Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50: Teams No. 31-50!

Today Ballislife.com tips off its 2021-22 high school basketball coverage with our first installment of the preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 National Team Rankings. We begin with teams No. 31-50 and our second installment will be teams No. 16-30 on Monday, October 25. The complete FAB 50 rankings powered by Ballislife.com will be released by October 26.

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.

Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 National
Team Rankings Powered by Ballislife.com

By Ronnie Flores

(Final 2020-21 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; Look for preseason Region-By-Region Top 20 Rankings on Thursday, November 4 and for the preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker on Monday, November 22.)

RELATED: Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 (16-30) | 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

GO TO: No. 31 / No. 32 / No. 33 / No. 34 / No. 35 / No. 36 / No. 37 / No. 38 / No. 39 / No. 40 / No. 41 / No. 42 / No. 43 / No. 44 / No. 45 / No. 46 / No. 47 / No. 48 / No. 49 / No. 50

31. (BB) Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 6-1 
Key Players: PF Tobe Awaka 6-8 2022, PF Tarique Foster 6-8 2022, PG D.J. Victory 5-8 2022, SF Ian Jackson 6-5 2024 (No. 6 ESPN.com).
Why This Ranking: The Cardinals rate as a slight favorite in the race for the NYC Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) title over No. 34 Archbishop Stepinac, with Christ the King of Middle Village and Iona Prep of New Rochelle strong contenders. Coach Joe Lods (262-61) has a club that can challenge for both the CHSAA Archdiocesan and State Federation Class AA crown behind three starters and five lettermen. Awaka leads the way with his scoring, rebounding and defense. He’s capable of putting up a multitude of 20-point, 10-rebound games and has a quality running mate up front in Foster. He’s more of a wing scorer and more focused and determined than ever after being hit by a stray bullet in the calf last June following a graduation party in the Bronx. Victory is a dynamic play-maker who attacks defenses and is a pit bull guarding ball-handlers. Jackson rates as one of the best players in his class nationally and was part of USA Basketball’s 16U National team that won a Gold Medal this past summer in Mexico. He had a 30-point game and like every young player in the Big Apple, is eager to play a high school season.
The Skinny: While CHSAA programs are preparing for a normal 2021-22 schedule after being shut out of playing in New York City and only being able to play in a CHSAA-sanctioned tournament at Archbishop Stepinac last spring, the outlook is still murky for NYC Public School Athletic League (PSAL) programs. Those teams did not have a 2020-21 season and as of press time, they will only be allowed to scrimmage and play other PSAL teams. While this policy could change, the uncertainty surrounding the nation’s largest public school district means those teams start out on the outside looking in. South Shore of Brooklyn would rate as the early PSAL title favorite for the second consecutive season. Cardinal Hayes will be able to challenge FAB 50 power Long Island Lutheran for the State Federation Class AA crown because of talent and the experience it will gain if it can complete its ambitious schedule. “We are excellent defensively and can score the ball,” Lods said. The Cardinals will participate in Hoophall South in Arkansas (Jan. 6-8) and will play New Jersey power Roselle Catholic and No. 38 Bergen Catholic this season.

32. (BB) Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 15-1 
Key Players: PF A.J. Casey 6-8 2022 (No. 55 Rivals.com, Miami commit, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PF Xavier Amos 6-8 2022 (Northern Illinois commit), PG Dalen Davis 6-0 2023, PG Marcus Pigram 6-2 2023.
Why This Ranking: The Dolphins have a proud tradition and rate as the Chicago Public League favorite over No. 39 Kenwood Academy. Coach Tyrone Slaughter (335-122) welcomes back three starters and 10 lettermen off a team that went undefeated in the CPL’s condensed 2020-21 regular season. The ringleader is Casey, an all-state choice as a sophomore at Tinley who averaged 18 ppg, 8 rpg and 4 apg as a junior and is eager to show he’s an All-American talent. Amos is the team’s X-factor. He is vastly underrated nationally and it wouldn’t surprise us if his numbers are on par with Casey’s. Pigram and Davis man the backcourt and as the lead guard and playmaker, the play of Davis will be key as the Dolphins navigate a tough schedule. “I really like our height and length, but am a bit concerned about our team speed,” Slaughter said.
The Skinny: For a while, even having a 2020-21 season seemed bleak for CPL programs until a last minute reprieve. There wasn’t a post-season but some of the best area teams participated in an end-of-season tournament (Chipotle Clash of Champions) and Young lost its first game to DePaul Prep. Not only is there motivation going into this season, there is also plenty of depth as Marcus Overstreet (6-8, 2022) and Jordan Streeter (6-6, 2022) are quality front court men, Daniel Johnson (6-6, 2023) tracks as a big guard D1 prospect who can slide to the wing and Antonio Munoz (6-5, 2025) is a future star. Its 2012-13 Jahlil Ofakor-led club was the last to win the CPL title when the Dolphins finished No. 6 in the FAB 50. This team may not get to that level from a rankings perspective, but it has plenty of opportunity to move up. The Dolphins will participate in the Chicago Elite Classic (Dec. 3-4), the City of Palms Tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla. (Dec. 17-22), the Proviso West Holiday Tournament (Dec. 27-30), Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Missouri (Jan. 13-15), the Spalding Hoophall Classic (Jan. 17), the Nike Extravaganza (Jan. 29) and Bank of O’Fallon Shootout (Feb. 5-6). There will be 12 other FAB 50 ranked teams for the Dolphins to potentially tangle with at the City of Palms and the “Springfield Double” (Bass Pro TOC to Hoophall) will include a MLK Monday game with Christ The King of Middle Village, N.Y.

