will have its hands full with the No. 2 team in the country. In three years, only Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) has played the top seed in the No. 1 versus No. 8 game down to the wire, and that came in 2010 when Montrose lost to Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) by two points.

This year, FAB 50 No. 9 Montrose Christian (20-2) snagged the second seed and opens the tournament with seventh-seeded Ravenscroft (Ravenscroft, N.C.). The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champions come in with a 31-3 mark, but they didn't venture too far from home this season and are decided underdogs against the defending NHSI champions.

Returning from last year's championship team is emotional leader Justin Anderson, a Virginia recruit, and Michael Carrera, who averaged a record 12.7 rebounds in Montrose Christian's three victories. Stu Vetter's club has to show its backcourt is capable without reigning tourney MVP Tyrone Johnson (now at Villanova), but Ravenscroft has even more to prove. The last two years, the NCISAA entrant has been routed in its opener.

After missing last year's event because of key early season losses, No. 12 Montverde Academy is back in the fold as the third seed. Kevin Sutton coached the team in 2010 when they advanced to the finals, but this year the 21-3 Mustangs have a new coach in Kevin Boyle. He turned St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) into a national power but his program never had the opportunity to compete at the NHSI.

Boyle now gets the opportunity against No. 6 seed La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), a newcomer on the national scene with a big and talented roster. Montverde not only faces the challenge of a hungry 25-2 team ranked No. 23, they also face the challenge of idle time. Montverde had not played another high school since Feb. 4.

One team that certainly won't have any problems with idle time is fourth seed St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.), which competed in the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational last weekend. Gray Bees lost only their second game of the season (33-2) to eventual tournament champion DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the semifinals.

Had St. Benedict's won that tournament without its point guard (Tyler Ennis) and sixth man (Jordan Forehand), there's a strong possibility they would have been seeded second. They only dropped five spots in the FAB 50 to No. 15 (two spots behind DeMatha) and will open the NHSI against fifth-seeded Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.), the FHSAA Class 7A state champ ranked No. 16. If Ennis and Forehand are not healthy for St. Benedict's, they could have trouble stopping the backcourt of Ely, which has proven its scoring ability in big games this season.

If St. Benedict's situation is any indication, this could be the most balanced NHSI field yet. Findlay Prep wants another crack at La Lumiere to avenge its only loss, but in order for that to occur both teams have to advance to the championship game. If history is any indication, La Lumiere might have a good shot at the semifinals (where defending champion Montrose Christian could be waiting) since the No. 6 seed has won in the opening round the past two years.

"You play 30 games for a seeding, but when the ball goes up, everyone is 0-0," said Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck. "We're blessed to be able to participate, as these games give the competing teams some closure."

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

Field set for boys' teams at NHSI

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
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The fourth annual ESPNHS National High School Invitational, set for March 29-31 at Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.), is highlighted by the return of previous champions among the eight-team boys' field.

Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), which won the inaugural event in 2009 and repeated as champions in 2010, is a slight favorite to win this year's NHSI title. The No. 2 ranked team in the POWERADE FAB 50 is not a prohibitive favorite because the field of talented teams -- including No. 10 St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.), and No. 11 and defending NHSI champion Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) -- includes the only team to beat the Pilots this season.

That team is No. 25 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), which made national headlines in late December by defeating Findlay Prep 67-66 at the Mike Miller Invitational in South Dakota. The Lakers jumped on the Pilots early and went up 18 points before holding on at the end. This will be the first opportunity for La Lumiere to play on national television and show the country the win over Findlay Prep was no fluke.

"I think we feel like we got something to prove," La Lumiere coach Allan Huss said. "What you'll see is a hungry group. We might be a little sloppy right off the bat from the layoff, but we have some guys who, individually, think they don't get the recognition they deserve."

Since many of the participating teams don't compete for state championships, there will be sizable layoffs before quarterfinal play begins on March 29 at 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU). For instance, No. 14 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), the 2010 NHSI runner-up, concluded its regular season on Feb. 4.

The one team that might have an advantage in this area is St. Benedict's Prep, which will compete against a tough field at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational in Frostburg, Md., March 15-17. That tournament should be a good test for the level of competition the Gray Bees could face should they advance past the first round. If they lose at Alhambra, it will likely affect the seedings for this year's NHSI, which will be announced the week of March 19.

