POY Tracker: Lonzo Ball Closing in on Josh Jackson!

Clubhouse leader Josh Jackson still leads voting in updated Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com, but will team success allow UCLA-bound Lonzo Ball to catch him by season’s end? Ball overtakes Duke-bound Jayson Tatum for second place. Junior DeAndre Ayton now trails Tatum by only two points in the voting results.

Team success has traditionally been a big factor over the years in the national player of the year process. There is little doubt leading a team to a high FAB 50 ranking or to a state title can propel a talented prospect into a legitimate candidate. Playing for a nationally-ranked team and performing well helped the candidacy of eventual Mr. Basketball USA winners such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) in 2011, Rasheed Wallace of Simon Gratz (Philadelphia, Pa.) in 1993 and Reggie Williams of Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.) in 1983.

Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) started out No. 6 in the preseason voting and his team started No. 11 in the FAB 50. He worked his way up to No. 3 in the second voting go-around in early January as his ascended to the No. 1 spot in the FAB 50. As Chino Hills continues to win games as it eyes its first CIF Southern Section and CIF state title in the Ball era, the 10-man Mr. Basketball USA Tracker has taken notice.

Ball moved up another spot in in the latest 2015-16 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com voting, and now only trails 6-foot-8 small forward Josh Jackson of Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) as the nation’s leading national player of the year candidate. Jackson, who is still uncommitted for college, actually gained in overall points, as he went up from 89 points to 92 points. He remains the only candidate to appear on all ten ballots.

Jackson is truly an elite talent, as he is averaging 27.8 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 6.2 apg, 3.3 spg and 3.3 bpg against a national schedule. Prolific Prep was 16-5 when the balloting went out and that was the exact won-loss record for the team at FAB 50 No. 21 Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.), which of course is led by Duke-bound Jayson Tatum. As Ball’s Chino Hills team runs its record to 21-0 heading into its January 30 showdown with FAB 50 No. 7 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) that will be streamed live by BIL, it appears that some the points that Tatum and other candidates such as Washington-bound Markelle Fultz of FAB 50 No. 6 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) and Kentucky-bound Malik Monk of Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.) previously collected have shifted over to the UCLA-bound point guard.

Tatum once again appeared on eight ballots, but his point total dropped from 70 to 68 points, including two first place votes. Fultz dropped from 37 points to 20, although he remained in sixth place, while Monk went from appearing on five ballots down to two and dropped 19 points down to 12 overall.

Ball, who enters the Bishop Montgomery showdown averaging triple-double numbers of 25.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, and 10.9 apg, appeared on one extra ballot (from 8 to 9) and his point total went from 67 to 79. While Ball’s three first place votes remained the same, he gained one second place vote (1 to 2) and added two additional third place votes (1 to 3). If his team keeps winning, he’s likely to gain even more traction among the panel.

“Lonzo is finally showing he can carry a team when needed and if he leads his team to a CIF championship, he may get my top vote,” said McDonald’s voter and The Basketball Channel Vice President of Basketball Operations Van Coleman.

“No player on this list has done as much for his team,” added McDonald’s voter Frank Burlison of BurlisonOnBasketball.com.

Will the voting continue to swing in Ball’s direction if Chino Hills continues to win? Or will Jackson and Tatum swing the momentum back their way when all three compete in the same environment in the major national high school all-star games at the end of the season? If Ball leads his team to the mythical FAB 50 national title, how much will the post-season all-star circuit factor in to the voting process?

We’ll eventually find out, but for now, if you can’t make it to Cerritos College (Calif.) on January 30 for the Chino Hills-Bishop Montgomery game, make sure to watch the BIL Livestream beginning at 5 pm PST.

Editor’s Note: Click on the “+” sign next to each player’s number to view how many first, second, third or fourth place votes he got and his overall point total.

RankPrev.NameHigh School1st2nd3rd4thTotal
11Josh Jackson (10)Prolific Prep (CA)442092
23Lonzo Ball (9)Chino Hills (CA)323179
32Jayson Tatum (8)Chaminade (MO)231168
44DeAndre Ayton (9)Hillcrest Academy (AZ)113166
55De'Aaron Fox (8)Cy Lakes (TX)000147
6T6Markelle Fultz (6)DeMatha (MD)000020
6T16TT.J. Leaf (4)Foothills Christian (CA)000120
89Miles Briges (5)Huntington Prep (WV)000115
9T12TCarsen Edwards (2)Atascocita (TX)000012
9T10TMustapha Heron (2)Sacred Heart (CT)000012
118Bam Adebayo (2)High Point (NC)000011
127Malik Monk (2)Bentonville (AR)000010
1312TRawle Alkins (1)Word of God (NC)00108
14NRMohamed Bamba (1)Westtown School (PA)00006
15TNRBraxton Key (1)Oak Hill (VA)00005
15T10TCharles Bassey (1)St. John's (TX)00005
17T16TWendell Carter (1)Pace Academy (GA)00004
17T19TEthan ThompsonBishop Montgomery (CA)00004

About Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Ballislife.com’s panel of 10 experts, which includes six McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in last season’s final tracker.