All 50 ranked teams written up with explanations for why they were placed in these positions with comparisons to preseason ranking. The FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com is the official rankings of the National Sports News Service, which date back to the 1952 season. Chino Hills of California is the 2015-16 mythical national champion, the first from California since 1999-00 (Dominguez of Compton) and the first unbeaten California national champ since 1979-80 (Inglewood).
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
Note: Preseason ranking in parenthesis; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates default wins/losses not included.
1. (11) Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) 35-0
The Huskies were California’s preseason No. 1 ranked team, but quickly vaulted into the Top 10 and eventually to national No. 1 by defeating 11 programs that were ranked at some point in the FAB 50, including No. 36 Bishop Montgomery, No. 38 Foothills Christian and No. 43 High Point Christian more than once. Chino Hills, led by California’s all-time assist leader Lonzo Ball, defeated teams from nine states and won three major holiday tournaments. In the playoffs, the Huskies were even more dominant against the toughest playoff competition in California, defeating eight opponents by an average of 29 points in the CIF Southern Section and SoCal Open Division playoffs, including Bishop Montgomery 84-62. We likely would have started the Huskies in the Top 10 of the FAB 50 had it won the CIF D1 state title in 2015, when it went 24-8 on the court. Ball did improve and had a fantastic individual season, but the addition of 6-foot-9 freshman Onyeka Okongwu and junior Eli Scott cannot be overlooked.
2. (1) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 45-1
It was another amazing season for the Warriors, who battled injuries and some close calls to capture their first Dick’s Nationals title with a 62-60 overtime win over No. 4 La Lumiere in the championship game. Oak Hill has competed in the end-of-season tournament seven times since it began in 2009 and previously lost in the title game four times. Oak Hill defeated No. 16 Miller Grove and No. 33 Wasatch Academy to advance to the tile game and also defeated No. 7 DeMatha Catholic, No. 14 Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (twice), No. 15 Chaminade, and No. 41 Sierra Canyon, among others, playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules. What ultimately separated top-ranked Chino Hills and the Warriors was the latter’s loss to 22-Foot Academy of South Carolina (which is not eligible for the FAB 50 because of post-graduates on its roster) and the buzzer-beating victory over Sierra Canyon in the title game of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. Chino Hills defeated the same club, 105-83. For Oak Hill, that was the team’s fourth game of the season and fourth without preseason Mr. Basketball USA candidate Harry Giles. His ACL injury was a tough pill to swallow for head coach Steve Smith, but it was still a fantastic season for a program that has now finished No. 1 or No. 2 in the FAB 50 era (1987-88 through current) 15 times. Smith, a Naismith Hall of a Fame candidate, now owns a career 1,026-65 won-loss record.
3. (14) St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 32-0
The Friars, under Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr., performed a bit better than forecasted in the preseason, winning another NJSIAA Tournament of Champions crown with a 55-38 win over Linden (N.J.). St. Anthony also No. 3 at 32-0 in 2011-12, the season after it won its fourth FAB 50 national crown (2011, 2008, 1996, 1989). The Friars exercised demons of sort by defeating No. 32 Roselle Catholic, 53-37, in the Non-Public Group B championship game, as St. Anthony had been knocked out of the post-season by that club three consecutive seasons. A great defensive team, St. Anthony also beat No. 34 Patrick School, 60-56, and didn’t allow more than 44 points in the Non-Public Group B playoffs. With the win over Roselle Catholic, Hurley won his 28th state title.
4. (10) La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) 27-4
As Dick’s Nationals showed, La Lumiere had one of the biggest and most talented teams in the country, and nearly won its first tourney crown before falling to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy in the title game, 62-60, in overtime. The Lakers, which hadn’t won a game at the event before this season, defeated No. 2 Montverde Academy, 55-47, in the semifinals and No. 22 St. Benedict’s, 60-59, in the quarterfinals, the latter which avenged an earlier loss. The other losses for coach Shane Heirman’s club were to Dick’s Nationals participant and No. 33 Wasatch Academy and No. 41 Sierra Canyon. That loss to Sierra Canyon came at the Iolani Tournament in Hawaii when that team still had Ira Lee (which it didn’t when it lost to No. 1 Chino Hills.). This team cracked the Top 10 in the preseason and with Brian Bowen, who made the Dick’s all-tournament team, returning along with freshman point guard Tyger Campbell, this team is an early 2016-17 preseason No. 1 contender.
