Final, Expanded 2017-18 FAB 50 Rankings
National Grassroots Editor
Ronnie has evaluated basketball talent for 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in publishing, editing and managing high school sports websites for companies such as Student Sports, ESPN and Ballislife. Ronnie compiles the FAB 50 National Team Rankings while serving as an account manager and consultant for grassroots event run by Ballislife and other companies, in addition to serving as a color commentator on high school broadcasts.
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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. Montverde Academy of Florida is the 2017-18 mythical national champion, the fourth FAB 50 title in six years for the Eagles. With University School of Ft. Lauderdale finishing No. 2, its the first time ever two Florida programs finish No. 1-2 in the final FAB 50.
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
RELATED: All-Time FAB 50 No. 1s | Final East Top 20 | Final East Top 20 | Final Southeast Top 20 | Final Midwest Top 20 | Final Southwest Top 20 | Final West Top 20 | Each State’s Highest Ranked Team (1988-2018) | FAB 50: All-Time Preseason No. 1’s | Final 2016-17 FAB 50 | Final 2015-16 FAB 50 | Final 2014-15 FAB 50 | Final 2013-14 FAB 50 | Final 2012-13 FAB 50
Note: Preseason ranking in parenthesis; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates default wins/losses not included; ***Indicates foundation games not included.
1. (1) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 36-0
The Eagles were a close preseason No. 1 over Memphis East and earn their fourth FAB 50 title in six seasons. They were the preseason No. 1 in each of those seasons and this year marks the 16th time in 31 seasons since the introduction of the National Prep Poll/FAB 50 that our top-ranked team has finished the season No. 1. With a tall and talented defensive-oriented lineup that included point guard Andrew Nembhard, sweet-shooting Mike DeVoe and Mr. Basketball USA candidate R.J. Barrett, Montverde Academy defeated 15 opponents who were ranked or previously ranked in the FAB 50 en route to the first undefeated campaign under head coach Kevin Boyle. During the regular season, Montverde defeated No. 5 DeMatha Catholic, No. 6 Findlay Prep (including a second time in the GEICO Nationals semifinals), No. 12 La Lumiere, No. 14 Roselle Catholic, No. 26 Long Island Lutheran, and No. 33 Simeon. Unlike the three previous mythical national championship seasons, Boyle’s club went wire-to-wire as the FAB 50 No. 1 team. The Eagles wrapped up their championship season with a 76-58 win over No. 2 University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) in the title game of GEICO Nationals, as Barrett finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. In three GEICO Nationals games, he averaged 26.7 points and 28.7 ppg for the entire season.
2. (21) University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 35-2
We knew the Sharks were going to be a nationally-ranked outfit in the preseason, but their development was even better than expected as they were one game away from becoming the first Florida program besides Montverde Academy to claim a mythical national title. The rapid development of junior forward Vernon Carey Jr. and sophomore forward Scottie Barnes allowed University School to be in position to compete for the No. 1 spot, as it avenged its only regular season loss to No. 3 Oak Hill Academy with a 80-65 GEICO Nationals semifinal win. The Warriors simply couldn’t contain Carey, as he made 13-of-16 shots en route to 29 points, while Barnes added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. In the opening round of GEICO Nationals, the Sharks wore down No. 11 Shadow Mountain, 80-65, as Carey made 9-of-10 shots to finish with 20 points and seven rebounds. The FHSAA Class 5A state champs also defeated No. 4 Memphis East and No. 32 McEachern during the regular season.
3. (3) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 44-2
It was another successful season for the Warriors, as they were eyeing a eighth FAB 50 crown until falling to No. 2 University 80-65 in a semifinal game at GEICO Nationals to finish in their exact pre-season spot. Earlier in the season, coach Steve Smith’s club defeated University 83-69 in a highly anticipated showdown of unbeaten clubs at The Hoophall Classic. In the Warriors’ first round game at GEICO Nationals, McDonald’s All-American Keldon Johnson injured his ankle after playing only four minutes and although Oak Hill defeated No. 27 Garfield, 75-53, the injury impacted the University rematch. Oak Hill missed Johnson’s usual explosiveness and energy, as it was flat defensively against a motivated team. Smith (now 1,108-72 won-loss record) really enjoyed and relished the team-first concept and camaraderie of this unit, which is what he felt was missing at times with recent teams that had gaudy records. With another McDonald’s All-American in its lineup (David McCormack), Oak Hill also defeated No. 12 La Lumiere and No. 39 IMG Academy, with the other loss coming against FAB 50 ineligible Sunrise Christian Prep (Bel Aire, Kan.).
4. (2) Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 31-3
This was a team seriously considered for preseason No. 1, but our hunch that all the on-court breaks not going it way as it did in 2016-17 and potential off-court distractions with regards to eligibility rulings having some affect proved to be correct. Despite James Wiseman and Ryan Boyce missing six games because of the TSSAA’s transfer eligibility ruling and Shelby County Schools filing a lawsuit on behalf of Memphis East against the TSSAA which allowed the duo to play after an appeal was denied, the Mustangs did win their third consecutive AAA state title and only lost to other FAB 50 ranked teams. Wiseman had a game-high 19 points, including 14 in the first quarter, in the 72-50 state title game defeat of Whitehaven (Memphis), Memphis East’s fifth victory against the Tigers this season. Guard Alex Lomax, who was named AAA state tourney MVP for the second time, netted 18 points in the 72-60 semifinal win over Bearden (Knoxville). The Mustangs recorded a key win over No. 6 Findlay Prep and advanced to the City of Palms Classic title game with wins over No. 8 Oak Ridge and No. 33 Simeon before losing to No. 2 University, 77-72. Coach Penny Hardaway’s club actually split games with Simeon with the third loss coming against No. 35 Olive Branch. Shortly after the season, Hardaway (a former NBA All-Star and 1990 high school All-American at Memphis Treadwell) accepted the coaching job at Memphis University, his alma mater.
