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 2020-21 mythical national champion, the sixth title for the program since 2013 and the fifth No. 1 finish after starting out as preseason No. 1.
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
(Preseason ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Does not include results vs. out-of-season opponents.)
RELATED: “In The Paint” Podcast |“On The Rise” Show | The Future Of Big-Time HS Basketball | FAB 50 Rankings Criteria | How To Make A HS Version Of March Madness | Final Southwest Region Top 20 | Final Midwest Region Top 20 | Final Southeast Region Top 20 | Final East Region Top 20 | Final West Region Top 20 | 2020-21 Mr. Basketball USA | 2020-21 Underclass POYs | Salute To All-Time FAB 50 Champions | Final 2018-19 FAB 50 | Final 2017-18 FAB 50 | 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
1. (1) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 24-1
Despite losing four starters off a team already considered one of the best in high school basketball history, this program went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the 2020-21 FAB 50. No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy did end Montverde Academy’s 44-game winning streak, but the Eagles remained No. 1 the following week because they has defeated the Buffaloes earlier in the season, had the common opponent factor in their favor (AZ Compass Prep of Chandler, Ariz.) and because we knew the two teams would likely lock horns again. Montverde Academy wound up defeating the Buffaloes, 61-57, to win the inaugural National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) crown. Led by National Junior Player of the Year Jalen Duren (14.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.2 bpg) and Michigan-bound Caleb Houstan (13.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Montverde also won the program’s fifth GEICO Nationals title, after last season’s already historic team was denied the opportunity because the event was canceled. Coach Kevin Boyle’s team defeated Sunrise Christian Academy for the third time during the season in the title game (62-52). This program finished No. 1 for the sixth time in nine seasons and the only run of mythical national championships comparable to the current MVA run is Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) capturing five FAB 50/National Prep Poll titles between 1993 and 2004.
2. (3) Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 20-4
The Buffaloes started out No. 3 in the preseason behind IMG Academy in a close call and ended up beating that program twice during the season, including a 70-63 win over the Ascenders in the GEICO Nationals semifinals. Sunrise Christian also lost to AZ Compass Prep of Arizona, a team that fell to No. 1 Montverde Academy twice. Tennessee-bound Kennedy Chandler had a monster game (25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) in the win over IMG Academy, but just couldn’t get it going offensively in the title game vs. Montverde Academy. Montverde held a 23-21 halftime lead, but a 28-17 third quarter turned out to be the key in the game. Chandler (14.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.1 apg, 3.1 spg) and fellow All-American Kendall Brown (16.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg) led the Buffaloes to two wins over No. 8 Wasatch Academy and to another over No. 17 Paul VI.
3. (2) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 22-3
The Ascenders had a terrific season and only lost to the two teams ranked ahead of them. IMG’s big opportunities came at the St. James Invitational in Maryland when it played No. 1 Montverde Academy and No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy in back-to-back games. IMG Academy was No. 3 at the time and feel to the top-ranked Eagles, 55-51, and to No. 2 Sunrise, 67-60. IMG later lost to the Buffaloes for the second time in the GEICO Nationals semifinals, 70-63. Along the way this talented team built one of the strongest resumes in the country, defeating No. 12 Germantown Houston (93-54) and handing No. 7 Minnehaha Academy its only loss of the season (73-53). Coach Sean McAloon’s club also defeated No. 6 Milton in the GEICO quarterfinals (73-68) as point guard Jaden Bradley had 20 points and six assists. Bradley, an underclass All-American selection, was a key cog on the perimeter for a team that was led on the interior by All-American Moussa Diabate. He led the Ascenders in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.5) while shooting 64 percent from the field.
4. (5) DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 9-0***
The Stags were happy they were able to get a season in, although there was no Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) tournament or any other post-season tourneys in the DMV. DeMatha was able to play more than nine games, with some of those foes considered out-of-season or fall ball games, which is noted by asterisk (***). The Stags started one spot below WCAC rival Pau VI in the preseason FAB 50, but wound up beating their rivals twice, 89-77 and 109-107 in overtime, the latter what turned out to be their final game of the season on February 14. Coach Mike Jones’ club also handed No. 18 St. Vincent-St. Mary one of its two losses (73-56). UConn commit Jordan Hawkins (18.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.9 bpg) and junior Tyrell Ward (19.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 4.5 apg) led a team that was just as good as advertised in the preseason. Ironically, the 2019-20 WCAC title win was Jones’ 500 career win and the program’s 41st WCAC title, as Jones stepped down in the off-season to take a college coaching job with Virginia Tech. He finishes with a 509-120 record, as DeMatha will have its third varsity head coach since 1956-57, when Morgan Wootten took over the program and stayed until Jones replaced him in 2002-03.
5. (15) Camden (Camden, N.J.) 13-0
The High was highly-regarded in the preseason and ended up playing just enough games to move up from its preseason perch to finish in the top five. Perhaps Camden gets the benefit of the doubt as an unbeaten team, but finishing undefeated in a power state that has produced a plethora of FAB 50 ranked teams in recent years definitely helps in the final analysis. Led by National Sophomore Player of the Year D.J. Wagner, the Panthers are the highest ranked among New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) teams and public schools nationwide. Despite a 42-1 mark the past two seasons, Wagner will enter his junior campaign still seeking a coveted NJ Tournament of Champions crown after the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19 and there was no post-season for 2020-21.
