High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: NHSI

Kasey Hill and Rajon RondoKelly Kline/Getty Images and Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty ImagesKasey Hill, the No. 6 player in the ESPN 100, enjoys being compared to Celtics superstar Rajon Rondo.
This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.

Player: Kasey Hill
School: Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Position: Point guard
Height/weight: 6-0/170
ESPN 100: No. 6

Who is Kasey Hill?

The term "pure point guard" is in vogue right now, and it's a label that describes Hill perfectly. A textbook floor general, Hill is always in complete command on the court. As a junior last season, he posted 15.4 points and 7.2 assists per game while guiding Montverde Academy to the finals of the National High School Invitational and a No. 9 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. But more impressive than the numbers is the way Hill controls the game.

"I don't get rattled under pressure," says Hill, a Florida recruit. "No matter what the defense is doing, I don't let them rush me into making decisions. I take my time and put my teammates in position to make plays."

Scouting report:

Sure, Hill can slither to the rim for lay-ups or step back and bury jumpers, but he's not a scorer -- he's a point guard first and foremost. Few high school players see the court the way Hill does, and he has the natural athleticism to make difficult passes, either on the break or in the half-court. According to ESPN Recruiting Nation, Hill can "get to wherever he wants on the court," combining a "tight and fluid" handle with "excellent court vision and feel for the game." His jump shot isn't perfect yet, but he shows good enough form to believe he'll eventually become a productive outside shooter. He should fit in perfectly at Florida, where coach Billy Donovan likes to run a guard-heavy spread offense.

Most frequent comparisons: Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, John Wall


ESPNHS comparison: Rajon Rondo

Hill's coach at Montverde Academy, Kevin Boyle, knows a thing or two about point guards -- he also coached Kyrie Irving in high school. And some scouts see similarities between the two players, pointing to Hill as a mid-tempo point guard who can cruise into the lane at will. But we see Hill as a more natural and creative distributor, someone who can draw defenders and then whip a wraparound pass at an impossible angle and hit an open teammate in stride. Someone like Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics' triple-double machine. Hill can push the tempo when the opportunity is there, and his slick dribbling ability allows him to cave in defenses just like Rondo.

Kasey's comparison: Rajon Rondo

Hill says the two comparisons he hears most often are Rajon Rondo and John Wall, and he particularly enjoys the Rondo resemblance.

"People say that the way I pass is kind of like Rajon Rondo, and the way I move my feet is like John Wall," says Hill. "I love Rondo, and to say my passing is like his is like the highest level you can get. I love John Wall, too. I don't think I'm anywhere near their level yet, but I try to take things from them and put it in my game."

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).
Let’s get something out the way real quick: Bobby Portis could care less about player rankings.

The Hall (Little Rock, Ark.) junior rarely visits recruiting databases, opting to test his mettle against the nation’s top players on the hardwood rather than in cyberspace.

But after receiving a tweet last week notifying him that he was rated the No. 12 player in the new ESPN 100 rankings for the Class of 2013, the Arkansas commit grew a bit curious and had to sneak a peek. Portis’ new rating heading into the thick of the AAU season was 20 spots higher than his previous status in the ESPN 60.

“I hadn’t looked at them since last August when I was like 35th,” says the 6-foot-9 power forward. “I think it’s an honor, but you can’t get caught up looking at it.”

Portis made a name for himself during his sophomore season as a defensive ace with the ability to defend up to four spots on the court. But he was admittedly a weak player who was soft in the paint and lacked the conditioning of an elite prospect. Therefore, he didn’t garner the same attention as his peers.

“I think being ranked in the 30s was right at the time,” Portis said. “People said I should have been higher, but I never looked at it like that. I just kept working hard.”

Portis attributes his recent rise in notoriety to enhancements to his mid-range game and ball handling. He also became a high motor player on both ends of the floor thanks to improved conditioning and put more of an emphasis on his leadership and doing the grunt work necessary to will his team to victory.

He was a changed player during the high school season, notching 17 points and ripping down 11 boards a contest as Hall completed a three-peat at state. His retooled offensive arsenal (13.4 points a game) has turned heads nationally on the AAU scene, as he powered the Arkansas Wings to a 13-7 record at EYBL and a berth in July’s Nike Peach Jam.

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse,” says Portis. “Looking on ESPN and seeing No. 12, it motivates me. But when I step on the court, (I know) other players want to out-perform me. I just want to move up even more.”

Kasey Hill
Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesFresh off a huge performance at NHSI, Montverde guard Kasey Hill is No. 6 in the Class of 2013.
Like Portis, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) point guard Kasey Hill has never been a big believer in player rankings. But after lighting it up at some prestigious postseason events, Hill saw his stock rise from No. 18 to No. 6 in the current ESPN 100.

The Florida recruit averaged 15.4 points and 7.2 assists per game during the regular season, but it was his showing at the National High School Invitational in April that helped vault him toward the top of the rankings. Hill posted 20 points and seven assists in a semifinal win over Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), then exploded for 23 points and six assists in the championship game against powerhouse Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

Hill was the best player on the floor against Findlay Prep, which finished No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50. His quickness, court vision and superior ball-handling were on full display in an overtime loss.