5. (38) DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 32-5
This was the highest-rated team this year that perhaps arrived one year earlier than expected as an elite team. The legendary program won its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title since 2011-12, as the Stags downed regionally-ranked Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 54-53 behind 14 points from All-Met sophomore Earl Timberlake. Versus WCAC foes, DeMatha defeated Gonzaga two of out three games, regionally-ranked Bishop O’Connell (Fairfax, Va.) three out of four, and No. 7 Paul VI one of three. Paul VI went unbeaten in WCAC during the regular season, but coach Mike Jones’ club defeated the Panthers, 72-50, in the Alhambra Catholic Tournament semifinals. In addition to winning Alhambra, DeMatha also won the Maryland Private Schools championship. The fifth loss came against No. 1 Montverde Academy by 10 points at the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina. With Timberlake and the other four starters returning, including leading scorer Justin Moore (16.6 ppg), DeMatha will be in major contention to capture its fifth mythical national title and first since 1983-84.
6. (9) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 32-5
The Pilots’ overall evaluation was similar to No. 5 DeMatha in the amount of quality wins versus overall losses, including a 71-53 loss to No. 1 Montverde Academy in a GEICO Nationals semifinal contest. Earlier in the season, the Pilots had the Eagles on the ropes before Mike DeVoe hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Montverde a dramatic 69-67 win. The only program to appear in all 10 GEICO Nationals, Findlay Prep knocked off No. 12 La Lumiere in the first round, 66-54, as Texas Tech-bound Kyler Edwards netted 23 points with Arkansas-bound Reggie Chaney adding 16. Coach Paul Washington’s team also defeated No. 7 Paul VI (84-62), No. 11 Shadow Mountain (83-74) and Nevada rival and No. 17 Bishop Gorman (75-68), while falling to No. 4 Memphis East and splitting games with No. 39 IMG Academy. After finishing at No. 20 in 2015-16, Washington has this program playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules and in serious mythical national title contention.
7. (15) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 33-4
The Panthers were pegged as WCAC favorites, with three programs from the powerful conference FAB 50 ranked to begin the season. Coach Glen Farello’s club completed a perfect run through the WCAC regular season, only to fall to regionally-ranked Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) in the WCAC semifinals. Led by senior Brandon Slater (Villanova) and all-Met sophomore Jeremy Roach (15.4 ppg), Paul VI avenged the loss to Gonzaga by defeating them at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational to take three out of four against its conference rival. Paul VI also won its first Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association D1 title since 2013-14 with a 58-40 win over WCAC foe Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.). The main difference in the ranking for Paul VI and DeMatha is the Stags’ only non-WCAC loss is to No. 1 Montverde Academy, while the Panthers lost to No. 6 Findlay Prep and split games with No. 8 Oak Ridge.
8. (NR) Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) 31-4
The Pioneers were behind Roselle Catholic for many weeks, mainly because of their only in-state loss to cross-town Boone in their second-to-last game of the regular season. But after rolling to the FHSAA Class 9A state crown with a 71-60 victory over Wellington, Oak Ridge must finish above the Roselle Catholic team it defeated. Not only did coach Steve Reece’s club defeat No. 14 Roselle, it also defeated No. 40 Hudson Catholic, and split games with No. 7 Paul VI. The other two losses were to No. 4 Memphis East by two points (62-60) and No. 5 DeMatha. Led by LSU signee Emmitt Williams (15.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg), the Pioneers were not ranked in the preseason only because of a looming legal situation Williams eventually got resolved, not because we didn’t think they would be a fine team. Senior guard Robin Perry actually led the team in scoring (15.8 ppg) and Texas A & M recruit Antwann Jones chipped in 12.7 ppg
9. (NR) Upson-Lee (Thomaston, Ga.) 31-0
With its 70-54 victory over St. Pius X Catholic of Atlanta, the Knights won their second consecutive GHSA Class AAA state crown. The win gave Upson-Lee back-to-back undefeated seasons and put its winning streak at 63 games heading into next season, the longest active winning streak in the country. Senior Tye Fagan, a two-time Class 4A State Player of the Year, had 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the state title game win. Junior Travon Walker also came up big with five blocks for an excellent defensive team. Coach Darrell Lockhart’s team defeated teams from five different states during the holiday tournament season, including regionally-ranked state champ Kaukauna (Wis.), and its long winning streak in a recently-strong basketball power state was the reason for the program’s top 10 finish.
10. (NR) Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) 32-0
The Warriors are similar to No. 9 Upson-Lee in that their undefeated championship season gave us no choice but to place them in the final Top 10. Although Warren Central wasn’t able to test itself outside its home state as Upson-Lee was, it won the coveted Indiana Class 4A state crown against one of the finest Final Four fields in recent memory. In the state final, Warren Central rallied, after not scoring a point for over 11 minutes, with a 54-48 win over a Carmel team that beat then-unbeaten and No. 13 Riley of South Bend, 63-43, in the semifinals. Warren Central downed then No. 21 New Albany in its semifinal contest, 64-62, on a dramatic length of the floor bank runner as time expired by two-sport star David Bell. The three FAB 50 clubs came into the Final Four with a combined 81-1 mark and Warren Central is the first Indiana club to finish unbeaten in nine seasons.
