Commentary

ESPN RISE Preseason FAB 50 Nos. 26-50

Updated: November 10, 2009, 12:07 PM ET
By Clay Kallam | Special to ESPNRISE.com

26. ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Last Season's Record: 22-4, Class 5A state quarterfinalist
Key Players: G Brooke Jelniker (6-1, Sr.); G Carlie Needles (5-8, Jr.)

Outlook: The two major-college-level guards give the Grizzlies a backcourt that no other Colorado team can match. The team plays a good schedule, too.

[+] EnlargeCierra Burdick
Mark Lewis/ESPN HoopGurlz Cierra Burdick, a top-10 recruit for 2011, is part of a powerful frontcourt at No. 36 Butler (Matthews, N.C.).

27. Norcross (Norcross, Ga.)
Last Season's Record: 23-7, lost in third round of 5A playoffs
Key Players: G Briana Jordan (5-7, Sr.); G Kaela Davis (6-2, Fr.); F Diamond DeShields (6-1, Fr.)

Outlook: Jordan and the two freshmen are daughters of pro athletes (Brian Jordan, Antonio Davis, Delino DeShields) -- a big reason a seven-loss team with just two starters back is No. 27.

28. Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
Last Season's Record: 25-3, no postseason
Key Players: G Ataira Franklin (5-11, Sr.); G Tierra Hawkins (5-6, Jr.)

Outlook: The Crusaders lost a lot to graduation from a team that ended at No. 23 in the FAB 50. There is still a lot of strength coming back, and the team will have a chance to cement this ranking at the Nike TOC in Phoenix.

29. Neptune (Neptune, N.J.)
Last Season's Record: 30-1, Group III state finalist
Key Players: G Shakeena Richardson (5-4, Jr.); G Syessence Davis (5-6, Jr.)

Outlook: Four starters return from a team that lost only once. The Scarlet Fliers are also adding a key tranfer in 6-2 post Chyna Golden from Red Bank Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.).

30. Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.)
Last Season's Record: 27-1, Class 4A state champion
Key Players: F Asia Dozier (6-0, Soph.); C Xylina McDaniel (6-1, Soph.)

Outlook: Every starter is back from a group that will get to test itself against some of the top teams in the East at the Crescent Bank Invitational in Myrtle Beach. Xylina McDaniel is the daughter of longtime NBA player Xavier McDaniel.

31. Sacramento (Sacramento, Calif.)
Last Season's Record: 24-10, CIF NorCal Div. III semifinalist
Key Players: F Kyra Dunn (6-3, Sr.); G Brittany Shine (5-10, Sr.); F Erica Barnes (6-2, Sr.)

Outlook: Don't let last season's 10 losses fool you ... three were to state power St. Mary's of Stockton. There aren't many teams with three major-college-bound players, but the Dragons have that with Dunn (Pittsburgh), Shine (Florida) and Barnes (Arizona).

32. North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)
Last Season's Record: 24-4, Class 7A finalist
Key Players: G Jerica James (5-5, Jr.); F Lexus Williams (6-1, Soph.)

Outlook: Four starters return from a squad that played for its state title. The Charging Wildcats also have some athletic young bench players who could make them tops in their state.

33. University (Newark, N.J.)
Last Season's Record: 20-5, Division II sectional quarterfinalis
Key Players: G Lauren Mincy (6-0, Sr.); F Raven Anderson (5-11, Sr.)

Outlook: The Phoenix have four starters back, plus two young reserves with the potential to be elite players. Mincy, who is bound for Maryland and is No. 23 in the ESPNU Hoopgurlz 100, is back for her fourth season as one of the state's top talents.

Girls' Hoops Preview

Girls' Hoops Preview

Girls' high school basketball is back and ESPN RISE is getting you ready for the season with a week's worth of previews, including the release of the Preseason ESPN RISE FAB 50 rankings.

Nov. 10
FAB 50 Nos. 26 -- 50
Five Burning Questions

Nov. 11
FAB 50 Nos. 11 -- 25
Best Teams By State
Best Players By State

Nov. 12
FAB 50 No. 1 -- 10
Why St. Mary's Is The 1

34. St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Last Season's Record: 26-3, Class 5A state finalist
Key Players: F Shilpa Tummala (5-11, Soph.); C Cortnee Walton (6-3, Soph.)

Outlook: This team is very young and very talented. There could be seven eventual major-college players on this roster, but none are seniors -- or even juniors.

35. Hoover (Hoover, Ala.)
Last Season's Record: 29-6, Class 6A state finalist
Key Players: F Tyrese Tanner (6-1, Sr.); G Meghan Dunn (5-4, Sr.); F Kanesha Burch (6-1, Sr.)

Outlook: With Class 6A state champ Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) hit hard by graduation, the Buccaneers could be the favorite in Alabama. They could be particularly strong if Tanner recovers completely from an ACL injury.

36. Butler (Matthews, N.C.)
Last Season's Record: 30-2, Class 4A state semifinalist
Key Players: F Cierra Burdick (6-3, Jr.); F Clair Watkins (6-4, Sr.)

Outlook: The frontcourt talent is there: Burdick is No. 6 in the ESPNU Hoopgurlz Super 60 for the Class of 2011, and Watkins has committed to Duke. How far the Bulldogs go will depend on an unproven guard corps.

37. Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Last Season's Record: 27-1, Class B state finalist
Key Players: F Annalise Pickeral (6-2, Sr.); F Tiesha Stock (6-0, Soph.)