5. (2) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 26-2
The Eagles began the season No. 2 behind Oak Hill Academy, which was a more senior-laden club, and the youth showed at times for coach Kevin Boyle. Still, when the team added Canadian freshman R.J. Barrett after the season began, it was clear Montverde Academy would be in the thick of the mythical national title race once again. One of the biggest results of the year was the Eagles’ 83-82 loss to No. 1 Chino Hills in the City of Palms quarterfinal, a game in which they made a huge fourth quarter comeback and could have forced overtime had Barrett made three free throws. The team’s inconsistent shooting was evident in the Dick’s Nationals semifinal loss to La Lumiere, but there were plenty of positives, as Montverde Academy upped its record to 14-3 at the prestigious tournament and defeated 10 FAB 50 ranked programs during the season. With Barrett and a mammoth sophomore front line of Simi Shittu, Silvio DeSousa and E.J. Montgomery returning, expect the Eagles to be in thick of the national title race once again next season.
6. (BB) University of Detroit Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.) 28-0
The Cubs were just outside of the preseason FAB 50 and is a team we’re kicking ourselves for not ranking a bit higher. We knew U of D Jesuit would be good, just not this good, as the Cubs won their first state title in over 100 years of program history with a 69-49 victory over North Farmington (Farmington Hills, Mich.) in the Class A title game. Point guard Cassius Winston, Michigan’s Mr. Basketball bound for Michigan State, saved his best game for last, making 14-of-16 shots from the field to finish with 31 points, four rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Winston averaged 27.6 ppg over the team’s final three contests, including a 72-51 semifinal win over No. 35 Dakota. It looked like U of D, which also got solid inside play from 6-foot-9 stalwarts Ike Eke and Greg Eboigbodin, would finish in the Top 5, but the results of Dick’s Nationals forced us to move up La Lumiere while keeping Montverde Academy above the Cubs because of its tougher national schedule.
7. (5) DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 32-5
The Stags basically played to expectations even with five losses, taking on some of the nation’s finest teams with mixed results. DeMatha even battled No. 2 Oak Hill Academy and No. 3 Montverde Academy in back-to-back close losses (82-66 and 74-41, respectively). The big win for Coach Mike Jones’ club was a 72-69 overtime victory over No. 15 Chaminade at the HoopHall Classic. The Stags did lose two of out three games to No. 19 St. John’s, including the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title game, but only lost to one unranked foe whereas their WCAC rivals lost to three. DeMatha, behind the play of McDonald’s All-American Markelle Fultz, also finished the season stronger, winning the Maryland Private School state title and the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, an end-of-the-season tournament in which Gonzaga lost in the semifinals to regionally-ranked John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.).
8. (42) Stevens Point (Stevens Point, Wis.) 28-0
This team figured to dominate its in-state foes, but its level of dominance pushed the Panthers into the top 10 as an unbeaten team. Led by underrated point guard Trevor Anderson (UW-GB) and forward Sam Hauser (Marquette), the Panthers won the WIAA Division I title by downing Muskego (Wis.) 89-64 with the duo combining for 43 points. It was the Panthers second consecutive state title and they enter 2016-17 on a 37-game winning streak. The senior-oriented club concluded its season with a 33.2 ppg winning margin that actually grew in the state playoffs, while tying Germantown’s 2012-13 team with the highest FAB 50 ranking ever for a Wisconsin team.
9. (BB) DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) 35-2
We started the Eagles as the No. 8 team in the Southwest Region and No. 2 in Texas, but they showed everyone who was No. 1 by defeating then FAB 50 No. 4 Atascocita of Humble, 73-54, in the UIL Class 6A title game. Tristen Wallace, also the school’s quarterback and headed to Oregon to play football, led the way with 25 points while Marques Bolden added 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Bolden, a 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American who averaged 18.8 ppg, 13.4 rpg, and 4.4 bpg, had 31 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks in the 58-53 overtime semifinal win over regionally-ranked Steele of Cibolo. DeSoto lost to Mesquite in November and its other loss was to a South Grand Prairie team it beat two other times, including in the regional finals.
10. (18) Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Ga.) 30-2
One team we nailed in the preseason was the Eagles, as they captured the GHSA Class A Private Schools state title with a 78-66 victory over St. Francis of Alpharetta. GCA won its second title in four years and gained a measure of revenge by defeating the St. Francis team it lost to in last year’s title game. Senior guard John Ogwuche led the way offensively with 27 points, 6-foot-10 junior Abayomi Iyiola added 17 points and seven rebounds, while junior Jandan Duggan got credit for his solid defense on McDonald’s All-American guard Kobe Simmons. GCA wasn’t at full strength during one of its two losses and it defeated No. 27 Providence Day. This team will miss Ogwuche’s scoring, but will be absolutely loaded next season with six of eight players who logged major minutes in the state title game returning.
