This was the most difficult, and most anticipated, in-season FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com in many years after the completion of the holiday tournaments. When the dust settled, there are a whopping 15 newcomers to the first rankings update of 2023, but No. 1 remains the same. Read on to see why the Panthers of Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) remain No. 1 and why it's about them remaining No. 1 in the coming weeks that is key. The newcomers are led by No. 19 West Linn (West Linn, Ore.), which handed defending FAB 50 champ Duncanville (Texas) its first loss in a calendar year.
By Ronnie Flores
Despite a plethora of of results from all over the country following the holiday tournament season, the third edition of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com for the 2022-23 season shows Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) maintaining its No. 1 spot despite a third place finish in the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. That event was captured by No. 5 Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) with a 61-44 victor over No. 11 Columbus (Miami, Fla.), the team that defeated Paul VI in the semifinals.
Imhotep Charter's Florida Gulf Coast-bound point guard Rahmir Barno made all of his three 3-point attempts and finished with 21 points, while Kentucky-bound forward Justin Edwards added 16 points and six rebounds in the title game win. The margin of victory over Columbus helps the defending PIAA Class 5A state champs move up five spots in the latest FAB 50 update, despite later taking a 65-55 loss to No. 25 Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) at the Jumpman Classic in the Bronx, N.Y. Unlike many years ago, taking an early-season loss doesn't put a team out of FAB 50 title contention.
Let's take a look at why Paul VI remains No. 1:
What's Coming Up Is Important
For the Panthers, it's not about being No. 1. They certainly have the talent and resume for that. It's about remaining No. 1. It's alot easier to get there than to stay there. That's why what No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) has accomplished in recent seasons is so impressive. When you're on top, every team is gunning for you and a win over a top-ranked team can make a team's season.
Paul VI not only has wins over No. 13 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), 63-61, and No. 15 Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas), 64-58, it blasted No. 16 Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.), 87-52, and No. 36 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 75-47. On top of that, the Panthers' conference is so strong. They'll have to defeat No. 8 St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) and No. 9 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) games, not to mention bubble clubs DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) and Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), to stay on top. If the Panthers survive their WCAC regular season slate and defeat No. 26 Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) on January 15, they'll have the resume of a season-ending No. 1 team. Then they'll still have to win the WCAC playoff tournament, their own state tournament and likely beat tough teams at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational.
Camden (N.J.) comes in at No. 2 this week for the same reason. Since its season in New Jersey starts much later than other clubs, it's about what is coming down the line. Camden takes on Columbus on January 4 in Florida and faces No. 20 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) two nights later. The Panthers also take on the No. 14 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) club Don Bosco Prep just defeated and No. 40 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) at the Spalding Hoophall Classic, Jan. 14-16. There is a game reportedly getting finalized with Imhotep Charter as well.
That means the top of the rankings will take care of itself. If Camden defeats the Columbus club Paul VI lost to and remains unbeaten throughout the regular season, D.J. Wagner and company will have one impressive resume.
Doing The Research On Top Teams
One of the main reasons Paul VI remains No. 1 is the schedule it had coming into the season and how good the team is. If we didn't think coach Glenn Farello's club was one of the best in the country, we wouldn't have started them No. 3 in the preseason. Seeing No. 8 St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) remain unbeaten by capturing the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in Del Mar, Calif., and realizing the Cadets could finish No. 3 or No. 4 in the WCAC standings and still have a solid season is eye-opening because they have a fine team. Similar to the teams in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC), it's extremely difficult to win each conference game and the teams don't just automatically drop far down after a loss. On the flip side, it's not that easy for a team to just come out of nowhere and appear in the Top 10.
Most of the country's top teams have taken a loss or started later and are just now getting into the meat of their schedule. That's why teams such as No. 6 Link Academy (Branson, Mo.), No. 7 John Marshall (Richmond, Va.) and No. 18 Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) get nice bumps up as unbeaten clubs. John Marshall also defeated Columbus, with the Justices' 50-47 victory coming in the Chick-fil-A Classic (Columbia, S.C.) American Bracket semifinals. In the final, John Marshall downed No. 13 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), 68-55, as North Carolina State-bound guard Dennis Parker netted a game-high 22 points, while junior point guard Damon "Redd" Thompson Jr. scored 17 points and was named tourney MVP.
Scheduling Is Paramount
It would have been interesting if previous No. 6 Duncanville (Texas) would have defeated No. 19 West Linn (Ore.) in the championship game of the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Ore., because the defending FAB 50 champs had more quality wins in November and December than any other team. The 24 points and 12 rebound of Mr. Basketball USA candidate Ronald Holland was not enough to offset a scintillating performance by Oregon-bound point guard Jackson Shelstad. He scored a game-high 30 points, including 12-of-13 from the charity stripe, and had eight rebounds. For the tournament, in which West Linn downed No. 37 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) in the semifinals, 86-69, Shelstad averaged 33 ppg, including a 38-point performance against the Trailblazers.
Duncanville scheduled to compete for the FAB 50 title and it's reflected in its current ranking. The Panthers drop four spots to No. 10, and remain nine spots ahead of West Linn, because you can't ignore their other quality wins. Duncanville has defeated No. 11 Columbus, No. 14 Centennial and No. 15 Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas), among others. Should West Linn continue to win, the gap between it and Duncanville will shrink. It would also bode well for West Linn if Sierra Canyon would defeat No. 13 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) at the Chosen 1's Invitational this weekend in Southern California at USC's Galen Center. Wheeler owns a win over Centennial.
