SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – There are special moments each season when you pause to admire an event. Sometimes you pinch yourself to remind that so much talent is gathered in one place for one glorious five-day stretch.
Such is the case each January at the Hoophall Classic. The high-powered event, which highlights the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend basketball landscape, is an instant classic with ESPN cameras beaming the images worldwide. The fans pack Springfield College’s Blake Arena, featuring the iconic spoke ceiling design (think Madison Square Garden), just to catch a glimpse of the future of the game at the birthplace of the game.
Whenever multiple teams in the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings, including this week’s top four, are in the same room, it’s must-see viewing. I watched several Elite 25 teams this weekend for the second or third time. There were a few teams that were over-ranked and some that deserve a fresh look. Kudos to the Hoophall staff, led by Greg Procino, who put on a special event. That’s everyone from the college interns to volunteers to workers at Blake Arena. First-class event!
With a little over a month left in the regular season in most states, two teams return to the Elite 25.
No. 25 Westlake (Austin, Texas) is back and playing at a high level. Westlake is headed in the right direction after a tough December when the Chaps lost three times. Westlake is ranked No. 2 in Texas Class 6A behind Denton Guyer, No. 10 in the Elite 25.
The Elite 25 rankings return on Jan. 23. There are plenty of events this weekend, most notably the ARS Rescue Rooter Tampa National Classic in Florida on Friday and Saturday.
Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys Basketball Rankings, Jan. 16, 2018
1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (24-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: For the second time this season, the Eagles held off No. 12 Simeon (Chicago), 62-60, at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Duke-bound RJ Barrett dropped in two free throws in the final 23 seconds to break a 60-all tie. Barrett totaled 21 points and 5 rebounds. Coach Kevin Boyle’s team plays Berkeley Prep (Tampa) Saturday at the ARS Rescue Rooter Tampa National Classic.
2. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (27-0)
Previous rank: 2.
Low-down: For the third time, the Warriors are Bass Bro Tournament of Champions winners after toppling No. 13 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) 78-70 in the final in Springfield, Mo. Keldon Johnson, a Kentucky recruit, posted a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
3. University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (17-0)
Low-down: The Sharks dispatched La Salle (Miami), 73-61, and played No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) on Monday at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Next up is Osceola on Saturday a the Walter Keller Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla.
4. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (21-2)
Previous rank: 5.
Low-down: This is rivalry week for the Pilots, who play Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) Saturday night at the South Pointe Arena in Las Vegas. Also, Bol Bol 31 points to embarrass Immaculate Conception (Montclair, N.J.), 91-47, at the Hoophall Classic. The Pilots were up 35-23 at halftime and used a 29-13 third-quarter spurt to put away an overmatched squad.
5. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (16-0)
Previous rank: 6.
Low-down: First place in the Del Rey League is up for grabs on Wednesday against Cathedral (Los Angeles). The Knights also host powerhouse Westchester (Los Angeles) on Saturday.
6. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (13-0)
Previous rank: 7.
Low-down: The Matadors had a nearly three-week layoff but showed no slowing up in a 93-41 blowout of Thunderbird (Phoenix). They play Seton Catholic (Chandler) on Tuesday.
7. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (13-2)
Previous rank: 10.
Low-down: The Panthers went 3-0 in league play last week. They beat then-No. 4 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 67-53, St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.), 79-68, and Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 79-65. Another WCAC showdown on Tuesday at No. 11 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) looms large.
8. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (13-1)
Low-down: The Purple Eagles play in the nation’s toughest and splitting games against Elite 25 teams and league heavyweights in common in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. First, they lost to then-No. 10 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 67-53, but then rebounded to stop rival No. 11 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 71-62. Last weekend, sophomore Terrance Williams scored 26 points and cleared 12 rebounds in an 86-51 win over Sacred Heart (Waterbury, Conn.) at the Hoophall Classic. Next up is a trap game Sunday vs. St. John’s College (Washington).
9. Riverside Academy, Reserve, La. (22-0)
Low-down: There was no letdown for the Rebels after winning the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic. Coach Tim Byrd’s crew won once last week and play Martin Luther King Charter (New Orleans) Wednesday and University Lab (Baton Rouge) Friday.
