All 50 ranked teams written up with explanations for why they were placed in these positions with comparisons to preseason ranking. The FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com is the official rankings of the National Sports News Service, which date back to the 1952 season. Link Academy of Missouri is the 2022-23 mythical national champion, as the program captured the FAB 50 title in only its second year of eligibility in the nation’s longest-running weekly rankings.
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
(Preseason ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included.)
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1. (11) Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) 27-1
It was quite a remarkable season for the Lions considering they were breaking in a new coach in Bill Armstrong, a former assistant at LSU, and a new crop of players. The talent was there to begin a bit higher, but considering the coaching change and its status as a program eligible for the FAB 50 for only the second year, No. 11 seemed like the correct range. That point was highlighted when Link Academy met preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy of Florida at the Metro Classic in N.J. Link Academy had started off the season 23-0, but couldn’t overcome early 15-0 and 12-0 MVA runs in a 84-58 loss. Link’s two best victories up to that point were a 72-66 win over No. 14 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) and a 30-point shellacking of No. 32 Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas). Coach Armstrong’s team was able to make up for the awful first quarter against Montverde Academy at GIECO Nationals by capturing the tournament MVA was part of. Montverde Academy, the top seed, fell in its quarterfinal contest to the same Sunrise Christian Academy team Link Academy beat during the regular season. Despite being No. 2 in the FAB 50, the Lions were awarded the No. 4 seed and downed No. 5 seed and FAB 50 No. 18 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.), a team that spent some time at No. 1, 68-65, behind All-American Ja’Kobe Walter’s 34-point performance. Armstrong’s crew defeated Sunrise Christian Academy for the second time in the tourney semifinals, 67-61, behind 16 points and 10 assists from All-American point guard Elliot Cadeau. Tennessee-bound guard Cameron Carr also had a big game for the Lions in the win over Sunrise Christian Academy with 18 points. Link Academy was able to secure the top spot in the rankings with a dominant 73-55 title game win over No. 9 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) in a contest the Lions were in control of throughout. Walter, bound for Baylor, netted a game-high 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including 3-of-4 3-point shots, while Tyler McKinley, a 6-foot-9 junior, had a big outing with 17 points and six rebounds. In all, the Lions defeated seven FAB 50 ranked foes during a season in which it did one game better than its first FAB 50 eligible club, as the 2021-22 Link club lost in the GEICO Nationals title game to Montverde Academy and finished No. 2. Cadeau, a junior, eventually re-classed up to attend North Carolina, but the momentum from the GEICO Nationals run should pay dividends in 2023-24.
2. (1) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 23-3
It was another successful season for a program that has won more high level games than any other program in the past decade. Coach Kevin Boyle’s club started out as preseason FAB 50 No. 1 for the eighth time in the past 11 seasons and for the second consecutive season finish No. 2 after starting out on top. The Eagles lost the preseason No. 1 spot with a November 65-54 loss to No. 9 AZ Compass Prep and in December suffered a 56-55 setback to No. 27 Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii. Yes, the Eagles lost in the GEICO Nationals quarterfinals to No. 14 Sunrise Christian Academy, but deserve major rankings credit for three reasons. One, they beat Sunrise Christian Academy twice during the regular season, finished 11-1 and in first place in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) and handed No. 1 Link Academy its only loss. Boyle’s club made a big statement in that game with a 29-7 lead after one period. Link Academy tried in vain to get back in it, but could get no closer than 12 points in the second quarter of its lone 84-58 setback. The scoring in that game displayed MVA’s balance and versatility, as junior forward Derik Queen had a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds. Junior wing Liam McNeeley netted 15 points, while junior guard Curtis Givens added 13 points. Oregon-bound forward K.J. Evans added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while junior forward Asa Newell added 10 points and nine rebounds. On top on that, the team’s most highly-honored and talented player was sophomore forward Cooper Flagg (9.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.0 apg 2.2 bpg). This balanced team had four players average between 9-14 points, with McNeeley the leading scorer, and could field its best team in 2023-24 since the dominant 2019-20 that is considered one of the sport’s best of all-time.
