Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50: (16-30)

We continue our 2016-17 preseason FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by countdown with an in-depth look at teams No. 16-30. We began with teams No. 31-50 on Sunday evening and our final installment will be teams No. 1-15 on Tuesday, November 1.

Note: The FAB 50 powered by 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 17 years ago.

Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 National 
Team Rankings Powered by

By Ronnie Flores

(Final 2015-16 ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; Look for preseason Region-By-Region Top 20 Rankings on Thursday, November 10 and for the preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker on Tuesday, November 22.)

RELATED: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (16-30)Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (31-50) | Preseason East Region Top 20 | Preseason Southeast Region Top 20 | Preseason Midwest Region Top 20 | Preseason Southwest Region Top 20 | Preseason West Region Top 20

16. (NR) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 27-10
Key Players: PG Trevon Duval 6-3 2017 (No. 3, SF Emmitt Williams 6-7 2018 (No. 22, PF Silvio De Sousa 6-8 2018 (No. 2 Hoop Scoop), C Isaiah Stokes 6-8 2017 (No. 60
Why This Ranking: It’s not hard to like a team with this much talent and the schedule to prove its rankings work. The Ascenders’ football team has made waves around the country with its collection of talent. Hoops fans, however, are used to talented athletes congregating and the Ascenders are listed on the FHSAA independent programs assignment list and can play member schools so they are FAB 50 eligible. Besides Williams, the top players are newcomers, as Duval led We-R1 to the Under Armour Association title and wants to prove he’s the nation’s best point guard. Montverde Academy transfer De Sousa loves to use his power in the open court and should thrive in coach Vince Walden’s up-tempo system. Stokes is a former big-time football recruit who is shedding the necessary pounds to be an impact, high level high school player.
The Skinny: IMG defeated some quality teams last year, but the talent level – and expectations – are up in 2016-17. Walden has put together a schedule to put his team in position for a Dick’s Nationals berth, which is the ultimate goal for this team. “We have a lot of new guys, so we have to jell quickly, but I love our ability to run the floor and pressure the ball defensively,” Walden said. It will be Duval versus Collin Sexton when IMG faces No. 39 Pebblebrook at the Holiday Hoopsgiving in Georgia, and Duval versus Jalek Felton and No. 42 Gray Collegiate Academy at the National High School Hoops Festival. IMG also faces No. 28 Wasatch Academy at the Hoophall Classic.

17. (22) St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) 35-2
Key Players: C Bourama Sidebe 6-10 2017 (No. 87, SG Matthew Cotton 6-5 2018, SF Precious Achiuwa 6-8 2019 (No. 13
Why This Ranking: The Gray Bees are both talented and big and could climb in the rankings if the newcomers play to their potential. Among the returnees, Sidebe is the best player and an All-American candidate. Cotton is an all-state performer and a terrific shooter. Coach Mark Taylor (411-132) lost talented wing David Beatty to No. 20 Imhotep Charter, but added Achiuwa from Our Savior New American in New York and this combo forward could turn out to be his second best player. “We’re long, fast and athletic and this could turn out to be the best defensive team I have coached,” Taylor said.
The Skinny: With three returning starters and eight players 6-foot-7 or taller, Taylor is quite optimistic about this team. Considering St. Benedict’s split with No. 2 La Lumiere last season, including a one-point loss in the opening round of Dick’s Nationals, this team is a strong candidate to move up in the rankings since it has the potential to be better than last year’s club. The Gray Bees play a national schedule, including highly regarded St. Francis Academy and Mt. St. Joseph of Baltimore at the Shirts vs. Skins Classic, No. 42 Gray Collegiate Academy at the Slam Dunk to the Beach in Delaware and at the St. James Invitational where it could potentially face Montverde Academy.