33. (NR) Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.) 14-7
Key Players: SG Savon Sutton 6-4 2023, PG Khalil Arnold 6-1 2023, PF Perry Smith Jr. 6-9 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Lions began at No. 16 in last season’s preseason rankings, but found the going tough against the teams in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) and finished unranked. Coach B.J. Jackson’s club did not lose to anyone outside the conference and will also have to deal with first-year member IMG Academy this season. With conference games so tough, this team must avoid lulls or mini losing streaks to avoid a drop in the rankings. We like Legacy’s chances to make noise and maintain its rankings position because of its blend of youthful talent, depth and a team-first concept. No superstar is present, but Smith is a veteran who knows what it takes to win at this level and will be counted on for timely buckets and his anchoring interior defense. Jackson has plenty of talented options at point guard with Arnold, Chase Clemmons (6-0, 2023) and Bryce Hawkins (5-10, 2023). Sutton is likely the teams’ most skilled player and will be on the floor in crunch time with whatever guard package Jackson chooses to attack with. The forwards are versatile and interchangeable, but expect Khali Horton (6-8, 2023) and Coen Carr (6-6, 2023) to play significant roles. The crop of interior players have more athleticism than bulk and the team is spending fall camp focusing on its defensive sets and rebounding.
The Skinny:
There were high preseason expectations for the program the past two seasons (they opened at No. 30 in 2019-20), and the coaching staff feels this is easily its best overall group. We place them a bit lower in the preseason than two years ago and much lower than last year because the roster is young and must find an identity. After all, the previous two teams eventually fell out of the rankings. With the depth at each position and focus on placing well in the NIBC standings, we don’t expect the Lions will drop out this time around. With seven players being juniors, this team is going to have to shoot well from the field right off the bat because of the early NIBC games and it’s been a focus in practice as Jackson settles in on his rotation. Legacy Early College has five home games beginning Nov. 10 in preparation for the Bob Kirk Invitational in Cumberland, Md. (Dec. 2-4), where the Lions will face Wasatch Academy of Utah, La Lumiere of Indiana and host Bishop Walsh. After meeting highly-regarded Prolific Prep of Napa, Calif., on Dec. 8 at Hoophall West in Phoenix, the Lions will take on FAB 50 title contender and NIBC member Oak Hill Academy the next evening. They’ll also participate in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in South Carolina (Dec. 27-30), and face IMG Academy, Sunrise Christian Academy and La Lumiere in La Porte, Ind. (Jan. 6-8). The last leg of the NIBC at the Metro Classic in New Jersey (Feb. 2-5) will include a game with defending conference and FAB 50 champ Montverde Academy.

34. (NR) Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 9-3 
Key Players: 
PG Samuel Gibbs 6-2 2022, SG Joel Baez 6-5 2022, SF Isaiah Alexander 6-7 2022, PG Boogie Fland 6-3 2024 (No. 14 ESPN.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American).
Why This Ranking: 
The Crusaders begin the season ranked in the range they did last the past two seasons and as major contenders for the NYC Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) AA title along with No. 31 Cardinal Hayes. Coach Patrick Massaroni really likes his blend of senior leadership and youth among his 10 returning lettermen. Gibbs is a lefty lead guard who showed during last year’s condensed season and NCAA live scholastic period that he can play at a high level. Baez is a big guard who is a versatile scorer and defender. Alexander is a rangy athlete who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He can play in the backcourt or slide to a forward spot depending on the look Massaroni wants to give. As if that isn’t enough, transfer Braylan Ritvo (6-6, 2024) adds another ball-handler and high I.Q. player. He moves well without ball and can work the glass as well. This is a well-balanced club that is extremely motivated to get a full season in and compete for the New York Federation AA title.
The Skinny: 
The state of New York was hard hit last year by COVID-19 and Massaroni, his assistant coaches and Archbishop Stepinac’s staff deserve plenty of credit for basically salvaging a season for CHSAA programs by hosting a spring tournament. The CHSAA also hosted a senior combine at Stepinac for 2021 players that didn’t get a full season. Stepinac senior Adrian Griffin Jr. (Duke), decided to skip the abbreviated season and that allowed younger players to earn valuable playing time that will pay off this season. Fland is already a big-time player who is only getting better and Jacob Hogarth (6-8, 2024) is an inside player who’s production will be counted upon. Massaroni is confident his team can win the CHSAA title and challenge FAB 50 title contender Long Island Lutheran for the state federation title, but is a bit concerned about his team’s size and depth against some of the teams on their national schedule. The Crusaders will compete in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C. (Dec. 27-30) along with highly-regarded St. Frances Academy of Baltimore, John Marshall of Richmond, Va., Legacy Early College of South Carolina, Grayson of Loganville, Ga, Ridge View of Columbia, S.C., and No. 46 Huntington Prep. Stepinac will play in the PSA Cardinal Classic vs. No. 38 Bergen Catholic and also face Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey at the Spalding Hoophall Classic (Jan. 16).