11. (BB) Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 32-2
The Mustangs had a spectacular season capped with a 64-60 win over Cordova (Tenn.) in the Class AAA state title game. Coached by former NBA guard and 1990 High School All-American Penny Hardaway, Memphis East’s relatively young club lost only to Prolific Prep of Napa, Calif. (which is not eligible for the FAB 50) and to Germantown by one point (71-70) in the SCIAA Class AAA County title game. The Mustangs defeated Georgia Class AAAAAA state champ and regionally-ranked Westlake of Atlanta, avenged the loss to Germantown with a 65-52 victory in the Region 8 semifinals and handed No. 24 Blackman is only loss with a 46-41 victory in the state semifinals. Alex Lomax had 14 points and seven rebounds in the state title game and is only a sophomore. He’ll return along with talented freshman Chandler Lawson (6-9) and eight other underclassmen.
12. (15) Atascocita (Humble, Texas) 38-1
The Eagles came up just short of becoming the first unbeaten UIL Class 6A champion since Duncanville (Texas) at 39-0 in 2006-07, losing to No. 9 DeSoto, 73-54, in the state title game. A cold shooting first half, where the Eagles didn’t score for 6:43 and allowed a 18-0 run, doomed a team that could have finished in the Top 3 with a victory. Atascocita was a legitimate national title contender in the preseason with a stellar senior class led by Purdue-bound Carsen Edwards, but we didn’t start them too high because it didn’t have one of the major holiday tournaments on its slate. Still, with a victory over Class 5A champ and No. 25 Lancaster, coach David Martinez’s club was moving up before the loss because it’s extremely tough to go unbeaten and win a UIL title.
13. (3) Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 27-4
There wasn’t a clear-cut No. 3 team in the preseason, so we gambled a bit and went with the Cahillites, who had the talent and played the schedule to warrant the ranking. It was a bit too high, as Roman Catholic lost to preseason No. 2 Montverde Academy, 74-44. Led by Penn State recruits Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick, the Cahillites closed out the season with 17 consecutive victories, including a 72-65 victory over No. 23 Neumann-Goretti to capture the Philly Catholic League title for the second straight season. Coach Chris McNesby’s club also won its second straight PIAA Class AAAA state title with a 73-62 victory over regionally-ranked Allderdice of Pittsburgh, as the 6-foot-7 Stevens finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and four big dunks. The Cahillites’ PCL title avenged an earlier loss, they also avenged a loss to Archbishop Carroll of Radnor and defeated No. 49 Greensboro Day.
14. (BB) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.) 28-3
The Hawks, who don’t compete for a state crown, turned heads and moved up in the rankings with a victory over the 22-Feet Academy (Greenville, S.C.) post-graduate team that defeated No. 2 Oak Hill Academy. Two of HHCA’s three losses came against Oak Hill, including a five-point loss. The other loss for coach Zach Ferrell’s club came against regionally-ranked Sunrise Christian Academy of Kansas. The Hawks closed out its season strong, capturing the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I title with a 73-44 win over Mountain Mission (Grundy, Va.), as junior guard Silas Adheke had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is another standout junior who will return next season.
15. (7) Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 27-5
With Duke-bound Jayson Tatum, Chaminade played in a plethora of big events and games and had ample opportunity to contend for a mythical national title. The Red Devils weren’t quite at that level, as all of Chaminade’s five losses were to FAB 50 ranked teams, including No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (69-62) and No. 7 DeMatha (72-69). Tatum, who averaged 28 ppg and 9 rpg, led the Red Devils to wins over Huntington Prep of West Virginia (not FAB 50 eligible), No. 16 Miller Grove and No. 18 Althoff Catholic and dominated the Missouri Class 5 playoffs. Tatum went off for 45 points in a victory over his father’s club, Christian Brothers of St. Louis, in the state quarterfinals and capped his career with a 40-point, 14-rebound performance in a 72-59 win over regionally-ranked Kickapoo of Springfield in the state title game.