18. (30) West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 25-4
Key Players: SG L.J. Figueroa 6-6 2017 (No. 67, PG Sylvain Francisco 6-0 2017, PG P.J. Pearson 5-11 2018, C Christian Lora 6-11 2019.
Why This Ranking: Two seasons ago, two Sunshine Independent Athletic Association teams were in the preseason Top 25 and last year’s favorite (Oldsmar Christian) began at No. 12 in the FAB 50, so it only makes sense this year’s SIAA front-runner attains a lofty ranking. Last season, West Oaks mauled Oldsmar Christian, 85-57, to capture its second consecutive SIAA title. Coach Kenny Gillion has the ingredients, mainly a stellar backcourt, for a 3-peat. Francisco is a lightening-quick point guard who can run a team or explode to the basket. What could take this team to the next level is Figueroa, who transfers over from Oldsmar Christian after its head coach Jordan Fair joined Louisville’s staff. Figueroa was an unknown in his hometown of Lawrence, Mass., but after ranking second in scoring (20.4 ppg) on the Under Armour Association circuit this past summer for Team Breakdown, he could be headed for All-American acclaim.
The Skinny: Similar to No. 20 Imhotep Charter, the Flame are a bit thin upfront, but Gillion is quite optimistic newcomers such as Lora will develop. “We lack frontcourt depth, but our perimeter play will once again be more than enough to give us a great chance to win a third consecutive SIAA state title,” Gillion said. SIAA teams tend to beat up on each other because it’s one of the most talent-laden leagues/conferences in the country, so don’t be surprised if West Oaks and whomever else might emerge fluctuate in the rankings. The Flame play No. 16 IMG Academy and that’s one game they have circled on the calendar since it was the only team on their schedule they did not defeat last season.

19. (NR) Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 20-9
Key Players: PF Jaylen Hoard 6-9 2018 (No. 8, SF Aaron Wiggins 6-5 2018, C Ian Steere 6-9 2018, SF David Caraher 6-6 2017 (Houston Baptist commit).
Why This Ranking: The NCISA Class 3A favorite is usually going to be ranked high in the FAB 50, as it’s one of the toughest playoff brackets in the country. This year the early favorite is the Trojans, who competed valiantly but lost the majority of its games versus FAB 50 foes last season. Many of those 50-50 games should go in their favor this year, as French import Hoard could be the biggest sleeper in the country. Wiggins will likely be the team’s most productive player and Caraher brings scoring and experience. NCISA Class 3A clubs No. 22 Greensboro Day and No. 49 Providence Day also crack the rankings and if one emerges as state champ it will have a strong Dick’s Nationals resume.
The Skinny: WCA has depth, but questions at point guard and how the talented newcomers jell with veterans must be answered before a FAB 50 ascension will happen. Coach Keith Gatlin knows how to handle talent, that is not a question, but the overall loss count was high last year and the eventual NCISA champion will have to prove it can win at a national level. Last year Class 3A champ Providence Day entered Dick’s Nationals at No. 8 in the FAB 50, but lost to semifinalist Montverde Academy 70-54. Will this year’s Class 3A champ fare better if invited?

20. (NR) Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 24-6
Key Players: SG David Beatty 6-4 2017 (No. 62 Hoop Scoop), PG Daron Russell 5-10 2017 (No. 179, Rhode Island commit), SF Donta Scott 6-7 2019 (No. 58
Why This Ranking: Knowing coach Andre Noble (281-74), he may think this spot is a bit too high, as a way to keep his Panthers hungry, but there is plenty to like about the Philly Public League favorites. Russell blew up this summer at the Nike EYBL Finals, averaging 21.4 points per game for Team Final. He was last year’s Public League Division A Player of the Year and has already surpassed the 1,000-point mark. There are three others with starting experience, including the talented Scott. Beatty is the top newcomer known for his clutch play and ability to play multiple positions that Noble will find invaluable depending on the situation.
The Skinny: This team has balance and experience, but as optimistic as Noble is about his guard play, he’s cautious about youth in the paint. That’s where the improvements of Scott and the contributions of Elijah Taylor (6-8, 2020), one of the East region’s top freshmen, will be key. Noble runs a program that won three consecutive PIAA state titles and four in five years between 2009-2013 and he has the horses to get back to the winner’s circle. Last year, Imhotep fell to Catholic League power Neumann-Goretti in the Class AAA state semifinals, 76-69. The Panthers are in the AAAA classification this season, which means they won’t deal with Goretti for the state crown but do play them in a December 14 showdown at Arcadia University. A schedule that includes a trip to the Montverde Invitational and the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina that includes No. 26 Bishop Gorman and No. 32 Westlake, among others, will provide ample opportunity for them to prove their national rankings worth.

