NEW YORK – The party continues to rage in northwest Indiana: The La Lumiere School Lakers of La Porte, Ind., are the Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Champions!
After winning the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament here and knocking off three nationally ranked teams, the Lakers ascend to the No. 1 final ranking. Coach Shane Heirman’s team started the season in the top spot, suffered a loss in January but rebounded with a strong finish to win it all.
Heirman was adamant in the preseason his Lakers were the top team and following a last-second loss in the 2016 DICK’S Nationals final, the all consuming journey back the championship started. They played as a team and won as a team. The egos were checked at the door as they all bought in. It was a recipe for the ages and afterwards Heirman stood firm again.
“This team [La Lumiere] is No. 1; I believe it,” Heirman said.
It’s not how you start but how you finish. I watched all 10 games at the DICK’S Nationals and realized the cream rises. Seven of the boys’ teams were Elite 25 teams and all them remain in the final rankings.
When the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings are determined, the main criteria is strength of schedule. In schoolboy basketball, if you play one and win against elite teams then good things happen.
Having said that what’s even worse is ducking competition when a generous invitational was extended. And that was the buzz last week at the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament when Nathan Hale (Seattle) declined a chance to play in the nation’s top basketball tournament. Coaches rolled their eyes and others in the media were shocked the Raiders stayed home. It was not a wise decision regardless of the circumstances. If Hale played it would have only enhanced its legacy. Now they have a lot of explaining and started a new category under legacy … use your own adjective.
The Lakers topped No. 8 Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 70-52, in the final on Saturday. Montverde coach Kevin Boyle, who has been named national coach of the year multiple times and won three national championships after taking the DICK’S Nationals, was quick to point out teams need to be accountable and play the top competition to be the best.
“That’s like Gonzaga [University] declining a bid to the NCAA Tournament after they won their conference tournament. No one does it. No disrespect to Nathan Hale but they might be the No. 5 team in the country; who did they really play? They had an opportunity to play in the best basketball tournament in the nation and they chose not to attend. They should have came here.
“La Lumiere winning here is No. 1.”
Herman added: “You have to lace them up. We did and so did seven others at the DICK’S Nationals.”
So there you have it. And that’s that.
In the final rankings, No. 5 Nathan Hale drops four slots and the Porter brothers are history. They move back to Columbia, Mo. Michael Jr. will do a one-and-done year at Mizzou (his father was recently named the Tigers assistant coach and his sisters play for the Mizzou women’s program). Michael Porter Jr. will be an NBA Drafty lottery pick in 2018. Mark it down. He’s a special talent.
No. 22 Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) joins the Elite 25 after winning the Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA Class AAAAA state titles. That’s huge for the program that coach John Mosco inherited four years ago. Mosco was the assistant at Neumann-Goretti and along with Carl Arrigale built the Saints into a perennial national powerhouse. Now Wood is moving up the food chain in eastern Pennsylvania and will be a major player moving ahead. Well, done in the City of Brotherly Love!
No. 6 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) had the most impressive postseason, winning three major chips. Coach Steve Turner is the national coach of the year. What he did during a three-week stretch in late February and early March was otherworldly. Plus, the Purple Eagles compete in the nation’s toughest loop, Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, where every game, every night it a teeth gnashing battle. [Editor’s note: Will someone please allow the WCAC boys and girls’ teams to play in the DICK’S Nationals. It’s overdue.]
No. 15 Greensboro Day moves up eight slots after an impressive showing at the DICK’S Nationals. Freddy Johnson coaches the game the right way; he’s a true guardian of the game.
Also, kudos to Robert Hughes, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame it was announced last week. Hughes coached high school basketball in Texas (including when public schools were segregated) for 47 years and ranks first on the all-time wins list for boys’ high school coaches with a record of 1,333-247 (.844 winning percentage) and led his teams to 35 district championships and five state championships. He’s in several halls of fame, but now he’s reached the pantheon of the game. Springfield is calling. Hughes is a giant of the game!
Hughes becomes the third boys’ coach to be enshrined (officially in September), joining legends Morgan Wootten and Bob Hurley.
That leaves one spot for the Mount Rushmore of high school boys’ coaches. That last one will go to Oak Hill Academy’s Steve Smith. He’s on the ballot but needs some traction. It’s only a matter of time.
Following a long season, it’s time to transition into the club circuit. There are no breaks in grassroots basketball. The shoe companies, led by Nike lead the charge.
Check back at www.bluestarmedia.org for summertime updates. I’ll be attending several events this spring and summer, starting with the Jordan Brand Game on April 14 in Brooklyn, N.Y. That’s four all-star games in one day.
We’ll return with the Blue Star Media Elite 25 preseason football rankings in mid-August. The boys’ basketball rankings will hit the Internet in early November and the girls follow.
Thanks again for visiting our site. We taken your comments to heart and continue to work to make the Elite 25 rankings the national standards. Having spoke with several national coaches and media member, they have given the thumbs-up.
We hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys’ Basketball Final Rankings, April 4, 2017
1. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (28-1) ** !
Previous rank: 2.
Low-down: Won DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament and Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Championship. Brian Bowen was named tournament MVP. The Lakers defeated three nationally ranked team en route to the DICK’S Nationals title.
2. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (31-2)*
Low-down: Won the star-studded CIF Open Division championship, beating Woodcreek (Roseville), 74-67. It was the fourth state title for coach Doug Mitchell. Ethan Thompson, an Oregon State recruit, finished with 26 points and Jordan Schakel added 20, draining four 3-pointers. Also won the CIF-Southern Division Open Division championship—the toughest postseason sectional tournament in the nation.