Outlook: The Cougars had a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in the state final last year, but wilted down the stretch and lost by 10. With all five starters back, they should be especially motivated this season.

38. Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last Season's Record: 27-1, Division I state champion
Key Players: G Kathryn Reynolds (5-7, Jr.); G Raeshaun Gaffney (5-8, Soph.)

Outlook: The Cougars only have one starter back, but they've become a fixture in the FAB 50 -- and until someone knocks this still-talented group off its perch, they will stay in the FAB 50. Coach Dante Harlan's team won its fourth straight state title in 2009 and ended at No. 11 in the FAB 50.

39. Frisco (Frisco, Texas)
Last Season's Record: 33-4, Class 4A regional finalist
Key Players: G Tiffany Moore (5-10, Sr.); G Jazmyn Dorsett (5-11, Sr.)

Outlook: Another team with a big and talented backcourt, the Raccoons have six of their top eight back from a group that lost to eventual state champ Midway early in the postseason. Moore has verbaled to Texas, and Dorsett has committed to Oklahoma State.

Ransford
Ned Dishman\ESPN RISE MagazineRonika Ransford leads No. 41 H.D. Woodson (Washington D.C.), which won a District of Columbia title last season.

40. Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.)
Last Season's Record: 26-1, Class B state champion
Key Players: C Madison Williams (6-6, Sr.); F Troy Hambrick (6-0, Sr.)

Outlook: The Yellowjackets have won 10 Michigan titles, and even though they have only two starters back, few would be surprised if they made it 11 this season. Eleven also was the magic number for Williams in last March's state title win vs. Catholic Central, as she blocked 11 shots and had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

41. H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.)
Last Season's Record: 22-6, District of Columbia champion
Key Players: G Ronika Ransford (5-8, Sr.); F Jephany Brown (6-1, Soph.); G Chanel Brown (5-3, Soph.)

Outlook: Ransford has given a verbal to Georgia and is No. 21 in the ESPNU Hoopgurlz 100. The Warriors will play their usual tough schedule, but they may lack the size to do much better than last year -- of course, that was pretty good.

42. The Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.)
Last Season's Record: 24-2, New Jersey Independent School Athletic Association A champion
Key Players: F Haley Peters (6-3, Sr.); G Alex Smith (5-8, Sr.).

Outlook: The Falcons are riding a 20-game winning streak, and with the multitalented Peters on hand it will be no easy task to snap it. Peters is bound for Duke and is No. 19 in the ESPNU Hoopgurlz 100.

43. Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Last Season's Record: 31-0, Class 4A state champion
Key Players: G Jess Babe (5-6, Sr.); G Madison Cable (5-11, Jr.)

Outlook: Four starters return from the unbeaten 4A champs, but the Blue Devils aren't quite as deep and will play some elite out-of-state competition. That may make it harder to go unbeaten, but coach Dori Anderson-Oldaker's team still should be favored to win another state title.

44. DuPont Manual (Louisville, Ky.)
Last Season's Record: -7, state regional semifinalist
Key Players: G April Wilson (5-7, Soph.); F Kara Wright (5-10, Soph.)

Outlook: The Crimsons have a ton of young talent, so if the Kentucky competition wants to take them down, they'd better do it soon. DuPont Manual lost by just two points in the regional semifinals last season.

45. Byers (Holly Springs, Miss.)
Last Season's Record: 35-5, Class 2A state champion
Key Players: F Kourtney Coleman (6-0, Jr.); F Alexis Hardaway (5-10, Soph.)

Outlook: The Lions have two young superstars in Coleman and Hardaway, and that's enough to make them the preseason pick in Mississippi. This season's team is aiming for a third straight state title.

46. Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.)
Last Season's Record: 35-2, Class 3A state finalist
Key Players: G Danielle Ballard (5-8. Soph.); F Aaliyah Whiteside (5-10, Soph.)

Outlook: As freshmen, Ballard and Whiteside made their mark in always-tough Tennessee and helped the Warriors finish at No. 24 in the FAB 50. This young team will get tested this season at the Nike TOC in Phoenix.

47. Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.)
Last Season's Record: 31-1, Class AAAA state finalist
Key Players: C Elem Ibiam (6-4, Jr.); F Anma Onyeuku (5-10, Sr.)

Outlook: Ibiam is a key addition to a team that was beaten by Southwest DeKalb 59-46 in state final. Onyeuku was the leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and rebounder (7.9 rpg).

48. Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.)
Last Season's Record: 25-3, Class 3A state semifinalist
Key Players: F Toia Giggetts (5-11, Jr.); G Breshara Gordon (5-6, Sr.); G Linda Stepney (5-6, Jr.)

Outlook: Every starter is back from a team that was two steps away from a state title. Giggetts, Stepney and fellow junior Jasmine Cuffee enter their third seasons as starters.

49. Incarnate Word (St. Louis, Mo.)
Last Season's Record: 26-3, Division 5 district finalist
Key Players: G Chloe Nelson (5-6, Sr.); F Jazmin Hitchens (5-11, Sr.)

Outlook: The perennially powerful Red Knights are expected to be better than last season. Nelson is headed to Illinois State and Hitchens has committed to Ball State.

50. Vincent (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Last Season's Record: 25-1, Division I state champion
Key Player: C Nicole Griffin (6-6, Sr.); G Chelan Landry (5-7, Sr.)

Outlook: The Vikings have one of the best post players in the country in Oklahoma commit Griffin, who led the team to a third straight state title last year. Coach Marquis Hines also has guards who can get Griffin the ball.

Mark Tennis and Doug Huff contributed to these rankings.

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