16. (BB) Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 31-3
There was some debate as to whom the Peach State’s top team regardless of classification was; the GHSA needs to consider a Tournament of Champions or open division because No. 10 Greenforest Christian Academy (Private A), Miller Grove (AAAAA), Westlake (AAAAAA) and even Liberty County (AAAA) all have legit claims to being No. 1. The Wolverines had a slow rise in the FAB 50 because of a loss to unranked Lone Peak (Highland, Utah), but they proved they belonged in the Dick’s Nationals field after capturing their seventh state title in eight years with a 50-48 victory over Allatoona of Acworth. Aaron Augustin had 16 points in the state game win, while McDonald’s All-American Alterique Gilbert (20 points) led the way in 67-65 win over No. 20 Findlay Prep in the Dick’s Nationals quarterfinals, before the season came to an end in the semifinals versus No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (47-46).
17. (NR) H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) 32-0**
This is the highest ranked club we didn’t have on our preseason radar at all, as it truly was a magical season for coach Trey Mines’ club. It almost turned to tragedy after Woodson senior Kavon Montgomery was shot near his home hours after the Warriors’ 105-102 double OT victory over Gonzaga in the D.C. State Athletic Association semifinals. Luckily, Montgomery wasn’t seriously hurt and played in the 60-47 victory over Friendship Collegiate in the DCSAA title game. Behind 19 points from Antwan Walker and 11 from Kiyon Boyd (who netted 37 in the semifinals), Woodson capped off the first unbeaten season by a D.C. public school since 1984-1985, according to the Washington Post, which ranked the Warriors No. 1 in its circulation area.
18. (32) Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Ill.) 32-2
We nailed the Crusaders in the preseason, as we figured they would be the top-ranked Class 3A team in the state. They ended up being Illinois’ top-ranked overall team, as a long-anticipated state finals showdown with Morgan Park of Chicago never materialized after that team was upset while Althoff cruised to a 62-37 victory over Lincoln Way-East in the state title game. Althoff lost early to Highland (Ill.) when some of its roster was still coming off football and the Crusaders hit their stride in the post-season. Jordan Goodwin, the team’s leading scorer, netted 19 points and 10 rebounds in the state title game while seniors Tarkus Ferguson (Illinois-Chicago) and Brendon Gooch (SI-Carbondale) were the two other key cogs. Similar to No. 16 Miller Grove, this team could be ranked no higher because of a showcase game loss to No. 15 Chaminade.
19. (36) St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 30-5
We started out the Cadets as the No. 2 team in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and they somewhat exceeded expectations until a subpar close to the season. St. John’s was the regular season co-WCAC champs and routed No. 7 DeMatha in the WCAC title game, 71-57, to capture their first conference tourney crown in 16 years. St. John’s, led by senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr., did beat DeMatha twice in three tries and lost to No. 5 Montverde Academy (52-48), but its final ranking is hindered by a loss to the same Friendship Collegiate team that lost to No. 17 H.D. Woodson and by losing in the semifinals of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational that DeMatha eventually won.
20. (4) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 28-2
The Pilots had another talented team, but not many signature wins to point to, which dropped them 14 spots in the final rankings after they lost to No. 16 Miller Grove, 67-65, in the Dick’s Nationals quarterfinals. Led by junior guard Markus Howard (18.4 ppg) and junior forward P.J. Washington (16.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg), the Pilots did record wins over No. 22 St. Benedict’s (91-67) and fellow Dick’s Nationals participant and No. 33 Wasatch Academy (79-61). A loss to unranked cross-town rival Bishop Gorman, however, drops Findlay Prep a couple of notches in its final analysis.
21. (BB) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 31-1
The Royals exercised some demons by capturing the Class 4A state title with a 64-55 victory over regionally-ranked Lakeville North. In 2014, Hopkins led the same club by four points with 25 seconds remaining in the state title game — and lost. This time, state Mr. Basketball Amir Coffey (Minnesota) and senior Xavier Johnson made sure it wasn’t going to happen again, as Coffey netted 19 points and Johnson spearheaded a 15-0 second half run with his defense. With the win, Hopkins won its first state title in five years and seventh since 2002 while just missing out on an unbeaten season. Hopkins fell to Wayzata (Minn.) after beating that team in its first meeting. Lakeville North defeated previously unbeaten Osseo in the state semifinals, while Hopkins down No. 48 Apple Valley 84-60 — its second victory of the season over that club.
22. (35) St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 35-2
The Gray Bees’ resume is likely a bit stronger than their final ranking, but the loss to Finlay Prep at the HoopHall Classic keeps them ranked behind the Pilots since the score was 91-67. Coach Mark Taylor really liked his team in the preseason and it delivered, defeating No. 4 La Lumiere, 66-63, before losing the rematch by a point, 60-59, in the quarterfinals of Dick’s Nationals. Before heading to New York, the Gray Bees won the St. James Invitational with a 61-57 win over regionally-ranked Sunrise Christian Academy of Kansas. Tourney MVP Arnaldo Toro was probably St. Benedict’s best overall player during the season.