3. (8) Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 28-1
It was another remarkable season for a program that finished as the University Interscholastic League’s (UIL) best for the fifth consecutive season. Based on its on-court results, Duncanville captured the FAB 50 title in 2021-22, but the UIL later stripped the Panthers of their Class 6A state title after ruling forfeits of all games in which an ineligible player (recent NBA draftee Anthony Black) participated in. Last November after the preseason rankings dropped, Duncanville opted out of participating in the 2022-23 UIL playoffs, but did go on to defeat eventual Class 6A champ and No. 8 Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas), 53-52, in November. The only loss for a Panthers club that played tough out-of-state competition was a 62-50 setback to No. 30 West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) in the championship of the Les Schwab Invitational in what was essentially a road game. That loss likely cost the Panthers back-to-back FAB 50 crowns, even if this club was a shade below the 2021-22 juggernaut. Without the luxury of the state playoffs, Duncanville recorded quality wins over 6. Columbus (Miami, Fla.), No. 21 Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) and No. 23 Centennial (Corona, Calif.). McDonald’s All-American Ronald Holland, a forward who will play for the G League Ignite next season, took over down the stretch vs. Centennial and finished with 24 points. The next night he had 25 points and eight rebounds vs. Columbus and Cameron Boozer. A two-time District 11-6A Player of the Year, Holland was a key cog in Duncanville’s rise to national prominence and the team went 123-6 in his four years on the varsity.
4. (BB) Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 33-0
The Giants were the first team from the Midwest Region outside the preseason FAB 50 behind No. 47 Pewaukee (Wis.) and obviously should have been given more credence among those teams. Cathedral started out as the FAB 50’s highest ranked Midwest Region and Indiana High School State Athletic Association (IHSAA) team at No. 13, but the Giants downed that club in December, 62-50, while Cathedral went on to defeat preseason Midwest No. 2 and FAB 50 No. 16 Pickerington Central of Ohio, 65-61, in January. As for Ben Davis, it rolled along and made it all the way to the Class 4A state title game unbeaten. Basketball is still king in the Hoosier State and over 15,000 people showed up at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to watch the Giants take on bubble club Kokomo, which downed then No. 22 Penn (Wishawaka, Ind.), 58-57, in the state semifinals. Behind 20 points from Ball State signee Zane Doughty and 16 points from sophomore Mark Zackery, the Giants rolled to a 53-41 victory and its fourth IHSAA state crown. The last time an unbeaten Indiana team finished as the state’s No. 1 ranked team was in 2019-20 when Bloomington South finished 26-0, but didn’t get to win an on-court state crown because of COVID-19. Ben Davis’ last won a state crown in 2016-17 when it finished No. 45 in the FAB 50. This Ben Davis team was much more dominant, winning 29 games by double-digits with a averaging winning margin of 18.3 points. Doughty was first team all-state, averaging 13.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 2.8 bpg while shooting 61.1 percent from the field.
5. (22) John Marshall (Richmond, Va.) 28-0
If there was ever a state association that needs an open division or Tournament of Champions, it’s the Virginia High School League (VSHL). The Justices were expected to be good, but were even more dominant that expected, capturing their second consecutive Class 2A state crown and their fifth since 2014 under coach Ty White. The state title game was a coronation (the entire Class 2A playoffs were actually), as the Justices rolled past Radford, 91-34. The team’s average margin of victory in the post-season was a whopping 65.5 ppg in six contests. From a rankings standpoint, the VHSL competition did not help John Marshall, as it won its 20 games vs. in-state competition by an average of 46.5 ppg. The Justices, however, recorded key victories over No. 6 Columbus (50-47) and No. 20 Wheeler (68-55) at the Chick-fil-A Classic in South Carolina. North Carolina-bound Dennis Parker Jr. (20.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2,4 spg) and Vanderbilt-bound Jason Rivera (15.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 3.5 spg) led the way, while junior Damon Thompson Jr. (14.6 ppg, 3.4 apg) and freshman Latrell Allmond (13.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg) stepped up all season long. This team began the season ranked two spots higher than the 2020-21 John Marshall club that Parker was supposed to play a big role on and perhaps could have been the best in program history, but wasn’t able play after Richmond Public Schools cancelled the entire season because of the pandemic.
6. (18) Columbus (Miami, Fla.) 26-4
Last season, Columbus put itself on the FAB 50 map by capturing the FHSAA Class 7A state title to finish No. 45 in the FAB 50 with a 29-2 record. The 2022-23 team returned en masse, but the expectations were much higher and the schedule tougher. The Explorers did lose two more games than in 2021-22, but two of those were to teams ranked higher (No. 3 Duncanville and No. 5 John Marshall). Columbus also lost to No. 13 Imhotep Charter, but defeated No. 12 Camden (N.J.), No. 18 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) and No. 20 Wheeler. The Explorers’ 66-64 loss to unranked Palmetto (Fla.) in overtime of the Class 7A, District 16 title game didn’t end up costing them much from a rankings perspective because it defeated that club twice by a combined 67 points, was still the No. 1 seed in the FHSAA playoffs and ended up capturing their second consecutive state crown. Of course, sophomore forward Cameron Boozer and his twin brother Cayden grab most of the headlines, but this was a well-rounded team with many contributors as evidenced in the state title run. The Explorers defeated Winter Haven, 50-48, and sealed the state title when junior forward Malik Abdullahi came up with a steal that led to the game-winning lay-up by senior Garyn Bess with six seconds remaining. Cayden Boozer (15.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.3 apg) had 21 points in the win and his improvement was one of the top storylines for a team that could challenge for preseason No. 1 next season. Cameron’s historic tenth-grade season saw him average 21.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.2 apg and 2.0 bpg, while shooting 62.1 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from the 3-point line and 89.1 percent from the charity stripe.
