2023-24 Season: 3 Burning Questions

Players in this post:
Cameron Boozer Cayden Boozer

The 2023-24 high school basketball season is around the corner. We are currently gathering info on the best teams and players, as we’ve done for the past 37 years. Our preseason rankings release date will be announced soon, but for now we wanted to answer three burning questions that have been on the minds of hoop fans everywhere.

RELATED: 2023-24 Preseason FAB 50 Questionnaire - CLICK HERE to fill it out!

1.  What Affect Will The New Foul Rules Have?
In the offseason, the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) announced its recommended rule changes for the high school game that mirror’s women’s college basketball. The one-and-one free throw situation is now eliminated. The bonus situation now involves two guaranteed free throws that will occur after five fouls per quarter, instead of seven fouls per half. (High school hoops consists of four, 8-minute quarters.) The fouls will reset after each quarter and the opposition is shooting two on the sixth foul. One coach of a FAB 50 team stated that his team works relentlessly on pressure defense without fouling and shooing free throws under pressure, so teams will adapt. Another highly-regarded coach felt that teams that instill aggressive pressure defense could be penalized and that the 1-and-1 was a great part of the game. Another coach of a successful program flat out said his program counted on the opposition missing the front end because of the pressure. Here’s our take. Good and smart teams will be very aggressive and adjust their play based on the officiating. That will give quality defensive teams that are disciplined a big advantage. The elimination of the 1-and-1 situation also favors the more talented team because it will be a bit harder for the lesser team to make a comeback. Missed front end of 1-and-1’s have been the catalyst for countless comebacks over the years that we’ve witnessed. Now it will be harder for the team that is already trailing. Expect the stronger team to blow out even more opponents that it already has in recent years.

2. Can Columbus (Fla.) Win The FAB 50 Title?
Yes, it can but it won’t be easy. This is the third season that the Boozer twins, Cameron and Cayden, will lead the Explorers and they are sure to be highly-ranked in the preseason. In fact, they have a legitimate claim to be preseason No. 1 after finishing No. 45 in 2021-22 and No. 6 in 2022-23. Two years ago this program was unranked in the preseason and last year began at No. 18. They’ll start way higher than No. 18 in October, but it will take peaking at the right time to finish No. 1. It’s been since 2002-03 when a national high school player of the year has returned for another season, and that player was LeBron James. He did lead his team to the FAB 50 title after it started out No. 7 in the rankings, so there is definitely a chance history can repeat itself. It’s not about Cam Boozer, however, when it comes to the Explorers, it’s about the other returning pieces such as 6-foot-7 forward Malik Abdullahi and 6-foot-3 Benny Fragela and their improvement and production. Our gut feeling is that this year’s FAB 50 champion will take a loss and on paper it looks like Montverde Academy (Fla.) could have its best team since its renowned 2019-20 unit. Columbus will likely have to win the City of Palms Tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla., in December to have a strong enough resume to be ranked ahead of the club that ends up winning GEICO Nationals.

3. How Big is the Impact of NIL and Conference Realignment on Recruiting?
It’s really too early to tell but the two do have some relation. The realignment of major conferences in college athletics has been the biggest off-season story since college sports fundamentally changed on July 1, 2021, when Name, Image Likeness (NIL) reform went into effect. The major shakeup is the demise of the Pac-12 Conference, as all but four programs (CAL, Oregon St., Stanford, Washington St.) have moved on. Although the incompetence of Pac-12 leadership has been noted for many years, it’s still shocking to see what has transpired this off-season. Fans follow programs in terms of the conferences they play in, but for the revenue-generating sports of football and men’s basketball, it’s not as big a deal as it would have been 10 years ago. Players in those sports are going to go where their perceived NIL deals are the most favorable, period. Just as in conference realignment, it really is all about the money, or what is promised. Another reason why conference realignment, especially in the Pac-12 reason, is not as big a deal is because there is simply not as many, or as big a concentration, of four-year colleges out West as there is on the Eastern Seaboard. The reality is, student-athletes in the West Region have to matriculate East on many occasions anyway because of where the country's colleges are located. Fans will eventually come around to the re-alignment, but for 18 year olds the traditions associated with a conference such as the old Pac-12 are not as binding. In the future, we’ll also have more accurate data as it relates to how much the average college athlete is really worth in terms of endorsements and how much money will actually be used annually to fund collectives. This also applies to high school athletics. Sure, there will be exceptions to the rule such as LSU’s Angel Reese or Bronny James while he was at Sierra Canyon, but how much impact NIL has on the broader high school landscape remains to be seen. We’ve seen athletes move from states where governing bodies don’t allow NIL to ones that do, and it won’t be long before all state associations (or state law) will allow NIL opportunities for athletes in all states. Nobody is guaranteed anything and it’s the opportunity to have the ability to be compensated, not a right or sure thing, that is important. Eventually, there has to be some return on investment for those putting up endorsement money, so college and high school athletes should take advantage of every current available opportunity that doesn’t infringe on their athletic eligibility.

Ronnie Flores is the National Grassroots Editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at [email protected]. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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