No. 16 Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) will be a dangerous public school entrant and could be a dark horse to win it all, if last year is any indication. At the 2011 NHSI, Florida Class 5A state champ Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) upset Findlay Prep in the first round as a No. 6 seed behind a memorable performance by Jacoby Brissett, currently the starting quarterback at Florida. Ely is currently ranked in the same spot as Dwyer was entering last year's tournament and the Class 7A state champ Tigers will enter the NHSI battle-tested. Led by forward Clide Geffrard, Ely's only two losses are to No. 13 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Montverde Academy.

Rounding out the field is North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champion Ravenscroft and District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association champion Coolidge (Washington, D.C.). Coolidge will take on No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) for the city title on March 20. Win or lose, you can't count them out against this NHSI field. After all, they did hand Montrose Christian one of its two regular season losses.

Regardless of how the brackets play out, this year's NHSI has a tough act to follow. In last year's championship game, Montrose Christian defeated Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in double overtime 71-64.

"It's always good to get another chance to repeat," said Montrose Christian's Justin Anderson, whose last second 3-pointer sent last year's title game into a second overtime. "It's not the same team we had last year, so I want to put our heads together and lead my team to another title."

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

ESPNHS NHSI set for March 29-31

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
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The ESPNHS National High School Invitational tournament will invade Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md., on March 29-31.

In all, 10 games featuring some of the country’s top boys’ and girls’ teams will air live from the Hanley Center on ESPNU, ESPN2 and ESPN. All telecasts will also be available online through ESPN3 and WatchESPN.

The girls’ championship game will commence at noon on March 31 (ESPNU) with the boys’ championship following at 2 p.m. (ESPN).

Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) coach Mike Peck won the inaugural NHSI back in 2009, and likened the tournament to “a smaller scale Big Dance.”

“That’s basically what it is, the NCAA Tournament, but it’s just on the high school level,” said Peck whose Pilots are ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50. “We feel very fortunate to have been a part of this in the past. It’s such a great, competitive tournament that can give you some type of closure to your season. Now sometimes that’s not so good, but that’s what March is all about anyway.”

Last year, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) won a double-overtime thriller over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) to claim the boys’ title, while Dr. Phillips (Orlando), the girls’ tournament’s lowest seed, knocked off Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.) in the finals.

Participating teams for this year’s tournament will be announced at a later date.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Inside the FAB 50: Where's New York?

February, 29, 2012
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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.

No. 3 Findlay Prep beats Vegas rival

January, 21, 2012
1/21/12
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LAS VEGAS -- In a scene reminiscent of the glory days of UNLV basketball when iconic coach Jerry Tarkanian led the Runnin' Rebels to three NCAA Final Fours between 1987 and 1991, basketball was the talk of Sin City on Saturday.

It wasn't a college game, however, that had the city buzzing. The excitement surrounded a contest dubbed the Big City Showdown Challenge between POWERADE FAB 50 No. 16 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cox Pavilion for a game that sold out two days after tickets went on sale, Findlay Prep used an 18-1 second-half run to spark its 73-61 victory.

Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for Findlay Prep, scoring 21 points apiece and making big plays seemingly every time Bishop Gorman made a push. Artis also had seven assists and two steals to pace the victors.

"Artis is just comfortable out there," said Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck. "It took him a while to get used to playing and being effective in our system. He's now comfortable and confident. He may go all 32 minutes the rest of the way for us."

Findlay Prep took control early after both teams started the contest tight. A baseline jumper by Bishop Gorman's Shabazz Muhammad ended a 16-5 run by Findlay Prep and made the score 28-22 midway through the second quarter. Bishop Gorman (14-4) eventually cut its deficit to two points, but Findlay Prep's Amedeo Della Valle hit a 3-pointer to give Findlay Prep (19-1) a 33-28 lead with with 20 seconds remaining in the half.

That's when Bishop Gorman's Rashad Muhammad (nine points) hit a 3-pointer and Ben Carter followed by connecting on a 70-foot heave at the halftime buzzer to give Bishop Gorman a 34-33 lead and all the momentum heading into intermission.

But the momentum didn't last.

Findlay Prep ended the third quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 53-39 lead heading into the fourth, and the Pilots eventually grew their lead to 17 points, 58-41, in the final quarter. Bishop Gorman competed until the end and were able to cut the deficit to nine, 66-57, on a put-back layup by Shabazz Muhammad with 2:17 remaining, but the Gaels never truly threatened to complete the comeback.

Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 100 and frontrunner for ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honors, was coming off a 37-point performance five days ago in a victory over DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.). In this game, however, he struggled from the field (9-of-25) and finished with 19 points. He also had a team-high nine rebounds.

"I take (guarding Shabazz Muhammad) personal," said Findlay Prep's Winston Shepard, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and did a good job defensively on Gorman's star. "I've been playing against him a long time and I'm a good player, too."

Findlay Prep was coming off a victory over Simeon (Chicago), the preseason No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, in a game the Pilots played without the services of Anthony Bennett, the No. 7 prospect in the ESPNU 100.

Making Findlay Prep's victory over Bishop Gorman even more impressive was Bennett did not play in this game, either. On top of that, Findlay Prep forward Brandon Ashley, No. 4 in the ESPNU 100, was in early foul trouble and finished with three points, but had a big impact in the third quarter.

"In the first minutes of the third quarter, Brandon gave us exactly what we needed -- a defensive presence," Peck said. "That's how we maintained our lead."

With its victory Saturday, Findlay Prep will now be seriously considered for the No. 2 spot in next week's POWERADE FAB 50. The Pilots have a tremendous amount of firepower on their roster and find ways to win with different contributors.

Currently, they trail unbeaten Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and two-loss Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) in the national rankings.

"When their guards play well, they are the best team in high school basketball," said ESPN director of basketball recruiting Paul Biancardi.

Findlay Prep is now 4-0 all time against Bishop Gorman. The Pilots have never lost to an NIAA school.

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

Family matters: The Muhammad brothers

January, 20, 2012
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Being the younger brother of the No. 1 recruit in the nation and playing on the same basketball team isn't always easy, but it helps to have a coach who is in a similar predicament.

It happened last year in the middle of a heavyweight bout at Las Vegas' Cox Pavilion between high school basketball powers Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). Midway through the third quarter of Findlay's dramatic double-overtime win, Shabazz Muhammad's instincts as an older brother, rather than teammate, took over.

An out-of-bounds play under the basket was designed for Muhammad to receive a back pick from a teammate, roll to his strong side and receive the ball for a close-range shot or possibly a lob near the front of the rim. Gorman's screener coming from the opposite baseline was Rashad Muhammad, Shabazz's younger brother.
Shabazz Muhammad, Ron Holmes, Rashad Muhammad
Ronnie Flores/ESPNHSRon Holmes, the father of No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad (left) and youger brother Rashad, has seen his sons grow closer off the court as Rashad expands his on-court game.

"Rashad," Shabazz called out.

"Rashad!" he said louder.

"RASHAD, what are you doing?"

The younger Muhammad never set the screen before the ball came into play. It probably was insignificant to the game, but it was a perfect example of the Muhammads' on-court relationship last season.

It was also indicative of Rashad's play at times during his sophomore season -- and big brother's normal reaction.

"Last year I would play thinking coach will take me out if I made a mistake," Rashad said. "This year I play my game. I have no worries."

So what actually happened? Did Rashad (who does not recall the actual moment) not understand the play or did he simply get tight during the course of battle? Their father, Ron Holmes, offers his own theory.

"On the court, Rashad doesn't like to listen to [Shabazz]. ... It goes in one ear and out the other," Holmes said. "Shabazz is always trying to help him out, and when they are not competing he's all ears."

This year Shabazz is still the alpha male on the team, but he's also the nation's top-ranked recruit in the ESPNU 100. Rashad, meanwhile, sees more than the spot minutes he did last season, averaging roughly 10 points and four rebounds as a pass-first combo guard and defensive specialist for a Bishop Gorman team ranked No. 16 in the latest POWERADE FAB 50. His expanded role has brought the brothers closer, and 6-foot-4, 170-pound junior Rashad hopes to make a big contribution in the rematch with No. 3 Findlay Prep Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

The siblings' relationship is one Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice has seen evolve -- and can relate to.

Rice has a special relationship with Rashad because he understands what the younger Muhammad is going through. The Gaels' 11th-year coach often plays second fiddle in Las Vegas to older brother Dave Rice, who's in his first season as UNLV head coach.

"I feel for him because we have a lot in common," said Grant, the winning coach at last summer's Boost Mobile Elite 24 and a four-time state title-winning coach. "I get a lot of, 'Aren't you Dave Rice's little brother?' I have to tell them I've been coaching here in Las Vegas a long time.