35. (35) Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.) 31-7 
Key Players: 
SG Jalen Carruth 6-5 2022, C Pape Lamine Niang 6-9 2022, SG Mykol Sanchez 6-6 2022.
Why This Ranking: 
The White Tigers begin the season ranked right where they finished last season after rolling through the competitive Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) unbeaten in regular season play. Coach Richie Dalmau has another talented roster that should be able to offset the graduation loss of SIAA MVP Ramses Melendez (Illinois). Carruth is quickly developing into a complete guard who can stroke the 3-pointer and play both ends of the floor. Niang is a rim protector who does a good job on the glass and is more than serviceable on the offensive end. Sanchez can really light it up from the outside and is a crafty scorer and play-maker. There are plenty of newcomers for CPCA and the SIAA is high level once again, but based on fall league reports, the White Tigers have talent and size to compete with anyone.
The Skinny: 
CPCA rates as the slight SIAA favorite after being upset in last year’s conference playoff semifinals. With all the newcomers around the league this year, we’ll slow play the top teams and see how they fare against Grind Session foes and other independent opponents. The talented newcomers include Gora Niang (6-8, 2023) from Senegal, Josue Santillan (6-5, 2022) from Argentina, Owen Aquino (6-7, 2022) from Spain, Marko Sesevic (6-8, 2022) from Serbia and Edwin Linares (6-8, 2023) from New York. “Were a strong 3-point shooting team and a long team with players who can play multiple positions,” Dalmau said. CPCA is scheduled to play a multitude of independent programs, even some that are not eligible for the FAB 50 such as Prolific Prep of California and Dream City Christian and AZ Compass Prep, both of Arizona. Those teams are a good gauge because other ranked teams will also play them and the results will dictate if CPCA and other top SIAA teams can move up in the rankings.

36. (NR) West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 14-9 
Key Players: PG Maurice Odum 6-1 2022, SF Deshawn Jean-Charles 6-6 2022, PF Ibrahima Traore 6-9 2024,
Why This Ranking: This talent-laden team is looking to bounce back from a season in which the expectations were sky high, but a brutal schedule, plus injury and continuity problems, caused it to drop out of the rankings. Veteran coach Kenny Gillion lost some talented players to graduation and the Bewley brothers, Matt and Ryan, to Overtime Elite. Still, there is a plethora of players dotting the roster with a D1 offer and good talent at each position. Odum is an unselfish New York City bred point guard who has experience playing high level high school ball in New Jersey. Jean-Charles is a rangy athlete who attacks the rim with a vengeance. Traore is a rim-runner and rim protector who gained valuable experience playing 17U ball during the grassroots basketball season. “We have a lot of athletic guys with size and the ability to defend multiple positions,” Gillion said.
The Skinny: We stated in last season’s preseason rankings we were going out on a limb by placing the Flame at No. 6. That was high and with the three returnees off last year’s roster hurt a majority of the season, there is plenty to prove at this rankings spot. Mo Sabiu (6-8, 2022) came in highly-regarded last season but was one of the players who sat out, and Gillion is relying on his interior presence. R.J. Moore (6-6, 2022), another New Yorker, also sat out and brings a wealth of talent from the wing. The Flame will take part in the Grind Session, a loose conglomerate of talent-laden independent programs, and will also participate at the Battle of the Bluff in Memphis, Tenn. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to move up in the rankings, but more importantly, Gillion wants his team to jell and peak when the SIAA playoffs roll around.

37. (18) St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 21-4 
Key Players: PG Sencire Harris 6-3 2022 (No. 49 Rivals.com, Illinois commit), SG Ramar Pryor 6-2 2022 (Cleveland St. commit), SF Lance Hayes 6-3 2023, PF Darius Stratford 6-9 2023.
Why This Ranking: Last season The Fightin’ Irish played up to preseason expectations, and them some, after opening at No. 49 in the FAB 50 and ending with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division II crown in tow. This season, the Irish will be gunning for state title No. 7 under veteran coach Dru Joyce (414-117), who is now in his 21st year at the helm of the tradition-rich program. St. V’s comes in No. 2 among OHSAA programs behind defending D1 champ Centerville. There is a lot to like about this team, especially with a veteran point guard such as Harris. He averaged 14.5 ppg, 3.1 apg, and 3.2 spg and can take on a facilitating or scoring role. He had 21 points in the state semifinals and five points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and five steals in the state title win over St. Frances DeSales. Pryor was a John Havlicek-type sixth man last season bringing athleticism, smarts and savvy to the team. He averaged over 12 ppg, but had several outbursts of over 20 and is capable of putting up big numbers this season.
The Skinny: If you remove the COVID-19 shortened season in 2019-20, St. V’s has now been to five consecutive OHSAA Final Fours with another one a strong possibility. Yes, the Irish did beat Centerville last season, but will start behind the defending state D1 champs because they graduate much more firepower, including 2020-21 Ohio Mr. Basketball Malaki Branham (Ohio St.). This steady program under Joyce usually does a good job off developing from the reserves and lower levels, so it will be up to talents such as Hayes and Stratford to step up. Hayes is a budding prospect who can play off the ball or on and is beginning to receive D1 recruiting interest. Stratford is a traditional pivot man with a strong back to the basket game who will be counted on to provide toughness and rebounding. The Fightin’ Irish will play FAB 50 title contender Sierra Canyon on Dec. 4 in Los Angeles at the Staples Center and will face perennial FAB 50 contender D1 state power Cincinnati Moeller on Dec. 11. A big-time matchup with Centerville takes place on Jan. 11 at home.