"I think it started with the NHSI," says Hill. "I played pretty well there. I showed I can get my teammates involved and play consistently against the best competition."

Hill tries not to think about his current ranking, but that doesn't mean he's satisfied, either.

"I like being ranked highly," says Hill. "But the important thing is for me to continue to work hard and stay consistent so I don't drop. If I work hard enough, I feel like I can go even higher."

Here’s a look at four other players who have seen their stock rise dramatically.

Ishmail Wainright, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)
Previous ranking: No. 27
Current ranking: 18
Differential: 9
Why the rise: This talented small forward boasts an NBA body at 6-foot-6, 220-pounds, and he is coming off a junior season in which he helped power the Mustangs to No. 14 in the POWERADE FAB 50. Wainwright was a stat-stuffer playing alongside Virginia-bound star Justin Anderson, averaging 8.0 points, 8.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game in his first season at Montrose after transferring from St. Louis, Mo. He ended the year on a high note by averaging a near double-double at NHSI.

Sindarius Thornwell, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Previous ranking: 47
Current ranking: 23
Differential: 24
Why the rise: Thornwell has been one of the most impressive players during Nike Elite Youth Basketball League play, scoring 16.9 points per game while leading Team United to a 9-5 record and a berth in the Nike Peach Jam. At 6-foot-4, Thornwell brings physicality to his shooting guard position, as evidenced by his 7.3 rebounds per game in EYBL. If he improves his outside shooting touch, he has the potential to rise even higher in the rankings.

Rondae Jefferson, Chester (Pa.)
Previous ranking: No. 38
Current ranking: 22
Differential: 16
Why the rise: Jefferson is all about versatility. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder is still growing into his body, and his potential has college coaches salivating. This past season, Jefferson showed he could play anywhere from point guard to power forward, and while he averaged just 12.1 points per game, he flashed the kind of offensive skills that could someday translate to the NBA game.

James Young, Troy (Mich.)
Previous ranking: No. 10
Current ranking: 5
Differential: 5
Why the rise: High school juniors are usually far from finished products, and that's what makes Young so impressive. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is a polished scorer, able to score off the dribble or from the outside with his smooth shooting stroke. This past season, he averaged 25.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and he's continued to show a well-rounded scoring arsenal on the summer circuit.

Bennett comes full circle; FAB 50 implications

March, 31, 2012
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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
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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.”

Findlay Prep cruises into NHSI semis

March, 29, 2012
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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
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 4 seed St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 67-61 win over No. 5 seed Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) in the quarterfinals of the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep on Thursday:

Overview: St. Benedict's found itself trailing by double digits in the second quarter, but the Gray Bees tightened up on defense in the second half and surged past Blanche Ely, 67-61, to advance to the semifinals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

Blanche Ely, the No. 16 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, shot 57 percent in the first half and held a 40-32 lead at the half. St. Benedict's, ranked No. 15 in the FAB 50, responded by coming out of the locker room in lockdown mode, holding Blanch Ely to just seven points in the third quarter. Senior guard Melvin Johnson and freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe were pivotal, as they came up with three steals apiece.

Johnson, the No. 92 player in the ESPNU 100, scored a team-high 17 points. Briscoe added 11, and junior guard Tyler Ennis chipped in 14.

Turning Point: The St. Benedict's defense was shredded in the first half. The Gray Bees gave up 40 points, with Blanche Ely senior forward Clide Geffrard and senior guard Benji Bell doing most of the damage on pick-and-rolls. St. Benedict's tried playing man and zone to slow the duo down, but nothing seemed to work.

That changed after halftime. The Gray Bees came out more focused on the defensive end and played straight man the entire half. They held Blanche Ely to 29.6 percent shooting in the second half and forced 10 turnovers (17 overall). That helped St. Benedict's get into the open floor, where the trio of Ennis, Johnson and Briscoe took over.

"We were disappointed in the way we defended in the first half," said St. Benedict's coach Mark Taylor. "In the second half we made the decision that we were going to go man. We hedged harder. We sent weak-side help. We stopped changing the D and went with what worked."

Geffrard scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half, mostly on dunks and lay-ups right at the rim. After the break, the St. Benedict's defense held him to just four points on five shots.

"There was a lot of help-side defense (in the second half)," said Geffrard. "They kept switching and rotating."

Key Player: Just a freshman, Briscoe came into the tournament averaging about three points per game. But the 6-foot-3 guard came up huge during St. Benedict's second-half comeback. Briscoe scored 10 of his 11 points after halftime while adding four assists, three steals and a block.

Briscoe also made a game-changing play midway through the fourth quarter. With St. Benedict's clinging to a two-point lead, he stripped his man at midcourt and went to the floor to make the diving steal. He then got up, gained control and drove in for a lay-up to make it a 55-51 game.

Junior Isaiah Watkins also had a huge game for the Gray Bees, as the 6-foot-8 forward posted 14 points and 14 rebounds, including nine offensive boards.

