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Preseason FAB 50: (31-50)

Carlton Bragg is part of a powerful front line at FAB 50 No. 45 Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland). Photo: Vernon Bryant/adidas

Carlton Bragg is part of a powerful front line at FAB 50 No. 45 Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland). Photo: Vernon Bryant/adidas

Today we kick off the 2014-15 high school basketball season with our first installment of the preseason 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 national team rankings. We begin with teams No. 31-50 and our second installment will be teams No. 16-30 on Monday, November 3. The complete FAB 50 rankings will be released by Tuesday, November 4.

Preseason 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops
FAB 50 National Team Rankings

Compiled by Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis

(Final 2013-14 ranking in parentheses; *Forfeit wins-losses not included; Look for preseason Region-By-Region Top 20 Rankings on Friday, November 7 and for the preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker on Thursday, November 20.)

Note: The Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and they were compiled by the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 15 years ago.

All 50 teams are written up with explanations for why they were placed in these positions. Montverde Academy of Florida was the 2012-13 and 2013-14 mythical national champion and the National Sports News Service Rankings as published by GrassrootsHoops.net was the only weekly national rankings with the Eagles as preseason No. 1 both seasons. Montverde Academy is attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive mythical national titles since McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) between 1958-60. CLICK HERE to view the all-time list of preseason No. 1 ranked teams.

RELATED: Preseason Student Sports FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason Student Sports FAB 50 (16-30)

31. (NR) Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.) 33-3
Key Players: PG Chavron Julien 6-1 2015 (No. 168 Hoop Scoop, Oklahoma State, Youngstown State, Old Dominion offers); SG Malik Crowfield 6-4 2016 (No. 140 Hoop Scoop, State Tournament MVP, LSU, Baylor, UTEP offers); SF Herb McGee 6-2 2016 (LSU offer for football, Tulane and Louisiana Lafayette offers in both sports).
Why This Ranking: The Rebels have dominated in-state competition and have all five starters and a whopping 11 lettermen back. Riverside Academy also is the three-time defending Class 2A state champions and has won four titles in the past five seasons. Julien (14 ppg, 9 apg, 4 spg), last year’s Class 2A Player of the Year, is a quarterback on the hardwood and a good enough wide receiver to get recruited by D1 schools. McGee (14 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 bpg) is a big-time football recruit and an aggressive rebounder and defender. Crowfield (19 ppg, 11 rpg, 4 apg) is the go-to player on offense and is a clutch performer known for playing his best in the big games.
The Skinny: Veteran coach Timmy Byrd (624-179) is giddy about his veteran unit and doesn’t mind being undersized, even as the Rebels venture to the City of Palms Tournament in Florida to take on some of the nation’s best teams. “I’d rather take on teams a bit bigger that might not be as talented,” Byrd said. “We can defend them, but they have to try to stay with us on the other end.” Senior Jordan Andrews (6-5) is a D1 wing prospect in a five-guard offense who can fill the lanes, while senior Joe Anderson (6-5, 250) is the enforcer on the block. He is a big-time player and recruit, as a defensive end in football, who can play some roundball, too.

32. (NR) Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) 26-1  (@AthleticsCHC)  
Key Players: PF Chris Clarke 6-6 2015 (No. 52 Hoop Scoop); PG Marcus Evans 6-2 2015 (No. 218 Hoop Scoop); C Paul Grinde 6-9 2015.
Why This Ranking: The Dolphins have the talent and experience to capture the VISAA Division I state title. This is a veteran crew that includes the last two All-Tidewater Player of the Year choices in Clarke (2014) and Evans (2013) when the latter was at Great Bridge. Clarke is a take-no-prisoners type in the post, but is still quick and athletic enough to make an impact facing the basket. Evans is an experienced perimeter player primed to have a big season, while Grinde is an improved post who will be invaluable when the Dolphins face other national level teams.
The Skinny: Cape Henry only lost its final game in the state tournament to Paul VI of Fairfax, a nationally-ranked team that definitely played tougher caliber competition leading up to that contest. The Dolphins were a bit overwhelmed early, but adjusted before eventually losing 64-56. They have upgraded their schedule, which includes a trip to the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C., and the experience should help them when the post-season rolls around.