38. (NR) Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 7-2 
Key Players: PG Elliot Cadeau 6-1 2024 (No. 7 ESPN.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SG Will Richardson 6-2 2022 (No. 116 Rivals.com, Fordham commit), SG Julian Brown 6-1 2022, C Terry Copeland 6-8 2024 (No. 45 247Sports.com).
Why This Ranking: The competition for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Tournament of Champions title is fierce with the Crusaders competing with FAB 50 title contenders Gill St. Bernard, Camden and Roselle Catholic, along with Manasquan, for top billing. Bergen Catholic rates as the Non-Public A favorite with its team returning en masse with a nice blend of veterans and talented underclassmen. Among 10 returning lettermen, Richardson is the ringleader and a model of consistency. After averaging 18.7 ppg as a sophomore, this talented lead guard averaged 18.8 ppg as a junior in a season where the Crusaders only lost to Don Bosco Prep and Roselle Catholic in overtime. Richardson was named Big North Conference Player of the Year and first team all-state by NJHoops.com. Cadeau is rated the No. 1 point guard in his class nationally by some evaluators and is a flashy talent who can score and create for others. Brown can also handle the ball and has a future in college basketball as a lead guard, but on this team is relied on to score (14.7 ppg) and rebound (3.3 rpg). The presence of Brown helps take the pressure off Richardson and should allow Cadeau to thrive and take a big step up this season.
The Skinny: There is plenty to like about this team, and it does have size and talent up front. Copeland already has a national reputation in his class and Brandon Benjamin (6-7, 2024) is another talented young pivot who will contribute. Elijah Flournoy (6-3, 2022) is a glue player who can play multiple positions and this team added depth with a special freshman class. David Munro (6-6, 2025) has the biggest national reputation, while Austin Spencer (6-2, 2025) and Tyler McQuade (5-10, 2025) will quickly be quality varsity players. “I love our quickness and we have talent and size, but we’ll have to come together and blend our talent,” Armstrong said. With its in-state competition and schedule, Bergen Catholic can afford a loss or two and not drop out of the FAB 50 and will have plenty of opportunity to move up. It faces No. 31 Cardinal Hayes and also play defending FAB 50 national champ Montverde Academy at the Metro Classic in Tom’s River, N.J., on Feb. 3.

39. (NR) Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.) 10-2 
Key Players: SF J.J. Taylor 6-7 2023 (No. 4 ESPN.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), PG Trey Pettigrew 6-3 2022 (No. 127 Rivals.com), PG Darrin Ames 6-3 2023 (No. 55 ESPN.com).
Why This Ranking: The Broncos will look to make a splash in the FAB 50 as they attempt to capture the program’s first Chicago Public League title. Kenwood rates just behind No. 32 Whitney Young as early title favorites and there is plenty to like about this team. Taylor is a dynamic forward with All-American potential who is looking to take his game to the next level this season. Ames is the cog that makes the engine go, as he excels at pushing the ball on a team that loves to get out in transition. Kenwood has an explosive offense and the addition of Pettigrew makes a good team even more dangerous. He creates mismatches with his ability to play on the ball or score off the bounce. Pettigrew is a bit streaky, but if he blends in with the retuning talent there is no reason why the Broncos can’t make history.
The Skinny: Coach Mike Irvin is eager to accomplish his goals at Kenwood after being hired in the fall of 2020 and not getting a complete season in year one. He’s long had the passion to coach at the high school level, but didn’t want to while younger brother Nick (Western Illinois) was at Morgan Park. Winning the Red South Conference, Public League crown and Class 3A state crown are the goals and this team wants to tackle them one step at a time after last season’s abbreviated season. Davius Loury (6-7, 2023) compliments Taylor nicely in the front court and Bryce Heard (6-5, 2025) could be the Windy City’s next great player and adds versatility. Kenwood Academy’s only appearance in the city title game came in 2016, when it lost to Simeon. There will be plenty of stops for Irvin to mesh all the talent, including appearances in Hoophall Central in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Dec. 17) and the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas (Dec. 18-21). The Broncos have a huge test vs. FAB 50 title contender Camden at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., (Jan. 15).

