UPDATED FAB 50: NIBC Off The Ground

There are two new teams in the fourth edition of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com for the 2020-21 season. Most of the movement at the top revolves around the St. James NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Va., with a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup looming at the event this upcoming Sunday.

By Ronnie Flores

RELATED:   “In The Paint” Podcast | HS Basketball in 2021: What’s In Store?

The season is moving forward despite the looming presence of COVID-19 and school district and state association cancellations has put an even bigger spotlight on the games and events taking place.

The St. James NIBC Invitational is the event getting most of the attention, as no less than 11 teams that appear in the updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com are participating in the Springfield, Va. event. The top seven teams in the FAB 50 are participating in at least one game, plus No. 12 Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.), No. 13 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) with No. 28 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) and John Marshall (Richmond, Va,), which started at No. 24 in the preseason rankings but has been removed after Richmond Schools cancelled its season, participating as club teams.

With so many good teams in the event (which runs January 8 through MLK Monday), there was bound to be movement near the top of the rankings. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) remained No. 1 by opening the event with three consecutive victories, including a monster 58-52 win over No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) last Saturday night.

The game was tied at halftime (33-33), but the Eagles took control in the third period, outscoring the Buffaloes 20-9. Sunrise Christian battled down the stretch and had a chance to tie the game late until MVA’s Ryan Nembhard hit a big 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining to give his team a 58-52 lead.

Dariq Whitehead had 18 points and 8 rebounds for Montverde Academy, while fellow junior Jalen Duren had 13 points, 6 rebounds and four blocks. Duren has been dominant at times at the event and appears to be a bonafide Mr. Basketball USA candidate, while the Eagles are also displaying a good brand of team defense.

Kennedy Chandler and Kendall Brown each scored 13 points for the Buffaloes, who were out-rebounded, 31-22, in their first loss of the season. Because of the score and the level of play, Sunrise Christian remains No. 3 in this week’s rankings.

Gradey Dick
Gradey Dick

6'5"   -   SG   -   2022

At this event, there are plenty of ranked teams dropping games because of the quality of foe and the presence of the eight teams that make up the national Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC). The telling sign of a good team is how it responds in the next game following a big win or loss. The Buffaloes bounced back in a big way with a 79-45 win over No. 12 Legacy Early College, as Gradey Dick led three Buffaloes in double-digits with 12 points.

Montverde Academy didn’t have a letdown in its next game, as it ran its winning to 36 games dating back to 2019 GEICO Nationals with a resounding 65-46 win over No. 13 La Lumiere, as Langston Love and Nembhard combined for 30 points. La Lumiere opened its season 1-2, as it also fell to No. 7 Wasatch Academy, which has lost only to No. 6 and still unbeaten Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).

Outside of the St. James, Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) saw its 20-game winning streak snapped when it fell to then unranked Waxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas) last Saturday, 88-85, in overtime. Waxahachie outscored Texas’ No. 1 ranked team, 38-25, in the fourth period and overtime by employing a 1-3-1 full court press to change the momentum of the game. The District 11-6A showdown wasn’t sealed until 6-foot-4 Waxahachie senior Montez Young nailed a 3-pointer in the extra stanza for a club that trailed by 10 points to begin the fourth period.

University of Oklahoma bound C.J. Noland led all scorers with 30 points, including five in the extra period. Juan Reyna led Duncanville with 25.

Local and state rankings now have Waxahachie ranked ahead of its district rivals, but from a national perspective we decided to keep Duncanville ranked as the No. 1 team from the Lone Star State, although it does drop four spots in the FAB 50 to No. 18. Despite the head-to-head factor, Duncanville still has more quality victories, and we also take into consideration the game went into overtime and Waxahachie’s losses to unranked McKinley (Texas) and iSchool (Lewisville, Texas). The Indians, however, do crack the FAB 50 at No. 39

The district rivals will once again meet on February 2. If both teams hold serve until that game and Waxahachie wins again, the Indians will then have done enough to be ranked higher than Duncanville despite the two losses to unranked foes.

Looking Ahead

Montverde Academy will put its 36-game winning streak on the line at the St. James NIBC Invitational versus Legacy Early College on January 12 and against Oak Hill Academy on January 15 before meeting IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown on January 17 on ESPN (7:30 pm ET). It’s not only a matchup of the two top-ranked teams in the FAB 50, but the two programs that have captured the past two FAB 50 national titles. IMG is the last team to defeat Kevin Boyle’s club.