11. (12) Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.) 25-2
For the third consecutive season, the Matadores were unbeaten against Arizona foes and captured their third consecutive AIA Class 4A state title. Another state crown and a second consecutive trip to GEICO Nationals almost didn’t happen, as Shadow Mountain trialed Salpointe Catholic of Tucson by 22 points before ASU commit Jaelen House led a frantic 83-79 comeback victory with 30 points and 14 steals. With House (18.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 6.7 spg) and fellow junior Jovon Blacksher (15.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.8 spg) leading the way in the backcourt, Shadow Mountain has had one of the best defensive teams in the country the past two seasons and this year that resulted in big wins over California D1 champ Chino Hills and Open Division champ and No. 18 Sierra Canyon. Last year at GEICO Nationals, coach Mike Bibby’s club suffered its only loss to Montverde Academy and this year No. 2 University School was just a bit too big along the frontline for the Matadores to handle. The only other loss was to another team with national-level size – No. 6 Findlay Prep.
12. (9) La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 23-4
The Lakers were a step behind of where they were last season when they were led by All-Americans Brian Bowen and Jaren Jackson and won GEICO Nationals and finished a close No. 2 behind Nathan Hale (Wash.). They were still formidable, however, and finished in the range expected of them. First-year coach Patrick Holmes had a coach on the floor in Tyger Campbell, a three-year regular on his way to UCLA. Campbell (15.5 ppg, 7.2 apg) led the Lakers to GEICO Nationals once again, where they fell in the opening round to No. 6 Findlay Prep, 66-54, despite 23 points and 14 rebounds from junior Isaiah Stewart. La Lumiere also lost to No. 1 Montverde Academy, No. 3 Oak Hill Academy and to Sunrise Christian Academy, a team that defeated Oak Hill. Its best victory of the season was a 61-51 win over No. 13 Imhotep Charter at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia.
13. (10) Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 31-2
The defensive-oriented Panthers once again rolled through the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs, defeating Sharon in the state title game, 71-35, after downing Bethlehem Catholic, 65-60, in the state semifinals. Last season, coach Andre Noble’s club won its state playoff games by an average of 29 points and for the second consecutive season not only won the state crown but finished with a 31-2 mark. Imhotep fell to No. 5 DeMatha Catholic in a game Stags coach Mike Jones felt was tougher than its win over No. 8 Oak Ridge. The other loss was to No. 12 La Lumiere. Imhotep recorded an early season win over No. 14 Roselle Catholic (56-53) and defeated No. 16 Archbishop Moeller (47-44) and No. 17 Bishop Gorman (53-49) at the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina. With four returning starters, including forward Donta Scott and guard Dahmir Bishop, a third consecutive state title and more big out-of-state wins will be excepted in 2018-19.
14. (17) Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 29-4
It was a memorable season for the Lions, but it was almost dashed by Don Bosco Prep’s Ronald Harper and by Naz Reid’s foul trouble in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title game. The Ramsey-based program got 33 points from Harper (Rutgers) and Reid picked up his fourth foul with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter and Roselle Catholic holding a four-point lead. South Carolina bound Alanzo Frink picked up the slack for the 5:45 Reid was out, scoring seven of his 16 points to help the Lions capture their third TOC crown since 2013. It was the second TOC crown for Reid (16.5 ppg, 10 rpg, 2.5 bpg), who also won two state and three regional titles in his four-year career. The Lions were unbeaten in-state and recorded key wins against tough competition and lost only to higher-ranked FAB 50 teams: No. 1 Montverde Academy (by a single point), No. 7 Paul VI, No. 8 Oak Ridge and No. 13 Imhotep Charter.
15. (49) Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) 29-3
The Chargers were one of the final teams we considered for the FAB 50, and they more than lived up to the billing, capturing a second consecutive Class 3A state title and losing only once in-state to a Providence Day club it split with. Northside-Jacksonville, last season’s Class 2A champions, came into this year’s state title game unbeaten and riding a 59-game winning streak and nearly pulled off the upset before falling 65-63. Cox Mill’s Wendell Moore, a returning underclass All-American, settled matters by making six free throws in the final minute, including the game winners with seven seconds remaining. Moore, who finished with 24 points, and made a combined 36-of-40 three throws in the state semifinals and final. Joining player of the year Moore on the N.C. Basketball Coaches Association all-state first team was North Carolina-bound Rechon “Leaky” Black for a team whose other losses were to No. 5 DeMatha Catholic by a point and to No. 26 Long Island Lutheran.
16. (14) Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 27-3
It was a season of redemption for the Crusaders, which captured the Ohio Division I state title with a 83-65 win over Solon after losing last season’s state title game following an intentional foul call in an obvious fouling situation. Moeller, which won its fourth state crown, shot 71 percent from the field in the championship game while Jeremiah Davenport netted 22 points. Last year’s state title game is the only in-state loss for Moeller in two years and if it weren’t for another state title game controversy involving No. 26 Long Island Lutheran, coach Carl Kremer’s club might have only lost to state champs this season (No. 13 Imhotep Charter and No. 30 Covington Catholic being the others).