"I've had a heart-to-heart talk with [Rashad] about being his own person and own player. I tell him just because I have a successful older brother, doesn't mean my job isn't important, too. I can also make an impact on kids' lives."

Because he knows Shabazz's dominant personality, Holmes gets a laugh out of watching his oldest son get on his younger brother on the court. On the other hand, he understands how being the younger sibling of a budding celebrity can be difficult.

"They're close as brothers, but it's tough for [Rashad] sometimes because he puts pressure on himself to be on the same level [as Shabazz]," Holmes said. "It's been tough for him trying to figure out how to deal with it."

Rashad does get tired of answering the same questions over and over about his brother, but he brushes it off as no big deal because of their strong bond and because he's aware how good a player his brother is.

"We've been close all of our lives, so it hasn't really hit me how big he is," Rashad said.

As far as the public is concerned, Holmes doesn't have many concerns about people using Rashad to get closer to or be associated with Shabazz -- unless it's an adult. In that case, he would step in. If it's a kid, however, it's just another aspect of Rashad's maturation process.

"You got to allow kids to be kids," Holmes said.

Long term, Rashad would like to play a big role in sending his brother off to college with three state titles on his resume. Short term, he wants to hit his double-digit norm in helping the Gaels to their first-ever win over Findlay Prep.

Like any normal teenager, he also wouldn't mind getting some recognition of his own. After all, he is getting the opportunity to play in a nationally televised game for the second time in six days.

"It's a lot different this year; I'm way more comfortable and catching up to the speed of varsity," Rashad said. "I want people to know I'm trying to make a name for myself, too."

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


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — There will likely be a new team atop the next POWERADE FAB 50 rankings after No. 1 Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) fell to No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 75-50, at the Spalding Hoophall Classic on Monday.

Simeon never found its offense, frequently forcing bad shots and allowing Findlay to run out on the fast break after misses. For the game, Simeon shot just 4 of 24 on 3-point attempts (16.7 percent), while Findlay Prep shot 66.7 percent from downtown (61 percent overall).

Winston Shepard
J. Anthony Roberts/ESPNHSWinston Shepard finished with high-flying dunks all night against Simeon.
The game was also billed as a matchup of two of the country’s top players — Simeon junior Jabari Parker and Findlay Prep senior Brandon Ashley. Parker, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 60, was solid with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but the smooth superstar felt he could have done more to stop Findlay from pulling away in the second half.

“I waited too long to get it going,” said Parker. “I didn’t do a lot of scoring in the third quarter. If I don’t show up, my team’s going to lose by a lot of points.”

Ashley, the No. 4 player in the ESPNU 100, posted 13 points and nine boards, including back-to-back dunks to seal the game in the fourth quarter. He also received more help from his teammates.

Findlay Prep junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss chipped in 18 points, and senior guard Dominic Artis (No. 72 in the ESPNU 100) earned Player of the Game honors with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The 6-foot-2 Williams-Goss also drew plenty of attention with his defensive performance, even switching onto the 6-foot-8 Parker at times and doing a good job.

“Obviously, our focus was on [Simeon junior guard] Kendrick Nunn and Jabari Parker,” said Williams-Goss. “I took it personally, because I knew I’d have to defend both of them during the game.”

Williams-Goss also said that Findlay Prep felt it had something to prove at Hoophall.

“We had a slip-up earlier in the season with our loss to La Lumiere,” he said. “But it was motivation to us that Simeon was ranked No. 1. We feel we’re still the best team in the country. Being No. 1, that put a bull’s-eye on their back and we were coming for them.”

Findlay Prep’s victory was even more impressive considering that the team was without senior forward Anthony Bennett, the No. 7 player in the ESPNU 100. Bennett sat out the game with a hamstring injury.

Simeon dropped to 15-1 with the loss. The Wolverines have spent the entire season at No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50, but the blowout loss is likely to drop them at least several spots. Findlay Prep improved to 18-1 with the win.

There were plenty of top college coaches on hand, presumably to get a close look at Parker, who is still uncommitted. Among those in the crowd were Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky's John Calipari.

After the game, Parker said he hasn’t formed any list of college favorites yet. “I’m wide open,” he said.

Mike Grimala covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSGrimala or email him at michael.grimala@espn.com.

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