40. (NR) Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) 0-0 
Key Players: PF Tarris Reed 6-9 2022 (No. 33 ESPN.com, Michigan commit), SF Julian Phillips 6-7 2022 (No. 14 ESPN.com. LSU commit), SF Jordan Walsh 6-8 2022 (No. 7 ESPN.com, Arkansas commit), PF Omaha Biliew 6-7 2023 (No. 7 Rivals.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American).
Why This Ranking: The Lions are a new program on the campus of Camp Kanakuk in Branson that has aspirations to be a major player on the national scene. Link Year Prep has produced post-graduate programs in recent years and now the campus will field a team that will compete with four-years players. With the talent coach Rodney Perry has assembled, Link Academy will have ample opportunity to make its presence felt. Three highly-regarded seniors man the front court, as Reed runs the court well for a traditional big and finishes around the rim with power and solid touch. Phillips can thrive both inside and out and has the foot speed to guard both forwards positions. Walsh is a streaky talent who is best facing up and attacking the basket and has some legit guard skill. Biliew has been a highly-publicized talent since middle school and practicing against the previously-mentioned trio should help his development.
The Skinny: The Lions are sanctioned to play Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) clubs and are scheduled to play Christian Brothers College of St. Louis (Nov. 20) and Father Tolton of Columbia (Jan. 10). “We have a very talented team with an opportunity to be great, but must develop cohesiveness,” said Perry, a former standout at Missouri St. If being great means moving up in the rankings, the Lions will obviously need good point guard play and Trey Green (5-11, 2023) is a terrific talent who is vastly underrated nationally. Playing the 2020-21 season at Lake Norman Christian in North Carolina with internationally-known 2023 prospect Mikey Williams, Green on many occasions was the team’s best player. Christian Carr (6-2, 2023) was a double-digit scorer at Manhattan (Kan.) and helps shore up the backcourt. Link Academy has the talent to warrant a higher spot, but as a first-year program we’ll wait to see if the cohesiveness is there and how the experience of playing a national schedule plays out. Perry has his club playing in a multitude of events, including stops at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas (Dec. 15-17), Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, Ohio (vs. No. 46 Huntington Prep), the Spalding Hoophall Classic (vs. Prolific Prep of California), the Quincy Shootout (Jan. 21-22) and the Heartland Hoops Classic in Nebraska (Feb. 11-12).

41. (NR) Cane Ridge (Nashville, Tenn.) 15-1 
Key Players: SF Brandon Miller 6-8 2022 (No. 12 Rivals.com), SG Ryan Oliver 6-4 2022, PF De’Ron Hall 6-7 2024, PG Joshua McDaniel 6-2 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Ravens have a great player and enough returning firepower to warrant landing in this spot as the top-ranked Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) program. Coach Marlin Simms has seven lettermen returning led by Miller (24 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg), Tennessee’s best player. He is a versatile scorer and defender coming off a big summer when he was named the Nike EYBL’s Defensive Player of the Season. Oliver (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg) is a good outside scorer and not afraid to mix it up underneath. Hall (3 ppg, 3 rpg) is a talented young player whose will see a significant uptick in his production this season. Simms is a bit concerned about his team’s overall size, so Hall plays a critical role in this team’s state title chances after losing in last year’s Class AAA state final.
The Skinny: Last season Germantown Houston began as Tennessee’s top-ranked club at No. 28 in the FAB 50. That club lived up to expectations and handed Cane Ridge its only loss in the Class AAA championship, 62-43, in a game the Ravens shot poorly from the field. Simms does lose three seniors who logged all but one minute in that game, so there is work to do to climb in the rankings and finish anywhere near the spot Houston did last season (No. 12). McDaniel is just what the doctor ordered, as he answers some of the question marks as a lead guard and is also a capable scorer. Cane Ridge will test it wares and get itself battle-tested for a state title run by participating in the Marshall County Hoopfest in Kentucky, the Capitol City Classic and the King Cotton Holiday Classic in Pine Bluff, Ark.

42. (NR) Kimball (Kimball, Texas) 18-12 
Key Players: PG Arterio Morris 6-3 2022 (No. 6 Rivals.com, Texas commit, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SG Chauncey Gibson 6-6 2022 (Clemson commit), PF Kyron Henderson 6-5 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Knights are extremely talented and motivated after coming within a whisker of capturing the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 5A state title last season. In that game, Kimball trialed Beaumont United by as much as 17 points in the second quarter, only to lose by one point on a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining. Beaumont United returns its star player, but so does Kimball in Morris. The Dallas Morning News Player of the Year averaged 23.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 6.5 apg, 3.3 spg, and 2.2 bpg and there is very little Morris can’t do at the high school level. Morris scored 19 points in the state title game. Coach Nick Smith has all four of his double-digit scorers from that game back: Morris, Gibson, Henderson and Jerqualen Parks (5-11, 2022). Gibson averaged 18 ppg in the regular season then upped his play in the post-season (23 ppg). He’s a mismatch problem as a big guard who can shoot it from deep, take over offensively or facilitate for others. Henderson, who had 16 rebounds in the state title game, is one of the best football-basketball combo athletes in Texas who is a physical presence on both ends of the floor and vital to Kimball’s fortunes.
The Skinny: In many years the UIL Class 6A ranks has two or three FAB 50 ranked teams with the Class 5A favorite in the mix. This season, FAB 50 title contender Duncanville leads the 6A pack once again, but it’s the top Class 5A contenders that come next in the pecking order with Kimball right on the heels of Beaumont United. Class 6A teams eyeing Duncanville who can move into the FAB 50 include Richardson, McKinney, Denton Guyer and Waxahachie. Parks was the fourth double-digit scorer against Beaumont United and brings that typical football mindset to the hardwood. Jayden Jackson (6-1, 2022) is an experienced combo guard and the development of Aydan Blair (6-8, 2022) is key. He has plenty of potential and plays a big role as Henderson and Parks get into basketball shape. Kimball had a high number of losses and must cut them by two-thirds to move up in the rankings from this spot.