17. (48) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 29-4
We took a wait-and-see approach with the Gaels in terms of their national standing and started them behind Sunset-Southwest League rival Clark. Coach Grant Rice’s young club quickly jelled and captured its seventh consecutive NIAA state title (and ninth in the last 10 years) with a 62-41 victory over Bishop Manogue of Reno. Led by Gatorade State Player of the Year Jamal Bey (22.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and sophomore Noah Taitz (17.5 ppg), Gorman defeated Clark four times, No. 18 and CIF Open Champion Sierra Canyon in overtime and the Salesian of Richmond team that spent plenty of time as California’s No. 1 ranked team. The Folsom team the Gaels lost to knocked Salesian out of the playoffs while the other losses were to No. 6 Findlay Prep, No. 13 Imhotep Charter and No. 43 Scott County.
18. (37) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 27-4
The Trailblazers were really close to losing double-digit games, but were not too far from an unbeaten season as well. That’s how many close games Sierra Canyon was involved in during the first full season for head coach Andre Chevalier. In the end, the Trailblazers won the game that’s most coveted in California – the CIF Open Division championship game – and also defeated No. 23 Bishop Montgomery in overtime twice and No. 47 Etiwanda for the SoCal Open title. Ohio St.-bound Duane Washington was the lone senior starter for a team that rebounded from losing to Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the CIF Southern Section Open title game. The other two losses were both in overtime to No. 11 Shadow Mountain and No. 17 Bishop Gorman.
19. (NR) Meadowcreek (Norcross, Ga.) 26-6
The eventual GHSA Class AAAAAAA state champ has been quite strong in recent seasons and this year a surprise team emerged to win its first-ever state title. It was coach Curtis Gilleylen’s Mustangs, who avenged three earlier losses to rival and No. 29 Norcross by turning in a big defensive fourth quarter to record a 56-43 victory. The game was tied 36-36 when Meadowcreek broke things open with a 13-1 run. Dequarius Nichols had 16 points and eight rebounds, while junior Amari Kelly added 12 points and eight rebounds. Two of the earlier losses to Norcross were buzzer-beaters and it may have been a preview of things to come when it took overtime for No. 7 Paul VI to knock off Meadowcreek.
20. (NR) Allen (Allen, Texas) 34-5
It’s an absolute grind to win the UIL Class 6A state crown, and the Eagles were able to outlast Thompkins of Katy, 49-47 in overtime. Before 12,153 fans at the Alamodome, Allen’s Donovan Parham converted a lay-up with 1.1 seconds remaining in the extra period after terrific defense by Jaylon Scott led to a wild shot by Thompkins and a well-timed outlet pass by Jaylen Walker that led to the game-winning field goal. By capturing its first UIL state crown in its first title game appearance, Allen joined Duncanville (1998-99) as the only programs to win both football and boys basketball state crowns in the same school year. The big win for coach Jeff McCullough’s team was a 40-36 win over Denton Guyer (a team it lost to twice earlier in the season) in the regional final when that team was ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 8 in the FAB 50. The UIL’s largest school enrollment-wise atoned for splits with Duncanville and McKinney by defeating six district champions to close the season, including a 70-55 state semifinal win over Austin Westlake that spent a majority of the season in the FAB 50.
21. (NR) Rayville (Rayville, La.) 34-0***
After downing second-seeded North Caddo 79-51 in the Class 2A state title game, the Hornets left little doubt about who was Louisiana’s best team. Mylik Wilson, a junior guard, led the way in the title game with 25 points and 10 assists, as Rayville closed out one of the most dominant seasons in LHSAA lore. It was the Hornets’ first state crown since 2001. Using great pressure defense and turning it into easy scores, four Rayville players scored in double figures while junior forward Ja’Michael Wilson adding eight points and nine rebounds. With Ja’Michael Wilson’s twin brother Ja’Markus also returning next season, coach Damon West’s club will get plenty of preseason FAB 50 attention in 2018-19 after starting the just completed season off the national radar.
22. (NR) Belleville West (Belleville, Ill.) 32-2
There was some controversy as to whom the best team in Chicago was, but there was little doubt about who was best in Illinois after the Maroons downed Whitney Young of Chicago, 60-56, in the IHSA Class 4A state title game. Gatorade State Player of the Year and Illinois Mr. Basketball E.J. Liddell (21 ppg, 8 rpg, 6 bpg), a junior, sparked the comeback win with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks as the Maroons finished unbeaten in-state. Whitney Young had knocked off Simeon of Chicago in the state semifinals when that club was No. 4 in the FAB 50. The fact Simeon was so highly-regarded helped Belleville West surge up in the rankings, as it only lost to Math, Science & Tech of Houston, Texas in its fourth game and to highly-regarded Chaminade of St. Louis. The Maroons defeated Webster Groves (which beat Chaminade in the Missouri Class 5A state title game) and became the first team outside of Chicago to win the large school state crown since Shaun Livingston led Peoria Central’s FAB 50 ranked club in 2003-04.