6. (21) Milton (Milton, Ga.) 28-3
Outside of the independent academy type teams, the Eagles are the highest-rated team that played what would amount to a normal slate of games during the season. Milton began play on November 21 and its season didn’t come to an end until it fell to No. 3 IMG Academy, 73-68, in the GEICO Nationals quarterfinals. They qualified for GEICO Nationals by capturing the coveted Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAAAA crown by virtue of a 52-47 win over No. 37 Berkmar in the championship game. Sophomore Kanaan Caryle had 15 points and five rebounds in the Berkmar win while junior Bruce Thornton added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. The underclass All-American duo combined for 40 points in the loss to IMG Academy. The Eagles captured their third state crown and the first since 2012 when it finished No. 7 in the FAB 50 under David Boyd. Coach Allen Whitehart’s group did lose its first game to McEachern by a point (56-55) and fell to a Sandy Creek club that spent some time in the FAB 50, but the reason it finishes ranked ahead of No. 7 Minnehaha Academy is the relative closeness of the IMG Academy game.
7. (14) Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) 19-1***
The Redhawks moved up one spot in the final weekly FAB 50 and finished seven spots higher than projected in the preseason. The Redhawks finish as the highest ranked team ever from the state of Minnesota, surpassing last year’s Eden Prairie team that finished No. 12. Ironically, last year’s Minnehaha team that featured point guard Jalen Suggs and big man Chet Holmgren might have been even better, but didn’t finished ranked as high because of the in-state loss to Eden Prairie. The Redhawks’ only loss this season was to No. 3 IMG Academy by a greater margin (73-53) than No. 6 Milton’s loss to the same team. Holmgren came back as a senior and had a season for the ages, earning Mr. Basketball USA honors after averaging 20.8 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 4.4 apg, and 4.7 bpg while converting an incredible 157-of-194 2-point field goal attempts (81%) and 21-of-67 3-point attempts (31%). The state title game was a coronation, as the Redhawks captured the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Class AAA title with a dominant 80-29 victory over Alexandria. Tennessee State-bound Hercy Miller, the son of Hip-Hop Mogul Master P (Percy Miller), almost out-scored Alexandria by himself, finishing with 24 points. His brother, freshman Mercy Miller, got the Redhawks off to a fast start with three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 15 points in the easy win. With Holmgren in the lineup, this program won three consecutive Class AA titles and four states titles in four attempts after last year’s club wasn’t able to win an on-court crown because of the COVID-19 cancellation of the state tourney.
8. (11) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 18-7***
Even though the loss count is high, the Tigers finished right in the range expected of them in the preseason. It’s high because of the stiff competition in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) on a nightly basis. Coach Paul Peterson’s club lost four of its games to No. 1 Montverde Academy and No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy, while beating No. 23 Oak Hill Academy two of out three. The club, which lost its opener at GEICO Nationals to semifinalist AZ Compass Prep of Arizona, was led by its backcourt of All-American Nolan Hickman and underclass All-American Richard “Pop Pop” Isaacs. Hickman was named Utah’s Gatorade State Player of the Year after averaging 16.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.4 apg and 1.7 spg.
9. (13) Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 3-0
LuHi didn’t really get to show its wares this season, but was able to beat a talented Archbishop Stepinac team twice (47-46 and 66-39) before it was unable to play any more sanctioned games. Stepinac began the season No. 35 in the FAB 50 and also helping coach Jon Buck’s team finish high in the rankings despite the limited amount of games is its recent track record. LuHi has finished no lower than No. 27 in the FAB 50 over the past four seasons and was this year’s favorite to capture the New York Federation Tournament of Champions.
10. (23) Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 29-1
The Panthers were highly-regarded in the preseason and lived up to their acclaim by capturing the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 6A state crown with a 66-53 victory over No. 14 Westlake. In the state semifinals, Duncanville downed Richardson, 68-49, after defeating Waxahachie in the 6A Region II title game, 70-65, when that club came into the regional final No. 15 in the FAB 50. Damon Nicholas Jr. had 20 points and Juan Reyna added 15 in the big win over Waxahachie that avenged the Panthers’ only regular season loss, a game they lost in overtime at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by Montez Young Jr. Nicholas and guard Zhuric Phelps earned all-state laurels for a program that captured its second Class 6A crown in three years and finished ranked No. 1 in the state for the third consecutive season. Last year, Duncanville finished No. 20 in the FAB 50 after the season was cancelled with the Panthers in the state final four.
11. (BB) Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 28-0
The Warriors were the first team from the powerful Southeast Region just outside the FAB 50, checking in at No. 13. We wish we would have put OCP in from the beginning in the industry’s longest-running weekly rankings after coach Treig Burke’s club rolled to the FHSAA Class 2A state crown via a 51-32 victory over Impact Christian Academy of Jacksonville. OCP really didn’t play any close games in the post-season, and held ICA to one fourth quarter field goal after holding a 28-21 halftime lead. OCP, led by the terrific scoring duo of North Alabama-bound Omar Figueroa (14.0 ppg) and highly-touted junior A.J. Brown (14.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg), recorded a key regular season victory over Oak Ridge of Orlando on MLK Monday and captured its ninth FHSAA state title. Florida, along with Georgia and states such as Tennessee and Arizona, could really use an open division or Tournament of Champions concept to make their respective state tournaments much better.