Key Stat: With Blanche Ely making almost 60 percent of its shots in the first half, St. Benedict's couldn't fully utilize its three-guard offense in the open court. But once the defense clamped down in the second half, the Gray Bees' offense took off. St. Benedict's finished with 20 fast break points, compared to just 10 for Blanche Ely.

Up Next: With top-seeded Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) -- the No. 2 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 -- looming as a potential opponent in the NHSI semifinals, St. Benedict's is going to need more production from its bench. The Gray Bees played just two subs against Blanche Ely, with the bench guys contributing five points in 23 minutes. Findlay Prep is arguably the deepest squad in the nation and is uniquely qualified to take advantage of any team's lack of depth.

Montrose Christian rolls past Ravenscroft

March, 29, 2012
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 2 seed Montrose Christian’s (Rockville, Md.) 64-48 win over No. 7 seed Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) in the quarterfinals of the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep Thursday:

Overview: Montrose Christian, ranked No. 9 in the POWERADE Fab 50, caught fire early, draining three 3-pointers in the first quarter to claim an early 16-7 lead. Montrose forward Justin Anderson had two of his own and ramped up the defensive pressure to help the Mustangs force eight turnovers and keep the Ravens at bay for much of the first half.

Montrose shot 60 percent from the 3-point line in the first half. Then Mustangs went on a 9-0 run midway through the third that devastated Ravenscroft.

The Ravens started forcing tough, contested threes and folding under the Mustangs’ intense defensive pressure.

“We had to get our rhythm back because we hadn’t played in a long time,” said Montrose coach Stu Vetter. “But these guys are strong and they really battled. Our defensive intensity was the difference in the game. We picked up our momentum defensively and that’s what got it done.”

Turning Point: Up just 36-32 midway through the third quarter, Montrose forward Ishmail Wainright caught Yuri Togashi’s missed three off the rim and flushed it with authority, sending the Montrose-heavy crowd into a frenzy. On the next play, the Mustangs forced a turnover and found Anderson in the right corner for the three. Then, after another Ravenscroft turnover, Togashi threw Anderson an alley-oop in transition.

That sequence of events seemed to take the Ravens’ heart.

“Their physicality hurt us,” Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman said. “We’d cut it to four, but then they went on that explosion and that made it really tough for us.”

Key Player: Anderson was a matchup problem for the Ravens all night. When they sagged off he drained threes and when they pushed up on him he drove the lane and made plays. Anderson finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists.

“Justin’s one of the best players in the country,” Vetter said. “I’ve coached a lot of great players and he’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached. I think a lot of people have overlooked him as far as McDonald’s and Jordan All-American games. He’s one of the best players in the country without question.”

Ravenscroft guard Anton Gill drained two 3-pointers in the loss, tying the Ravenscroft record for career 3-pointers at 106, which had been held by Corwin Davis, who starred at Ravenscroft from 1997-2001.

Key Stat: The Ravens shot just 4 of 21 (19 percent) from the 3-point line in their loss. During the regular season they shot 34 percent and broke a school record for 3-pointers made with 138. The old record was 130.

“We haven’t played a game in 32 days,” Billerman said. “We’ve only had seven practices over that time so that’s rough. We had good looks, but we just couldn’t get them to fall.”

Up Next: The Mustangs will face No. 3 seed Montverde (Fla.) Friday (11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2) in the semifinals. Montverde, ranked No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50, knocked off La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 62-54 Thursday in the quarterfinals.

“They’re a great team,” Wainright said of Montverde. “They really play hard, and I’m looking forward to playing against them.”

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.

All-American Pilots promise champion effort

March, 28, 2012
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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 individual & team records

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
6:56
PM ET
2012 boys' bracket | 2011 boys' bracket | 2010 boys' bracket | 2009 boys' bracket

Most Points (Game)
37 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Christ School, 2010 quarterfinals
32 -- Cory Joseph, Findlay Prep vs. Mountain State, 2010 semifinals
31 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Boys & Girls, 2011 quarterfinals
30 -- Jacoby Brissett, Dwyer vs. Findlay Prep, 2010 quarterfinals
29 -- Terrell Vinson, Montrose Christian vs. St. Benedict's Prep, 2009 quarterfinals
29 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy vs. Dwyer, 2011 semifinals

Most Field Goals Made (Game)
15 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Christ School, 2010 quarterfinals (15x26)
12 -- Terrell Vinson, Montrose Christian vs. St. Benedict's Prep, 2009 quarterfinals (12x20)
11 -- Doron Lamb, Oak Hill Academy vs. Pinewood Prep, 2009 quarterfinals (11x14)
11 -- Jacoby Brissett, Dwyer vs. Findlay Prep, 2010 quarterfinals (11x16)

Most Field Goal Attempts (Game)
26 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Christ School, 2010 quarterfinals (15x26)

Most Free Throws Made (Game)
12 -- Nick Johnson, Findlay Prep vs. Dwyer, 2011 quarterfinals (12x17)
11 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Boys & Girls, 2011 quarterfinals (11x14)
11 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy vs. Dwyer, 2011 semifinals (11x12)
11 -- Tyrone Johnson, Montrose Christian vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2011 championship (11x11)