10. Denton (Texas) Guyer (25-1)
Low-down: Texas’ top-ranked Class 6A team rolled to district wins over Boyd (McKinney), 70-53, and Plano West, 87-45. Nine games remain in the regular season.
11. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (14-2)
Previous rank: 8.
Low-down: Hunter Dickinson had 19 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in an 86-56 blowout of Archbishop Molly (Briarwood, N.Y.) at the Hoophall Classic. The Stags also lost to No. 4 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 71-62, and beat Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 70-55, in league play. Another massive league game on Tuesday with No. 8 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
12. Simeon, Chicago (14-3)
Previous rank: 9.
Low-down: Talen Horton-Tucker’s 3-pointer at the buzzer missed during a 62-60 loss to top-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy at the Hoophall Classic. Horton-Tucker finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals and Messiah Jones had a monster afternoon with 17 points, 21 boards and six blocks. All three losses this season are to Elite 25 teams.
13. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (13-4)
Previous rank: 11.
Low-down: Finished second at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, losing to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 78-70, in the final.
14. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (14-2)
Previous rank: 14.
Low-down: Isaac Okoro scored 25 points and Sharife Cooper added 23 as the Indians defeated Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering, Ohio.
15. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (11-2)
Previous rank: 15.
Low-down: The Democrats stretched their win streak to five games, topping Roosevelt (Portland), 89-70. They also played a intersectional game against No. 18 Garfield (Seattle) on Martin Luther King Day.
16. East, Memphis, Tenn. (12-3)
Previous rank: 16.
Low-down: After losing on back-to-back nights, the Mustangs cruised by White Station (Memphis), 81-44. The game with Whitehaven (Memphis) was postponed by inclement weather.
17. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (14-2)
Low-down: The Buffaloes recorded wins on back-to-back nights.
18. Garfield, Seattle (13-0)
Previous rank: 18.
Low-down: The Bulldogs remained unbeaten with decisive wins over Rainier Beach (Seattle), 100-72, and Chief Sealth (Seattle), 81-36.
19. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (13-4)
Previous rank: 21.
Low-down: The Ascenders need a strong finish if they want to earn a second straight DICK’S Nationals in March. Josh Green, a junior guard from Australia, continues to impress especially in a 75-71 victory over Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.), where he put up 20 points and 8 assists.
20. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (12-2)
Previous rank: 22.
Low-down: Jamil Riggins scored 16 points and Elijah Taylor had 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Panthers wiped out Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.), 66-38, at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
21. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (13-2)
Low-down: Recorded two easy wins and played Monday against Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
22. Oak Ridge, Orlando, Fla. (15-3)
Low-down: Robin Perry scored a game-high 27 points and Emmitt Williams had 17 points and 11 rebounds to knock off Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, 80-69, at the Hoophall Classic.
23. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (19-3)
24. Clarkston, Mich. (9-1)
Previous rank: 25.
Low-down: The Wolves stopped Pershing (Detroit), 84-50, on at the Freedom Classic in Warren.
25. Westlake, Austin, Texas (23-3)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Chaps are Texas’ No. 2-ranked Class 6A team and own a six-game win streak after defeating Lehman (Kyle), 82-34. They are 4-0 in District 25-6A.
Dropped: No. 20 Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.
High-Fives by Region
- Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (10-2)
- Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (8-2)
- Hudson Catholic, Jersey City, N.J. (7-3)
- St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (20-2)
- Mount Vernon, N.Y. (11-1)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn. (10-1)
- Curie, Chicago (14-2)
- Riley, South Bend, Ind. (13-0)
- Orr, Chicago (14-3)
- Upper Arlington, Ohio (10-0)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Cox Mill, Concord, N.C. (14-3)
- Trinity, Louisville, Ky. (15-1)
- Huffman, Birmingham, Ala. (21-1)
- Meridian, Miss. (20-1)
- Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C. (17-4)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Etiwanda, Calif. (18-1)
- Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (18-1)
- Salesian Prep, Richmond, Calif. (16-1)
- St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (15-2)
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (14-2)
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.