12. (28) Houston (Germantown, Tenn.) 21-3**
This team was highly-regarded in the preseason and played up to expectations, capturing the TSSAA Class AAA title with a 62-43 victory over Cane Ridge of Antioch. The inside duo of Jonathan Lawson (16 points, 6 assists) and Jerrell Colbert (14 points, 7 rebounds) led the way in the title game. AAA Mr. Basketball and Creighton-bound Mason Miller led the team in scoring (19.1 ppg) and to a key win over No. 17 Paul VI. This team only lost to No. 6 Milton by a point (54-53), although it was no match for No. 3 IMG Academy (93-54). Houston kept moving up in the rankings after its early season in-state loss to Christian Brothers and was dominant during its state-title run. The state crown was the program’s first ever in any division since opening its doors in 1989.
13. (27) Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.) 26-3
The Goats played a national schedule and faired well against it, ending their season with a 71-59 victory over Liberty Heights of Charlotte in the Phenom HoopState Championship. Sophomore guard Robert Dillingham led the way with 32 points in the Liberty Heights victory and led a deep and talented team, along with junior guard A.J. Smith, all season long. Coach Jeff McGinnis’ club split with Moravian Prep of Hudson and split with Word of God Christian Academy of Raleigh. Combine Academy’s third loss was to a West Oaks Academy of Florida team that began the season ranked No. 6 in the FAB 50 by four points (69-65). McGinnis’ program made big waves in 2019-20 by defeating power Oak Hill Academy of Virginia (where he played), finished higher than forecasted in 2020-21 and should field another terrific team in 2021-22.
14. (BB) Westlake (Austin, Texas) 30-2
Similar to No. 11 Orlando Christian Prep, the Chaparrals are another team we wish we would have forecasted a bit higher in the preseason. Westlake opened up No. 10 in the Southwest Region, with five teams in front of them that just missed the FAB 50. Westlake defeated Atascocita of Humble in the Class 6A semifinals, 57-44, behind a game-high 21 points from Kansas-bound All-American K.J. Adams. Preston Clark, a junior forward, also stepped up with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Adams went for 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots in Westlake’s 64-48 Class 6A Region IV title game win over Clark of San Antonio. Westlake was the first Austin area team to play for a state title in the University Interscholastic League’s highest classification since Austin in 1960 and was looking to become its first large classification state champ, but fell to No. 10 Duncanville 66-53. Westlake’s only two losses of the season came against the Panthers, who now have been Texas’ top-ranked team three consecutive seasons.
15. (32) Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) 27-2
The Mustangs had one of the most talent-laden rosters we’ve ever seen in Nebraska schoolboy history, and more than one local scribe called the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) Class A state title the best Nebraska schoolboy game they ever witnessed, as Millard North held off No. 24 Bellevue West, 84-78, in overtime. McDonald’s All-American Hunter Sallis scored 25 points in a game fan waited hours in the rain out side Pinnacle Bank Arena to get in to. The Mustangs also had Old Dominion-bound Jadin Johnson, Loyola-Chicago-bound Saint Thomas and junior forward Jasen Green in the arsenal and recorded a 80-76 victory over No. 23 Oak Hill Academy. The Mustangs defeated Bellevue West two out of three contests and also fell to Creighton Prep, which beat the Mustangs by a point (76-75) and was No. 27 in the FAB 50 when it lost to Bellevue West in the state semifinals in an incredible three overtime game, 95-94. After averaging 22.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 3.8 apg, Sallis was the highest-ranked college prospect ever while Millard North is now the state’s highest-ranked FAB 50 team ever.
16. (NR) Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.) 19-0
The Wildcats are the first team in the FAB 50 we really didn’t have on our preseason radar, but they were able to shoot high in the rankings based on their undefeated mark and what transpired with the teams they beat. North Mecklenburg of Huntersville was at No. 17 in the FAB 50 before falling from the ranks of the unbeaten versus Ardrey Kell of Charlotte in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Class 4A state semifinals. Millbrook then capped off its own undefeated season with a come-from-behind 67-65 victory to break in at No. 36 and steadily move up from there as other ranked teams finished up their seasons. The Wildcats overcame a four-point deficit with under 30 seconds remaining in overtime behind junior Silas Demary Jr. He hit four three throws and came up with a steal and lay-in with four seconds remaining to give his team an improbable victory. Demary (17.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.0 apg), who had 22 points in the state final, and Louisville-bound big man Eric van der Heijden (18.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.6 apg) led the way for this club along with senior forward Redford Dunton (18.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.0 apg). Millbrook won its first state title in program history.
17. (4) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 7-4
We began the Panthers right in front of their WCAC rivals from DeMatha Catholic, but when they met twice in their last three games of the season, it was the Stags who were victorious both times. Paul VI lost the first game, 89-77, and the rematch in what turned out to be the final sanctioned game of the season, 109-107 in overtime. In between, coach Paul Farello’s club downed preseason No. 31 Gonzaga of Washington, D.C., which was only able to play two games (the second being a loss to DeMatha). Despite its limited amount of games, Paul VI played tough competition, losing two other contests to No. 12 Germantown Houston (86-72) and to No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy (73-58) in back-to-back games. There was plenty of underclass talent, but the ringleader was All-American Trevor Keels, who averaged 28.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 7.2 apg and 3.8 spg. Keels was the best player in the region and likely the WCAC Player of the Year under normal circumstances.