7. (NR) Central Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.) 32-0
We had the Vikings as the No. 2 team in our Southeast Region pecking order among North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) programs behind Myers Park of Charlotte. The Southeast Region, however, is that strong where the Vikings just missed the Top 20. Myers Park went on to capture the NCHSAA Class 4A title, but Central Cabarrus ended up as the state’s best team and the highest-ranked one nationwide which didn’t crack our preseason rankings. We knew the Vikings would be good, but they ended up unbeaten, closing out their season with a 65-51 Class 3A state title game victory over Northwood of Pittsboro to capture their second state title since 2020. The program will enter 2023-24 having won 62 of its last 63 games. Senior guard Adriel Miller (5.4 ppg) got the Vikings off on the right foot, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the opening period. Junior forward Desmond Kent Jr. (12.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg) also netted 16 points vs. Northwood, whom the Vikings’ defense forced 19 turnovers against. Central Cabarrus easily downed West Charlotte, 78-51, in the 3A West Regional final to extract a measure of revenge after last year’s playoffs loss to the same club. The ringleader of a team with five double-digit scorers was six-foot, Charleston Southern-bound Jaiden Thompson, who averaged 19.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.0 apg and 4.3 spg.
8. (34) Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas) 34-3
The Wildcats were considered the biggest threat to Duncanville’s UIL Class 6A supremacy and when the four-time defending champs opted out of the 2022-23 playoffs, Lake Highlands did what was expected of it. Coach Joe Duffield’s club went on to capture the UIL Class 6A title while finishing as the No. 2 ranked UIL club behind Duncanville after losing to the Panthers, 53-52, in its third game of the season. Lake Highlands fell to No. 18 Paul VI (64-58) at the City of Palms Tournament in Florida and to No. 23 Centennial (70-64) at the John Wall Invitational in North Carolina, but were able to finish ranked above those clubs by defeating then No. 13 Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas), 55-44, at the Alamodome in San Antonio to capture the program’s first state crown since 1968. Beaumont United cut its deficit to 44-42 with five minutes remaining in the game, but the Timberwolves did not score a field goal in the final 4:54 of the game. All-American Tre Johnson (21.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 52-42-91 split), the Dallas Morning News Player of the Year and TABC Mr. Basketball as a junior, led the way with 29 points and eight rebounds for the victors. Samson Aletan, a 6-foot-10 Yale bound center, was key to Lake Highland’s defensive prowess throughout the season and finished the title game with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a Class 6A state title game record seven blocked shots. A third key cog was junior guard Jaylen Washington.
9. (4) AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) 23-7
In its first season as a FAB 50 eligible team team, the Dragons were considered a legit FAB 50 title contender. They came up a bit short of that, but did spend some time at No. 1 after defeating preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy, 65-54, in its first National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) game. Coach Ed Gipson’s club also defeated No. 14 Sunrise Christian Academy, 53-47, the next evening, but had some ups and downs in conference play. AZ Compass Prep finished tied for fourth place with No. 10 Long Island Lutheran in the NIBC standings, but finish ranked ahead of LuHi after avenging the regular season loss with a 73-71 victory in the GEICO Nationals quarterfinals. The Dragons then mauled No. 19 IMG Academy, 68-50, in the semifinals before losing in the championship game to No. 1 Link Academy, 73-55. Incredibly, no Dragon made an official all-NIBC club but Oregon-bound Mookie Cook did receive All-American acclaim and New Mexico-bound Tru Washington was arguably the nation’s best sixth man.