3. East, Memphis, Tenn. (36-3)*
Low-down: Won the second straight Class AAA state championship. The Mustangs petitioned to their state association to play at the DICK’S Nationals (they had an invite) but were told no. They attended the event anyways with coach Anfernee Hardaway. That defines commitment.
4. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (34-4)
Low-down: Advanced to the DICK’S Nationals semifinals. Kentucky-bound PJ Washington played in the McDonald’s All American Game and was on the DICK’s all-tournament team.
5. Nathan Hale, Seattle (29-0)*
Low-down: Won the WIAA Class 3A championship. Missouri-bound F Michael Porter Jr. was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
6. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (32-5) * * *
Low-down: The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions also captured District of Columbia State Championship and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference chips. The Eagles completed the rare troika with the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament title. Steve Turner masterminded one of the greatest coaching jobs in recent memory. Bravo maestro!
7. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (31-2) * * #
Low-down: Won PIAA Class AAAA state championship, trouncing Strong Vincent (Erie, Pa.), 80-52. Rhode Island-bound Daron Russell flipped in 25 points and David Beatty added 19. It was the program’s fifth state title with the last one in 2013. The Panthers also won two in-season tournaments and the Philadelphia City Title. It was a dominant playoff run winning five games by 33, 29, 19, 37 and 28 points.
8. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (24-5)
Low-down: Advanced to the championship game of the DICK’S Nationals, falling to top-ranked La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), 70-52. Sophomore F RJ Barrett earned all-tournament honors and is a future NBA Draft lottery pick.
9. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (26-2)
Low-down: Lost in the DICK’S Nationals first round to then-No. xx Greensboro (N.C.) Day, 59-40. The second loss was to No. 8 Montverde (Fla.) Academy at the City of Palms Classic in December.
10. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (38-4)
Low-down: Advanced to the DICK’s Nationals and feature Kansas-bound Billy Preston, who played in the McDonald’s All American Game.
11. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (33-3)
Low-down: The Trinity League champions advanced to the CIF-Southern Region Open Division final.
12. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (27-1)*
Low-down: Won Conference 4A state championship and played at the DICK’S Nationals minus a star player.
13. Chino Hills, Calif. (30-3)
Low-down: Advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals.
14. The Patrick School, Elizabeth, N.J. (29-4)* *
Low-down: Won sixth New Jersey State Tournament of Champions title, topping Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey), 69-55. The Celtics closed on a 14-2 run to wrap up theirs first TOC crown since 2009. G Jordan Walker contributed 17 points and 5 assists.
15. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (34-4)*
Low-down: Won their second North Carolina Independent Schools 3-A state title in three years. Also went 1-1 at the DICK’S Nationals, advancing to the semifinals in their second-ever trip to New York. JP Moorman, a Temple signee, was named to the DICK’S all-tournament team.
17. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (27-1)*
Low-down: Won the Class 6A championship.
18. Jonesboro, Ark. (32-0)*
Low-down: Won Class 6A state championship.
19. Prolific Prep, Napa, Calif. (29-3)
Low-down: One of the most talent teams in the nation that does not compete for a state championship, but played a rigorous schedule. Gary Trent Jr., a Duke recruit and McDonald’s All American, is a joy to watch.
20. Cypress Falls, Houston (35-3)*
Low-down: Won Class 6A state championship.
21. Whitney Young, Chicago (27-7)*
Low-down: Won Illinois Class 4A championship.
22. Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (28-3)* *
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Won PIAA Class AAAAA state championship, beating Meadville, 73-40. Tyree Pickron scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and Villanova-bound G Collin Gillespie had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. It was the program’s first state title to go along with the Philadelphia Catholic League championship for coach John Mosco’s squad.
23. Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, Va. (35-1)*
Low-down: Won the Virginia Independent Schools Division state championship.
24. Simeon, Chicago (30-4)
Low-down: Advanced to the Illinois Class 4A state final. Also won the Chicago Public League championship. The Wolverines will be back next season.
25. Basha, Chandler, Ariz. (30-1)*
Low-down: Won Conference 6A state championship.
Dropped: No. 15 Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)
High-Fives by Region
- Lincoln, Brooklyn, N.Y. (31-3)* *
- Mount St. Joseph, Baltimore (37-4)*
- Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia (24-7)*
- First Love Christian Academy, Washington, Pa. (24-3)*
- Rindge and Latin, Cambridge, Mass. (25-0)*
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Morgan Park, Chicago (26-6)*
- Webster Groves, Mo. (29-2)*
- Bolingbrook, Ill. (30-2)…final 3rd
- Jackson, Massillon, Ohio (28-2)*
- Clarkston, Mich. (27-1)*
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Madison Prep Academy, Baton Rouge, La. (35-3)*
- Scotlandville, Baton, Rouge, La. (31-3)*
- Southwest Christian Academy, Little Rock, Ark. (30-2)*
- Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Chattanooga, Tenn. (30-7)*
- Tift County, Tifton, Ga. (29-2)*
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (23-5)
- Woodcreek, Roseville, Calif. (32-3)
- St. Augustine, San Diego (28-5)
- Sheldon, Sacramento, Calif. (30-4)
- Bingham, South Jordan, Utah (24-3)*
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
* Won state, national or conference/league postseason tournament championship
(Note some schools have won multiple tournament titles]
** Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Tournament champions
! Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Champions
# Includes a forfeit loss
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 at #clawlor.