Rainier Beach33. (6) Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 29-1  (@RainierBeach206)
Key Players: SG Dejounte Murray 6-5 2015 (No. 76 Hoop Scoop, Student Sports Underclass All-American, Washington commit); SF Keith Smith 6-7 2016 (No. 95 Hoop Scoop, Washington, Kansas, UConn, Gonzaga offers); PG Shadeed Shabazz 6-0 2015 (Montana, Portland State offers).
Why This Ranking: It was a historical season for the Vikings in 2013-14 as they flirted with a No. 1 national ranking and were allowed to play in Dick’s Nationals by the WIAA. They don’t quite have the talent of last year’s unit, but veteran coach Mike Bethea (459-110) and team will win tons of games and be in position to win the Class 3A state title by doing what it knows best — getting out and running, using its athleticism in the open court and playing strong team defense. Murray leads the cast of six returning lettermen and is a go-to scorer, while Smith is poised for a breakout season on a national scale.
The Skinny: Had the WIAA not allowed the Vikings to play in Dick’s Nationals, this team would have finished No. 3 in the 2013-14 FAB 50, and the poor performance against Findlay Prep lingers. Had Rainier Beach had a better showing and won that game or two in New York, the Vikings would be a few ticks higher this preseason. They began last season No. 12 and exceeded expectations, so the same thing can happen this year if this experienced club develops consistency on the offensive end.

34. (34) Prime Prep Academy (Dallas, Texas) 21-6  (@PrimePrepBball)
Key Players: SF Terrance Ferguson 6-7 2016 (No. 11 Hoop Scoop, Oklahoma State, SMU, Baylor offers); SF Mark Vital 6-4 2016 (No. 56 Hoop Scoop, Baylor commit); SG Jalon Anderson 6-3 2015 (New Orleans, Northern Colorado, S.F Austin offers); PG Corinthian Ramsey 5-10 2015 (Arkansas State, La-Lafayette offers).
Why This Ranking: The charter school founded by NFL great Deion Sanders has been embroiled in controversy all off-season, but if it successfully competes this season, there is little doubt it will be a fine team. The problem is the Texas Education Agency rejected Prime Prep Academy’s appeal of its charter revocation in August amid charges the school board and administration is not serving the students at a desired standard. On the court, the standard is quite high, as Ferguson is a bonafide McDonald’s All-American candidate next season. Vital is another top-notch junior and Ramsey is the quarterback for an athletic group.
The Skinny: Last season, Prime underachieved after a big win over Findlay Prep at the Tarkanian Classic, and that was with future NBA lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay. The off-season controversy played a part in the entire roster being gutted outside of Ferguson. A majority of the players left the unstable situation, but a talented crop of players enrolled as well. If coach Ray Forsett can get his troops to put aside the off-season distractions, Prime Prep could move up as long as it fulfills its schedule and can still play UIL schools.

35. (NR) Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 24-9  (@WCA_Basketball)
Key Players: PF Harry Giles 6-9 2016 (No. 5 Hoop Scoop); SG Kwe Parker 6-2 2016 (No. 88 Hoop Scoop); PG Brandon Childress 6-0 2015
Why This Ranking: The Trojans are the two-time defending NCISAA Class 3A state champs and have the talent to three-peat while making a splash on the national scene. They did lose the talents of McDonald’s All-American Theo Pinson (North Carolina), but the newcomers could take this team to another level. Giles was a Class 3A All-State pick as a freshman and returns after missing his sophomore season because of an ACL injury. He’s considered an even better pro prospect than Pinson. Transfer Parker is a mix tape sensation and considered the best dunker in high school basketball. Childress is the son of former Wake Forest All-American Randolph Childress and brings stability and IQ to the backcourt.
The Skinny: Wesleyan Christian’s basement and ceiling is quite wide for a team with its talent level. We didn’t want to put the Trojans too high because they lost nine games last season and didn’t do so well against top level teams (including a 24-point loss to Oak Hill Academy). On the flip side, the makeup of this unit is different and if Giles is as good as advertised, the loss total should be cut in half or even two-thirds. The Trojans will travel to the City of Palms Tournament in Florida and are eager to show they have what it takes to warrant a FAB 50 ranking.

