Ben Simmons, the best player on the nation’s top-ranked team, continues to lead the pack in the Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. The best player on the No. 2 ranked team in the FAB 50 and a few others on winning teams make inroads as the voting process produces a reduced set of viable national player of the year candidates.
The news of 6-foot-9 forward Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) leading the voting in the updated 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker is not surprising. In fact, it would be a surprise if somebody other than Simmons led the way.
After all, Simmons was the first unanimous selection in the eight-year history of the Mr. Basketball USA voting process to select our national player of the year in the preseason and netted another perfect score of 100 points in the previous tracker.
As the season hits its home stretch, the number of candidates on the radar of the 10-man Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel reduced from 25 to 20. Winning is the common denominator as to where the points were distributed with five less candidates on the board.
Four candidates who gained on Simmons — forwards Jaylen Brown of Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) and Dwayne Bacon of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and shooting guards Malik Newman of Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) and Tyler Dorsey of Maranatha (Pasadena, Calif.), have led their respective teams to ultra-successful seasons or are on the verge of state titles.
Brown has firmly established himself as the main threat to Simmons’ candidacy and last week he wrapped up a Georgia Class AAAAAA state crown by canning two free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining in Wheeler’s dramatic 59-58 victory over Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 No. 46 Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.). It was Wheeler’s first state crown since 2009 and helped Brown gain a point (from 76 to 77) in the voting results. Brown was the only candidate to appear on nine ballots.
On Wednesday, FAB 50 No. 6 ranked Wheeler was granted a waiver by the Georgia High School Association against one of its bylaws preventing participation in an event by a member school after the completion of the GHSA state tournament. Wheeler will accept an invitation to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Invitational April 2-4 in New York. Dick’s Nationals can further close the gap between Brown and Simmons — if Wheeler can make some noise.
As for Bacon, he’s the best player on an Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) team attempting to become the first from the storied program to win Dick’s Nationals. The Warriors are No. 2 in the FAB 50 behind Simmons’ Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) team and those two clubs are expected to be the top two seeds in this year’s Dick’s Nationals.
Bacon, who veteran Oak Hill coach Steve Smith labeled as the program’s best talent since 2008 Mr. Basketball USA Brandon Jennings, appeared on one additional ballot (three) and gained an additional three points (nine to 12). Last season, Montverde Academy defeated Oak Hill Academy in the Dick’s Nationals title game and this year’s tournament will obviously be a stage for Bacon to showcase his skills and help his national player of the year candidacy.
“The final spot on my ballot was difficult to pick,” said panel member and McDonald’s voter Van Coleman of hot100hoops.com. “You can really take your pick between Tyler Dorsey and Dwayne Bacon. Both of them are having excellent seasons.”
Newman and Dorsey are hoping to join Brown as state champions this season. Newman’s Callaway team is up to No. 12 in the FAB 50 entering Friday’s MHSAA state championship game in Class 5A versus Ridgeland (Miss.). Newman is averaging 29.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.3 spg for a 29-3 club also hoping its state association grants it a waiver to compete in New York. Regardless of the outcome of Callaway’s petition to the MHSAA, Newman has made quite the impression this season and he will have the national all-star game circuit to boost his candidacy as well.
Dorsey’s Maranatha team recently captured a CIF Southern Section Division 4A title and is in contention for a CIF State Division 4 title. The Minutemen won their first game in the SoCal Division 4 regional tournament and through the section playoffs, Dorsey averaged 33.6 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, and 1.8 spg.
An underclassman who boosted his stance among the panel with his play during the season was Harry Giles of Wesleyan Christian Academy. Giles appeared on three additional ballots (five to eight) and increased his point total 13 points to 50, good for fourth place in the latest Mr. Basketball USA Tracker and four points behind Newman, who actually appeared on one less ballot than WCA’s talented junior forward. WCA lost in the NCISAA Class 3A state title game to FAB 50 No. 10 Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.).
“At 6-foot-10 there are not many guys that have his length, athleticism, and skills,” said panel member and longtime McDonald’s All-American selection committee member Clark Francis of the hoopscooponline.com. “He has a hell of a skill package. He has superstar written all over him. He’s more consistent than Josh Jackson, but on his best days, Jackson is better.”
Stay logged in to GrassrootsHoops.net to track the progress of the nation’s top individual players and the nation’s Top teams.
|1||1||Ben Simmons (10)||Montverde Academy||10||0||0||0||100|
|2||2||Jaylen Brown (9)||Wheeler||0||6||2||1||76|
|3||3T||Malik Newman (7)||Callaway||0||1||4||1||54|
|4||5||Harry Giles (8)||Wesleyan Christian||0||1||1||1||50|
|5||3T||Ivan Rabb (6)||Bishop O'Dowd||0||0||0||3||36|
|6||7||Allonzo Trier (5)||Findlay Prep||0||0||2||1||34|
|7||8T||Tyler Dorsey (4)||Maranatha||0||1||0||1||26|
|8||6||DeAndre Ayton (3)||Balboa School||0||1||0||1||20|
|9||10T||Jayson Tatum (3)||Chaminade||0||0||0||1||17|
|10T||13||Dwayne Bacon (3)||Oak Hill||0||0||0||0||12|
|10T||10T||Isaiah Briscoe (2)||Roselle Catholic||0||0||1||0||12|
|10T||8T||Cheick Diallo (2)||Our Savior||0||0||0||0||12|
|13T||15T||Luke Kennard (1)||Franklin||0||0||0||0||6|
|13T||15T||Stephen Zimmerman (1)||Bishop Gorman||0||0||0||0||6|
|15T||NR||Marvin Bagley (1)||Corona Del Sol||0||0||0||0||5|
|15T||20T||Kobi Simmons (1)||St. Francis||0||0||0||0||5|
|15T||12||Diamond Stone (1)||Dominican||0||0||0||0||5|
|15T||22T||Stephen Thompson Jr. (1)||Bishop Montgomery||0||0||0||0||5|
|19T||22T||Skal Labissiere (1)||Lausanne Collegiate||0||0||0||0||4|
|19T||17T||Dennis Smith (1)||Trinity Christian||0||0||0||0||4|
About Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Grassroots Hoop’s panel of 10 experts, which includes seven McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous ranking refers to position in the previous tracker.