Most Free Throw Attempts (Game)
17 -- Nick Johnson, Findlay Prep vs. Dwyer, 2011 quarterfinals (12x17)
14 -- Mouphtaou Yarou, Montrose Christian vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 semifinals (6x14)
14 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Boys & Girls, 2011 quarterfinals (11x14)
13 -- Tristan Thompson, Findlay Prep vs. Montverde Academy, 2010 championship (5x13)

Most Free Throws Without a Miss (Game)
11 -- Tyrone Johnson, Montrose Christian vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2011 championship (11x11)
8 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park vs. Montverde Academy, 2010 semifinals (8x8)

Highest Free Throw Shooting Percentage (Tournament)
.947 -- Tyrone Johnson, Montrose Christian, 2011 (18x19)

Most 3-point Field Goals Made (Game)
6 -- Noah Cottrill, Mountain State Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 quarterfinals (6x12)
5 -- Ronald Scott, John Carroll vs. Montrose Christian, 2011 quarterfinals (5x8)
5 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy vs. United Faith Christian Academy, 2011 quarterfinals (5x9)
4 -- Ryan Bogdan, Pinewood Prep vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2009 quarterfinals (4x5)
4 -- Tamir Jackson, St. Benedict's Prep vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2009 semifinals (4x9)
4 -- Pe'Shon Howard, Oak Hill Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 championship
4 -- Jamail Jones, Montverde Academy vs. Montrose Christian, 2010 quarterfinals (4x8)
4 -- Tyler Hubbard, Montrose Christian vs. John Carroll, 2011 quarterfinals (4x5)
4 -- Tyler Hubbard, Montrose Christian vs. Boys & Girls, 2011 semifinals (4x7)
4 -- Victor Adams, Dwyer vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2011 semifinals (4x7)
4 -- Keith Hornsby, Oak Hill Academy vs. Dwyer, 2011 semifinals (4x6)

Most 3-point Field Goal Attempts (Game)
13 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy vs. Montrose Christian, 2011 championship (3x13)
13 -- Michael Taylor, Boys & Girls vs. Montrose Christian, 2011 semifinals (3x13)
12 -- Noah Cottrill, Mountain State Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 quarterfinals (6x12)
11 -- Pe'Shon Howard, Oak Hill Academy vs. Mountain State Academy, 2010 quarterfinal (2x11)

Most Points (Career)
100 -- Corey Joseph, Findlay Prep, 2009-10 (6 games)
91 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park, 2010-11 (3 games)

Highest Scoring Average (Tournament)
(minimum two games)
31.5 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park, 2010 (63 points/2 games)
27.0 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy, 2011 (81 points/3 games)
23.0 -- Jacoby Brissett, Dwyer, 2011 (46 points/2 games)
21.7 -- Jamail Jones, Montverde Academy, 2010 (65 points/3 games)
20.7 -- Avery Bradley, Findlay Prep, 2009 (62 points/3 games)

Highest Scoring Average (Career)
(minimum two games)
31.3 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park, 2010-11 (94 points/3 games)

Most Rebounds (Game)
17 -- Michael Carrera, Montrose Christian vs. Boys & Girls, 2011 semifinals
15 -- Keith "Tiny" Gallon, Oak Hill Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 championship
14 -- Keith "Tiny" Gallon, Oak Hill Academy vs. St. Benedict's Prep, 2009 semifinals
13 -- A.J. Hammonds, Oak Hill Academy vs. Dwyer, 2011 semifinals
13 -- Michael Carrera, Montrose Christian vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2011 championship

Most Rebounds (Career)
57 -- Tristan Thompson, Findlay Prep, 2009-10 (6 games)

Highest Rebounding Average (Tournament)
12.7 -- Michael Carrera, Montrose Christian, 2011 (38 rebounds/3 games)
11.0 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park, 2010 (22 rebounds/2 games)
10.7 -- Keith "Tiny" Gallon, Oak Hill Academy, 2009 (32 rebounds/3games)

Highest Rebounding Average (Career)
10.3 -- Austin Rivers, Winter Park, 2010-11 (31 rebounds/3 games)
9.5 -- Tristan Thompson, Findlay Prep, 2009-10 (57 rebounds/6 games)

Most Assists (Game)
9 -- Pe'Shon Howard, Oak Hill Academy vs. Mountain State Academy, 2010 quarterfinal

Most Steals (Game)
8 -- Kenny Manigault, Pinewood Prep vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2009 quarterfinals
6 -- Malik Nichols, Boys & Girls vs. Winter Park, 2011 quarterfinals
5 -- Nick Johnson, Findlay Prep vs. Mountain State, 2010 semifinals
5 -- Quinn Cook, Oak Hill Academy vs. Montrose Christian, 2011 championship

Most Blocked Shots (Game)
5 -- Adam Jones, Winter Park vs. Christ School, 2010 quarterfinals
4 -- Isaiah Armwood, Montrose Christian vs. Findlay Prep, 2009 semifinals
4 -- David Nyarsuk, Mountain State Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2010 semifinals