36. (NR) Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) 22-5  (@LiLutheran)
Key Players: PG Chris Atkinson 5-9 2015 (No. 254 Hoop Scoop, Iona, Monmouth, Northeastern offers); SF Marvin Prochet 6-7 2015 (No. 235 Hoop Scoop, Fordham, Hofstra, Iona, Seton Hall offers); SG Devonte Green 6-2 2016 (Arizona, Cincinnati offers).
Why This Ranking: The Crusaders are the odds-on favorites to capture the New York State Federation Class AA title and as the Empire State’s top team in the preseason, deserve a FAB 50 spot. Coach John Buck has depth in his backcourt and quality frontcourt players and that balance should carry the team far this season. Atkinson is a quick floor general and Green, the younger brother of San Antonio Spurs forward Danny Green, is a major offensive threat. Prochet is a versatile wingman and can spell players in the backcourt if necessary.
The Skinny: LuHi looked like it was on its way to a state title last season before No. 46 Christ the King roared back from 14 points down to win the Federation title game by six points. There is extra motivation for the Crusaders since they lost to CTK in the final two straight seasons. The added inside presence of junior Jose Martinez (6-8) will be a welcomed addition. If the Puerto Rican transplant develops and meshes with the veterans, LuHi might be singing a different tune upstate in Albany next March.

The Buzz 15037. (NR) John Carroll School (Bel Air, Md.) 25-15
Key Players: PF Mike Tertsea 6-9 2016 (No. 103 Hoop Scoop, Dayton, Fairfield, JMU, Siena, Towson offers); CG Kimbal Mackenzie 6-1 2015 (Loyola, Siena, UMBC offers); PG Elijah Long 6-0 2015 (Florida Gulf Coast, Old Dominion offers).
Why This Ranking: The Patriots have a plethora of talent and compete in one of the top leagues (Baltimore Catholic League) in one of the better conferences (MIAAA) in the country. Coach Tony Martin has seven potential D1 players on the roster and eight lettermen returning. Among the four returning starters is Tertsea, a crafty interior scorer and solid shot blocker with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. Mackenzie is a former football player who can play either guard slot and is a tough, vocal leader. Long is a great penetrator with the ability to get hot at any given moment.
The Skinny: Coach Martin feels this is his most talented roster in 10 years at Carroll, so if the players come together the Patriots could be in store for a fine season. It should happen, as the veteran coach also praises the work ethic and character of his group. The DMV region is indeed loaded with quality teams, but 15 losses is quite a bit from last season to be up too high in the preseason rankings. If the offense comes through for this defensive-oriented program, the losses should dwindle with a possible Dick’s Nationals berth not out of the question.

38. (NR) DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 29-6 (@DeMathaHoops)
Key Players: SF D.J. Harvey 6-4 2017 (No. 7 Hoop Scoop, Arizona, Miami, Maryland, Georgetown offers); SG Markelle Fultz 6-2 2016 (No. 142 Hoop Scoop, West Virginia, DePaul, Maryland, Virginia Tech offers); PG Terrell Allen 6-2 2015 (Drexel commit).
Why This Ranking: The Stags look to rebound from a disappointing season by their own lofty and legendary standards. They look like Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) title contenders along with Paul VI of Virginia and Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. It’s as tough a conference as there is in the country, as one team will likely surprise and beating teams in the second round of league play is no easy task. Coach Mike Jones (314-88) did lose some pieces to transfer, but has plenty of playing experience (11 returning lettermen) back. He loves the ability of his wing players, led by Harvey, one of the nation’s best sophomores.
The Skinny: The Stags lost three out of four games to Paul VI last season, including the WCAC title game and in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational championship. In order to get over the hump in league play and against a murderous schedule, veterans such as Allen and senior forward Jaelin Grant (6-7) will need to provide on-court leadership while players like Fultz have to take on bigger roles. It looks promising, as Fultz had a fantastic second round of league play last year. The Stags also won the BSN summer league which included five other WCAC programs.

