Commentary

Guards rising in Mr. Basketball USA Tracker

Updated: January 20, 2010, 1:38 PM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

TRACKER: 1 | 2

Similar to the most recent ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings, this week's ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA Tracker doesn't show much change at the top.

That won't be the case in the tracker's next voting results around the turn of the New Year.

Over the next two weeks, many of the nation's top teams will be competing in national holiday tournaments. In many cases, many of the nation's top individual players will go head to head on the court, which will create concrete evaluations for the 10-person Mr. Basketball USA selection committee.

A trio of guards that lead FAB 50-ranked teams have already made an early season impact. Subsequently, all of them saw significant gains when this week's Mr. Basketball USA Tracker ballots were tallied.

Lead guard Cory Joseph of FAB 50 No. 1 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) remained in fifth place, but his point total rose from 20 to 37 and he appeared on six ballots, three more than in the preseason. Although the Pilots saw a 45-game winning streak snapped Thursday night, Joseph displayed poise and guts down the stretch by putting his team in position to win by knocking down a jumper in the closing seconds of the game against FAB 50 No. 13 Northland (Columbus, Ohio). The Pilots will drop in the next set of rankings, but it will be interesting to see how Findlay Prep's loss affects Joseph's individual standing.

Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) junior Austin Rivers had a big sophomore season after a national coming-out party at last year's City of Palms Classic in nearby Fort Myers, Fla. In the preseason, he appeared on two ballots and scored 12 points, but he may be heating up again. After leading the Wildcats to a 55-52 victory over previous FAB 50 No. 11 Montverde Academy at the recent Hoops with a Heart Classic, Rivers appeared on four ballots and finished with 18 points, the same number he scored against Montverde Academy.

At this year's City of Palms Classic, Winter Park will open against Joseph and Findlay Prep. Last year, Rivers led his team to victories over three nationally ranked foes, as Winter Park took third place in arguably the best field ever assembled in a national 16-team tournament. Fans and panel members alike are curious to see how the Rivers sequel plays out.

Finishing right ahead of Rivers in this week's Mr. Basketball USA Tracker was point guard Joe Jackson (White Station, Memphis, Tenn.). The Memphis recruit appeared as the No. 4 player on a single ballot in the preseason, but finished in sixth place in this week's tracker in front of Rivers with 26 points. He appeared on five ballots and his 31-point performance in White Station's 86-71 victory over Warren Central (Bowling Green, Ky.) at the Minit Mart Kentucky vs. Tennessee Challenge probably had something to do with it.

[+] EnlargeJoe Jackson
Reebok Memphis recruit Joe Jackson (pictured) and Duke recruit Kyrie Irving could form a potentially devastating point guard combination for the East squad.

"Joe Jackson may be the sleeper in the tracker the whole year," said panel member Dinos Trigonis. "He's one of the most electrifying players in the country, especially for his size."

The top four vote-getters remained the same: Harrison Barnes, followed by Brandon Knight, Jared Sullinger and Michael Gilchrist. Barnes scored the same amount of points as he did on preseason ballots (92). Knight also scored the same amount of points (75) and joined Barnes as the only players to appear on all 10 ballots.

Gilchrist, whose St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) team opens its season Friday against Linden (Linden, N.J.), appeared on eight ballots but received one less first-place vote than he did in the preseason. While Gilchrist appeared on the same number of ballots and gained four points, Sullinger popped up on one more ballot and jumped up 10 points to finish in third place, three points behind Knight.

That was before the signature performance of the early season: Sullinger's 32-point, 17-rebound performance Thursday night to propel his team to a victory over Findlay Prep.

Read below to see the voting results of the second 2009-10 ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball Tracker and stay logged into ESPNRISE.com all season to track the progress of the top individual players -- as well as the top teams -- in the ESPN RISE FAB 50.

Click here to check out the high school games on TV this season.

ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA Tracker
Rank Prev. Name Pos High School 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
1 1 Harrison Barnes (10) W Ames 6 2 0 2 0 92
2 2 Brandon Knight (10) CG Pine Crest 0 4 2 2 0 75
3 3 Jared Sullinger (9) PF Northland 2 1 2 3 1 72
4 4 Michael Gilchrist (8) W St. Patrick 2 0 3 1 1 62
5 5 Cory Joseph (6) PG Findlay Prep 0 0 2 0 2 37
6 NR Joe Jackson (5) PG White Station 0 0 0 0 2 26
7 NR Austin Rivers (4) SG Winter Park 0 0 0 0 0 18

Others receiving votes:
Terrence Jones (Jefferson, Portland, Ore.) 17 pts. (4)
Quincy Miller (Quality Education, Winston-Salem, N.C.) 13 pts. (2)
C.J. Leslie (Word of God Academy, Raleigh, N.C.) 12 pts. (2)
Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas) 9 pts. (1)
Tristan Thompson (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) 9 pts. (1)
Kyrie Irving (St. Patrick, Elizabeth, N.J.) 8 pts. (1)
Ryan Harrow (Walton, Marietta, Ga.) 7 pts. (1)
Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) 6 pts. (1)
Doron Lamb (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson ,Va.) 6 pts. (1)
Josh Selby (Lake Clifton, Baltimore, Md.) 6 pts. (1)
Deshaun Thomas (Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne, Ind.) 6 pts. (1)
LeBryan Nash (Lincoln, Dallas, Texas) 5 pts. (1)
Adonis Thomas (Melrose, Memphis, Tenn.) 4 pts. (1)