NEW FAB 50: Who’s No. 1 Now?

Preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) drops its first game of the season to No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and now all top three preseason ranked teams have lost one game to each other. So when the dust settles, which team is the best choice to be the current No. 1 in the second edition of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com for the 2021-22 season? Read on to see why that answer is Montverde Academy.  The highest ranked among four newcomers is No. 14 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.).

By Ronnie Flores

When the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) announced its full slate of games for the 2021-22 season, it was pretty evident it was not going to be easy for any team to run through the gauntlet of games unbeaten. This past weekend the NIBC hosted its first weekend of conference games and already the top ranked teams from the eight-team conference, who came in as the top three units in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, already have one loss each and stand at 2-1 in conference play.

It started on Thursday when No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) downed No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 68-62, as Mark Mitchell had 22 points and five rebounds and Gradey Dick added 20 points in the statement win. IMG Academy bounced back in a major way the next evening by knocking off No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), 65-64, on a put back of his own missed shot with three seconds remaining by IMG guard Keyonte George. Jarace Walker had 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for the victorious Ascenders, while Dariq Whitehead had 31 points in a losing effort. On Saturday, Montverde Academy was able to bounce back as well with a 53-44 victory over Sunrise Christian, as Whitehead led the way with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

With all three teams with one loss and a 2-1 mark in conference play, it raises the question who is now No. 1?

There is no simple answer, unless you give unequal weight to particular wins and losses. It’s always been our strategy over the years in compiling national rankings to give equal weight to key wins and losses and to let the results on the court dictate the pecking order as much as possible. A simple answer would naturally be to elevate No. 4 Camden (N.J.) or No. 5 Duncanville (Texas) to No. 1. After all, neither team has lost and all three teams above them lost a game last week. There are two issues with that logic. As we’ve stated many times in recent years, often it’s not if you lose but when you lose. No. 4 Camden has yet to play a game (the Panthers open on Dec. 17) and it will be a rare occasion when we elevate a team to No. 1 in the FAB 50 that hasn’t played a game or recorded a win the previous week. Duncanville (also the Panthers) is making a strong case for No. 1, but with Camden having yet to play a game, we don’t have great justification yet for one Panthers club hopping the other in the rankings. It’s just the nature of the high school game with no uniform start dates and amount of games teams can play across the country.

At the end of the day, if we did the proper research and took the time to place these teams in the preseason, then we should believe in what we eventually publish. It we didn’t believe in it, then we would jump teams around and place them on a whim. It’s the reason why Camden isn’t hopped by Duncanville or anyone else, doesn’t jump to No. 1, and why Montverde Academy remains at No. 1 this week.

Looking at the results, there is some credence to placing IMG Academy at No. 1. After all, the Ascenders did beat the previous No. 1, but that places emphasis on only one result and less on the other quality NIBC games recently played. Sunrise Christian would have a legit gripe with IMG Academy at No. 1 after beating that club by six points and Montverde Academy could point to its nine-point win over the team that defeated IMG Academy as well. In a nutshell, last weekend’s NIBC matchups didn’t solve anything from a rankings standpoint, but Montverde Academy came the closest to going unbeaten, losing one game in the final seconds. There are still tons of big games coming up that will solve this rankings debate where it matters most: on the court.

We always look ahead to see how the rankings might shape up and it’s hard to ignore Montverde Academy’s game on December 9 with Duncanville as part of Hoophall West at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz (9:30 ET, ESPN+). Duncanville is red-hot and already owns five wins over FAB 50 ranked foes, including a 95-52 win over previous No. 38 Carver (New Orleans, La.) at the Red River Hoopfest this past Saturday. Duncanville will certainly have a terrific chance to show its worthy of the No. 1 ranking. From a national perspective, it would be a huge win for the Panthers as Montverde Academy hasn’t lost to a non-NIBC club since losing 50-49 to St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) on February 4, 2017.   

Technically, it’s new No. 11 La Lumiere that is in first place in the NIBC with a 3-0 conference mark after winning its three games over the weekend in impressive fashion. The Lakers are now 8-0 and have a huge conference test with No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy on December 11. Coach Pat Holmes‘ club has moved up 17 spots in two weeks and could put itself right in FAB 50 No. 1 contention with a win over the Buffaloes. It’s becoming clear the Lakers have put last year’s 10-10 mark in the distant past and this club is resembling the LaLu teams we witnessed from 2017-2020, which all finished in the Top 10.