Jalen Duren
Jalen Duren

6'9"   -   C   -   2021

Whomever gets the best of the interior matchup between Duren and IMG’s Moussa Diabaté could be in good position to win this showdown game. Another matchup to watch will at the lead guard between Nembhard and Jaden Bradley. Montverde is shooting at a high team clip so far in the bubble and IMG and will look to get the Eagles under 50 percent and limit the Eagles to one shot. MVA doesn’t want to shoot at a poor clip and give IMG the ability to get out on its vaunted fast break.

As if that game isn’t enough, IMG Academy will come back on MLK Monday on national television to face No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy (3 pm ET, ESPNU), while Montverde Academy will face No. 7 Wasatch Academy (5 pm ET, ESPNU).

Oak Hill Academy, which has finished No. 1 or No. 2 in the FAB 50 15 times, would like nothing more than to play spoiler on Friday night and put itself in position to challenge for the No. 1 ranking.

With the big slate of MLK Monday games, our next set of rankings will be published the Tuesday after MLK day, which is a tradition the longest-running weekly national rankings started many years ago.

RELATED:   “In The Paint” Podcast | HS Basketball in 2021: What’s In Store?

Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com

(4th poll of 2020-21 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 10; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)

No.Prev.High School (City)Record
11Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)11-0
22IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)10-0
33Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)7-1
44Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)2-0
55DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)1-0
610Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)10-0
76Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)13-1
88Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)0-0
99Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.)0-0
1011Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)0-0
1112Camden (Camden, N.J.)0-0
1213Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.)9-3
137La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)1-2
1415Milton (Milton, Ga.)12-2
1516Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)0-0
1617O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.)0-0
1723Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.)9-0
1814Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)14-1
1919Millard North (Omaha, Neb.)11-0
2020Simeon (Chicago, Ill.)0-0
2121Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.)0-0
2222St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.)0-0
2324Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)0-0
2425Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)0-0
2526Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)16-2
2630North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.)2-0
2731Atascocita (Humble, Texas)11-0
2827St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)0-0
2928Poly (Baltimore, Md.)0-0
3035Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)13-0
3129Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)0-0
32NRCentral Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.)15-2
3332St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)0-0
3433Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)0-0
3518West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.)9-4
3634Notre Dame College Prep (Niles, Ill.)0-0
3737Calvary Christian Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)8-3
3838Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)9-2
39NRWaxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas)10-2
4039Fern Creek (Louisville, Ky.)0-0
4140St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio)8-1
4241Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)0-0
4342Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.)10-4
4443Westlake (Austin, Texas)13-1
4544Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)0-0
4645Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.)12-1
4746Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)14-3
4847Ribet Academy (Los Angeles, Calif.)0-0
4948Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)0-0
5050Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.)3-0

Dropped Out: Previous No. 36 Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa), No. 49 Ballard (Louisville, Ky.).

Bubble Teams:  Adams (South Bend, Ind.) 10-0; American Fork (American Fork, Utah) 9-2; Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 0-0; Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 9-1; Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) 8-0; Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) 4-0; Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) 3-0; Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) 10-0; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 0-0; Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Col.) 0-0; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 0-0; Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.) 4-0; Clinton (Clinton, Miss.) 9-0; Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) 0-0; Crispus Attucks (Indianapolis, Ind.) 10-2; Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) 11-1; Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 0-0; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 7-1; Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.) 0-0; Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; Grand Blanc (Grand Blanc, Mich.) 0-0; Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) 0-0; Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 0-0; Houston (Germantown, Tenn.) 8-2; Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 0-0; Kell (Marietta, Ga.) 11-4; King’s Fork (Suffolk, Va.) 0-0; Knoxville Catholic (Knoxville, Tenn.) 9-2; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 0-0; Magnolia (Magnolia, Ark.) 9-0*; Male (Louisville, Ky.) 0-0; Marion (Marion, Ark.) 10-1; McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 14-3; North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 7-1; Oak Grove (Hattiesburg, Miss.) 8-0; Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) 12-1; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 13-2; Rangeview (Aurora, Col.) 0-0; Richardson (Richardson, Texas) 7-1; River Rouge (River Rouge, Mich.) 0-0; Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 12-1; St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 0-0; St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 0-0; St. Mark’s (Dallas, Texas) 3-1; Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa) 2-1; Wauwatosa East (Wauwatosa, Wis.) 10-0; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 12-3; Windward (Los Angeles, Calif.) 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 21 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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