23. (9) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 27-4
The Saints ended their season on a high note, but must be ranked behind No. 19 St. John’s because two of their losses came against WCAC clubs (Paul VI of Virginia and Gonzaga of Washington, D.C.). The high note came when Quade Green and company captured the Class 3A title, the program’s six in seven years, with a resounding 99-66 victory over Mars (Pa.) after losing to No. 13 Roman Catholic in the Philadelphia Catholic League title game. Goretti actually split with its PCL rival this year and also defeated the Archbishop Caroll (Radnor, Pa.) club that split with Roman Catholic by 23 points.
24. (NR) Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 33-1
The Blaze were the top seed in the Class AAA state playoffs, but fell to third seed and No. 11 Memphis East, 46-41, in the semifinals. It was a close game, and coach Barry Wortman’s team had a chance to tie the score in the final moments, but a controversial turnover killed its chances. Still, it was a successful season for a team that didn’t suffer any other setbacks, beat six teams from Alabama and is now 142-18 the past five seasons. Senior forward Christian DeWitt had plenty of big scoring games and point guard Donovan Sims (MTSU) was another key cog.
25. (BB) Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas) 36-2
In 2014-15, Lancaster began the season regionally-ranked and finished No. 37 in the FAB 50 and this year the program was on the brink in the Southwest Region. Once again, the Tigers closed strong and moved up, capturing their second consecutive UIL Class 5A title with a 67-64 victory over then FAB 50 ranked Fort Bend Elkins of Missouri City. After losing to No. 12 Atascocita (54-47) and Fort Bend Bush (which split with FB Elkins), the Tigers closed the season with 32 consecutive wins, as Dallas-area teams dominated the UIL state tournament with Dallas Lincoln capturing the Class 4A crown.
26. (NR) Federal Way (Federal Way, Wash.) 29-0
This senior-laden team closed out the season on a 43-game winning streak, capturing its second consecutive WIAA Class 4A crown with a 66-54 victory over Kentwood. The Eagles also defeated Kentwood twice in South Puget Sound League play and recorded a key win over Corona Del Sol (Mesa, Ariz.) at the VistaMesa.com event in Arizona. Ferron Flowers scored a game-high 20 points and was named tourney MVP. The Eagles had a well-balanced and well-rounded attack, which included 6-foot-10 Jalen McDaniels (SDSU basketball signee also named all-tournament), D’Jimon Jones (Washington football signee) and Christian Jones (Washington baseball signee).
27. (NR) Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) 30-4
The Chargers get a ton of rankings credit for capturing the NCISA Class 3A state crown, one of the toughest playoff tournaments in the country this season. Coach Brian Field’s team entered Dick’s Nationals No. 8 in the FAB 50, which proved to be a bit too high, as semifinalist and No. 5 Montverde Academy knocked off the Chargers, 70-54. Despite that disappointment, it was a fantastic season capped off by a 67-53 win over No. 43 High Point Christian Academy in which Tennessee-bound Grant Williams had 15 points and eight rebounds while doing a solid job defensively on McDonald’s All-American Bam Adebayo. Providence Day actually defeated HPCA twice, defeated No. 49 Greensboro Day and only lost to one unranked team – Mountain Mission Academy of Virginia. Its other losses were to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy and No. 10 Greenforest Christian Academy.
28. (BB) Overland (Aurora, Colo.) 25-3
The Trailblazers are another team similar to No. 6 University of Detroit Jesuit and No. 11 Memphis East that we probably should have dug deeper to place in the preseason FAB 50. Coach Danny Fisher’s program had a senior-oriented team coming off a state title, and it repeated as Class 5A champs with a 66-56 win over Eaglecrest, which it defeated two of out three during the season after finishing as Centennial League co-champs. Overland gets dinged a bit by losing twice in-state, but gets major credit for defeating No. 40 Bingham en route to the Tarkanian Classic title and handing No. 50 Omaha South its only loss. Led by Indiana-bound big man De’Ron Davis, the Class 5A tourney MVP who will play in the Ballislife All-American Game, and guard Jarvae Robinson, the Tarkanian Classic MVP, Overland defeated teams from six different states.