21. (42) Curie (Chicago, Ill.) 29-3**
Key Players: SG Elijah Joiner 6-3 2017, SF Terry Smith Jr. 6-5 2017, PG Allante Pickens 5-10 2017.
Why This Ranking: The positive momentum that exists for a program that won its first-ever ISHAA state title and returns four regulars equates to a high preseason ranking. Coach Mike Oliver has a veteran club with experience in the high intensity games found in the Chicago Public League. Joiner (11 ppg) is arguably the top senior in the CPL and can be counted on for his scoring or distributing. Smith averaged eight ppg as a junior but has expanded his offensive game and that point production could double. He’s a three-year starter while Pickens, a quality spot-up shooter, has started for two seasons.
The Skinny: After finishing in the bottom half of the FAB 50 last season, the Condors have the ingredients to shoot up if they can play consistently in the city (all three of Curie’s on-court losses last season came against Chicago Public League foes). They also have to adequately replace the scoring of Devin Gage (DePaul) and the talents of Landers Nolly, who relocated to Atlanta. If Traveon Martin (6-8, 2018), who had 10 points and 14 rebounds in the state title game, and his brother Tyree Martin (6-8, 2018) make major strides, Curie won’t miss a beat. Its schedule includes a date with East St. Louis at the Chicago Elite Classic before a major showdown with highly regarded Althoff Catholic at the Marshall County Hoopfest.

22. (49) Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 28-5
Key Players: SF J.P. Moorman 6-5 2017 (No. 229, Temple commit), PG Jordan Perkins 6-1 2017 (North Carolina Central commit), SF John Newman III 6-5 2018 (No. 118, SG Will Dillard 6-2 2018 (No. 127
Why This Ranking: The Bengals have four regulars and eight lettermen returning from a unit that advanced to the semifinals of the NCISA Class 3A post-season, one of the nation’s toughest playoff brackets. Along with No. 19 Wesleyan Christian Academy, Greensboro Day is one of the favorites for the state crown this year and actually has less building and jelling to do than WCA. Moorman can play in both the frontcourt and backcourt and is a returning all-state choice, while Newman had a great summer. He and Dillard are two of many impressive defenders for a program that competes at the national level without the benefit of major size underneath.
The Skinny: Veteran coach Freddy Johnson (958-279), now in his 40th season at Greensboro Day, led his program to five consecutive Class 3A state finals before last season, including in 2015 when the Bengals were invited to Dick’s Nationals. Six veterans off that team two years ago give Johnson one of the best defensive units in the country. In order to survive its schedule, which includes trips to the Chick-Fil-A Classic, the Hoophall Classic, where it will face Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia, and the Peachtree Corners Invitational versus Wheeler of Georgia, Greensboro Day must develop a consistent go-to scorer and figure out a way to slow down bigger clubs. On top of that, it must prove it can compete with the independent clubs it figures to face at Dick’s Nationals should it win a Class 3A state title.