The same holds true for the gap between No. 16 Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) and No. 3 Montverde Academy should the Gaels continue to win in the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL). We're at the point where every single head-to-head result can't put the winner in front of the loser. That result, however, becomes more important as we reach the season's finish line.
Parity Is Good
There might not be a super team or all-time great like the 2019-20 Montverde Academy club, and that's okay. We mentioned that in the preseason and it's actually a good thing. Long gone are the days in the early years of the National Prep Poll (FAB 50 precursor) that began in 1987-88 where many of the top 10 teams finished unbeaten. There are more programs than ever that feel they have a legitimate shot at the FAB 50 title by finishing No. 1 and there is truth in that sentiment. As long as those teams schedule as if they are playing for No. 1 and have the talent and coaching to win the games on that schedule, then the results usually take care of rest.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
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(3rd poll of 2022-23 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, Jan. 1; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)||9-1|
|2||7||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||7-0|
|3||2||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||9-2|
|4||4||AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.)||10-2|
|5||10||Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)||9-1|
|6||11||Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)||14-0|
|7||16||John Marshall (Richmond, Va.)||10-0|
|8||18||St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)||12-0|
|9||23||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||11-0|
|10||6||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||15-1|
|11||12||Columbus (Miami, Fla.)||10-3|
|12||9||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||9-2|
|13||14||Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)||8-4|
|14||8||Centennial (Corona, Calif.)||11-3|
|15||15||Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas)||15-3|
|16||20||Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)||10-2|
|17||17||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||6-1|
|18||24||Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)||12-0|
|19||NR||West Linn (West Linn, Ore.)||10-0|
|20||NR||Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)||7-0|
|21||13||Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)||16-1|
|22||27||Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.)||6-1|
|23||28||Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.)||15-0|
|24||31||Centerville (Centerville, Ohio)||9-1|
|25||25||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||7-2|
|26||5||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)||1-3|
|27||3||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||7-2|
|28||29||Simeon (Chicago, Ill.)||12-0|
|29||49||Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.)||17-0|
|30||NR||Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)||17-1|
|31||NR||DME Academy (Daytona Beach, Fla.)||11-4**|
|32||34||West Ranch (Valencia, Calif.)||15-1|
|33||NR||Kell (Marietta, Ga.)||12-1|
|34||NR||Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. Va.)||10-5|
|35||NR||Liberty (Henderson, Nev.)||8-5|
|36||NR||Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)||12-2|
|37||37||The Rock (Gainesville, Fla.)||18-5|
|38||NR||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||13-3|
|39||NR||Central Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)||14-0|
|40||22||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)||8-4|
|41||38||Christ School (Arden, N.C.)||18-1|
|42||45||Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)||6-0|
|43||39||La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)||7-3|
|44||42||Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas)||15-2**|
|45||50||Staley (Kansas City, Mo.)||6-0|
|46||NR||Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.)||17-0|
|47||NR||Olympic (Charlotte, N.C.)||14-0|
|48||NR||Park Center (Brooklyn Park, Minn.)||5-0|
|49||NR||Lake City (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)||9-0|
|50||NR||Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)||5-0|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 19 Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.), No. 21 Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio), No. 26 Jackson-Reed (Washington, D.C.), No. 30 Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.), No. 32 Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah), No. 33 Isidore Newman (New Orleans, La.), No. 35 Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.), No. 36 Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), No. 40 Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.), No. 41 George Rogers Clark (Winchester, Ky.), No. 43 Pewaukee (Pewaukee, Wis.), No. 44 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), No. 46 Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.), No. 47 Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.), No. 48 Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Bubble Teams: American Fork (American Fork, Utah) 9-3; Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 5-4; Baldwin (Baldwin, N.Y.) 7-0; Belleville East (Belleville, Ill.) 12-1; Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 9-0; Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.) 16-1; Bentonville West (Centerton, Ark.) 13-1; Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) 10-1; Broken Arrow (Broken Arrow, Okla.) 8-0; Brownsburg (Brownsburg, Ind.) 10-1; Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 5-7; Carter (Dallas, Texas) 17-2; Chambers (Charlotte, N.C.) 10-3; Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 6-2; Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 7-6; Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah) 10-2; Curtis (University Place, Wash.) 10-2; DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 9-3; Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.) 13-2; Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-3; Eagle’s Landing (McDonough, Ga.) 14-0; Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.) 10-2; Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.) 7-0; Isidore Newman (New Orleans, La.) 16-2; Jackson-Reed (Washington, D.C.) 12-2; Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 12-2; Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.) 12-2; Kimball (Kimball, Texas) 14-2; Lancaster (Lancaster, S.C.) 12-1; MacArthur (Decatur, Ill.) 14-0; Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, La.) 12-0; Milton (Milton, Ga.) 11-2; Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) 10-3; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 12-2; North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.) 12-1; Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 13-7; Oak Park (Kansas City, Mo.) 10-1; O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.) 8-2; Penn (Wishawaka, Ind.) 7-1; Pinson Valley (Pinson, Ala.) 14-0; Putnam City North (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 11-0; Rolling Meadows (Rolling Meadows, Ill.) 16-1; Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 8-1; Sacred Heart Griffin (Springfield, Ill.) 11-0; Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) 10-3; St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) 12-3; St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 8-1; Totino-Grace (Fridley, Minn.) 3-2; UOD Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.) 5-0; Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 11-0; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 8-4; Westlake (Austin, Texas) 21-2; Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 13-4; Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.) 12-2.
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 23 years ago.