43. (BB) Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 27-5 
Key Players: PG Isaiah Collier 6-3 2023 (No. 15 ESPN.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SF Klarius Amir 6-7 2024 (No. 16 ESPN.com), SG Kyle Burns 6-3 2022 (Radford commit).
Why This Ranking: The Wildcats are the defending Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAA champions and rate as the team to beat in that classification once again. Wheeler defeated cross-town Kell for the state crown and three out of four games last season, but the runner-ups were weakened for 2021-22 when star guard Scoot Henderson moved on to play professionally for the NBA G League Ignite team. Wheeler does have to replace all-state forward Ja’Heim Hudson, but with Henderson gone Collier (14 ppg, 6 rpg, 8 apg, 3 spg) has a chance to be the most dominant guard in the AAAAA ranks. He is a bullish guard with good play-making and passing skill. Coach Larry Thompson is looking for Burns to parlay a productive summer into a memorable senior campaign, while Juvon Gamory (5-11, 2022) brings championship experience and a spark to the lineup. Amir, originally from Australia, is already getting big-time offers from around the country and can man either forward spot.
The Skinny: GHSA state champions are eligible for GEICO Nationals and in order for Wheeler to have a chance of being selected, it’ll have to post a low loss-count vs. in-state teams and move up in the rankings. The Wildcats will have the opportunity to do that by blending the veterans with transfers Jelani Reynolds (6-6, 2023) and Cam Brown (6-9, 2023). Thompson is already bullish about the abilities of Arritten Page (6-8, 2023) and D.J. Mitchell (6-3, 2023) and there is help on the way from a 15-0 JayVee team. The play of Brown and Page will be key because Thompson is a bit concerned about interior production off the bench against a loaded schedule. “We’re a defensive minded team that is fast with good guard play and perimeter shooting,” Thompson said. “We’ll need two of three of our younger guys to mature to have a shot at GEICO Nationals.” The Wildcats will prepare for that run by playing FAB 50 title contender Duncanville of Texas in the RCS Sports HoopsGiving Classic (Nov. 24) in Texas and at the Holiday Hoopsgiving in Atlanta vs. defending FAB 50 champ Montverde Academy (Nov. 27). Wheeler also plays in the Georgia Tournament of Champions and faces highly-regarded St. Ignatius of Cleveland at the Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, Ohio (Jan. 15).

44. (NR) St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 0-1 
Key Players: SF Christian Watson 6-6 2022 (No. 87 ESPN.com, Miami commit), SG Shane Lancaster 6-4 2022, PF Donnie Freeman 6-8 2024 (No. 20 ESPN.com).
Why This Ranking: The powerful Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) really didn’t get in anything close to a regular season and played only a smattering of games in 2020-21. The Cadets only played one sanctioned game (a loss to Bishop McNamara) before it had to shut it down and begin preparations for 2021-22. Even though coach Patrick Behan lost talented forward Amani Hansberry to transfer (Mt. St. Joseph of Baltimore), he counts 10 lettermen returning, including a core group that played on the nationally-ranked 2019-20 club. Watson is an explosive wing talent who should be in line for all-WCAC honors with a full season. Similar to Watson, Freeman is a versatile offensive talent and defender who is out to prove he’s the best sophomore in the DMV. Lancaster is a bit unheralded, but is eager to prove how much his game has improved over the course of the pandemic.
The Skinny: For the ninth time in the past 10 seasons we rank at least three WCAC teams in the preseason. Realistically, it looks like five of them had a strong case to crack the rankings, with FAB 50 title contender DeMatha Catholic, Paul VI and Bishop O’Connell of Virginia, Gonzaga of Washington D.C., and the Cadets all in the mix. In fact, all five believe they have the talent to crack the Top 25. At least one, and perhaps two, will accumulate plenty of conference losses, so it will be important for St. John’s to pull out some road wins and hold serve at home. Behan feels his team is capable and if Malik Mack (6-0, 2023) returns at 100 percent from an ACL injury, this team has a terrific chance to keep pace in the WCAC standings. Acaden Lewis (6-0, 2024) and Da’Juan Riggs (5-11, 2024) add to the backcourt depth for a team that is one of 13 in the preseason rankings that will compete at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Florida. The Cadets also will play at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Massachusetts, where they face FAB 50 ranked Roselle Catholic of New Jersey (Jan. 16).

45. (NR) Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 21-3 
Key Players: C Maker Bar 6-9 2022, SF Gabe Sisk 6-5 2023 (No. 46 247Sports.com), SG Keno Hayden 6-4 2022, PG Derrick Tilford 6-1 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Bruins rate as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Sweet 16 favorites over another traditional Bluegrass power: Male of Louisville. Last year’s Sweet 16 champion, Highlands of Ft. Thomas, did not crack the FAB 50, but with four of its five top scorers back and two quality transfers, Ballard has a terrific chance to maintain its position and even move up. Sisk (18.1 ppg, 5 rpg) was last year’s leading scorer and is quickly moving up the national recruiting charts. Hayden (13.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg) can light up the scoring column and Tilford (7.7 ppg) is a dependable distributor and playmaker. Bar (14.5 ppg, 10.9 rpg) is the leading Mr. Basketball candidate and gives the Bruins a big advantage versus in-state foes.
The Skinny: On paper, this team has a decisive advantage over most of the teams it will face in Bluegrass country. That means Ballard’s rankings fate will depend on its showing at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla., and if the Bruins complete the task in-state. In a one-class system as the one Kentucky employs, the best team doesn’t always make it through so staying the course will be imperative because a loss at the wrong time can send any team in this range tumbling down and out. As if the returnees are not enough, veteran coach Chris Renner (675-179) adds double-digit scorers Miles Franklin (6-0, 2022) from Louisville Trinity and Kaden Stanton (5-11, 2022) from New Albany, Ind. This could be Renner’s best opportunity for state crown No. 2 after his 1998-99 club went 31-7 and finished No. 18 in the National Prep Poll/FAB 50 in a season in which it played No. 1 Oak Hill Academy close. Ballard opens up the City of Palms with FAB 50 title contender IMG Academy and realistically would love to go 3-1 in Florida.