18. (49) St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 25-2
St. V’s began as the second-to-last team from the Midwest Region in the FAB 50 and made a steady climb up. Coach Dru Joyce’s club was able to crack the Top 25 after capturing the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division II state crown with a 72-50 victory over St. Francis DeSales of Columbus. The Fightin’ Irish lost to Moeller of Cincinnati (preseason FAB 50 No. 18) in thier second game and the only other loss was a 73-56 setback to No. 4 DeMatha Catholic and neither hurt their final ranking. St. V’s also defeated Ohio D1 state champ and No. 49 Centerville, but does have to stay behind No. 17 Paul VI because that club took DeMatha into overtime. St. V’s outscored DeSales, 44-17, in the second half of its state title game and got a monster final game from Ohio Mr. Basketball and All-American forward Malaki Branham. He netted 37 points and finished his senior season with averages of 21.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 1.8 spg. Joyce captured his sixth state crown in 20 seasons, including the 2002-03 LeBron James-led team that won the FAB 50 national title.
19. (NR) Reading (Reading, Pa.) 26-2
The Red Knights made all of Berks County proud when they captured the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 6A crown with a come-from-behind victory over No. 25 Archbishop Wood. Wood just continued to grind away at a double-digit deficit, but Reading sealed the 58-57 victory after Joey Chapman stole a Wood inbounds pass with 3.2 seconds remaining after his turnover game a previously unbeaten team one more chance to win the prior possession. Leading the way for the Red Knights was senior Moro Osumanu, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds that he scored on. Junior Daniel Alcantara also had a terrific all-around effort in the state title game with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. In a year in which it looked like the Reading school board may cancel the season, the Red Knights made most of their opportunity, capturing their second Class 6A title in four years. Reading only lost to one opponent, regionally ranked Wilson of West Lawn, and beat that club, 66-58 when it counted in the District 3 title game after losing to the Bulldogs in the Berks Conference title game.
20. (38) Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) 14-1
The Celtics, an independent program after their removal from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association last December, had a terrific season despite the ensuing controversy. Patrick School coaches and officials felt its program was being singled out for fielding more than one varsity team after a June 2020 ruling that prohibited any member program from operating a team outside the NJSIAA’s jurisdiction. The program operates a post-graduate team in addition to the one that previously captured six New Jersey TOC crowns, the latest coming in 2017 when the Celtics finished No. 9 in the FAB 50. This year’s deep and talented unit wouldn’t have had a chance to capture another TOC crown since there was no post-season, but the Celtics were the state’s second best team. Led by junior guard Zion Cruz and senior big man Samson Johnson, Patrick School only lost to Bergen Catholic and defeated quality Garden State clubs such as Don Bosco Prep, Gill St. Bernard’s and Roselle Catholic.
21. (NR) Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) 26-2
We had the Greyhounds on our preseason radar, but should have given them more credence. After all, they captured a section title with a young core in 2019-20 before COVID-19 canceled the remainder of the season. Coach Ryan Osborn group stayed the course and was mentally focused throughout 2020-21, capturing the Class 4A state crown with a 51-46 overtime victory over No. 29 Lawrence North at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. A big difference was the free throw shooting, as Carmel canned 20-of-25, while Lawrence North made only 6-of-17 from the line. Carmel’s Brian Waddell, a senior, had 20 points and 10 rebounds while junior Josh Whack came up with 11 crucial points, including 7-of-8 made free throws in the fourth period and overtime. For Carmel, its a second Class 4A title in three seasons (it finished No. 15 in the 2019-20 FAB 50), and with juniors Pete Suder, Charlie Williams and Whack returning, along with sophomore Sam Orme, look for another deep playoff run in 2021-22.
22. (BB) Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 21-2
We had this Huskies club on our radar in the preseason as they came in No. 13 in the West, with four clubs above them in line for one of the final spots in the FAB 50. This young club exceeded expectations, capturing the CIF Southern Section Open Division crown with a 80-72 victory over then state No. 1 Sierra Canyon. The CIF began its season in the spring and with the NCAA sanctioned live June scholastic period looming, the Huskies withdrew from the overlapping SoCal regional tournament. Centennial lost one playoff pool play contest to Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood without the services of Kylan Boswell and lost to No. 32 Torrey Pines early in the season. Had the Falcons captured the SoCal open regional crown, they would have finished in this range and Centennial lower, but they lost in the final to an Etiwanda club that split with Sierra Canyon. That allowed Centennial to finish No. 1 in the state for the first time ever in program history and become the first team ever from Riverside County to earn that distinction. Centennial follows the now legendary 2015-16 FAB 50 champ Chino Hills team as the second California No. 1 from the greater Inland Empire. What makes that so impressive is Boswell was one of four sophomore starters, while the most highly-honored player in the lineup was junior guard Donovan Dent.
23. (12) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 21-9
This legendary program under coach Steve Smith began the season with the program’s lowest ranking since 1988-89 (when it came in unranked) and its finish is tied with the 2012-13 Oak Hill Academy club for lowest final ranking in that time frame. That 2012-13 club finished 33-6 and even though this club has a high loss count, five of those were to either No. 1 Montverde Academy or No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy in NIBC play. The Warriors also lost to two of three to No. 8 Wasatch Academy, to AZ Compass Prep of Arizona and to No. 15 Millard North. Led by underclass All-Americans M.J. Rice (18 points) and Caleb Foster (23 points), Oak Hill defeated No. 39 Pace Academy in the first round of GEICO Nationals, 84-77.