IMG Academy and Montverde Academy could tussle once again in two weeks at the prestigious Culligan City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. and will meet again at the Spalding Hoophall Classic on MLK Monday. Its first league game with La Lumiere will take place on January 7, one day after the Eagles face Sunrise Christian for the second time.

Last week’s highest ranked newcomer, Richardson (Richardson, Texas), cracks the Top 10 and could meet Duncanville down the line in the long-running Whataburger Tournament, which begins on December 28 in Ft. Worth, Texas. This week’s highest ranked newcomer also checks in at No. 14, as St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.), which just missed the FAB 50 in the preseason, downed previous No. 7 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), 59-55, at the National HS Hoopfest as senior Cortez Johnson had 16 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks in the big win. The Panthers (yes, the nickname is popular around the country) have big games coming up and will have the opportunity to show their rankings worth in the rugged Baltimore Catholic League, which also includes No. 12 Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.).

The next FAB 50 update is scheduled for Monday, December 13.

RELATED:  Preseason 2021-22 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker | “In The Paint” Podcast 

Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com

(2nd poll of 2021-22 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, December 5; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)

No.Prev.High School (City)Record
11Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)4-1
22IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)3-1
33Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)7-1
44Camden (Camden, N.J.)0-0
55Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)8-0
69Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)7-1
710Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)0-0
811Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.)0-0
913Centennial (Corona, Calif.)5-1
1014Richardson (Richardson, Texas)9-0
1122La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)8-0
1225Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)2-0
1317Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)1-0
14NRSt. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)6-0
1528Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)11-0
167DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)2-1
1720Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)3-0
1818Reading (Reading, Pa.)0-0
1919Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)0-0
2026Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)3-0
2121Calvary Christian Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)3-0
2227Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)6-0
2324Centerville (Centerville, Ohio)0-0
2431Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)2-0
25NRMoravian Prep (Hudson, N.C.)9-0
2629Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)10-0
2712Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)7-1
288Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)8-4
2934Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)1-0
3036West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.)6-0
3115North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)5-1
3230Kimball (Kimball, Texas)4-3
3337Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)0-0
3435Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)2-1
3533Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)9-1
3632Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.)0-1
3723Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)3-1
3839The Rock (Gainesville, Fla.)7-1
3941Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.)3-0
4042Cane Ridge (Nashville, Tenn.)3-0
4116Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)4-2
42NRNewton (Covington, Ga.)6-0
4343Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.)5-3
4444St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)1-1
4545Zionsville (Zionsville, Ind.)4-0
4638Carver (New Orleans, La.)7-1
4746Ballard (Louisville, Ky.)2-1
48NRCarmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.)8-0
4949Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. Va.)3-3
5050St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)0-0

Dropped Out: Previous No. 6 Milton (Milton, Ga.), No. 40 Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.), No. 47 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), No. 48 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.).

Bubble Teams:  Bartlett (Bartlett, Tenn.) 6-3; Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 2-0; Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) 0-1; Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md.) 2-2; Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) 2-0; Buford (Buford, Ga.) 4-1; Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 2-0; Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) 3-1; Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 0-0; Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.) 7-3; Chambers (Charlotte. N.C.) 2-2; Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 2-0; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 1-0; Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.) 5-0; Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) 1-1; Eagle’s Landing (McDonough, Ga.) 3-0; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 2-0; Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 6-0; Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) 4-1; Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 8-0; La Crosse Central (La Crosse, Wis.) 2-0; Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 4-0; Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) 3-0; Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 3-0; Manasquan (Manasquan, N.J.) 0-0; Math, Civics & Sciences (Philadelphia, Pa.) 0-0; McKinney (McKinney, Texas) 10-1; Milton (Milton, Ga.) 1-1; Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.) 3-0; Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.) 9-0; Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 0-0; Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 3-0; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 5-1; Pewaukee (Pewaukee, Wis.) 2-0; Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 2-0; Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 1-1; Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 3-0; South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 2-0; St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 0-2; The Burlington School (Burlington, N.C.) 8-1; Xaverian (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 2-0; Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.) 0-0.

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 22 years ago.

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at ronnie@ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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