23. (BB) Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 24-6
Key Players: SF Kevin Porter Jr. 6-5 2018 (No. 28, SF N’Kiel Nelson 6-5 2017, PG Kahlil Shabazz 5-11 2017.
Why This Ranking: There’s plenty of buzz in the Emerald City this year, particularly in the rugged Metro League, as No. 38 Nathan Hale could challenge the two established powers – No. 30 Garfield and Mike Bethea’s Vikings – for the crown. It was tempting to place Hale high in the rankings with the arrival of Mr. Basketball USA candidate Michael Porter Jr., but the most experienced team with returning talent is the defending Class 3A champions. Bethea (520-120) has his own Porter; an athletic lefty who can rebound and finish on the break and who already has made a name for himself in the Seattle Pro-Am. Nelson was the MVP of the state title game, while Shabazz brings experience and poise to the lead guard position in the crucial moments. “To be honest, this may be the deepest team I’ve ever had,” Bethea said.
The Skinny: Bethea has newcomers such as Nehemie Wu Kebaya (6-10, 2018) and up-and-comers from a 26-0 JayVee team he’s particularly high on. If the young bigs produce (and find a way to slow down Hale’s Michael Porter) this team could be special and move up in the rankings. Rainier Beach’s depth could be key in big Metro League games and so should its trademark grit. Last season, the Vikings lost to archrival Garfield two times earlier in the season only to erase an 11-point halftime deficit to win in the state semifinals, 66-61. Until the results say otherwise, the defending champs will remain in the rankings pole position.

24. (BB) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 27-5
Key Players: PG Spencer Freedman 6-0 2018 (No. 14 Hoop Scoop), SF Justice Sueing 6-7 2017, PF Michael Wang 6-9 2018, SG Harrison Butler 6-5 2018.
Why This Ranking: The 11-time CIF state champions had some success, and took some lumps, last season and the experience should pay off because this team is deeper and stronger. Sueing looked much improved offensively this summer and Butler is beginning to live up to the advanced billing he entered high school with. Freedman is one of the nation’s best shooters and the improved weapons around him make his own game more dangerous. As a unit, this team defends well, plays smart and will be a tough out for any team on its schedule.
The Skinny: There are three teams from California ranked ahead of the Monarchs and a couple nipping at their heels, such as Crespi of Encino, so this team must prove it’s closer to the upper echelon than it is to the remainder of the pack. If La Salle commit Miles Brookins (6-9, 2017) has a breakout season, Mater Dei could slowly move up the rankings ladder. It will be a slow move because coach Gary McKnight (1051-95) doesn’t have the usual one or two monster games against a national power on the docket this year. Mater Dei actually looked better than defending FAB 50 champ Chino Hills at times this summer, but when it counted last year the Huskies won 102-54. There’s no question the gap has narrowed between the two clubs (because it has), just a case of, how much?

25. (3) St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 32-0
Key Players: PG R.J. Cole 6-0 2017 (No. 88 Hoop Scoop, Howard commit), C Oscar Okeke 6-11 2017.
Why This Ranking: The Friars have the track record and just enough talent to crack the Top 25. Playing in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group B playoffs against the likes of No. 35 Roselle Catholic will also test Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley’s club. At first glance, it may appear the Friars lost too much firepower to be ranked this high, but Cole was last year’s second leading scorer at 10 ppg and was third-team all-state. More importantly, he’s a three-year starter, has a 4.4 GPA and is like a coach on the floor for a young and talented roster. Plenty is expected of Okeke, also a fine student, and if he becomes the go-to scorer up front St. Anthony will be tough to beat down the stretch.
The Skinny: The Friars might take their lumps early, but with Cole and at least nine newcomers with D1 ability including Bakari Simmons (6-5. 2018), St. Anthony is worthy of its ranking after going unbeaten and winning the 2016 NJSIAA TOC crown when it was a bit unexpected. It could happen again if the Friars develop scoring because they play together, have interchangeable parts and a top-notch defense. It’s also hard to bet against a coach with a 1,162-119 win-loss record that has captured four FAB 50 titles, 13 TOC crowns and 28 state titles.

