BENSALEM, Pa. – The updated Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings reflect the oodles of holiday tournaments and events. Just surviving the month of December is special for any Elite 25 team, especially those who challenged themselves on the national scene.
Though the weather is quite frigid here in the Middle Atlantic, the action nationwide is just beginning to heat up. The next big set of games will be over the Dr. Martin Luther King weekend (Jan. 12-15) where fans can flock to events in Missouri, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Ohio to see the best of the best go head-to-head.
We’ll be at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. More on this event will be detailed next week.
This week three teams join the Elite 25 rankings: No .19 Sierra Canyon School (Chatsworth, Calif.), No. 22 Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) and No. 23 Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.). Riverside won two tournaments over the holidays and competes in this week’s All State Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic. Coach Tim Byrd’s team traditionally plays an aggressive schedule.
Okay, it’s time to catch our breath and get ready for the final three months of the season.
Happy New Year to all! We return with our weekly routine on Jan. 9. Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys Basketball Rankings, Jan. 2, 2018
1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (18-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: The Eagles were a terror over the holidays, winning two tournament titles in Honolulu and Myrtle Beach, S.C. RJ Barrett, a Duke recruit and the national player of the year candidate, won the tournament Most Valuable Player with a double-double in the final with 27 points and 10 rebounds, in a 70-42 win over Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) in the final. The Eagles also won the Iolani Classic in Hawaii.
2. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (21-0)
Previous rank: 2.
Low-down: The Warriors won a pair of tournaments over the holidays, bagging the Chick-fil-A Classic National Division Bracket in South Carolina and Les Schwab Invitational in Oregon. In the latter event, coach Steve Smith’s boys’ defeated then-No. 15 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 67-55, in the final. Kentucky-bound Keldon Johnson was named MVP at Les Schwab.
3. University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (14-0)
Low-down: The Sharks made the biggest splash of December, winning titles at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., and John Wall Holiday Invitational T.J. Warren Bracket in Raleigh, N.C. In COPC, Junior Vernon Carey Jr. had 20 points in a 77-72 victory over then-No. 3 East (Memphis, Tenn.) in the final. Carey turned in an MVP performance in North Carolina as the Sharks topped Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix), 71-66, for the crown. Carey had 31 points and 11 rebounds in the title tilt. Teammate Trey Doomes was on the all-tournament team.
4. East, Memphis, Tenn. (11-1)
Previous rank: 3.
Low-down: The Mustangs took second at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
5. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (11-1)
Previous rank: 6.
Low-down: The Indians won the Tournament of Champions title in Marietta, Ga. The lone is loss is 71-63 to No. 3 University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 71-63, in the City of Palms Classic.
6. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (9-0)
Low-down: The Purple Eagles went 3-0 over the holidays, including a 58-44 win over Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) at the Slam Dunk to the Beach in Lewes, Del. Terrance Williams threw in a game-high 25 points. The second season or the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference slate gets rolling in earnest this week.
7. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (12-0)
Previous rank: 15.
Low-down: The Matadors have nearly a three-week break over the holidays, returning to the hardwood on Jan. 9 at Thunderbird (Phoenix).
8. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (16-2)
Previous rank: 10.
Low-down: The Pilots took third place at the Chick-fil-A Classic National Division Bracket. Now they play two games in the Cancer Research Classic this weekend in Wheeling, W.Va.
9. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (12-0)
Previous rank: 18.
Low-down: Won two tournaments over the holidays, taking home titles at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic and Spot Up SoCal Christmas Classic in Los Angeles.
10. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (10-1)
Previous rank: 11.
Low-down: Crushed Aberdeen (S.D.) Central, 98-61, at the Mike Mitchell Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D. Next up is the Cancer Research Classic for two games this weekend in West Virginia.
11. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (10-1)
Previous rank: 25.
Low-down: Justin Moore (21 points) and Hunter Dickinson (18) teamed for 39 points and the Stags downed Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.), 64-63, for third place at the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina. Moore’s layup with one second left rallied his team from a 63-62 deficit. The grueling Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule picks up this week with two fixtures.
12. Simeon, Chicago (11-2)
Previous rank: 5.
