ESPN RISE Girls Basketball Preview

Updated: November 10, 2009, 10:17 AM ET
By Clay Kallam | Special to

Snowbirds flock to Phoenix in December to enjoy the sunshine and mild weather. Girls' basketball teams go there to try to take big steps toward a No. 1 ranking.

[+] EnlargeMater Dei Girls Basketball
Dustin Snipes/ESPN RISE MagazineMater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) enters the season No. 2 in the FAB 50 and is one of three premier California teams in the December Nike Tournament of Champions.

It will be no different at this year's Nike Tournament of Champions (Dec. 18-22), where the top two teams in the preseason ESPN RISE FAB 50 will be in the Joe Smith Division and could decide on the court which deserves to be No. 1. Prior to that, though, it's pretty hard to choose between St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), as both are loaded with talent and coming off successful seasons.

A third California team, Brea Olinda, is in the mix in the rankings and at the TOC. The Ladycats are the team that beat Mater Dei last season and check in this year at No. 6 in the FAB 50. Continuing the California theme, perennial state power Long Beach Poly is No. 16 and newcomer Sacramento lands at No. 31.

Of course, by season's end it could all be different. Last year's champ, Ben Davis of Indianapolis, is still plenty good and just one of many teams that have a shot at finishing on top when the final rankings come out in April.

Girls Preview Schedule:
Tuesday, Nov. 10: ESPN RISE FAB 50 Teams 26-50
Five Burning Questions

Wednesday, Nov. 11: ESPN RISE FAB Teams 11-25
Best Teams By State
Best Players By State

Thursday, Nov. 12 ESPN RISE FAB 50 Teams 1-10
Why St. Mary's Is The 1 To Beat