Michael Porter EDGES DeAndre Ayton In 2016-17 Preseason POY Tracker!

Michael Porter, arguably the nation's top prospect and a player who must put up big numbers for his team to remain nationally-ranked, leads voting in 2016-17 preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com, now in its tenth year. The Nathan Hale (Seattle, Wash.) senior forward edges center DeAndre Ayton of Hillcrest Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.), last year's National Junior Player of the Year, by a single point.   

RELATED: Inside Look At Top Mr. Basketball USA Candidates | All-Time Mr. Basketball USA Winners

Plenty of factors go into an individual award such as high school basketball national player of the year: Playing for a winning team, where the team is located and whom it will have the opportunity to play, and how a candidate performed in the previous summer and high school season are important and go a long way in determining the preseason pecking order among elite players.

Sometimes, however, it's not so complicated. The top candidates are simply the most talented players and the ones national scouts, in this case the Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel, believe have the brightest future in the game with natural progression.

That simplicity is clearly reflected in the voting results of the preseason 2016-17 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com.

Michael Porter, a 6-foot-9 forward who attended Father Tolton (Columbia, Mo.) as a junior but will play his senior year at Nathan Hale (Seattle, Wash.) before matriculating to Washington next fall, and DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot center from Hillcrest Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.) who is still undecided, are the two best prospects in the country, according to national scouting services and other veteran scouts on our tracker panel. Some like Ayton because of his vast potential and talent level, while others like Porter because of his ability and winning resume.

When the preseason votes were tallied, those two players were deemed head-and-shoulders above the other 16 players who received some consideration for 2016-17 national player of the year. Porter is the top candidate right now and the leading vote-getter by the slimmest of margins. Porter, whose younger brother Jontay will join him on a Hale squad which opens the season No. 38 in the FAB 50, tallied 94 points to Ayton's 93. They were the only two among 18 candidates to appear on all 10 preseason ballots, with the difference being Porter receiving four second-place votes (which equal 9 points apiece) while Ayton received three and one more third-place vote.

"Basically we see what the body of work is," said long-time panel member Clark Francis of hoopscooponline.com. "If you see a player once, you're more susceptible to error. That's why the longer you do it and the more chances you get to see a player, the better chance you have to get it right. That's what makes evaluating basketball talent interesting. Every situation is different and it's never the same players year-to-year.

"Sometimes the best player is just the best player and better than everyone else. Is Michael Porter better than DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley? No. But consistency counts and so does production. Whose team won the Peach Jam last year? Great players find a way to beat you and keep getting better. That's why I have Michael Porter No. 1 right now."

Bagley, the nation's top junior prospect who did not play high school basketball as a sophomore, came in a distant third in the voting results. The Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) big man garnered two second-place votes, finishing with 57 points, and was the only player to appear on nine ballots.

Five players who appeared on last year's final Mr. Basketball USA Tracker collected votes. Ayton (who came in fourth place), point guard Trevon Duval of IMG Academy in Florida (the only player to appear on eight ballots), Duke commit Wendell Carter Jr. of Pace Academy in Atlanta, dynamic point guard Chris Lykes of FAB 50 No. 10 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and junior guard David Singleton of FAB 50 No. 7 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.).

Stay logged in to Ballislife.com to track the progress of the nation's top individual players and the nation’s Top teams.

Editor's Note: Click on the "+" sign next to each player's number to view how many first, second, third or fourth place votes he got and his overall point total.

RankPrev.NameHigh School1st2nd3rd4thTotal
1NRMichael Porter (10)Hale (WA)541094
24DeAndre Ayton (10)Hillcrest Academy (AZ)532093
3NRMarvin Bagley (9)Sierra Canyon (CA)021157
417TTrevon Duval (8)IMG (FL)002153
524TWendell Carter Jr. (6)Pace Academy (GA)012142
6NRMohamed Bamba (5)Westtown School (PA)001231
7NRCollin Sexton (4)Pebblebrook (GA)001125
8NRZion Williamson (3)Spartanburg Day (SC)000118
9NRTrae Young (3)Norman North (OK)000116
10NRRomeo Langford (2)New Albany (IN)000111
11NRGary Trent Jr. (2)Prolific Prep (CA)000010
12NRQuade Green (2)Neumann-Goretti (PA)00008
13NRBilly Preston (1)Oak Hill (VA)00017
14T24TChris Lykes (1)Gonzaga (DC)00006
14TNRP.J. Washington Jr. (1)Findlay Prep (NV)00006
16NRMitchell Robinson (1)Chalmette (LA)00005
17TNRBrian Bowen (1)La Lumiere (IN)00004
17T20Davy Singleton (1)Bishop Montgomery (CA)00004

About Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Ballislife.com's panel of 10 experts, which includes six McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in last season's final tracker.