23. (33) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 28-2
Although the Knights were not quite as good as 2016-17, when they were projected to win the CIF State open crown and did just that to finish No. 6 in the FAB 50, they were quite formidable. In fact, coach Doug Mitchell’s club only lost to one team all season – No. 18 Sierra Canyon – and also beat that club once when its lineup was far from full strength. Both losses were in overtime and knocked Bishop Montgomery from the CIFSS Open and SoCal open regional playoffs, respectively. Considering its resume, we find it puzzling credible national rankings rose Montgomery to as high as No. 5 nationally, but dropped out of those Top 25s after the second loss. Led by Gatorade State Player of the Year Davy Singleton (23.8 ppg), Montgomery defeated No. 47 Etiwanda and finished on the correct side of its preseason projection despite battling various injuries.
24. (NR) Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 27-5
With its 88-76 victory over Public School Athletic League champ South Shore of Brooklyn, Stepinac captured the State Federation Class AA TOC. The title, however, was not without controversy as the Crusaders received a fortunate break in their 76-72 TOC semifinal win over No. 26 Long Island Lutheran. With the game tied and Lutheran in possession of the ball with 8.3 seconds remaining, it called a timeout and game officials charged LIL with a technical foul, believing the team had none left to call. Game reviews showed the NYSAIS champions did have one left, but the technical error was never overturned and Stepinac officially moved on to the championship game. The CHSAA champs had lost to Long Island Lutheran earlier in the season, but overall it had a successful season and there is no telling how the final seconds would have played out without the technical shots and change of possession. The only team on its schedule Stepinac didn’t defeat was St Peter’s of Staten Island and that was an overtime loss. The Crusader’s title at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic also gained in significance as the season wore on.
25. (20) Clarkston (Clarkston, Mich.) 26-1
The Wolves opened as the overwhelming preseason Michigan No. 1 and closed the season with arguably the most dominant state title game performance in state history. Clarkston captured its second consecutive Class A state crown with a 81-38 victory over West Ottawa. Mr. Basketball Foster Loyer outscored West Ottawa by himself, scoring 40 points as the Wolves shot 59 percent (13-of-22) from 3-point range. In a 74-49 semifinal win over De La Salle Collegiate of Warren, the Mr. Basketball USA candidate netted 42 points, finishing his career as Clarkston’s all-time leading scorer with 2,323 points. Clarkston’s lone loss to East English Village of Detroit prevented it from perhaps a Top 15 ranking, but it’s been difficult to gauge Michigan teams in recent seasons as they don’t traditionally venture too far from their home base. Still, this program was dominant in the Loyer era, recording a 95-6 record the past four seasons.
26. (36) Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 22-3
We considered placing the Crusaders in the Top 25 right behind the Archbishop Stepinac team it lost to in controversial fashion, but we just had to get a dominant state champ like Clarkston in the top half of the FAB 50. Long Island Lutheran played a tough national schedule and was perhaps one executed play from winning the New York Federation crown and finishing at No. 15 in the FAB 50. With possession of the ball, the Crusaders were called for a technical foul the scorer’s table and officials believed they didn’t have, that later coach John Buck and his staff unofficially proved it did have. Nobody will ever know how the last eight seconds would have transpired, but the fact is the NYSAIS champs had a terrific season, splitting games with Stepniac, defeating No. 15 Cox Mill and No. 16 Moeller at the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina, while losing to Christ the King of New York by two points in its fourth game. The only team to soundly defeat LIL was No. 1 Montverde Academy.
27. (27) Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 28-2
The Bulldogs captured the WIAA Class 3A state crown with a 72-63 victory over Metro League rival Rainier Beach and qualified for GEICO Nationals. Some national rankings had them in their Top 10 heading into that event, but we were more reserved in rising coach Brandon Roy’s team and it fell flat in a 75-53 opening round loss to No. 3 Oak Hill Academy. The Bulldogs didn’t shoot particularly well in that game, and some point to the 58-55 loss to Seattle Prep in the District finals as a chink in the armor, but Garfield had an outstanding season overall in Roy’s first year at his alma mater after leading Nathan Hale of Seattle to the FAB 50 crown in 2016-17. Led by USC-bound forward J’Rann Brooks, junior point guard Pierre Crockwell and talented wing P.J. Fuller, the Bulldogs actually split games with Seattle Prep, won the Rancho Mirage Holiday Classic in Southern California and swept through one of the toughest public school leagues in the country.
28. (32) New Albany (New Albany, Ind.) 25-2
Similar to No. 27 Garfield, New Albany finished right in the range expected of it in the preseason, but unfortunately it didn’t bring home the state hardware. The Bulldogs, which lost its only regular season game to Floyd Central of Floyd Knobs by two points, fell to eventual unbeaten Class 4A state champ Warren Central in the state semifinals on a last-second shot, 64-62. In the second round of the state tournament, coach Jim Shannon’s club was able to avenge the Floyd Central loss and the fact Warren Central went on to win the state crown certainly helps the Bulldogs in their final analysis. The ringleader, of course, was state Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, who averaged 35.5 ppg and finished with 3,002 career points while leading New Albany to a state crown as a sophomore.
29. (41) Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 28-4
After knocking off then FAB 50 No. 4 McEachern (75-55) in the GSHA Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals, the Blue Devils had a solid opportunity to position itself for a GEICO Nationals berth. It was dashed away, however, when Norcross fell to crosstown Meadowcreek, 56-43, in the state final. Coach Jessie McMillian’s defeated highly-regarded Newton of Covington in the state semis (86-66), but the loss to Meadowcreek was a hard pill to swallow as the Blue Devils fell in the state title game for the second consecutive season. Led by the backcourt of Kyle Sturdivant and B.J. Boston, Norcross defeated its cross-town Region 7 rivals three times earlier in the season and downed regionally-ranked Wesleyan Christian Academy of North Carolina at the Holiday Hoopsgiving.