24. (NR) Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 24-3
It was a terrific season for the Thunderbirds, who along with No. 15 Millard North and Creighton Prep of Omaha, gave Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) hoop fans something to be proud of on a national scale. Creighton Prep defeated Millard North during the regular season and Millard North defeated Bellevue West two out of three times. The Thunderbirds won one of the regular season contests, 81-69, after losing the first tilt, 94-91 in two overtimes. Millard North was able to finish as the highest tanked of the trio, despite the loss to Creighton Prep, by defeating the Thunderbirds in the Class A state title game, 84-78, despite 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists from All-American Chucky Hepburn in his final game. In 2019-20, Bellevue West defeated Millard North in the state title game, 64-62, after ending the game on a 16-0 run. Creighton Prep was No. 27 in the FAB 50 when Bellevue West outlasted that club in the state semifinals, 95-94, in three overtimes as the Wisconsin-bound Hepburn (23 points) and Frankie Fidler (32 points) led the way. Bellevue West didn’t fall much in the rankings despite failing to repeat as state champions because of the regular season win over eventual Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A champ and No. 26 Waukee Senior.
25. (9) Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) 19-1
The Vikings were a solid FAB 50 title contender in the preseason, but that forecast was somewhat tempered with the travel restrictions in place for the 2020-21 season. Wood didn’t play an out-of-state foe, but still put forth a memorable season that came up one game short. With a veteran club that returned all five starters, Wood won the Philadelphia Catholic League crown with a 68-59 victory over Roman Catholic, but fell in the PIAA Class 6A state final to No. 19 Reading, 58-57. All-American and four-year standout Rashool Diggins (UConn) led a comeback that got as close to one-point after his final 3-pointer after trialing by seven points with 3:23 remaining in the contest. Diggins made four 3-pointers and finished with 26 points and four steals, while Marcus Randolph contributed nine points, five assists and four steals. Diggins scored less as a senior (16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.7 spg, 1.1 bpg, 6.7 dpg), but improved his all-around game and was named Pennsylvania Class 6A POY as well at Catholic League POY for the second consecutive season.
26. (41) Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa) 16-2
Similar to No. 15 Millard North, the Warriors had a star-studded lineup that was looking to erase the memory of last year’s state final. In the 2020 Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A title game, Waukee lost to underdog Ankeny and in this year’s championship game trailed Johnston by ten points early. Waukee then picked it up in the second half, outscoring Johnston 16-7 in the third period and 20-11 in the final one to win, 61-50. Drake-bound Tucker DeVries scored a game-high 18 points and had six rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Omaha Biliew added 16 points and six rebounds, while Iowa-bound Payton Sandfort chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds. With their second win over Johnston in three games, the Warriors claimed the program’s first-ever state title. Nebraska Class A runner-up and No. 24 Bellevue West handed Waukee its other loss (74-60), which prevents the Warriors from cracking the final Top 25. In the state semifinals, Ames was no match for Waukee (71-36), while Johnston upset previously unbeaten and No. 1 seed Cedar Falls, 64-51.
27. (BB) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 9-1**
The Saints were one of the preseason bubble clubs from the East Region considered for the FAB 50 and we’ll just never know how good this team could have been with a normal slate of games. Coach Carl Arrigale felt like his club should have beat No. 25 Wood, but a missed foul shot was a key difference in the 80-79 overtime loss in the second game of the season. Goretti’s season was cut short by COVID-19 protocols that kept them out of the post-season while the eligibility of senior Blaise Vespe (who ended up playing six games) also hung a cloud over the season. Senior guard Hysier Miller (18.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.4 apg, 3.0 spg) and senior pivot Zaakir Williamson (15.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) had terrific seasons for a team that would have finished a couple of spots higher had Wood not been upset in the PIAA Class 6A state title game.
28. (NR) Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 31-0
Our correspondents in Texas always do a terrific job, but the Timberwolves truly were one of the Cinderella stories of the season, and the glass slipper never came off. Coach David Green’s club capped an unbeaten season with a 71-70 overtime victory over Kimball of Dallas in the UIL Class 5A state title game. Beaumont United didn’t clinch its crown until junior forward Terrance Arceneaux hit a buzzer-beating jumpshot. He had a plethora of big plays that kept the Timberwolves in range, as he finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and nine blocks. No. 14 Westlake was able to stay ranked ahead of the Timberwolves because of the better overall competition in Class 6A and because that team’s only two losses were to No. 10 Duncanville. In addition to Arceneaux (20.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.5 spg, 4.0 bpg), sophomore guard Wesley Yates III (14.5 ppg, 2.4 apg, 3.5 spg) and sophomore forward Trealyn Porchia (14.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.1 spg) stepped up throughout the season for a team that could be just as good as any Class 6A team in 2021-22.
29. (NR) Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) 28-3
The Wildcats moved up a spot in the final rankings and came up just one game short of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A crown, falling to No. 21 Carmel, 51-46, in overtime. Coach Jack Keefer’s club got into the FAB 50 mix right away with a one-point victory over Moeller of Cincinnati (preseason No. 18) in its third game and advanced to the state final with a 54-52 victory over South of Bloomington. Indiana-bound C.J. Gunn had 26 points in the Wildcats’ state tourney opener, had 18 in the state final loss and averaged over 14 ppg in the post-season. Point guard Shamar Avance, the Marion County Player of the Year, averaged 17.3 ppg and 4.4 apg for a club that lost twice to Carmel with its other loss to highly-regarded Homestead. That club was ranked No. 15 in the FAB 50 until it fell to Carmel in a regional semifinal contest with the two clubs were ranked 1-2 in the state’s Class 4A poll.