10. (25) Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 23-3
The Crusaders finished in second place in the NIBC standings at 10-2, one game behind conference champ Montverde Academy, but must remain behind No. 9 AZ Compass Prep after losing to that club in the quarterfinals of GEICO Nationals by two points, 73-71. They did beat AZ Compass Prep during conference play, but also lost to the IMG Academy team the Dragons beat by 18 points (68-50) with the third loss coming to No. 2 MVA (56-51). LuHi did defeat PIAA Class 6A state champ and No. 13 Imhotep Charter (65-55) and No. 14 Sunrise Christian Academy (58-53). For the first time since 2019, the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions took place and LuHi won the Class AA title by downing then No. 49 Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.), 81-57. Junior V.J Edgecomb led the NIBC in scoring (15.5 ppg) and earned first team all-NIBC honors, while senior guard Jayden Reid, who scored 43 points in two TOC games, earned second team laurels, with UConn-bound forward Jayden Ross earning third team honors.
11. (15) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 33-2
The Wolverines started off as the No. 2 team from California and No. 3 in the West Region right behind No. 23 Centennial, the best team from the Golden State in both 2021 and 2022. Harvard-Westlake ended up ranked in the range expected of them in the preseason, but more importantly for their supporters, won their final game of the season to win the program’s first CIF Open Division state title after previously winning three in lower CIF divisions. The Wolverines’ state title game win in the North vs. South format came over St. Joseph (Santa Maria, Calif.), 76-65, but the two big wins from a rankings perspective came in the prior two games. Coach Dave Rebibo’s club downed season-long California No. 1 Centennial, 80-61, in the SoCal open final after avenging its CIF Southern Section pool play loss to No. 31 St. John Bosco. Centennial, if you recall, won its third consecutive CIFSS open crown on a wild steal and dunk at the buzzer at the Honda Center, while Harvard-Westlake failed to make it out of pool play. The only other loss for the Wolverines was to regionally-ranked Liberty of Las Vegas in the championship game of The Classic at Damien. Led by Mission League MVP Trent Perry, a junior, and St. John’s-bound forward Brady Dunlap, this team was one of the most balanced and well-rounded on both ends of the floor that we’ve been in CIF play over the past 40 years and is the program’s second highest-rated team ever. In 1996-97, the Collins twins (future NBA players Jason and Jarron) led Harvard-Westlake to the CIF D3 state title (the open division was still 15 years away) and No. 5 final ranking in the National Prep Poll (FAB 50 precursor). That team lost one game to a Tracy McGrady-led Mt. Zion club from North Carolina by four points in the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational Tournament title game.
12. (7) Camden (Camden, N.J.) 23-2**
Despite fielding a veteran team that only lost to two ranked clubs and finished in the range expected of it in the preseason, this season has to be considered a disappointment for the Panthers. On the court, Camden only lost to No. 6 Columbus in a game played in Florida and to No. 23 Centennial at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Massachusetts. Camden did defeat No. 13 Imhotep Charter in a local showdown, but it’s what didn’t occur that hurt The High the most. The favorite to win the 2023 South Jersey Group 2 and state title wasn’t allowed to defend its state title after a melee in the first-ever Camden County Tournament final versus Eastside (Camden, N.J.). With four minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Camden’s Cornelius Robinson, a Bryant recruit, hit Eastside’s Titus Bacon as he was trying to set a screen near the right elbow. Bacon retaliated, which led multiple Panther players, including McDonald’s All-American D.J. Wagner, to chase after Bacon and other Tigers players. Almost immediately, the melee brought players from the benches, coaches and fans onto the court. Camden was leading, 30-17, when game officials canceled the remainder of the game. Per NJSIAA bylaws, any varsity team accumulating three or more player or coach disqualifications prior to the start of the NJSIAA state tournament will not be permitted to participate in it. Before the NJSIAA could rule on the incident, the Camden City School District decided to pulled both clubs from the state tournament. It was a bittersweet ending for a great Camden era, especially since a regular season game with eventual NJSIAA Non-Public B state champ and No. 21 Roselle Catholic wasn’t scheduled. Wagner (22.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg) scored 32 points vs. Columbus and 27 points vs. Centennial and was a Gatorade State POY three times and led The High to a 94-5 record in his four seasons. Center Aaron Bradshaw (12.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg), who will join him at Kentucky, also earned All-American acclaim.
13. (10) Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 30-3
The Panthers had another terrific campaign and were just as good as advertised in the preseason. Veteran coach Andre Noble (472-99) runs a program that has now won six of the past seven Philadelphia Public League titles (and 11 overall) after downing West Philadelphia, 72-42, in the 2023 City tile game. Along the way to its second consecutive Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 5A state crown, the Panthers downed Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia (a club that beat then No. 41 Radnor in the quarterfinals) in the semifinals, 72-50, and Exetor Township of Reading in the title game, 78-40. Kentucky-bound All-American forward Justin Edwards (17.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg) had 16 points and Florida Gulf coast-bound senior guard Rahmir Barno chipped in 15 points in the title game victory. The losses came against No. 10 Long Island Lutheran, No. 12 Camden and to unranked Simeon of Chicago. Edwards and company were able to offset the Simeon loss by capturing the title at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Florida, where it defeated No. 6 Columbus and No. 20 Wheeler.