30. (NR) Covington Catholic (Park Hills, Ky.) 35-4
The Colonels captured the KHSAA Sweet 16 championship with a 73-55 victory over No. 43 Scott County, their second state crown in five years. CovCath was led to victory by all-stater and Sweet 16 MVP C.J. Frederick, who made 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 32 points. In four Sweet 16 games, the Iowa recruit averaged 27.7 ppg, as the Colonels were able to avenge a loss to Fern Creek of Louisville in the state quarterfinals. The only other in-state loss was to Cooper of Union, which Scott Ruthsatz’s club beat twice. CovCath also beat Ohio D1 state semifinalist Pickerington Central and recorded a huge win over No. 16 Moeller. In a year the Bluegrass State celebrated the 100th anniversary of its state tourney, the Colonels became the third program in state history to capture football and boys basketball state titles in the same year.
31. (44) Guyer (Denton, Texas) 38-2
The Wildcats were rolling along as Texas’ top-ranked team and No. 8 in the FAB 50, but it all came crashing down in a 40-36 regional final loss to No. 20 Allen. On Allen’s first possession, it held the ball for three minutes and were patient for the rest of the game, as Guyer only had 17 points going into the fourth quarter and made some costly turnovers down the stretch. Coach Grant Long’s fell all the way from No. 8 to No. 42, but we had to get the Wildcats back up a bit for the final rankings after reviewing their overall resume. It helped that Allen went on to win the UIL Class 5A state crown because Guyer beat them twice during the regular season. It also split games with the other team it lost to (Waxahachie), defeated No. 44 South Garland and regionally-ranked Westlake of Austin. With standouts such as De’Vion Harmon and Jalen Wilson returning, this club will be highly-motivated to earn its first UIL Final Four berth in 2018-19.
32. (4) McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 26-3
In a similar situation to No. 31 Guyer, the underclass-dominated Indians were riding along at No. 4 in the FAB 50 (their preseason spot as well) when No. 29 Norcross upset them in the GHSA Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals, 75-55. Last season, they were No. 9 in the FAB 50 when they fell to Tift County in the state semifinals. Obviously Norcross’ margin of victory is a loud statement and McEachern would have benefited if Norcross had won the state crown, but you can’t ignore the Indians’ overall body of work from a national perspective. It didn’t lose to another Georgia team, defeated No. 33 Simeon and No. 40 Hudson Catholic, with its other losses to No. 2 University and No. 5 DeMatha Catholic. If McEachern had won the state crown, would they have been a surefire preseason No. 1 next season? That is speculative but to say the 2018-19 team will be super-motivated is an understatement.
33. (16) Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 29-4
Local credible rankings pegged No. 42 Orr as the best team in the Windy City, but those rankings don’t take into account that club never defeated coach Robert Smith’s club nor Simeon’s national schedule. We give the Wolverines credit for defeating Orr (the Class 2A state champs) in the Chicago Public League title game, splitting games with No. 4 Memphis East and giving FAB 50 champ Montverde Academy its toughest test of the regular season. Simeon fell to eight-loss and regionally-ranked Whitney Young of Chicago in the Class 4A state semifinals, 71-66. The Wolverines actually split games with Whitney Young and after that club lost to No. 22 Belleville West, it made sense to move Simeon back in front of Whitney Young. Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year and three-time city champ Talen Horton-Tucker led a team that also beat Class 3A state champ Morgan Park of Chicago, regionally ranked Wesleyan Christian Academy of North Carolina and Waxahachie (which split with No. 31 Guyer).
34. (18) Brentwood Academy (Nashville, Tenn.) 25-5
At the level of the top-ranked teams in the FAB 50, it was evident the Eagles just didn’t have enough size to defeat those clubs, but they were a tough out and just a shade below their preseason projection. Brentwood Academy, which lost to No. 7 Paul VI and No. 12 La Lumiere, tied a TSSAA record by winning a fourth consecutive Division II-AA state crown via its 50-44 victory over Baylor. Vanderbilt-bound point guard Darius Garland was the difference versus Baylor, just as he was in many of the Eagles’ big games. He broke open a tie game with four minutes remaining by scoring seven points in a minute. Garland had 11 in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 35, as he was named state tourney MVP for the second consecutive season. Coach Hubie Smith’s club defeated No. 41 Wasatch Academy and regionally-ranked Webster Groves of Missouri at the Bass Pro TOC.
35. (NR) Olive Branch (Olive Branch, Miss.) 26-4
Our Mississippi correspondent Lavel “Shoes” Johnson stated the Conquistadors came on like gangbusters at the end of the season and were clearly the Magnolia State’s best team. After capturing the MHSAA Class 5A state crown via its 64-44 win over Forest Hill of Jackson, this is a natural spot for Olive Branch as two of its four losses were to teams from Tennessee. Coach Eric Rombaugh’s team routed a Forest Hill team that was coming off a 59-43 semifinal win over Canton (top seeded and the only in-state team to defeat the Conquistadors). Led by junior D.J. Jeffries (20.8 ppg) and senior Kelvin Allen (17.2 ppg), Olive Branch showed what it could do when on top of its game with a 73-70 win over No. 4 Memphis East. This team will be heard from in 2018-19, as nearly the whole club returns outside of Allen.