29. (8) Advanced Prep International (Dallas, Texas) 34-7
The Bulldogs were full of talent, had high aspirations, and one credible rankings outlet strongly considered them for its preseason No. 1 ranking. But as we stated in the preseason, we didn’t go overboard because it was a new program and the talent needed to mesh. API started slowly, but it closed out its season on a 21-game winning streak, including a victory in the Texas Christian Athletic League Class 4A state title game. Shooting guard Terrence Ferguson (17 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2 apg) was named first team all-area by the Dallas Morning News and a McDonald’s All-American.
30. (NR) West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 25-4
Sunshine Independent Athletic Association teams have some of the most talent-laden rosters in the country and its teams tend to beat up on each other (which always makes ranking pecking orders harder). At the end of the season, however, there was no question the Flame were the SIAA’s best team. IMG Academy of Florida was the only team on its schedule it did not defeat, as West Oaks Academy routed regionally-ranked Oldsmar Christian, 85-57, to capture its second consecutive SIAA crown. Coach Kenny Gillion’s club was led by 6-2 guard Andres Feliz (South Florida), who scored 28 points in the title game and 28 in the 69-65 semifinal win over Arlington Country Day of Jacksonville.
31. (NR) New Albany (New Albany, Ind.) 27-1
Hoosier State hardwood fans have a new favorite son to get behind and his name is Romeo Langford. The 6-foot-5 sophomore shooting guard led the Bulldogs to the Class 4A state title with a 28-point performance in a 62-59 victory over McCutcheon of Lafayette. Langford, who is being heavily recruited, helped New Albany clinch its first state title since 1973 with a 12-point fourth quarter performance. He went for 46 points in a 82-64 semifinal victory over Southport of Indianapolis and averaged over 30 ppg. New Albany’s only loss came against Pike of Indianapolis, our preseason No. 1 ranked in the state. The Bulldogs only won a single game versus an out-of-state foe, which cost them a few spots in the pecking order.
32. (29) Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 22-8
The Lions are another team that lost to a WCAC program (Paul VI of Virginia), but they had a strong group of wins to offset the overall loss count. Coach Dave Boff’s club took two of three games from regionally-ranked Linden and split four games with No. 34 Patrick School. Roselle Catholic won the final meeting, 67-54, in the sectional semifinals and defeated Gil St. Bernard’s in the final before losing to No. 3 St. Anthony in the Non-Public Group B state title game. The Lions also lost to No. 5 Montverde Academy by four points, but defeated Huntington Prep, which defeated two FAB 50 ranked opponents it self.
33. (NR) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 29-4
The Tigers burst onto the national scene this year and had a strong enough resume as an independent to be invited to Dick’s Nationals for the first time. The big win for coach Curtis Condie’s club was a 80-71 win over No. 4 La Lumiere. The Tigers lost to No. 5 Montverde Academy in the finals of that team’s invitational and by a wide margin versus No. 20 Findlay Prep (79-61) and those results kept them from climbing too high in the rankings. Led by Utah State commit Koby McEwen, Wasatch Academy lost to eventual champion Oak Hill Academy in its first game in New York (81-64), but the experience of this season will pay dividends in the future.
34. (16) Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) 23-6
Some might scoff at two teams from New Jersey being in this range, but Garden State teams have fared well in recent years versus national competition and its Top five teams can play at the national level. Despite an in-season coaching change and injuries to talented junior center Nick Richards, the Celts still managed to take No. 1 Chino Hills to overtime in the championship game of the City of Palms Tournament before falling, 66-60. Coach Mike Rice’s club also fell to No. 4 La Lumiere and split two games with No. 32 Roselle Catholic. Led by point guard Bryce Aikens (Harvard), the Celts’ losses to those clubs, plus one to No. 3 St. Anthony and to post-grad club St. Thomas More of Connecticut, are offset by a win over No. 15 Chaminade and two over regionally-ranked Linden.
35. (NR) Dakota (Macomb, Mich.) 26-1
The Cougars defeated preseason regionally-ranked Clarkson (Mich.) in its second game and didn’t look back, winning 26 consecutive games before falling to No. 6 University of Detroit Jesuit, 72-51, in the MHSAA Class A semifinals. In front of 12,000 at the Breslin Center, Jesuit went on a back-breaking 12-0 run at the end of the first quarter that the Cougars never recovered from. Coach Paul Tocco’s club defeated Clarkson for a second time in the regional playoffs, but a lack of out-of-region wins prevented a higher ranking and prompted a sizeable drop after the lone loss. With junior guard Jermaine Jackson and sophomore forward Thomas Kithier returning, this team will be heard from again.