46. (NR) Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. VA.) 0-0 
Key Players: SF Trentyn Flowers 6-7 2024, PG Cruz Davis 6-4 2022 (Oregon St. commit), SG Jimma James 6-5 2023 (No. 97 Rivals.com), SG Maki Johnson 6-4 2023 (No. 74 Rivals.com).
Why This Ranking: Similar to No. 40 Link Academy, the Irish are making their debut in the FAB 50. Huntington Prep has actually been around for over a decade with an affiliation with St. Joseph Central Catholic, but that relationship ended with the onset of COVID-19. To re-group and strategize for the future, Huntington Prep actually didn’t field a team in 2020-21. Coach Arkell Bruce’s program is now back and fields enough talent to warrant a spot in the nation’s longest-running weekly rankings. Flowers is a talented wing guard who can play on the ball to spell Cruz or play in the front court when the Irish go small to gain an advantage. Davis is a scoring lead guard whose game resembles former NBA guard Cat Mobley. James is a confident player who brings a ton of energy and skill as a combo guard with size, while Johnson is a local product from Huntington with the talent and motivation to help this team make its mark nationally.
The Skinny: The program, which now operates out of and has its educational curriculum overseen by Huntington High School (which itself was nationally ranked in 2006-07 when former NBA guard O.J. Mayo starred), is now FAB 50 eligible because of House Bill 4925 in the West Virginia Legislature signed into law in June 2020 that requires the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission (WVSSAC) to recognize prep programs. Huntington Prep now pays dues to the WVSSAC and is hoping to pay its dues against a national schedule. Bruce wants an on-court leader to emerge because of the court inexperience. The Irish will play in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C. (Dec. 27-30) along with No. 34 Archbishop Stepinac, highly-regarded St. Frances Academy of Baltimore, John Marshall of Richmond, Va., Legacy Early College of South Carolina, Grayson of Longanville, Ga, and Ridge View of Columbia, S.C. They will face No. 40 Link Academy at the Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, Ohio (Jan. 15) and will play in the Quincy Shootout (Jan. 21-22).

47. (BB) St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) 15-1 
Key Players: PG Jason Drake II 6-2 2022, SG Jack Crighton 6-2 2022 (Michigan commit baseball), PG Kareem Rozier 5-8 2022, SG JaVaughn Hannah 6-4 2022 (No. 138 Rivals.com, Western Michigan commit).
Why This Ranking: We were going to begin defending Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) D1 state champ Grand Blanc right in the range it finished last season (No. 38), but in early October that team saw AP D1 State Player of the Year and potential All-American Ty Rodgers transfer to Thornton (Harvey, Ill.). The Eaglets were right on their heels in the race for preseason No. 1 and now naturally get the nod. Last season coach Todd Covert’s club was at No. 16 in the FAB 50 and unbeaten until a 58-53 loss to Grand Blanc (which beat unbeaten Ann Arbor Huron in the final) and the program is eager to get back in the winner’s circle. Drake is going for all-Catholic High School League honors for the third consecutive season and is apt to beat defenders off the dribble, pull up for mid-range jumpers or distribute. Crighton has tons of experience on the hardwood and also stars on an Eaglets baseball team that could be the nation’s best next spring. Rozier also has tons of experience as a backcourt performer.
The Skinny: With its blend or returnees, newcomers and tradition, St. Mary Prep is a solid favorite to capture the Catholic League title and MHSAA D1 state crown. Julian Roper (Northwestern) is a big graduation loss, but Hannah is a big-time wing shooter and play-maker who once scored 60 points in a game as a sophomore at Mt. Clements. Hannah is a transfer from Ypsi Academy (Ypsilanti, Mich.), where he played with Memphis’ Emoni Bates, and is eager to help this team reach its goals after a roller coaster junior campaign. Front court depth is provided by Decorion Temple (6-7, 2022), a big-time tight end on the grid-iron headed to Central Michigan, and Covert has high aspirations for incoming freshmen Trey McKinney (6-4, 2025) and Sharod Barnes (6-2, 2025). McKinney is already on the radar of Power 5 programs and Barnes is the program’s point guard of the future. The Eaglets will face the other top contenders for the D1 state title, including University of Detroit Jesuit and Grand Blanc (Jan. 8).