39. (NR) Putnam City West (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 26-3
Key Players: SF Tyson Jolly 6-4 2015 (Tulsa, UTEP offers); SG Tre Evans 6-0 2016 (Fresno State offer); SF Nick Robinson 6-3 2017 (Oklahoma, Tulsa offers).
Why This Ranking: This is the perfect spot for the Patriots to start in the preseason, because the Tulsa Union team that defeated them in the Class 6A title game last year finished its season ranked in the same spot. Coach Lenny Bert fully expects his team to carry the hardware this season since he has four starters and a whopping 10 lettermen back from his state runner-up club. Jolly (17 ppg, 8.3 rpg) is a terror for foes and should be even more lethal this season after missing half of last year with blood clots. Evans (11 ppg, 4 apg) can man either guard slot and Robinson is quickly turning into a big-time player.
The Skinny: This perennial Oklahoma power will do just fine in state, but has its eyes on bigger fish. There isn’t a lot of size, so young players such as Robinson and 5-7 sophomore point guard Marquis Johnson (13.1 ppg) will need to mature quickly. The good thing is this group has plenty of experience and will get to test itself against bigger clubs when it travels to the Thanksgiving Festival in Dallas and the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.

40. (NR) Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 25-6  (@RUHSBOYSHOOPS)
Key Players: SG Leland Green 6-2 2016 (Cal-Hi Sports Sophomore All-State, Northern Arizona offer); PF Billy Preston 6-8 2017 (No. 9 Hoop Scoop, UCLA, Arizona State, UConn, Oregon, USC offers); SF Cameron Williams 6-4 2016.
Why This Ranking: The Sea Hawks have enough returning talent and experience on the floor and sideline to be a major contender in the CIF Southern Section’s loaded open division playoff race. Coach Reggie Morris Jr. is cautiously optimistic, but you have to like a team with the explosive Green and newcomer Preston in the lineup. Preston is the key, because he’s one of California’s most versatile talents. Preston’s ability to beat teams on the wing, the block, or with the ball in his hands will make Redondo a dangerous team if his production is consistent.
The Skinny: Redondo Union was not happy with its showing at last year’s Tarkanian Classic, nor a semifinal exit in the CIFSS Open Division playoffs. The loss of point guard Ian Fox (Idaho State) and pivot Terrell Carter (Fresno State) will be felt, which is why Preston’s production is so key. Seniors Cameron High (6-0) and Jeremiah Headley (6-7) were on Redondo’s Division II state title-winning team two years ago and if the duo displays on-court improvement and leadership, this team could move up.

41. (NR) Arthur Hill (Saginaw, Mich.) 15-5  (@SAHBBteam)
Key Players: SG Eric Davis 6-3 2015 (No. 57 Hoop Scoop, Student Sports Underclass All-American, Texas commit); SF Brian Bowen 6-7 2017 (No. 6 Hoop Scoop, Boston College, Louisville offers).
Why This Ranking: The Lumberjacks are the preseason No. 1 in Michigan. After all, they’ve been on the cusp and return a lot of firepower. “It’s not hard to like Arthur Hill when they’ve got two potential All-Americans in the lineup,” said Stephen Bell of bankhoops.com. Davis is an athletic two-guard with a scorer’s mentality who can also slide over to the point guard when needed. Bowen blew up nationally at last fall’s Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph camp and is a tough check at this level because of his footwork, ball-handling ability and ambidextrous finishing ability.
The Skinny: The Lumberjacks didn’t play outside the state of Michigan last year and the limited scheduling opportunities also limits their opportunity to quickly move up in the rankings. Coach Greg McMath’s club has lost to cross-town Saginaw in the district tournament for three years in a row, including a tough 53-51 setback last season in which Arthur Hill was in control until the very end. Arthur Hill has its sights set on getting over the hump, but in order to advance and capture the coveted Class A state title it has to show it can consistently rebound the ball and not overly rely on Davis’ abilities.

42. (NR) Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.) 18-6
Key Players: SG Malik Monk 6-4 2016 (No. 3 Hoop Scoop, Student Sports Underclass All-American); C Ben Smith 6-9 2015 (John Brown commit); PF Tyler Robinson 6-5 2016; SF Daniel Head 6-3 2015.
Why This Ranking: Coach Jason McMahan loaded up the schedule and it makes sense because he has a loaded lineup. Clark Francis of the Hoop Scoop rates Monk as the best junior shooting guard in the nation and for good reason. He can drop 40 points in a game and can carry his team at times even against strong competition. The team, however, is more than just Monk, as Smith gets it done in the middle and Robinson has D1 ability. Head is a 3-year starter and is a glue player who can play multiple positions.
The Skinny: With Monk, big tournament directors wanted to get Bentonville in their events and the Tigers will venture to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions and the City of Palms Tournament, not to mention playing a home game versus junior stud Jayson Tatum and Chaminade of St. Louis. At the City of Palms, Bentonville will match up against Wheeler of Georgia and that means Jaylen Brown vs. Malik Monk. Bentonville won’t get too caught up in those holiday matchups, though, because it knows the task at hand is to get by North Little Rock in the Class 7A playoffs. Last year, North Little Rock beat the Tigers in the state semifinals, 77-64.