36. (40) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 28-3
The Knights did about as well as expected in the preseason, we just figured there might be a team or two from California ranked in between the Knights and Chino Hills, which ended up as the mythical national champions. Coach Doug Mitchell’s club played Chino Hills in one of the most highly-anticipated regular season showcase games of the season and actually led in the fourth quarter before falling, 71-67. Similar to No. 35 Dakota, the Knights showed some of its youth in the playoffs, losing by sizable margins to No. 41 Sierra Canyon and in a rematch with Chino Hills in the post-season. Bishop Montgomery returns all five starters, including guards Ethan Thompson and Davy Singleton and forward Jordan Schakel, but still must address its interior play in order to compete with the nation’s elite.
37. (44) West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) 26-3
So how dominant were the Lions in-state? They led South Medford 25-2 after one quarter in the OSAA Class 6A state title game and rolled to a 74-48. With the win, West Linn captured its fourth consecutive Class 6A state title. Point guard Payton Pritchard (Oregon) was a four-year standout for the Lions and went for 25 points and 12 rebounds in his final game. Coach Eric Viuhkola’s club finished ranked six spots higher than its preseason ranking, as it was obviously judged by its seven contests versus out-of-state foes. Losses to unranked Norland (Miami, Fla.), regionally-ranked Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) and to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy were offset by a 3-1 record at the City of Palms Classic, including a victory over No. 39 Thomas Jefferson.
38. (BB) Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.) 25-5
The highest ranked CIF San Diego Section team in California since 2002-03, the Knights won the section open title and had a stellar overall resume. The only team it didn’t beat on its schedule was No. 1 Chino Hills, as Foothills Christian lost to the FAB 50 champs three times, including once by two points in a game it led with 10 seconds remaining. T.J. Leaf, arguably the section’s best player since Bill Walton in 1970, had 44 points in that close loss and averaged 28.4 ppg, 12,4 rpg, and 5.1 apg while becoming the seventh player in state history to score 3,000 points (3,020). Foothills Christian split games with Centennial (Corona, Calif.) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), two teams that were preseason FAB 50 ranked.
39. (22) Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 26-9
The total loss count is high so Jeff couldn’t finish quite as high as forecasted in the preseason, but in the end, the Orange Wave accomplished what it set out to do. Led by St. John’s-bound point guard Shamorie Ponds, Jefferson crushed Lincoln of Brooklyn, 90-61, to win its first New York PSAL title since 1954 and came back to win its first ever New York Federation Class AA title with a 72-65 win over regionally-ranked Aquinas (Rochester, N.Y.). Ponds, who is scheduled to play in the Ballislife All-American Game, got plenty of help from senior guards Rasheem Dunn and Curtis “Big Shot” Smith Jr. Jefferson fell to No. 1 Chino Hills by one point in the opening round of City of Palms and falls behind the West Linn club it also lost to at that tournament.
40. (NR) Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) 24-2
Independent Wasatch Academy was chosen to play in Dick’s Nationals, but coach Jake Schroeder’s club had a strong case for being Utah’s top overall team. The Miners captured the Class 5A state title with a 61-44 victory over regionally-ranked Copper Hills of West Jordan, as Bingham beat that team for the third time in four outings this season. In a balanced attack, junior Dashon Youngblood (8.5 ppg) and Schyler Shoemaker (7.7 apg) led the way with 16 points apiece in the title game, while BYU-bound big man Yoeli Childs (18.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg) was the catalyst all season long. Bingham defeated the Corona Centennial club No. 38 Foothills Christian split with and its second loss came in the Tarkanian Classic semifinals versus eventual champ and No. 28 Overland.
41. (13) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 26-5
Even though the Trailblazers fell to unranked Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) in the opening round of the SoCal Open regional playoffs, their overall resume is just too strong to keep them out of the FAB 50. Coach Ty Nichol’s club won the Iolani Classic in Hawaii over No. 4 La Lumiere, defeated No. 15 Chaminade and similar to No. 7 DeMatha Catholic, lost to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy and No. 5 Montverde Academy in back-to-back games. The win over La Lumiere came when the team still had forward Ira Lee in the lineup, but even with him transferring out, the team was still a force to be reckoned with. It showed that in its CIFSS Open Division 78-69 semifinal victory over No. 36 Bishop Montgomery. Only one starter graduates, and with 6-foot-10 Marvin Bagley III in the fold this team will start out highly-ranked in 2016-17.