30. (NR) Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 14-2
It’s ironic in the season when the Eagles finally got over the hump and won their first SoCal open title they weren’t able to participate in their CIF state championship game after the California Interscholastic Federation canceled the NorCal regional and state finals. Still, the Eagles exercised some demons by capturing their first regional championship in school history with a 68-65 win over No. 32 Torrey Pines in the SoCal open final. Etiwanda had a 0-5 record in regional final games under veteran coach Dave Kleckner prior to this season. Tennessee-bound Jahmai Mashack and senior Marcus Green had big outings versus Torrey Pines, scoring 21 and 22 points, respectively. Similar to No. 22 Centennial, “Clamp City” lost a regular season game to Harvard-Westlake and also knocked off No. 40 Sierra Canyon, 82-76, in the regional semifinals after losing to the Trailblazers by the same score in CIFSS open pool play. Mashack (16.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 5.6 apg) was named Cal-Hi Sports State Senior of the Year after his dominant playoff run and forward Darvelle Wyatt also earned all-state laurels.
31. (NR) Victory Rock Prep (Bradenton, Fla.) 27-6
Teams in the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association traditionally play games on the Grind Session and league play is tough, so many times its top-ranked team has more losses than teams in its FAB 50 range. That is the case with the Blue Devils, which captured the SIAA title with a 93-77 victory over The Rock School of Gainesville. The big win for Victory Rock came in the semifinals when it beat the Central Pointe Christian of Kissimmee club it lost to twice during the regular season when that club was No. 26 in the FAB 50. Point guard Kevin “Boopie” Miller led the way in the playoffs, netting 29 points, four rebounds and eight assists in the SIAA title game, 31 points and seven assists in the big win over Central Pointe Christian and 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the quarterfinal win over Downey Christian.
32. (NR) Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.) 30-1
In the playoffs this team looked like one of destiny as it eyed an undefeated season while being the first San Diego County team to finish No. 1 in California in the modern era. Torrey Pines was drawing comparisons to the best team ever from the CIF San Diego Section (1969-70 Bill Walton led Helix of La Mesa), but that came crashing down and the Falcons dropped nine spots in the final rankings after losing to No. 30 Etiwanda, 68-65, in the SoCal open championship game on its home floor. Torrey Pines was down, 44-27, at halftime before making a spirited comeback that just fell short. Despite losing the last game of the season, it was still a memorable one for veteran coach John Olive’s club, as his club defeated No. 22 Centennial early in the season and became the first county team to advance to the major division SoCal regional final. St. Mary’s-bound guard Chris Howell did a bit of everything for this club on both ends of the floor and Cal-St. Northridge-bound Nick Herrmann was the leading scorer and playoff hero who previously overcame cancer.
33. (22) Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) 2-0
The Bucs, and independent program that doesn’t compete for a state crown, have made a commitment to carry only traditional four-year players without any post-graduates. They had a Top 25 caliber team, but because of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, were only able to play two sanctioned games before they were unable to continue with their season. We decided to keep coach Joseph Mantegna’s club (which had nine lettermen back and two talented transfers) in the final rankings. There was a couple of other ranked teams that played only a few games, but the ones that lost fell out of the rankings. Coach Steve Turner of Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. really felt he had a Top 25 club, but finished 0-2 with losses to No. 4 DeMatha and No. 17 Paul VI. Some of the top teams in the preseason that didn’t get a season include Bishop Gorman of Nevada, Coronado of Nevada, Poly of Maryland and John Marshall of Virginia.
34. (NR) Clinton (Clinton, Miss.) 21-1
Harrison Central of Gulfport got the preseason nod as Mississippi’s top team, but it was the Arrows that emerged as the top team in the state, knocking off the Red Rebels in the Class 6A semifinals, 59-53. Clinton then took down defending 6A state champ Starkville, 56-51, in the state championship game. Junior wing Khmani Hamilton had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the Starkville win and helped put the Arrows in the title game with 22 points in the semifinal win over Harrison Central. Allen Hughes, another junior, had 16 points vs. Starkville. Clinton, which lost one game to Vicksburg in overtime, beat Starkville (21-3) twice during the season and won its first state crown since 1992-93.
35. (NR) Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.) 31-7
The White Tigers have an excellent resume to be in the FAB 50 despite losing to No. 31 Victory Rock Prep in the SIAA semifinals. It was the only game coach Richie Dalmau’s club lost against a foe from the talent-laden conference. All of Central Pointe Christian’s other losses were to Grind Session teams with the expection of a 67-52 setback to No. 3 IMG Academy. The team was led by SIAA MVP and Illinois-bound Ramses Melendez and junior big man Jeremy Foumena and saw its season come to a close in the second round of the Grind Session World Championships to Dream City Christian of Arizona, 65-56.
36. (BB) Grand Blanc (Grand Blanc, Mich.) 15-2
The Bobcats began the season No. 15 in the Midwest Region, but proved to be better than that once the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) D1 playoffs got underway. Grand Blanc lost to Flint Carman-Ainsworth and to Orchard Lake St. Mary Prep during the regular season, but downed St. Mary in the D1 quarterfinals, 58-53, when the Eaglets were No. 16 in the FAB 50. The Bobcats then downed Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 68-58, in the semifinals before meeting then No. 44 Ann Arbor Huron at the Breslin Center for all the marbles. The Bobcats defeated their second unbeaten FAB 50 ranked team in three games, 45-36, as R.J. Taylor (15 points) and Timonte Boyd (12 points) scored just enough to hold off Huron. St. Mary Prep lost at the wrong time because Huron needs to be ranked ahead of that club because it made it to the state final unbeaten.