26. (BB) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 25-7
Key Players: SF Charles O’Bannon Jr. 6-6 2017 (No. 17 Hoop Scoop), SG Christian Popoola Jr. 6-4 2017 (No. 122, BYU commit), SF Jamal Bey 6-6 2018.
Why This Ranking: The Gaels have the talent level and national schedule to warrant a high ranking. There’s a mixed bag of national results in recent seasons, but local dominance as Gorman has won five straight NIAA state titles and nine overall since Grant Rice (395-80) took over the program in 2002. The Gaels are one of the most athletic teams in the country led by O’Bannon, who scored 26 points in last season’s state title game and Popoola, an explosive combo guard with tons of experience. “We want to press the whole game this year and use our speed and athleticism to gain the advantage,” Rice said.
The Skinny: The Gaels don’t have a replacement for 6-foot-11 McDonald’s All-American Zach Collins (Gonzaga), but if O’Bannon gets off to a hot start he might be in line for similar honors. Without a true big, the development of Bey and the offensive contributions and rebounding of senior role players Ryan Kiley (6-5, 2017), Saxton Howard (6-6, 2017) and Jarrett Jordan (6-0, 2017) will be key. The Gaels host the Tarkanian Classic with a field of many of California’s top teams, including the Chino Hills team it faces at Hoophall West. Rice’s club also travels to the Beach Ball Classic and faces highly-regarded Sierra Canyon of California at the Nike Extravaganza.

27. (NR) Westlake (Austin, Texas) 30-4
Key Players: SF Matthew Mayer 6-7 2018 (No. 38 Hoop Scoop), SF Brock Cunningham 6-6 2018, C Will Baker 6-10, 2019.
Why This Ranking: The Chaparrals get the nod as the UIL Class 6A favorites after advancing to the Final Eight last year, where they lost to FAB 50 ranked Atascocita of Humble. Coach Robert Lucero’s club has a nice blend of returnees and newcomers with talent to get to the UIL Final Four – and beyond. Mayer, who scored 25 points and had four 3-pointers in the loss to Atascocita, is one of the nation’s most versatile juniors, while Cunningham, last season’s district defensive player of the year, is Westlake’s best two-way player.
The Skinny: Other UIL Class 6A contenders include North Crowley, and three from loaded Region I, District 7: Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and defending state champ Desoto. The Chaparrals, however, are the early team to beat. The Atascocita team that beat Westlake, 80-65, in the Region II final was unbeaten and a potential Top 3 FAB 50 team until losing in the state final, which shows just how tough it is to win a UIL state title. Westlake has its work cut out, but the eventual Class 6A state champ will likely move up in the FAB 50. Westlake’s chances are bolstered by a strong junior class, among them steady guard Luke Pluymen (6-0, 2018) and talented transfer Keyonte Kennedy (6-3, 2018).

28. (33) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 29-4
Key Players: PF Joseph Vrankic 6-8 2017, SF Emmanuel Akot 6-7 2018 (No. 17, SG Jeff Baradziej 6-5 2017.
Why This Ranking: The Tigers made tremendous strides last season and had a strong enough resume as a independent to earn a Dick’s Nationals invite. Even though Wasatch Academy was a bit overwhelmed by eventual tournament champion and FAB 50 No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (81-64), it has enough returning experience and talented newcomers to warrant a spot in the Top 30. Vrankic is a facilitator and coach Curtis Condie is really high on his point forward. Akot is a versatile talent who is a great defender and Baradziej had 14 points in the loss to Oak Hill and is primed for a big senior campaign. “We are deeper than last season and we can defend,” Condie said. “Our team has a high basketball IQ and I really like the way we share the ball.”
The Skinny: With its scoring and lineup versatility, Condie’s team will be tough to beat, especially since there is so much size on the interior with the likes of Luis Zerban (7-0, 2018) and Bernardo Da Silva (6-7, 2019). “We’re longer than last year and can play big or small; last year we could only play small,” Condie said. The Tigers will find moving up will be a slow process if they loses before the turn of the New Year. They face No. 29 Findlay Prep (a team that beat them 79-61 last season) on November 30 and in January face No. 16 IMG Academy at the Hoophall Classic and defending FAB 50 champ Chino Hills in the premiere game of the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview Classic in Southern California.