All-Time Team Records
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 6-1 (.857)
Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 4-2 (.667)
Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 2-1 (.667)
Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 4-3 (.571)
Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 1-1 (.500)
Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) 1-1 (.500)
St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) 1-1 (.500)
Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.) 1-2 (.333)
Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) 1-2 (.333)
Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.) 0-1 (.000)
Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 0-1 (.000)
Friends' Central (Wynnewood, Pa.) 0-1 (.000)
John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) 0-1 (.000)
Pinewood Prep (Summerville, S.C.) 0-1 (.000)
St. Francis (Baltimore, Md.) 0-1 (.000)
United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.) 0-1 (.000)

NHSI GIRLS INDIVIDUAL & TEAM RECORDS

Most Points (Game)
25 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship
23 -- Kianna Conner, Dillard vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2010 semifinals
22 -- Ashley Gomez, Murry Bergtraum vs. Hollywood Christian, 2011 semifinals

Most Field Goals Made (Game)
10 -- Cori Coleman, Dr. Phillips vs. Murry Bergtraum, 2011 championship (10x20)

Most Field Goal Attempts (Game)
20 -- Morgan Jones, Lake Mary vs. Peddie School, 2010 semifinals (3x20)
20 -- Cori Coleman, Dr. Phillips vs. Murry Bergtraum, 2011 championship (10x20)

Most Free Throws Made (Game)
9 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship (9x9)

Most Free Throw Attempts (Game)
12 -- Tierra Hawkins, Riverdale Baptist vs. St. Francis, 2009 semifinals
9 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship (9x9)
9 -- Hannah Schaible, Dr. Phillips vs. Riverdale Baptist, 2011 semifinals (8x9)

Most Free Throws Made Without a Miss (Game)
9 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship (9x9)

Highest Free Throw Shooting Percentage (Tournament)
1.000 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy, 2010 (11x11)

Most 3-point Field Goals Made (Game)
6 -- Kianna Conner, Dillard vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2010 semifinals (6x11)

Most 3-point Field Goal Attempts (Game)
11 -- Kianna Conner, Dillard vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2010 semifinals (6x11)

Highest Scoring Average (Tournament)
21.5 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy, 2010 (43 points/2 games)
17.5 -- Hannah Schaible, Dr. Phillips, 2011 (35 points/2 games)

Most Rebounds (Game)
16 -- Tianna Hawkins, Riverdale Baptist vs. Seton Keough, 2009 championship
13 -- Shenaqua Reese, Murry Bergtraum vs. Hollywood Christian, 2011 semifinals

Highest Rebounding Average (Tournament)
12.5 -- Tianna Hawkins, Riverdale Baptist vs. Seton Keough, 2009 (25 rebounds/2 games)

Most Assists (Game)
11 -- Dawnn Maye, Dillard vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2010 semifinals

Most Steals (Game)
7 -- Rahneeka Saunders, Riverdale Baptist vs. St. Francis, 2009 semifinals
7 -- Alex Rodgers, Oak Hill Academy vs. Dillard, 2010 semifinals
5 -- Liz Brown, Seton Keough vs. Riverdale Baptist, 2009 championship
5 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship
5 -- Alex Smith, Peddie School vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2010 championship

Most Blocked Shots (Game)
7 -- Ariel Johnson, Oak Hill Academy vs. Peddie School, 2010 championship
6 -- Tianna Hawkins, Riverdale Baptist vs. St. Francis, 2009 semifinals

All-Time Team Records
Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) 2-0 (1.000)
Peddie School (Highstown, N.J.) 2-0 (1.000)
Seton Keough (Baltimore, Md.) 2-0 (1.000)
Murry Bergtraum (New York) 1-1 (.500)
Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 1-2 (.333)
Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 1-2 (.333)
Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 0-1 (.000)
Holllywood Christian (Hollywood, Fla.) 0-1 (.000)
Lake Mary (Lake Mary, Fla.) 0-1 (.000)
St. Francis (Baltimore, Md.) 0-1 (.000)

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

NHSI preview: Montverde Academy

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:00
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Team: No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 21-3, No. 12 (No. 2 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Kevin Boyle (1st year at school; spent previous 23 years at St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J., where he won more than 400 games and coached many top players, including 2011 NBA No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving)

Key Players:

Michael Frazier
A transfer from Plant (Tampa, Fla.), the 6-foot-3 shooting guard leads the team in scoring and is a leading contender to be Mr. Basketball in Florida. An ESPNHS Second Team Underclass All-American last season, Frazier is rated the No. 3 prospect in the state of Florida by RecruitingNation and has signed with the University of Florida. Frazier was MVP of the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in January. He scored 16 points in the team’s 49-40 triumph over POWERADE FAB 50 ranked Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) in the title game. In the team's loss to Memphis Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.), Frazier went for 27 points, so they'll look to him for a big scoring night against a tough La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) team.