37. (NR) Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.) 26-6
The Patriots were battled tested during the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) regular season and were confident going into the Class AAAAAAA title game versus No. 6 Milton, a team they lost to during the regular season. The pressure of holding off the Eagles proved to be too much, as Berkmar missed crucial free throws down the stretch that allowed Milton to pull out a 52-47 victory. Berkmar was able to avenge a regular season loss to McEachern of Powder Springs with a 59-58 state semifinal victory. Of the teams it lost to, Berkmar was able to split with Norcross. Led by juniors, Malique Ewin, a center, and Jameel Rideout, a guard, Berkmar was able to land in the final FAB 50 despite the tough state final loss because it recorded a 66-47 regular season win over eventual Class AAAAAA state champ Wheeler of Marietta.
38. (7) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) 15-1
In a normal season, the Panthers would have been FAB 50 title contenders. After all, they were coming on three consecutive Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) titles and had a talent-laden, veteran roster. They fell a bit in the rankings before playing a sanctioned game because of results when they played as a quasi-travel team. However, when the regular season began St. Frances Academy ran roughshod through the BCL behind the play of guard Byron Ireland, Maryland-bound forward Julian Reese and National Freshman Player of the Year Derik Queen. The Panthers were one game away from a fourth consecutive BCL crown before it all came crashing down in a 66-62 overtime title game loss to five-loss John Carroll of Bel Air. Ireland (20 points) was able to send the game into overtime on a 3-pointer right before the regulation buzzer, but the Panthers did not score again. John Carroll became just the second No. 6 seed to win the title and prevented St. Frances Academy from becoming the first undefeated BCL championship team since 1981-82, when Calvert Hall captured the mythical national crown with a 34-0 mark. We decided to keep St. Frances Academy in the rankings because of their overall season success, which included a regular season win over John Carroll.
39. (26) Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.) 28-2
The Knights played to the level expected of them in the preseason and fulfilled more than one season goal. After losing thier season opener to Sandy Creek of Tyrone (preseason No. 46), coach Sharman White’s crew rolled off 28 consecutive wins, culminating the winning streak with a 73-42 win over Columbia of Decatur in the GHSA Class AA state title game. It was the second consecutive season the Knights defeated Columbia in the state title game after taking the AAA crown in 2019-20. Event organizers for GEICO Nationals then chose to take No. 6 Milton and the Knights for their end-of-season event instead of choosing one over the other and Pace Academy wound up falling to No. 23 Oak Hill Academy, 84-77. McDonald’s All-American Matthew Cleveland had 30 points and eight rebounds in his final game and ended the season averaging 23 ppg.
40. (17) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 16-2
The Trailblazers’ string of three consecutive seasons as California’s top-ranked team came to an end when they fell to No. 30 Etiwanda, 82-76, in the SoCal open semifinals. Coach Andre Chevalier’s club defeated the Eagles by the same score to advance to the CIF Southern Section Open Division title game. Sierra Canyon lost to No. 22 Centennial in that game, 80-72. Perhaps Sierra Canyon would have had an outside chance to hop in front of Centennial (which opted out of the regional tournament) in the rankings had it beat Etiwanda for a second time and No. 32 Torrey Pines to win its fourth consecutive open regional crown. After coming up two games short, however, that decision wasn’t necessary to make. Sierra Canyon battled injuries and line up changes, but as long as junior and eventual Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honoree Amari Bailey (29.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 6.5 apg) was in the lineup, this team had a chance against any in-state foe.
41. (NR) Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 22-1
The Stags lost their only game to our preseason No. 1 Kansas team (Blue Valley Northwest of Overland Park), but that club lost in the Class 6A playoffs. Meanwhile, Miege rolled to the Class 4A state crown in dominant fashion, defeating Louisburg, 94-40, in the state title game. Three-year starter and four year standout Harrison Braudis led the way with 22 points, as Miege was highly motivated after last year’s state tournament was canceled following its quarterfinal victory because of COVID-19. Junior forward Taj Manning also had a big night with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Braudis was on the team when Miege won a state crown in 2018. The program has now won four state titles in six years, including three in a row from 2016-18, and six overall.
42. (NR) Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) 24-3
The Panthers had a terrific campaign, defeating Dwyer of Palm Beach Gardens, 54-46, to claim the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 7A state crown. Also helping Dr. Phillips move into the rankings after winning their state crown was avenging a loss to talented Oak Ridge of Orlando in the semifinals. Although they were no match for No. 1 Montverde Academy (76-37), the Panthers only lost the first Oak Ridge game by two points (49-47) and its next game to West Orange of Winter Garden by a point (48-47). Denzel Aberdeen led the way for coach Ben Witherspoon’s club with 27 points. It was the first ever state title game victory for a program that should be even better in 2021-22 with Aberdeen, big man Ernest Udeh Jr., and Riley Kugel and nine lettermen total returning.
43. (NR) Manasquan (Manasquan, N.J.) 12-0
Unfortunately, the Warriors have been unable to compete for the New Jersey TOC, but it’s certainly not because they haven’t been talented enough to. Manasquan captured its second consecutive NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title, but not without an emotional toll along the way. The program had to pause for two weeks early in the season because of COVID-19 protocols, then on February 9 Andrew and Matt Solomon lost their father Larry to COVID-19 complications. At the close of the season, coach Andrew Bilodeau missed the last seven games after contracting the virus and experiencing heart problems. Junior Ben Roy (24 ppg) went over 1,000 career points in the win over Don Bosco Prep and Manasquan also had a win over state-ranked Montclair Immaculate. Fittingly, the season ended on a Roy pass to Andrew Solomon with 1.4 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 58-56 win over Marlboro in the Shore Conference title game.