36. (NR) Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.) 27-0
The Bullpups completed a storybook season by defeating Federal Way 54-52 to win the WIAA Class 4A state crown and erase the memory of last season’s stinging semifinal loss. Gonzaga Prep was able to hold off Federal Way and win its second state title (2011) by grabbing four key offensive rebounds to kill 1:31 off the game clock late in the fourth quarter and hurt any momentum the Eagles had generated in a tight game. Gonzaga-bound Anton Watson led the way with 22 points, while Sophomore Liam Loyd added 15. In the semifinals, the Bullpups downed a Richland team in overtime (53-50) that owned a victory over No. 41 Wasatch Academy and that it defeated two games earlier for the District 8 title. The ho-hum performance of No. 27 Garfield in GEICO Nationals didn’t help the Bullpups’ national profile, but it was a memorable season nonetheless.
37. (NR) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) 36-7
The top of the charts with regards to Baltimore teams is a bit of a smorgasbord because teams in the region play each other multiple times. At the end of the day, however, there is little doubt the Panthers are Charm City’s best. The Baltimore Sun’s No. 1 ranked club captured the Baltimore Catholic League crown with a 52-50 victory over regionally-ranked Mt. St. Joseph. That team later defeated the Panthers at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, but the Panthers had already beaten Mt. St. Joseph twice in MIAA play. Coach Nick Myles’ club also beat regionally-ranked John Carroll of Bel Air three times, including in the BCL semifinals (70-53). Led by the stellar backcourt of senior Elijah Epps (10 ppg) and breakout sophomore Adrian Baldwin (14 ppg), St. Frances also defeated regionally-ranked and Class 3A state champ Morgan Park of Chicago, Baltimore City and Class 3A state champ Poly, plus No. 38 Carmel Christian at the Hoodies House Hoops Classic in North Carolina.
38. (NR) Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 24-4
With their thrilling 74-72 double overtime win over Gaston Day of Gastonia, the Cougars captured their first ever NCISAA state crown in Class 2A. This is a natural rankings spot for coach Byron Dinkins’ club, as it lost to No. 37 St. Frances Academy (61-57), handed eventual regionally-ranked and NCHSAA Class 4A champ Independence of Charlotte its only loss and defeated NCISAA Class 3A champ Greensboro Day (51-46). The win over Greensboro Day is significant, because the NCISAA Class 3A champ has been highly-regarded nationally in recent seasons and if it wasn’t for a showcase loss to Spartanburg Day School of South Carolina, Greensboro Day would be a cinch FAB 50 club. Junior Myles Pierre let off a driving half hook with eight seconds remaining in double OT that dropped in that proved to be the winning points and championship game clincher. Pierre finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals while sophomore Ford Cooper replaced an injured starter and finished with 13 points, four rebounds and nine assists.
39. (24) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 22-5
It’s not easy to grade the Ascenders, because they basically had two teams, one with dominant power forward Silvio De Sousa and one after left for Kansas at the holiday semester break. With De Sousa in the lineup, IMG defeated Huntington Prep, No. 6 Findlay Prep and lost by two points to No. 3 Oak Hill Academy in the title game of the Chick Fil-A Classic in South Carolina. After De Sousa left, the Ascenders lost to Findlay Prep and this is a good spot to place them because they lost to Wesleyan Christian Academy by 21 points (82-61) and No. 38 Carmel Christian deserves to be ranked ahead of all NCISAA Class 3A teams. LSU-bound Darius Days was a big gun and most consistent performer for coach Sean McAloon, while juniors Josh Green, Chol Marial and Jahmius Ramsey all had stellar moments.
40. (5) Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.) 21-5
With three All-American type players, the Hawks not only had aspirations of a New Jersey TOC crown, they were a serious FAB 50 title contender. It all came crashing down in a 60-49 Non-Public B quarterfinal loss to Immaculate Conception of Montclair. Hudson Catholic went into that game ranked No. 2 in the state, but did not look anything like the team that defeated Patrick School, regionally ranked John Carroll of Maryland at the Hoophall Classic or state Missouri state champion Webster Groves at the City of Palms Classic in Florida. Oregon recruit and McDonald’s All-American Louis King (15.2 ppg) netted a season-high 32 points versus John Carroll, but he was lost after 16 games while fellow McDonald’s All-American Jahvon Quinerly (18.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) was named Gatorade State Player of the Year for the second time for a team that lost to No. 8 Oak Ridge and in overtime to No. 32 McEachern at City of Palms.
41. (43) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 24-2
The Tigers finished right in the range we expected of them, but they lack that quality set of wins that could catapult them towards the Top 25. Coach Curtis Conde’s club lost to No. 34 Brentwood Academy and to a fine club at Richland (Wash.) that lost twice to No. 36 Gonzaga Prep. Senior power wing Matt Bradley averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.7 rpg and will participate in the Ballislife All-American Game.
42. (NR) Orr (Chicago, Ill.) 30-4
It was a storybook season for the Spartans, who bounced back from losing to No. 33 Simeon in the Chicago Public League title game to win the IHSA Class 2A state crown with a crushing 76-49 victory over Winnebago. With the win, Orr was ranked tops in Chicago locally (by virtue of its two wins over the Whitney Young team that knocked Simeon out of the Class 4A state playoffs), but falls behind the Wolverines in our ranking system. Eight-loss Whitney Young didn’t win a championship and Orr never beat Simeon. Had Whitney Young won the Class 4A state crown, we’d have no choice but to rank Orr as the top team in Chicago. All-City forward Dannie Smith and undersized post presence Raekwon Drake led a team whose program received national acclaim with the release of “Shot In The Dark”, a documentary about the program executive produced by NBA star Dwayne Wade and Chicago-based hip-hop artist Chance The Rapper.