Kasey Hill
He’s regarded as one of the elite point guards in the nation among juniors. The 6-foot-1 floor general is No. 18 in the ESPNU 60 and has committed to Florida, where he figures to join current teammate Michael Frazier on the roster for the Gators’ 2013-14 season. Hill was MVP last summer at the Adidas Invitational Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis after he led the Florida Rams AAU squad to the championship. Hill began his prep career at Mount Dora Bible (Eustis, Fla.) and was a highly-regarded by Kevin Sutton, Montverde Academy's former coach. Hill had been a ESPNHS Underclass All-American the past two seasons.

Anthony “J.P.” Cortesia
The No. 64 player in the ESPNU 100 was one of the Eagles’ most versatile talents from the first game of the season through the Montverde Academy tourney. The 6-foot-8 power forward will play next at Ole Miss. A native of Venezuela, Cortesia is not known for being a physical player, but with La Lumiere's towering size, he's going to have to battle down low and come up with key rebounds.

Note: Six-foot-10 sophomore Dakari Johnson, who followed coach Kevin Boyle to Montverde from St. Patrick of New Jersey and was the 2011 ESPNHS National Freshman of the Year, had to sit out this season due to the transfer.

Road to NHSI:

There’s little doubt the Eagles were the best team in Florida this season, regardless of school classification. They played a number of top teams in the state and when the Florida High School Athletic Association state playoffs were complete, Montverde had wins over the following champions: Hialeah Gardens (8A), Ely (7A), Lake Wales (5A) and Orlando Christian Prep (2A).

They did lose an in-state game to Hagerty of Oviedo, but were not at full strength at the time. The squad’s only other losses were to Ridgeway of Memphis and Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas). Both of those teams were top 15 ranked in the FAB 50 at the time and Grace Prep went on to win a state title of its own.

Even with those two losses, Montverde Academy had an 8-2 record against FAB 50-ranked teams and in its 24 games they outscored the competition by an average of 16.3 points.

Inside Scoop:

Boyle may not have coached in the NHSI before but has been around big-time basketball for many years. At St. Patrick, he coached Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2010-2011 Mr. Basketball USA Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, currently starring at Kentucky. Boyle also will be coaching the USA team on April 7 at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.

Perhaps Boyle’s biggest challenge is getting players ready to face a quality first-round opponent in the NHSI like La Lumiere without having been in a game since Feb. 4.

NHSI preview: Ely

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:00
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Team: No. 5 seed Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 30-2, No. 16 (No. 3 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Melvin Randall (11th year at school, 429-133 career record including eight previous seasons at Deerfield Beach)

Key Players:

Clide Geffrard
A 6-foot-6 senior forward, Geffrard came on strong toward the end of the season. He pumped in 33 points and hauled down 14 rebounds in the Class 7A state championship game win over Oak Ridge (Orlando). He also had 22 points and nine rebounds in the semifinals as Ely stormed through the state final four bracket. For the season, Geffrard averaged 17.4 points per game and shot 63 percent from the field. He also averaged 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. The unsigned senior could be the best player at Ely since current Florida Gator standout Kenny Boynton, who led the Tigers to a state title in 2007. “We’ve had a good ride with Clide,” Randall said. “He has been very consistent and one of the leaders we’ve depended on. Not a verbal leader-type but leads by example. He’s extremely competitive."

Josephus Bell
Bell was solid at the end of the season just as Geffrard was, but his most eye-opening outings took place earlier in the season. The 6-foot-2 senior guard lit it up for 26 points when Ely beat FAB 50-ranked Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) at the City of Palms tournament and had 22 the same week in a win against Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.). The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 13.1 points and three assists per game for the season. He's capable of big scoring outputs, but if he doesn't hit his average, Ely could struggle against the talented backcourt of St. Benedict's.

Krishaun Myers
Highlighting a third player for the Tigers is tough because so many players (including Anterrio Smith and Kahlil Thomas) are capable of stepping up and getting into double figures. Myers was third on the team in scoring, however, at 8.7 points per game. The 6-foot-2 senior guard’s best performances included 23 points against Constitution (Philadelphia, Pa.) and 27 points against Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). He also plays good defense (1.8 spg), and that will be key since both Ely and St. Benedict's rely on their backcourt to score. “There was any of five or six guys who could have scored 20 points per night at other schools,” Randall said. “Thomas, Myers and Smith were just outstanding and all have their roles. We call Smith ‘Locksmith’ because he’s very aggressive on defense. Tough to get around.”

Road to NHSI:
Ely hopes to make a similar run in the NHSI as Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) did last year and comes from a similar pedigree. Guided by a veteran coach and coming off of an FHSAA state title, the Tigers have lost only to teams that are higher-ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50 than they are – Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) and fellow NHSI participant Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). While the loss to Gorman was by just one point (58-57), the loss to Montverde was more lopsided (67-53). “We can’t go into the NHSI and go off of what other teams from Florida may have done,” Randall said. “It’s exciting to know that Dwyer won its first game last year, but we’re going there to play our attacking style and see what happens.”

Rolling to the Class 7A state title was impressive, but more important to the team snagging the FHSAA’s guaranteed berth into the NHSI were wins over Salesian and Gill St. Bernard’s. Salesian and Gill St. Bernard’s have been nationally ranked, with Salesian in the top 20 as of March 20. Both losses and both big wins took place at the City of Palms tournament in Florida.

