Harry Giles of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), arguably the No. 1 player in the country and the best player on the preseason No. 1 ranked team in the FAB 50 National Rankings, tore the ACL in his right knee in the Warriors' season opener. We break down what this means for the national rankings picture and the rest of the 2015-16 season.
There are plenty of factors for determining the teams deserving of preseason accolades in the FAB 50 Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com and every season something happens to shake up the national rankings picture.
This season the shakeup didn't come off the court and it didn't happen after the season got rolling across the country. It happened in the first two minutes of the season-opener for the preseason No. 1 ranked team in the country.
On Thursday afternoon, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) coach Steve Smith confirmed to Ballislife.com his top player, 6-foot-10 Harry Giles, had torn the ACL is his right knee in the opening minutes of the Warriors' 88-43 win over Moravian Prep (N.C.). Giles, last season's National Junior of the Year, missed his entire sophomore season at Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) because of a left knee injury. Giles will miss the remainder of the 2015-16 season.
The news of Giles' injury exploded on social media and the obvious question with the news in regards to the preseason FAB 50 rankings was, "Is Oak Hill still the No. 1 team?"
The answer to that question may not seem obvious to many, but for those that have followed the FAB 50 over the years the answer is simple -- Oak Hill Academy is and will remain the No. 1 team until results on the court dictate another team is more deserving. No, three-time defending FAB 50 champion and No. 2 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) nor any other team is not considered No. 1 now. The FAB 50 has always been about results (wins versus losses) on the court.
The preseason FAB 50 Team Rankings are a gauge to predict how the pending season may turn out based on the factors of personnel, coaching, history of success and strength of opposition. The most important factor is something often overlooked -- the results of the games played on the court. Injuries, transfers, suspensions, administration matters, injunctions and the like play a role in the outcome of games, but do not determine positioning after the rankings have already been released.
An example of this occurred during the 2013-14 season. After Curie (Chicago) defeated Montverde Academy on the court at the Hoop Hall Classic, the Condors moved up to No. 1 in the country. We didn't automatically drop Curie or elevate the Eagles after the win was later forfeited. Montverde Academy didn't magically win the game. It was noted and the results played out and Curie, without its complete team, eventually lost on the court. Montverde Academy ended up as the No. 1 ranked team.
The same principle applies here -- we are not going to elevate Montverde Academy because Oak Hill (similar to Curie at the time) still hasn't lost on the court.
Harry Giles' Impact
Giles was the tipping point in positioning Oak Hill Academy as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation. Obviously his absence will have an impact on how strong of a team Oak Hill is perceived to be, but it remains to be what the injury means for Oak Hill with regards to wins and losses. How the Warriors' season will now play out is purely speculative, just as it was not a forgone conclusion Oak Hill Academy would go unbeaten and retain the No. 1 ranking with him in the lineup.
A coach from Montverde Academy heard the news and sent Giles' parents a text hoping for a speedy recovery. Obviously other teams will wait and see how this news affects Oak Hill's season, but Montverde Academy, No. 3 Roman Catholic of Philadelphia and other programs still have to take care of business and win their games. In fact, the pressure to win games for those other teams probably have grown in the last 24 hours since the race for the mythical national title has been altered before the season really even got rolling.
Giles was a main factor in Oak Hill's preseason positioning, but another factor was its depth and as one McDonald's All-American voter and Mr. Basketball USA panelist told us this morning, "Oak Hill still has a fine team." Indeed, it will be a different look and Smith won't have a dominant national player of the year type-talent in his lineup, but we'll be surprised if Oak Hill doesn't remain among the Top 25 in the FAB 50 throughout the season.
Giles was a serious Mr. Basketball USA candidate, arguably the top candidate coming in, but obviously that will change, too. The voting hasn't taken place yet, but Giles won't be eligible if he doesn't play a majority of the season. Look for the preseason 2015-16 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker on Monday, November 23.