43. (BB) Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) 37-2
The Cardinals advanced all the way to the KHSAA Sweet 16 title game where they fell to No. 30 Covington Catholic, 73-55. Even though the losing margin is fairly large, coach Billy Hicks’ club only suffered one other loss to Ohio D1 state champ and No. 16 Moeller. The two losses are offset by a key 71-62 victory over No. 17 Bishop Gorman. Scott County was led all season long by forward Michael Moreno, a junior who has already been named all-state twice and enters 2018-19 with 2,073 career points and 1,122 rebounds.
44. (BB) South Garland (Garland, Texas) 36-4
Similar to No. 43 Scott County, the Colonels are another preseason bubble club that didn’t win their last game, but did enough to remain in the final rankings. Coach Dominique Parker’s club did lose to eventual UIL Class 6A runner-up Thompkins of Katy in the state semifinals, 80-76, but it did beat the same club 76-50. A loss to Midlothian in its second game of the season is offset by wins over Waxahachie (which split games with No. 31 Guyer) and Sunrise Christian Academy of Kansas, which defeated No. 3 Oak Hill Academy and No. 6 Findlay Prep. The big gun for the Colonels were underclass All-American Tyrese Maxey (22.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and fellow junior Chris Harris Jr. (19.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg).
45. (NR) Oshkosh North (Oshkosh, Wis.) 27-1
A fantastic season by the Spartans was capped by a 61-44 win over Brookfield East in the WIAA D1 state title game. Iowa St.-bound Tyrese Haliburton and North’s 1-3-1 zone defense was just too much for East to overcome. Haliburton scored 13 consecutive points midway through the game to help his team take a double-digit lead and finished with 24 points while making all 12 of his free throws. North, which avenged a five point loss to eventual D2 state champ Kaukauna with a 88-67 victory, returns six of its eight rotation players next season.
46. (BB) Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.) 26-1
Similar to No. 45 Oshkosh North, the Junior Jays avenged their only loss (to Omaha Central) on its way to a state title. Coach Josh Luedtke’s club capped its season with a 56-46 win over Bellevue West in the NSAA Class A state title game. The game was knotted up at 36-36 entering the final period when the Junior Jays took complete control with a 15-0 run. It was the program’s first state title since 2015, when it finished No. 49 in the FAB 50, and the 13th overall.
47. (NR) Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 30-4
The Eagles advanced to the CIF SoCal Open regional final, where they fell to No. 18 Sierra Canyon, 58-55. It was a closer margin of victory than how close NorCal representative and regionally-ranked Sheldon of Sacramento (which would be the next team in line in the California pecking order) played Sierra Canyon in the CIF Open title game. Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year Dave Kleckner did a brilliant job with a team we underestimated a bit in the preseason. Led by Pepperdine-bound Kessler Edwards and Cal-St. Northridge recruit Elijah Harkless, Etiwanda blitzed the same L.A. Fairfax team Mater Dei of Santa Ana lost to in the SoCal Open regional first round, 62-34, after the Eagles lost to the Monarchs in the CIFSS Open Division semifinals.
48. (47) Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) 27-2
The final team in our pecking order from the Midwest Region are the Raiders, which finish right in the range expected of them in the preseason. Cretin-Derham Hall was ranked behind Apple Valley in the preseason, but the Raiders beat that club in dramatic fashion to capture the Class 4A state title. With 5.5 seconds remaining, Sy Chatman took the inbounds pass and quickly passed it off to Ryan Larson as he was headed towards the hoop and then Larson threw a quick-hitting alley-oop to Minnesota-bound Daniel Oturu, who threw it down with half a second remaining to clinch an emotional 79-78 win. Apple Valley had knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs the previous year in the quarterfinals and the program erased that memory by winning its first state crown in 25 years. Oturu finished with 17 points and Jacob Prince stepped up big time by making 7-of-8 shots and finishing with 16 points to off set a 35-point performance from All-American Tre Jones.
49. (NR) Olympus (Salt Lake City, Utah) 27-0
UHSAA Class 6A state champ Lone Peak got plenty of publicity and credit for taking FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy to the brink, but that team lost four games and did not beat a ranked foe. The Class 5A champs did not beat one either, but the Titans capped an unbeaten campaign with a 76-49 beating of Corner Canyon of Draper in the state title game. While it’s debatable that Olympus should be ranked higher than Lone Peak, the level of basketball has improved steadily in Utah the past 15-20 years and we like to reward as many unbeaten state champs from around the country as possible. So in many respects, Lone Peak’s rising national profile over the past eight seasons actually helps Olympus in its final analysis and the Titans will be strong once again in 2018-19.
50. (NR) Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 27-2
The final team in our rankings this season comes from the Midwest and it’s the Chargers, who capped their season by capturing the OSSAA Class 5A state crown with a 79-67 win over Washington of Tulsa. The Chargers defeated Washington three times in four games this season, with their other loss coming against Midwest City. Memorial was led all season long by junior forwards Kalib Boone (17.1 ppg, 12.8 rpg) and Keyland Boone (15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg).
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 17 years ago.