Low-down: Iowa State-bound Talen Horton-Tucker’s double-double of 25 points and 10 boards were enough to take down Curie (Chicago), 67-48, in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament final. Coach Robert Smith’s teams have won six of the last eight tournament titles. The Wolverines took fourth place at the City of Palms Classic in Florida.
13. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (8-2)
Previous rank: 17.
Low-down: The Panthers captured the Tournament of Champions Classic in Marietta, Ga., defeating Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.), 76-62, in the final. Villanova-bound Brandon Slater was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Sophomore PG Jeremy Roach was on the all-tournament team.
14. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (17-2)
Previous rank: 19.
Low-down: Won the HAEBCO Invitational title for the seventh consecutive year, topping E.E. Smith (Greensboro), 73-49, in Greensboro. Clemson-bound John Newman netted 24 points to earn MVP honors.
15. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (9-3)
Previous rank: 13.
Low-down: The Monarchs went 3-1 to take second at the Les Schwab Invitational, losing to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 67-52, in the final.
16. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (10-3)
Previous rank: 4.
Low-down: Lost in the Chick-fil-A Classic National Division final to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 73-71. Also took fourth place at the John Wall Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, N.C.
17. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (9-1)
Previous rank: 16.
Low-down: Placed fifth in the Beach Ball Classic, beating Moeller (Cincinnati), 47-44. The Panthers lost to No. 11 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 56-43, in the quarterfinals.
18. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (7-2)
Previous rank: 20.
Low-down: The Democrats placed third at the Les Schwab Invitational and second in the Iolani Classic. They have a tremendous national resume heading back into the Portland Interscholastic League play that reboots Thursday vs. Wilson (Portland).
19. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (9-1)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Trailblazers won the Hart Tournament after Christmas and into Friday’s area showdown with undefeated No. 9 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) riding an eight-game winning skein.
20. Hudson Catholic, Jersey City, N.J. (2-2)
Previous rank: 12.
Low-down: The Hawks went 1-2 at the City of Palms but are back for four in-state games, including Sunday’s showdown with St. Benedict’s (Newark).
21. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (7-2)
Low-down: The Buffaloes have the meat of their schedule ahead and will push for a postseason bid to the DICK’S Nationals.
22. Oak Ridge, Orlando, Fla. (13-3)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: After a brutal December docket of national events, the Pioneers will focus on District 5-9A fixtures closer to home
23. Riverside Academy, Reserve, La. (18-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Louisiana’s top-ranked team is rolling after winning two in-state tournaments over the holidays. The Rebels compete in this week’s All State Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic in Westwego, La.
24. Clarkston, Mich. (5-1)
Previous rank: 14.
Low-down: The Wolves were upset by Detroit East English, 80-71, but will rebound. Next up is Wednesday at Bloomfield Hills.
25. Denton (Texas) Guyer (22-1)
Low-down: Texas’ top-ranked Class 6A squad placed third in the Whataburger Tournament Orange Division and cling to a spot in the Elite 25.
Dropped: No. 9 Archbishop Molloy, Briarwood, N.Y.; No. 22 Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.; and No. 24 South Garland, Garland, Texas.
High-Fives by Region
- Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (5-1)
- Ranney School, Tinton Falls, N.J. (5-1)
- Archbishop Molloy, Briarwood, N.Y. (4-3)
- Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (7-2)
- Mount Vernon, N.Y. (9-0)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Curie, Chicago (10-2)
- Orr, Chicago (11-2)
- North, Oshkosh, Wis. (10-0)…SA
- Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn. (8-1)
- Huntington (W.Va.) Prep (10-3)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C. (11-2)
- Cox Mill, Concord, N.C. (11-3)
- Scott County, Georgetown, Ky. (10-1)
- Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (16-3)
- Huffman, Birmingham, Ala. (16-1)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (11-1)
- Garfield, Seattle (8-0)
- Etiwanda, Calif. (14-1)
- Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (15-1)
- Clark, Las Vegas (11-3)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Boys’ Basketball Rankings are released weekly from November until the conclusion of the high school season. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition, and quality of the team’s league, conference, region or district. Teams with fifth-year players cannot be ranked. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released in April. Follow him on Twitter @clawlor.