48. (NR) Carver (New Orleans, La.) 29-2 
Key Players: PF Solomon Washington 6-7 2022 (No. 146 247Sports.com), SF Dorian Finister 6-5 2022, PG Willie Anderson 6-2 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Rams get the nod as the final entrant from the loaded Southeast Region, which contains 14 teams in the preseason FAB 50 this season. Carver gets the nod over clubs such as Grayson and Eagle’s Landing of Georgia and Winston Salem Christian and Greensboro Day of North Carolina, among others. It’s easy to like the defending Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) Class 4A champs, as it returns nine lettermen off a club that lost to two in-state foes. Coach Nathaniel Roche has three of the top 10 seniors in Louisiana, including Washington (13.3 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.7 spg, 3.9 bpg). He can completely dominate high school games with his athleticism and motor. Finister (13.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 6.6 apg) is a bit underrated nationally, but that should change if Carver keeps pace with some of the other top teams in the region. He can play a big guard position or crash the boards with equal effectiveness. Anderson (7.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.4 apg) will be a diamond in the rough for a lucky college because of his defensively ability and team-first attitude.
The Skinny: Roche plays a lot of bodies and that experience bodes well for a team with super high expectations for itself. Carver not only has to keep the in-state losses to a minimum to make a FAB 50 move, the Rams also have to perform well at tournaments and showcases. “This team has the ability to be really special,” Roche said. “Our strength is chemistry, but we must learn to be patient against zone defenses.” Carver will play two games at the Red River Hoopfest in Texarkana (Dec. 3-4), including a matchup with FAB 50 title contender Duncanville of Texas. The Rams also participate in the AllState Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans (Jan. 5-8) with the likes of FAB 50 ranked Beaumont United of Texas, St. Mary’s of Pheonix, Ariz., Ridge View of Columbia, S.C., Huntsville of Mobile, Ala., and Newton of Georgia, the latter who likely would have been FAB 50 ranked if not for underclass player defections.

49. (BB) Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 11-2 
Key Players: PG Braeden Smith 6-0 2022, SF Tyler Mrus 6-5 2022, SF Christian King 6-6 2023, PF Neven Marikovic 6-4 2022, PF Jack Velling 6-6 2022 (Oregon St. football commit).
Why This Ranking: Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) teams basically played their 2020-21 high school season in the summer, as did Oregon schools, and are eager to get back to playing during a normal time period. Prep gets the nod as the No. 1 WIAA team over Rainier Beach and Garfield of Seattle, plus Eastside Catholic of Sammamish, because of its three returning starters and nine lettermen with plenty of experience. Coach Michael Kelly (421-201) has two four-year letter winners who made a big impact in last year’s compacted season in Smith and Mrus. Smith runs the show for the Panthers’ attack and is a dynamic play-maker with D1 ability in hoops and football. Mrus gives Prep the athleticism to compete with teams in the Metro League and beyond Washington’s borders. Velling is a three-year letter winner who brings toughness to the front court. Marikovic also is a three-year varsity performer who can play the point forward position to give Smith a blow or change the attack. King missed last season with injury and has a plethora of skill for his size.
The Skinny: The WIAA Class 3A front-runners are the fifth and final team from the West Region to crack the rankings. It was a close call over Rainier Beach and California clubs Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood and Campolindo. Yes, Harvard-Westlake did beat Prep during Section 7, the NCAA-sanctioned June live period event in Phoenix, but that club must contend with FAB 50 ranked clubs such as Corona Centennial and Sierra Canyon, among others, and will have ample opportunity to prove its rankings worth. California clubs also have more leeway should it take a loss. Prep, Rainier Beach and other WIAA clubs do not. With WIAA travel restrictions limiting teams to five non-league games, the Panthers get to play in one tournament. They will have to win the Mission Prep Holiday Prep Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to remain in the rankings. With their talent and the experience Prep gained over the summer, we like its chances. “Our strengths are our experience and guard play, particularly at the point guard position,” Kelly said. “We will be difficult to score against but we in turn have to be consistent shooting from behind the arch.”

50. (NR) La Crosse Central (La Crosse, Wis.) 8-2 
Key Players: PG Devon Fielding 6-1 2022, SF Noah Compan 6-5 2022, SF Porter Pretasky 6-5 2022.
Why This Ranking: The Red Raiders, like many teams in this year’s preseason rankings, did not get a full 2020-21 season and are eager to parve they are among the nation’s best teams in 2021-22. Coach Todd Fergot club rates as the best among Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) clubs with five starters back and plenty of experience off the bench. Fielding (16.5 ppg, 7 rpg) is a do-it-all point guard who is a prime all-state candidate. Compan (10.3 ppg, 6 rpg) has a good outside shot and can attack the rim with a vengeance. Bennett Fried (6-5, 2023) is the third Red Raiders returnee who hit for double-figures last season (10 ppg).
The Skinny: La Crosse Central gets the nod as the final team from the Midwest Region over clubs such as Simeon of Chicago and Central Catholic of Detroit because of its depth and experience. There are plenty of other clubs in the East and the Southeast who will also get their crack to break into the rankings provided COVID-19 protocols and restrictions don’t curtail travel to multiple team events and showcases as it did in 2020-21. La Crosse Central not only has three double-digit scorers back, Pretasky sported norms of 9 ppg and 5 rpg. A three-sport standout, Pretasky is a versatile talent who can move around the lineup as Colin Adams (6-4, 2022) and Nic Williams (6-1, 2023) expand their roles. The Red Raiders will be challenged in state by the likes of Minnehaha Academy and Wayzata and have both on their regular season schedule. They’ll also compete at the Madison College Invitational on Dec. 17-18.

RELATED: Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason 2021-22 FAB 50 (16-30) | 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

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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