43. (NR) Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) 29-6
Key Players: PG Lonzo Ball 6-5 2016 (No. 20 Hoop Scoop, Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year, UCLA commit); SF Li’Angelo Ball 6-4 2017 (Cal-Hi Sports Freshmen All-State).
Why This Ranking: The Huskies are a bit undersized on a national level, but they are a cinch to crack the FAB 50 as a returning CIF Southern Section Open Division finalist and because of Lonzo Ball. He’s one of the most unique talents in the country, with the ability to dominate games with his facilitating or rebounding and pushing it up the court himself. The usual benefactor of his serpentine passing is younger brother Li’Angelo, who is effective around the basket using his body or streaking to the three-point line for a wide open look. When his patented “Gelo Shots” are falling, this team is extremely tough to beat.
The Skinny: The Huskies did beat No. 40 Redondo Union in the CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals, but they lost a bit more and didn’t replace the talent as well as the Sea Hawks. There is also the feast or famine nature of the Huskies’ style of play. Coach Steve Baik does a good job of employing his full court press so the Huskies can dictate pace, but when the shots are not falling they can go from world-beaters to average rather quickly. The big loss was the tragic death of Nnamdi Okongwu (6-8) over the summer. It was an emotional jolt, and his rebounding and defensive presence is proving difficult to replace.

Charles Matthews of No. 44 St. Rita (Chicago) hopes to win a Class 4A state title before he heads to Kentucky. Photo: Kelly Kline/adidas

Charles Matthews of No. 44 St. Rita (Chicago) hopes to win a Class 4A state title before he heads to Kentucky. Photo: Kelly Kline/adidas

44. (NR) St. Rita (Chicago, Ill.) 21-8  (@StRitaHoops)
Key Players: SG Charles Matthews 6-6 2015 (No. 31 Hoop Scoop, Kentucky commit); PF Myles Carter 6-8 2015 (No. 212 Hoop Scoop); PG Armani Chaney 5-10 2015 (Tennessee State); SF Brandon McRoy 6-3 2015.
Why This Ranking: The Mustangs are the favorites in Chicago’s Catholic League and could be Illinois’ best if everything goes to form. Despite losing Northwestern recruit Vic Law and three-year starter Dominique Matthews, there is enough returning talent to make a serious run at the Class 4A state title. Charles Matthews (Dominque’s younger brother) is primed for a big senior season after dealing with injuries over the summer. Chaney will take on a bigger role after averaging six points and six assists last season, while Carter is your typical rugged Windy City post — perhaps a big undersized but with a take-no-prisoners attitude.
The Skinny: We started St. Rita at No. 26 last season, but we’re going to take a more cautious approach this season because the schedule is tough and this team will have to quickly jell. Veteran coach Gary DeCesare believes this is a more cohesive unit and it should make a big difference in the big games. If Matthews gets consistent help in the scoring department and sophomore Te’Mon Green (6-2) makes an impact, the Mustangs will be rolling come February. They have an early test against No. 46 Christ the King at the Chicago Elite Classic.

45. (NR) Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio) 21-9
Key Players: PF Carlton Bragg 6-9 2015 (No. 24 Hoop Scoop, UCLA, Illinois, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas offers); PF Derek Pardon 6-8 2015 (Northwestern commit); SF Brian Parker 6-3 2015 (Marist commit); SG Simon Texidor IV 6-1 2015.
Why This Ranking: The Vikings, loaded with talent and experience, are eager to capture the OHSAA Division III state title that eluded them last year. VASJ is especially dominant up front, with Bragg and Pardon leading the way, on a team with five players 6-foot-4 or taller. Bragg is a rebounding machine and as he continues to improve his offensive consistency, it will only make the Vikings that much more difficult to defeat. Pardon is underrated nationally and Parker is a tough southpaw who relishes contact with the ability to punish guards or maneuver and score around bigger players.
The Skinny: Personnel-wise, with 13 lettermen returning, VASJ could be ranked a notch higher, but it fell short of its goal of repeating as state champions. The reason for losing nine games last season was that the team did not close out the close ones against other ranked teams, such as Mr. Basketball USA Cliff Alexander and Chicago Curie (66-63), Trey Lyles and Indianapolis Arsenal Tech (80-76) and No. 44 St. Rita (61-59). The Vikings have to display the ability to close out those showcase-type games and show that the backcourt is sound without graduated guard Deandre Forte. If Texidor IV has a big season, VASJ will be in excellent position to win its second state title in three years.

46. (46) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 25-6
Key Players: SG Rawle Alkins 6-4 2016 (No. 27 Hoop Scoop, All-City, Queens POY, Villanova, Indiana, Cincinnati, Providence offers); SF Tyrone Cohen 6-3 2016 (No. 274 Hoop Scoop, Fairfield offer); PG Jared Rivers 6-0 2016.
Why This Ranking: CTK begins right where it left off in last year’s FAB 50 and is the favorite in the CHSAA over St. Raymond’s of the Bronx. LuHi begins as the top ranked team in New York’s Five Boroughs over programs that merited FAB 50 consideration such as Cardozo (Bayside) and Wing’s Academy (Bronx). We give No. 36 Long Island Lutheran the nod as the Federation Class AA favorites because CTK has a bit younger and smaller roster. Still, the Royals get rankings credit because they are two-time New York Federation Class AA champion and defeated LuHi in last year’s final. The Royals’ faithful is optimistic about a three-peat because of the presence of Alkins, one of the best junior guards in the country, and the depth on the perimeter. Coach Joe Arbitello, who has guided CTK to three Federation titles in five years, also has added depth up from a 19-5 JV team and a 24-1 frosh team.
The Skinny: During CTK’s last two title runs, it has been FAB 50 ranked at the end of the season and this year shouldn’t be any different. With perimeter players such as Rivers and sophomore Jose Alvarado (5-11), Arbitello loves his team’s perimeter shooting, but is a bit concerned about his interior scoring. A lot of the load will fall on junior David Cole (6-6), so as long as he steps up and gets some help the Royals will remain tough to beat. If they falter inside, it will make an already diminutive unit seem smaller against the tough competition.

47. (NR) Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 28-5  (@coachswhite)
Key Players: PG Alterique Gilbert 6-0 2016 (No. 62 Hoop Scoop, Student Sports Underclass All-American, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Florida State, Auburn offers); PF Raylon Richardson 6-6 2016 (Indiana State, George Mason, Mercer offers); SG Kendall Williams 6-1 2015.
Why This Ranking: The Wolverines have the talent, experience and coaching to warrant a spot in the preseason FAB 50. Perhaps even greater, they have a winning tradition as the six-time defending Class AAAAA state champions. Gilbert (18 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.1 spg) has been an integral part of the last two and is an indispensable part of coach Sharman White’s attack. Richardson (5.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg) is developing into a D1 forward and his role is important because this team has been traditionally undersized during its championship run — and this year is no different.
The Skinny: Miller Grove began last season at No. 22, but losses during the holiday tournaments knocked them from the FAB 50. The Wolverines get after it defensively and have the guard play to stay in any game, but Miller Grove has to demonstrate it has the size to compete with national level teams. If the other seven returning lettermen besides Gilbert pick up the scoring slack left by graduated standouts Keith Pinckney and James Walker (combined 25 ppg) while Richardson gives them quality minutes, Miller Grove should do well against bigger clubs. White’s team has plenty of opportunity to show what it can do at the Iolani Classic and the Lighthouse Thanksgiving Classic in Corinth, Miss, where a showdown with Malik Newman and Jackson (Miss.) Callaway awaits on November 29.