29. (20) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 28-2
Key Players: PF P.J. Washington 6-8 2017 (No. 14 Hoop Scoop), SF Lamine Diane 6-7 2017, PF Tristan Clark 6-9 2017 (No. 90, Baylor commit), PF Reggie Chaney 6-8 2018 (No. 43 Hoop Scoop).
Why This Ranking: The Pilots had another strong season in 2015-16 under Andy Johnson, but he’s now on the staff of Southern Utah, where he joined former Findlay Prep head coach Todd Simon’s staff. Findlay Prep is now on its fifth coach in sixth years. The coaching changes and roster flux causes the Pilots to drop a few notches in the rankings, but they have the talent base to quickly move back up if the roster jells under new coach Paul Washington Sr. He’s the son of the Pilots’ best player, who averaged 16.8 ppg and 9.5 rpg as a junior and is a strong McDonald’s All-American candidate and perhaps even a Mr. Basketball USA candidate. The frontline also includes Clark (9.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and the injury return of Donnie Tillman (6-7, 2017) allows Diane more freedom on the wing.
The Skinny: Last season produced the Pilots’ lowest final FAB 50 ranking since becoming eligible in 2008-09 and subsequently this is their lowest preseason ranking. Washington Sr. obviously has talent at his disposal, but it’s now been five seasons since Findlay Prep has won a Dick’s Nationals title and it will need some signature wins in order for that rankings ascension to take place. The new backcourt will have to be ready for a schedule that includes La Lumiere of Indiana at the Cancer Research Classic, the Iolani Tournament (which includes Oak Hill Academy) and the Bass Pro TOC (which includes Montverde Academy, Sierra Canyon of California, Memphis East and Greenforest of Georgia).

30. (BB) Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 26-3
Key Players: SG Jaylen Nowell 6-4 2017 (No. 50 Hoop Scoop, Ballislife Underclass All-American, Washington commit), SG Daejon Davis 6-4 2017 (No. 43, PF J’Raan Brooks 6-9 2018 (No. 29 Hoop Scoop), SF Jamon Kemp 6-6 2019.
Why This Ranking: The Bulldogs opened up the 2015-16 season at No. 6 in the FAB 50 and with national title aspirations. That ranking was probably a couple spots too high, as they failed to win a third straight WIAA title after losing to rival and No. 23 Rainier Beach in the Class 3A state semifinals. We’ll take a more cautious approach this season and let the results dictate how quickly Garfield moves up. Coach Ed Haskins (who was once an assistant at Rainier Beach) has a Mr. Basketball USA candidate in Nowell (17.4 ppg) and a wealth of other returnees with talent and experience. If Brooks (9.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Kemp (the son of Shawn Kemp) have breakout seasons, there is no reason why the Bulldogs can’t fend off Rainier Beach and No. 38 Hale to win a coveted state crown.
The Skinny: Garfield was able to beat the Vikings once in three tries last season – in the Metro League title game. Rainier Beach gets the rankings nod as the defending state champs, but there is less pressure on Garfield this year and that may help ease the loss of backcourt stalwarts Jayshaun Agosto and Terrell Brown Jr. The graduation of that duo dropped Garfield a few notches, as their two-way contributions cannot be overstated. Eddie Turner (5-11, 2018) will have to step up and Davis (11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.3 apg) may play some lead guard if a dependable scoring option after Nowell emerges. Garfield plays Rainier Beach and Hale in league games after the Les Schwab Invitational that Hale, Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth are part of.

RELATED: Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (16-30)Preseason 2016-17 FAB 50 (31-50) | Preseason East Region Top 20 | Preseason Southeast Region Top 20 | Preseason Midwest Region Top 20 | Preseason Southwest Region Top 20 | Preseason West Region Top 20

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of He can be reached at [email protected]. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores