Commentary

Texas is high-stepping into the season

Updated: January 4, 2010, 2:02 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPN RISE

All of the Texas teams with 0-0 records in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 winter rankings were merely placeholders  rankings built largely on expectation while the other six winter-play states were in action.

Those expectations will be replaced by results starting this week.

Texas' UIL teams  the state's public school league  starts play this week with a few blockbuster events that will have national implications. The key events for girls are Nolan Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, and the I-I0 Challenge and Lady Highlander Invitational events near Houston, while the Jesuit Meinster Tournament for boys features a trio of Top 15 teams.

The following is a quick look at each event:

Girls: Nolan Showcase

Top Teams: FAB 50 No. 1 Coppell, No. 3 McKinney Boyd, No. 4 Ursuline, No. 10 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), No. 16 Arlington Martin, No. 41 Nolan Catholic, No. 42 Richardson Pearce, No. 43 Marcus.
The Skinny: The Nolan Showcase features teams from Texas, California and Florida. It proves as the perfect point-of-reference event for the FAB 50 rankings. The event runs from Thursday through Saturday.
Don't Sleep On: Plano West. This team is loaded with young talent, much of it from the Sting club program. Don't be surprised to see this program back in the FAB 50 by next week.
Who Could Be The Big Winner: Four teams could come away as the big winner  Coppell, Boyd and Ursuline at the event and FAB 50 No. 2 Melbourne (Fla.), sitting at home awaiting this result. If Coppell stumbles, Melbourne is in position to reinherit the No. 1 ranking. Boyd and Ursuline also can make strong cases for a FAB 50 No. 1 ranking if either can go 4-0.

Girls: I-10 Shootout

Top Teams: No. 6 The Woodlands, No. 32 Clear Lake, No. 33 Kingwood, No. 46 Katy.
The Skinny: The I-10 Shootout is a series of four eight-team tournaments which take place Jan. 14-16. The blockbuster event appears to be the Varsity South tournament, which features The Woodlands, Kingwood, Clear Lake and Cinco Ranch.
Don't Sleep On: Cinco Ranch. Cinco faces a tough draw in Austin Westlake, but this program usually finds a way to be highly competitive.
Who Could Be The Big Winner: It's difficult to project a week out since this week's results will have a say as to what is important next week. It's safe to say, though, the winner of the Varsity South tournament should be in line for a major jump in the FAB 50.

Girls: Lady Highlander Invitational

Top Teams: No. 6 The Woodlands, No. 33 Kingwood, No. 43 San Antonio Reagan, No. 46 Katy.

The Skinny: This 24-team event is broken into six four-team groups and will be played Thursday through Saturday.

Don't Sleep On: Fort Bend Austin. This team is in the same group with San Antonio Reagan.

Who Could Be The Big Winner: The Woodlands. If The Woodlands can win the Lady Highlander Invitational, a Top 5 ranking is guaranteed since three of the top four will be mixing it up at the Nolan Showcase.

Boys: Jesuit Meinster Cup

Top Teams: FAB 50. 1 Marcus, No. 7 Dallas Jesuit, No. 15 Allen.
The Skinny: This eight-team event features three teams in the FAB 50 Top 15 and they are positioned to each make the semifinals. If the first round plays out to the seeds, Marcus and Allen will meet in a Friday semifinal contest.
Don't Sleep On: Lake Highlands. This team was dangerous last season and could pose problems again if it can make it to the semifinals.
Who Could Be The Big Winner: A 3-0 run by Marcus will allow the team to hang on to No. 1. If not, Plano West, ranked No. 2 in the FAB 50, could ascend to No. 1.

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