With Dwyer's impressive showing at last year's tournament, Ely won't sneak up on a hungry St. Benedict's team that truly feels it is the second-best team in the field. “It helps a great deal (coming into the NHSI) that we know we’ve already played some of the top teams in the country and have fared well,” Randall said. “With the Bishop Gorman game, we had a chance to win at the end and missed a layup.”

Inside Scoop:

Randall and the rest of the team thought there was a good chance that Ely was going to be chosen for the NHSI. “The kids are real excited and know that this is an out-of-state tourney,” he said. “But it’s not a field trip.”

The Tigers have already played a strong New Jersey team – Gill St. Bernard’s – but they assume that the St. Benedict’s team they are playing in the first-round of the NHSI is going to be harder to beat.

“We know they have a lot of great players,” Randall said. “Our preparation is that we are going to have to defend. It’s a well-rounded team and we hope we can slow them down.”

NHSI preview: Ravenscroft

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
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Team: No. 7 seed Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 31-3, NR (No. 19 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Kevin Billerman (12th year at school, 279-70 career record

Key Players:

Madison Jones
Jones initiates the Ravens’ offense and brings a gritty, tough element that becomes infectious as the game progresses. Jones averages 16.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals per game and serves as the team’s vocal leader on the floor. “He’s a true point guard and he just controls our team in all areas,” Billerman said. “He’s a great leader.”

Anton Gill
Gill is a freak of an athlete and, at 6-foot-4, will have one of the best high-wire acts at the NHSI. Gill, a Louisville commit, averages 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. When the Ravens are in need of a bucket to break a scoring drought, Gill is the player whose number Billerman typically calls.

Marcus Bryan
Bryan, a 6-foot-8 center, is the Ravens’ low post presence and averages 14.3 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Bryan is versatile enough to step out and consistently knock down the 17-footer, making him a tough draw for most opposing big men.

Road to NHSI:

Ravenscroft knocked off North Carolina powerhouse Christ School (Arden, N.C.) twice in convincing fashion and also won the High School OT Holiday Invitational in December. In that tournament the Ravens knocked off Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) and United Faith (Charlotte, N.C.). Ravenscroft also knocked off Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) to claim the state title.

“We beat all of the top private school teams in our state,” Billerman said. “The guys really stepped up and met every challenge.”

Inside Scoop:

The Ravens lockup defensively and are almost always hounding the opposition with a suffocating man-to-man set. Offensively, the Ravens remain in attack mode at all times whether it’s pushing the ball up the court in transition or running one of the 16 plays in the halfcourt set.

“With Anton and Madison scoring a lot of points, obviously, we shoot a lot of jump shots,” Billerman said. “Both of them are very smart players and they pick their spots well.”

The Ravens average 71 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.

NHSI preview: Calvin Coolidge

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:00
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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.

NHSI preview: La Lumiere

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:00
PM ET
Team: No. 6 seed La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 25-2, No. 23 (No. 4 in the Midwest)
Head Coach: Alan Huss (48-11 at La Lumiere, 109-49 career record)

Key Players:

Raphael Davis
The 6-foot-5 wing makes La Lumiere go on the perimeter. A Purdue recruit ranked No. 90 in the ESPNU 100, Davis is averaging 22.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Huss mentioned Davis as the team's rock; they struggle when he's not in the lineup. When La Lumiere needs a bucket, they look for Davis. He plays well in transition and also excels in the half court game La Lumiere prefers.

Hanner Perea
The Columbia native has improved by leaps and bounds since he first arrived at Culver Academics (Culver, Ind.) to get an American education and learn the game. Perea, ranked No. 70 in the ESPNU 100, is 6-foot-8, 220 pounds and especially tough to knock off his base defensively. His offensive skills are coming along, but he's still enough of a scoring threat to put down 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds per game. Perea's scoring numbers were 2-3 points higher two-thirds of the way through the season, but he battled nagging injuries down the stretch. The time off might be a hindrance, but a healthy Perea could be the difference if La Lumiere advances past the first game.

Antonio Drummond
This two-year starting guard is the quarterback for La Lumiere's offense. In a lineup that changed more than once during the season, this Southern Illinois recruit was the steady performer. Drummond is not the most athletic guard around, but he tends to make clutch plays when La Lumiere is in need. Averaging 13 points per game, Drummond could be the catalyst to get the Lakers over the hump in that all-important first game.

Road to NHSI:

The Lakers successfully beefed up their schedule in their quest to take the program to a national level. In early December, La Lumiere took on Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Kentucky and lost 77-59. Davis wasn't 100 percent in that game. He attempted two field goals and finished with zero points.

Huss makes no excuses for the loss: "They were better than us that day, they didn't turn the ball over."

Right before Christmas the Lakers lost to Elgin (Elgin, Ill.) 40-34 after opening the game completely flat. La Lumiere fell behind 15-2, Elgin slowed the game down and the Lakers never recovered. At that point, they weren't on the FAB 50 map, but that changed when they defeated top seed Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in their next game, 67-66.