44. (NR) Kingfisher (Kingfisher, Okla.) 25-1
The Yellowjackets finished as the top ranked team in Oklahoma after winning the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSA) Class 4A state crown. Kingfisher won its second state crown in three seasons with a 59-39 victory over Heritage Hall of Oklahoma City at State Fair Arena. The Yellowjackets were not only talented, but had plenty of incentive after suffering their only loss of 2019-20 to Heritage Hall in the state title game. Heritage Hall came into this year’s title game unbeaten and with the confidence of a 43-point semifinal win, but were held to four first-quarter points. Jett Sternberger led the way for Kingfisher with 19 points, while three of the team’s seven scorers in that game were sophomores. Its only loss came to preseason state No. 1 Edmond Memorial.
45. (NR) Huron (Ann Arbor, Mich.) 20-1**
The River Rats were at No. 44 in the rankings when they took on Grand Blanc for the MHSAA D1 state crown. Huron led after three quarters, 40-39, but could only muster six points in the final period and suffered its first and only loss of the season, 45-36. Huron’s stout defense was its usual self, holding Grand Blanc to 12-of-43 shooting from the field, but its offense never got on track. Devin Womack made 8-of-17 shots and finished with 18 points, but was the over River Rat to hit double figures. The nature of Huron’s only loss dropped it two spots after the result and the team moved back up one slot after all the games were completed around the country. We also strongly considered MHSAA D2 state champ Grand Rapids Catholic Central (20-0) for a spot in the final rankings.
46. (NR) Sunnyslope (Phoenix, Ariz.) 21-1
The pecking order was easy to establish in the Grand Canyon State among Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) champions, even though the best teams all play in different divisions. The AIA would benefit from an open division or Tournament of Champions, but coach Ray Portela’s club was a cinch No. 1 after capturing the AIA Class 6A crown with a 63-62 win over Mountain Pointe of Phoenix, our preseason AIA No. 1. Sunnyslope, which was led by junior guard Oakland Fort (15 ppg) and saw Portela earn National Coach of the Year honors, only lost in overtime to Mesa and handed Class 4A champ St. Mary’s of Pheonix its only loss. St Mary’s in turn handed Class 5A champ Catalina Foothills of Tucson its only setback. Sunnyslope moved into the FAB 50 at No. 48 and rose two spots after every state completed its season.
47. (BB) North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 21-2
The Charging Wildcats opened up right outside of the FAB 50 as Arkansas’ top-rated team and were able to live up to their advance billing when it mattered most in the Class 6A title game. North Little Rock lost to Little Rock Central 80-73 and 75-67 in Central Conference play, but turned the tables in the state title game with a 65-55 victory. Senior guard D.J. Smith and 7-foot junior center Kel’el Ware combined to score 45 points to lead the Charging Wildcats to an avenging victory. In 2018-19, Little Rock Central captured the state crown while last year’s 6A final was canceled due to COVID-19. North Little Rock coach Johnny Rice, who now has five state titles under his belt, called this one the most special after his team outscored Little Rock Central, 19-8, in the fourth quarter to pull out the come-from-behind victory.
48. (NR) Wauwatosa East (Wauwatosa, Wis.) 23-3
The Red Raiders pulled away late in a nip-and-tuck affair with top seeded Kimberly in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) D1 state title game. At halftime, the Papermakers led 27-26, but Wauwatosa East went on a 13-0 third quarter run to pull out a 62-44 victory. After taking control, the Red Raiders pounded it inside and finished the game with 40 paint points. Alex Singleton led the way for Wauwatosa East, which only lost to one team on its schedule it did not beat and that was by two points (Waunakee). The program won its third state crown; the others coming in 2008 and 1991.
49. (NR) Centerville (Centerville, Ohio) 26-3
The Elks put together a terrific resume en route to the coveted OHSAA D1 state championship. Centerville defeated Westerville Central in the state title game by one point, 43-42. Its resume was also bolstered by handing Mentor its first loss of the season, when it was No. 33 in the FAB 50, in the state semifinals, 63-49. A round earlier, the Elks avenged one of its three losses with a 40-38 victory over D1 state power Moeller of Cincinnati. Coach Brook Cupps’ club also split with Miamisburg but must finish a few notches behind D2 state champ and No. 18 St. Vincent-St. Mary after losing to that club, 74-66. Gabe Cupps had 16 points in the win over Westerville Central after Tom House had a big game in the semifinals with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
50. (NR) Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.) 19-2
We considered a host of clubs for the final spot in the FAB 50, particularly Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 3 champ St. Catherine’s of Racine and Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Class 4A state champ St. Mary’s of Pheonix, both of whom lost one game this season. In the end, we go with the Trojans, who captured the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Class AAAA crown with a 75-61 victory over Cretin-Durham Hall of St. Paul. Junior guards Drew Berkland and Camden Heide scored 19 and 17 points, receptively, while senior guard Eddie Beeninga added 16 for the Trojans. During the regular season Wayzata split games with traditional state power Hopkins of Minnetonka and fell to No. 7 Minnehaha Academy, 70-63. This program has now won 99 state titles in all sports, and the win over Cretin-Durham Hall game it its first in boys basketball.