42. (NR) Curie (Chicago, Ill.) 29-3**
The Condors made history by capturing their first ever ISHAA state title with a 65-59 victory over regionally-ranked Benet Academy of Lisle, which upset perennial power Simeon of Chicago in the Class 4A state semifinals. Curie went on a 19-0 run late in the third and at the beginning of the fourth period to clinch a game that only changed leads once. Curie’s on-court losses came against Chicago Public League teams, while one victory was forfeited and another game versus Michigan City (Ind.) was a no-contest. Guard Devin Gage (DePaul), who scored a game-high 23 points in the state title game, is the only graduating starter on a team featuring an athletic frontline.
43. (25) High Point Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 24-6
The Cougars came up just short of their goal of a NCISA Class 3A state crown and a Dick’s Nationals berth, losing to No. 27 Providence Day, 67-53, in the championship game. It was actually HPCA’s second loss to Providence Day after defeating No. 49 Greensboro Day, 51-50, in the state semifinals. Coach Brandon Clifford’s club actually defeated Greensboro Day two out of three times in what was a fantastic year for NCISA Class 3A teams. No. 1 Chino Hills was a bit too much for HPCA, as the Huskies beat them twice 94-82 and 100-75, but for the most part, they were a force to be reckoned with. The force in the middle was Kentucky-bound McDonald’s All-American Bam Adebayo, who averaged 22.0 ppg, 15.0 rpg and 4.0 apg.
44. (20) Westerville South (Westerville, Ohio) 26-4
The Wildcats went one step further than last season to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning the OHSAA Division I state title. After losing to Wayne of Huber Heights in 2015, Westerville South’s Jordan Humphrey made sure his team wasn’t going to wear the glass slipper again, nailing a shot with 1.8 seconds remaining to secure a 57-55 win over No. 46 Lima Senior. He finished with a game high 19 points, while Andre Wesson added 14. The Wildcats’ two in-state losses kept them out of the FAB 50 for a portion of the season, but they closed strong to finish one spot behind the High Point Christian Academy team that beat them at City of Palms.
45. (NR) Grandview Prep (Boca Raton, Fla.) 34-0
Who was the second best team in Florida after Montverde Academy? Some long-time observers felt it was The Pride, who capped an unbeaten season with a 87-63 victory over Bradenton Christian in the FHSAA Class 2A title game. Cat-quick guard Juwan Frazier led the way with 26 points and six steals. Grandview Prep finished the season as the FHSAA’s only unbeaten team and defeated a BCS club that had defeated all other of its foes by 15 or more points.
46. (48) Lima Senior (Lima, Ohio) 29-1
The Spartans finished right around where was projected for them in the preseason, but it was not the ending they wanted. Lima Senior lost 57-55 in the OHSAA Division I title game on a last-second basket to No. 44 Westerville South after. Had Lima Senior won to finish 30-0, it would have finished in the Top 25 of the FAB 50. Still, it was a memorable season spearheaded by the play of senior guard Xavier Simpson, the state’s Mr. Basketball headed to Michigan.
47. (NR) Fort Bend Elkins (Missouri City, Texas) 36-3
After routing Ft. Worth Dunbar 101-73 in the semifinals, the Knights fell to No. 25 Lancaster, 67-64, in the UIL Class 5A state final. Elkins had a chance to tie the game on its last possession, but a half court heave was not close. Coach Albert Thomas’ team split games with talented Fort Bend Bush and defeated regionally-ranked Ozen of Beaumont to advance to the UIL Final Four.
48. (17) Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) 29-2
This team was highly-touted in the preseason, but No. 21 Hopkins was a thorn in its side. It handed the Eagles their only two losses of the season, including 84-60 setback in the Class 4A state semifinals. Apple Valley likely would have finished a few spots higher had the rematch with Hopkins been closer, as coach Zach Goring’s club defeated 4A finalist Lakeville North twice, including a 92-66 win. With players such as Gary Trent Jr. and Tre Jones back next season, expect Apple Valley to appear in the preseason FAB 50.
49. (49) Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 28-5
Coach Freddie Johnson’s Bengals were exactly what we expected in the preseason — a tough out and an outfit worthy of a FAB 50 ranking. Greensboro Day’s season came to an end in a tough one-point loss to No. 43 High Point Christian Academy in the NCISA Class 3A state semifinals. The Bengals did defeat HPCA once in threes tries and didn’t lose to any other in-state program.
50. (NR) Omaha South (Omaha, Neb.) 28-1
A state semifinalist in 2015, the Packers defeated Fremont 59-50 in the Class A title game to capture its first state crown since 1990. Caleal Walker netted 20 points and Aquek Arop (Nebraska) added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Omaha South was unbeaten in state, as its only loss was a 59-55 setback to No. 28 Overland at the Heartland Hoops Classic.
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 16 years ago.