La Lumiere hasn't lost since, ending the season with 20 consecutive wins, including victories over Farragut (Chicago) and Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.). La Lumiere's resume looks even better when you consider Findlay Prep hasn't lost since and Elgin advanced to the Illinois Class 4A sectional championship.

Inside Scoop:

La Lumiere is typical Midwest-Big Ten type basketball team. They like to grind it out inside with 6-foot-7 Jay Simpson, a Purdue recruit, and 6-foot-10 sophomore Johnathon Wilkins, the son of former NBA player Jeff Wilkins. The Lakers go eight deep, but rely heavily on Davis to score. "If we lose him, we don't score well and if he struggles we don't play well," Huss said.

The one thing consistent is La Lumiere's defense, especially on the interior with Perea. "He played well against Anthony Bennett (of Findlay Prep) and we match up well with big teams," Huss said.

La Lumiere like their chances to make an impact in this tournament if they can keep turnovers to a minimum. "When it gets to a point where you have to win three games in three days, it comes down to guts, toughness and execution. We like to think we can execute well," Huss said.

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

NHSI preview: St. Benedict's Prep

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:00
PM ET
Team: No. 4 seed St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 33-2, No. 15 (No. 7 in the East)
Head Coach: Mark Taylor (1st year at school, 31-1; previously spent nine years at St. Joseph of Metuchen, N.J. and five at Ridge of Basking Ridge, N.J.)

Key Players:

Melvin Johnson
The 6-foot-3 senior guard is labeled by Taylor as "probably the best shooter" he's coached in 15 seasons at three New Jersey schools. That's high praise since Taylor coached Jason Williams at St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) among 11 Division I players, including the Lakers' Andrew Bynum, in nine years at his alma mater. "Melvin can fill it up with unlimited range and driving floaters. He's special on the offensive side." The University of Miami recruit is ranked No. 92 in the ESPNU 100 and lived up to his billing with consistent play.

Tyler Ennis
The 6-foot-2 junior point guard runs the offensive attack for the Gray Bees, which averages 82.8 points a game. Ranked No. 41 in the ESPNU 60, he leads the team in assists (7.1 per game) and steals (2.5 avg.) while scoring 15.0 points a game, second to Johnson on the squad. "Tyler and Melvin get everyone involved in the game," Taylor said. "Our three guard setup drives the engine and Tyler's at the wheel. Our team chemistry is very good with a trio of guards and trio of forwards and Tyler is a big part of that."

Isaiah Briscoe
Not many freshman are starters, much less standouts, on FAB 50-ranked teams. But the 6-foot-3 first-year combo guard is no ordinary frosh. "Some analysts rate him in the Top 5 in his class," Taylor said. "He doesn't play like a freshman. He's very strong and plays above his age level." Briscoe is the team's third leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and second in assists (5.3 avg.). "With a senior, junior and freshman handling the ball much of the time, we have a mix that gives defenses fits," Taylor said.

Road to NHSI:

With a new head coach, some first-year players, and a regular season schedule not matching up with some of the top-ranked POWERADE FAB 50 teams after a 13-12 record in 2010-11, the Gray Bees were absent from the pre-season rankings.

But Taylor guided the Prep to nine straight wins in December before meeting up with defending FAB 50 champion St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) in a Jan. 1 clash of unbeatens. The Gray Bees took the current No. 3 ranked Friars to the wire before bowing 51-50. The Gray Bees reeled off 22 straight wins and soared up the FAB 50 charts to No. 10.

They concluded their regular season at the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational, where they dropped their second game of the season to FAB 50 No. 13 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 64-49 after opening the tournament with a 69-65 victory over John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.). They rebounded to defeat No. 46 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) for third place.

"We beat Gonzaga without Tyler Ennis and Jordan Forehand, who had a bad ankle, and led the whole way," Taylor said.

Coach Taylor feels strongly the Gray Bees didn't deserve to drop a few seeds after losing to eventual tournament champion DeMatha without the services of Ennis. He does understand the Alhambra Tournament served as a nice tune-up for the NHSI, where the Gray Bees will enter with confidence because Ennis will be cleared to play.

Inside Scoop:

Taylor's two-trio attack has worked to near perfection. He uses three guards -- Johnson, Ennis and Briscoe -- out front and has three forwards, all Canadians, he rotates at the two front court spots. The inside players are 6-6 senior Kamalll Richards, 6-8 junior Isaiah Watkins and 6-7 senior Denzell Taylor. "The two-trio setup has worked well," Taylor said.

Richards averages 11.7 points and 7.0 rebounds; Taylor 5.7 points and 6.9 rebounds; and Watkins 8.2 points and a team-best 8.1 rebounds a game. The fact the Gray Bees are the only team which is playing in two major tournaments -- the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Frostburg, Md., and the NHSI -- over the course of three weekends hasn't escaped Taylor's watch. "We've played some good teams one at a time but this two-week pace is like the college Big East Tournament with back-to-back-to-back games against elite teams. It's survival of the fittest."

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