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TRIBUTE: Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ rankings salutes national icon John Rhodes; No. 1 Montverde Academy (FL) wins national showdown with No. 2 IMG Academy (FL)

Whenever you meet a game-changer, you can feel it. That might be watching a special boys’ basketball team, a player that captures your breath or someone associated with the sport.

Montverde Academy

BENSALEM, Pa. — Whenever you meet a game-changer, you can feel it. That might be watching a special boys’ basketball team, a player that captures your breath or someone associated with the sport.

For those who follow the Blue Star Media Elite 25 rankings and the national high school scene, the name, John Rhodes resonates. He was a game-changer when he entered the room or picked up the phone. To know him was to have loved him as a trusting friend. Many did.

Well, the executive director of the Beach Ball Classic, McDonald’s All-American Games committee member, Albert Schweitzer Games organizer, restauranteur and former three-term mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, passed away from complications of COVID-19 on Sunday morning. John was 77.

He was most proud of the Beach Ball Classic, a post-Christmas event in Myrtle Beach, that for 40 years brought the top players, coaches and teams to the South Carolina resort city. John worked the event in December and was seated at courtside. In a normal year, he would have been at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, hobnobbing and gladhanding everyone while recruiting teams for the BBC.

There’s a reason why John was a successful and honest politician. Simply put he was a no nonsense Southern gentleman.

The “Mayor of Basketball” was a giant on high school circuit and was a beloved friend of many, including us at Blue Star Media. We have a tribute posted. I’m sure you’ll find he lived a blessed life and we sprinkled a few personal nuggets. There’s been a national response to his passing. You’ll find it on social media and other columns. God’s speed, my brother!

Getting back to the Blue Star Media Elite 25, the rankings were defined by action for the second week at the St. James National Interscholastic Basketball Conference Invitational in Springfield, Virginia. The event was stirred the Elite 25 and claimed one team that dropped out.

No. 1 Montverde (Fla.) Academy is clearly the best team in the nation. That’s undebatable for now. There will be other shots at the Eagles but it’s going to difficult to knock them from that lofty perch. The Eagles held off No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 55-51, Sunday night. MVA was up 15-5 after one quarter and watched as talent-laden IMG chipped away to no avail.

Three teams from Texas and Indiana are the latest debutants to the Elite 25. All records are through Sunday.

In Texas, there’s a logjam atop the Class 6A rankings and we feature all three, including No. 14 Waxahachie and No. 13 Atascocita (Humble). They join No. 16 Duncanville, a team that Waxahachie beat earlier this season and will face again. Atascocita is unbeaten and rolling.

No. 23 Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.) is the third addition and enters the week with 14-0 mark and plays at No. 6 Lawrence North (Indianapolis) Saturday.

OK, so we move forward with more states tipping off delayed seasons. Here’s who is playing:

Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Arizona begins this week. Next week New Jersey will start up. Key states such as New York and Illinois are up in the air, meaning likely no season. California isn’t playing until April.

Too much speculation on the COVID-19 but the murky picture must take focus soon or more season cancellations will follow.

The Elite 25 boys’ rankings are back Jan. 26.

One last note, the Final Elite 25 Fall high school football rankings will go live Sunday following the Michigan state championships.

Until then stay safe, mask up, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly and support your local small businesses that struggling to stay open.

Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor

Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys’ Basketball Rankings, Jan. 19, 2021

1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (15-0)

Previous rank: 1.

Low-down: Caleb Houstan’s 16 points helped the Eagles retain the top spot in the Elite 25 rankings during a 55-51 victory over No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) at the St. James NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Va. Jalen Duren and Ryan Nembhard netted 10 points apiece. Coach Kevin Boyle’s squad also tipped No. 4 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 93-60. In that game, the Eagles were up 34-27 at the break and used a 28-9 third-quarter run to put it away. Langston Love had a game-high 20 points and cleared 6 rebounds. Also beat then-No. 25 Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.), 72-52.

2. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (11-1)

Previous: 2.

Low-down: The Ascenders traveled north for the St. James NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Va., and split two quality games. First, they toppled Houston (Germantown, Tenn.), 93-54, as six players hit for double-figures led by Texas-bound Tamar Banks with 17 points. Finally, they No. 1 Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 55-51. Banks scored 17 points and Jarace Walker added 14 points and 9 rebounds. Earlier in the week, the Ascenders defeated Seffner (Fla.) Christian, 93-53. The action resumes Saturday at Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale).

3. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (3-0)

Previous: 5.

Low-down: Connecticut-signee Jordan Hawkins and Tyrell Ward (12 rebounds) paced a balanced scoring attack with 14 points apiece to beat John Marshall (Richmond, Va.), 76-59, at the St. James NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Va. Also topped St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.), 110-59.

4. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (12-1)

Previous: 3.

Low-down: Went 2-1 in the St. James NIBC Invitational. Lost to No. 1 Montverde (Fla.), 93-60, suffering their first setback. OHA trailed 34-27 at halftime by were done in by a 28-9 deficit in the third quarter. The Warriors then edged No. 24 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.), 52-49.

5. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (9-1)

Previous: 7.

Low-down: The Buffaloes stampeded then-No. 4 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.), 73-58. A 29-14 second-quarter effort (on 12 of 15 shooting) made it 45-29 at the break. Gradey Dick fired in 15 points, sinking a trio of 3s, and Kennedy Chandler added double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. Coach Luke Barnwell’s team went 3-0 versus Elite 25 teams last week at the St. James Invitational.

6. Lawrence North, Indianapolis (13-0)

Previous: 8.

Low-down: Won second straight Marion County Tournament, beating Warren Central (Indianapolis), 59-56. Coach Jack Keefer’s program won the first county title since 2008 and his record 10th crown. The Wildcats trailed 33-27 at intermission, but G Shamar Avance tallied 16 of his game-high 24 points in the final 16 minutes. The Wildcats recorded two comfortable wins to open the tournament but needed overtime to survive rivals Pike (Indianapolis), 64-62, in the semifinals. D.J. Hughes contributed 19 points and 7 boards.

7. Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (14-2)

Previous: 6.

Low-down: For the second straight week, the Tigers were 2-1 at the St. James Invitational in Virginia.

8. Millard North, Omaha, Neb. (17-0)

Previous: 10.

Low-down: Defeated Lincoln Northeast, 87-48, to complete a 2-0 week.

9. Paul VI, Chantilly, Va. (3-2)

Previous: 4.

Low-down: After burying three opening opponents by an average margin of 31.3 points, coach Glenn Farello’s club was upset by Houston (Germantown, Tenn.), 86-72, at the St. James Invitational in Springfield, Va. Also fell to No. 5 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), 73-58. Trevor Keels bucketed a game-high 25 points in the latter loss.

10. Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, Minn. (2-0)

Previous: 12.

Low-down: The long awaited debut of the nation’s top-rated and unsigned senior 7-1 Chet Holmgren occurred with two home games last weekend. Holmgren scored 42 points in a pair of lopsided wins over Mound Park Academy (St. Paul), 102-50, and St. Louis Park, 101-44.

Red Hawks’ plans.

11. Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (0-0)

Previous: 11.

Low-down: The Philadelphia Catholic League favorites will get underway in February.

12. Milton, Alpharetta, Ga. (14-2)

Previous: 13.

Low-down: After nearly two weeks off, the Eagles won two games in Region 5-AAAAAAA.

13. Atascocita, Humble, Texas (13-0)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: The No. 2 team in the UIL Texas Class 6A rankings crack the Elite 25 after an 87-50 District 11 victory over Humble.

14. Waxahachie, Texas (13-2)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: Surprisingly, the Indians are the top-ranked Texas Class 6A team. They play two district games this week but the dream rematch is Feb. 2 at No. 16 Duncanville.

15. Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (0-0)

Previous: 14.

Low-down: Idle. Looks like New York’s top-ranked team will wait until February for a season but no state championships will be played.

16. Duncanville, Texas (16-1)

Previous: 15.

Low-down: Bounced back from a rare loss to beat Cedar Hill, 94-59, and Mansfield, 77-57. In the latter game, Juan Reyna scored 20 points and Damon Nicholas added 17.

17. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (0-0)

Previous: 16.

Low-down: Idle. The Panthers played a series of exhibitions as a club team at the St James Invitational in Virginia and buried iSchool of Lewisville (Texas), 92-68. The Baltimore Catholic League is still on pause.

18. Archbishop Stepinac, White Plains, N.Y. (0-0)

Previous: 17.

Low-down: Idle. No games scheduled until February.

19. Simeon, Chicago (0-0)

Previous: 18.

Low-down: Idle. The state of Illinois is on pause and there’s no indication it will return.

20. Camden, N.J.. (0-0)

Previous: 19.

Low-down: There are no regular season games in New Jersey until Jan. 26.

21. The Patrick School, Hillside, N.J. (0-0)

Previous: 20.

Low-down: The Celtics, like the rest of New Jersey, are on pause until Jan. 26. That’s when they open with Immaculate Conception (Montclair).

22. Vashon, St. Louis (6-0)

Previous: 21.

Low-down: The Wolverines were up 18 points after one quarter and routed Miller Career (St. Louis), 70-41. Three games are on tap this week.

23. Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (14-0)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: Coach Chris Johnson’s team is rolling after two wins last week. The Spartans topped previously-unbeaten Blackhawk (Fort Wayne), 72-60, and then stopped Fort Wayne Snider, 90-72, in Summit Conference play. This weekend they face No. 6 Lawrence North (Indianapolis) in a showdown for who’s the top team in Indiana.

24. Pace Academy, Atlanta (14-1)

Previous: 23.

Low-down: Defeated Columbia (Decatur), 67-56, and Galloway (Atlanta), 56-44. The Knights have a busy week ahead with four games that started Monday.

25. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (3-4)

Previous: 24.

Low-down: Went 2-2 this week at the St. James NIBC Invitational and played solid defense in all three games. In spite of the record, coach Patrick Holmes’ team stays in the Elite 25 because of strength of schedule. Things can only get better.

Dropped: No. 9 Carmel (Ind.), No. 22 Moeller (Cincinnati) and No. 25 Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.).

High-Fives by Region


  1. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (0-0)
  2. John Marshall, Richmond, Va. (3-1)
  3. St. Raymond, Bronx, N.Y. (0-0)
  4. Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (0-0)
  5. Polytechnic Institute, Baltimore (0-0)

Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.


  1. Waukee, Iowa (4-0)
  2. St. Catherine’s, Racine, Wis. (14-0)
  3. Hilliard (Ohio) Bradley (7-0)
  4. Cathedral, Indianapolis (10-1)
  5. Carmel, Ind. (10-1)

Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


  1. Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep (16-0)
  2. Carmel Christian, Matthews, N.C. (15-1)
  3. Pebblebrook, Mableton, Ga. (15-2)
  4. Magnolia, Ark. (12-0)
  5. North Mecklenburg, Huntersville, N.C. (3-0)

Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Far West

  1. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (0-0)
  2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (0-0)
  3. O’Dea, Seattle (0-0)
  4. Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (0-0)
  5. American Fork, Utah (10-2)

Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Records are through Sunday.

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. 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. Follow him on Twitter at @clawlor.

Senior Writer and national analyst for Blue Media and compiles the Blue Star Elite 25 national boys and girls high school basketball and football rankings during the season. Lawlor, an award-winning writer, is a voting committee member and advisor for several national high school events, including the McDonald’s All-American Games. He previously wrote for USA TODAY and, where he was the national preps writer, while compiling the national rankings in four sports.


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