48. (19) North Shore (Galena, Texas) 35-3
Key Players: SG Kerwin “Snoop” Roach Jr. 6-3 2015 (No. 43 Hoop Scoop, Texas commit); SF Jarrey Foster 6-4 2015 (SMU commit).
Why This Ranking: The Mustangs have a dynamite player in Roach Jr. and are the defending Class 5A state champions. Even though he contributed greatly to North Shore’s title run, “Snoop” was under the national radar until some show-stopping performances at the Las Vegas Fab 48 last July. He’s a big-time athlete, with fantastic lift on his jump shot, and could carry this team for stretches at a time. He can play the role of a dominant scorer or move over to the lead guard spot when necessary. Coach David Green also has some nice pieces around Roach Jr. to develop.
The Skinny: The Mustangs would have started a few ticks higher, but Foster is recovering from a knee injury. Foster had 16 points and 10 rebounds when North Shore defeated taller and favored Converse Judson in the state title game. This team is quick all around and knows how to defend bigger teams. Coach Green’s club could take its lumps early, but Jim Hicks of RCS Sports feels they’ll be a force to be reckoned with later on in the season. “This team is fast and they can create mismatches,” Hicks said. “Once they have everyone back in play, they should be fine at the finish line.”

If sophomore Christian Popoola Jr. has a big season, No. 50 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) could be headed for a fifth consecutive state title. Photo: Kick Koza/sportsamp.com

If sophomore Christian Popoola Jr. has a big season, No. 50 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) could be headed for a fifth consecutive state title. Photo: Kick Koza/sportsamp.com

49. (NR) Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) 25-3
Key Players: C Diamond Stone 6-10 2015 (No. 23 Hoop Scoop, Student Sports Underclass All-American, UConn, Maryland, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State offers); G Tywon Bressler Jr. 6-2 2015; G Austin Mautry 5-11 2015.
Why This Ranking: The Knights have won three consecutive Division 4 state titles and have one of the nation’s most dominant players in Stone. Simply put, there are not many players or teams in Wisconsin that can match up with him. In last year’s dominant run, Stone had 28 points and 11 rebounds in a 24-point state title game win and 30 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks in the Knights’ easy semifinal victory. That type of dominance is hard for teams to deal with — and hard to ignore in the rankings.
The Skinny: Coach Derek Berger’s team doesn’t play the stiffest of competition and that somewhat limits its FAB 50 ceiling. Dominican, however, is far from a one-man team, as two other starters return in Bressler Jr., who has D1 ability, and Mautry, an experienced guard and solid shooter. Dominican finished on a 20-game winning streak and if it can get that winning streak in the 50-game range with a fourth consecutive state title in tow, it’ll likely be higher than this position in the final FAB 50.

50. (41) Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 23-3  (@LonePeakBBall)
Key Players: SG Frank Jackson 6-3 2016 (No. 59 Hoop Scoop, BYU commit); PG Christian Popoola Jr. 6-3 2017 (UNLV, New Mexico offers); SF Nick Curtis 6-4 2017.
Why This Ranking: The Knights have become a staple of the FAB 50 in recent years and have lifted the profile of Utah high school basketball in general. We also considered Bountiful for the FAB 50 and 10-15 years ago it would have been unheard of to begin two Utah clubs among the nation’s best 50 teams. Last season Lone Peak continued its in-state dominance by becoming the first program in state history to win four consecutive state titles and the talent level is high enough for a fifth in a row.
The Skinny: Lone Peak begins just a notch below where it left off last year, when it opened the season at No. 31 and finished 10 spots lower. T.J. Haws will be hard to replace, but Jackson is a dynamite talent with plenty of big-game experience. Popoola Jr. is less experienced, but the explosive transfer guard from Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas is oozing with potential. If “Lil’ Pop” and other young players such as sophomore Nate Harkness (6-4) find their roles and play well enough to take the pressure off Jackson, they’ll remain in the FAB 50. This young group will have to mature fast because the schedule is loaded with trips to the Chicago Elite Classic, Great Western Shootout and Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.

RELATED: Preseason Student Sports FAB 50 (1-15) | Preseason Student Sports FAB 50 (16-30)

Ronnie Flores is the Publisher and Editor of GrassrootsHoops.net. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores


One Comment

  1. Ronnie Flores
    Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Had to get rid of all the spam comments, but a couple of people mentioned we had Wesleyan Christian Academy ranked much too low. They are moving up in the rankings, but it remains to be seen how high they can climb. If they win the City of Palms, they’ll be in business.

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