14. (2) Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 22-8
The Buffaloes had national title aspirations, but suffered a few too many overall losses to be in contention. After GEICO Nationals, the Buffaloes got a slight bump up in the final rankings after losing by only six points (72-66) during the regular season to eventual GEICO Nationals champ Link Academy and for beating No. 2 Montverde Academy once in three games. The Buffaloes split with No. 19 IMG Academy, but are ranked higher after that club was routed by GEICO Nationals runner-up AZ Compass Prep in the semifinals. Coach Luke Barnwell’s club lost to the Dragons, 53-47. Outside of NIBC play, the best win for the Buffaloes was a 73-62 victory over No. 21 Roselle Catholic in the Bahamas. A nice core of seniors led the charge for Sunrise Christian, including All-American Matas Buzelis (15.6 ppg, 54-42-78 split), Arkansas-bound guard Layden Blocker (11.7 ppg, 1.7 spg) and Ohio St.-bound wing Scotty Middleton (10.9 ppg). Sunrise Christian is now 2-4 all-time at GEICO Nationals.
15. (37) Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 36-2
The Timberwolves, similar to No. 8 Lake Highlands, did as expected from a preseason statewide perspective, but were even better from a national scope. After capturing back-to-back UIL Class 5A state crowns in 2021 and 2022, Beaumont United was moved up to Class 6A to challenge Duncanville and Lake Highlands for statewide supremacy. The Timberwolves were one game away from a 3-peat, falling to Lake Highlands, 55-44, in the UIL Class 6A title game. Beaumont United was down by two points with five minutes to go, but had a cold spell offensively at the most unfortunate of times, failing to convert another field goal the rest of the way. All-American and Washington-bound Wesley Yates III led the way in a losing effort with 21 points for a team that recorded wins over No. 16 Sidwell Friends (49-20), No. 42 Jonesboro (41-38) and No. 45 Corner Canyon (72-57) with its first loss vs. Washington of Houston coming in the second game of the season. Yates (20.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.4 spg) had to be accounted for at all times, while senior Trealyn Porchia (14.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.4 spg) and junior Kayde Dotson (11.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.4 apg) also played key roles.
16. (21) Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) 29-4
This is a perfect spot for the Quakers since it lost to No. 15 Beaumont United at the King Cotton Tournament in Pine Bluff, Ark., after Christmas. The 49-20 final score is quite deceiving, as junior forward Caleb Williams was out with injury and the team was feeling the affects of a flu bug. Coach Eric Singletary’s club eventually got Williams back and jelled down the stretch. The results of getting healthy include a win over No. 18 Paul VI (75-68), capturing a second straight DCSAA Class AA title and winning the second annual State Champions Invitational (SCI) to overcome losses to unranked Newton of Georgia and St. Andrews’ Episcopal of Maryland, the latter whom the Quakers split with. Sidwell Friends defeated cross-town Jackson-Reed, 62-47, in the DCSAA title game behind a 20-point, 7-rebound, 6-assist, 4-steal performance from Lehigh-bound Cam Gillus. In the SCI, the second-seeded Quakers downed No. 45 Corner Canyon, 60-53, in the semifinals and No. 20 Wheeler, 57-53, in the title game. Gillus had 19 points and seven steals vs. Corner Canyon while Williams, named CSI MVP, had 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals and came back with a 24-point performance vs. Wheeler.
17. (33) St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 32-4
It makes sense for the Cadets to finish in this spot, as they downed then No. 7 Paul VI, 65-63, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championship game. St. John’s, which lost to Jackson-Reed (a team No. 16 Sidwell Friends defeated) in the DCSAA Class AA semifinals, 66-63, captured its first WCAC title since 2016 when it finished No. 19 in the FAB 50. Similar to that club, this Cadets club also started No. 2 in our WCAC pecking order, but was able to upend Paul VI when junior point guard Daquan Davis scored the game-winning basket on a driving lay-up with time winding down when the Cadets chose not to take a timeout. St. John’s did finish second in the WCAC standings behind Paul VI while splitting with both them and DeMatha Catholic of Maryland. Davis scored a team high 21 points, while Donnie Freeman, another junior, had 16 points. Harvard-bound Malik Mack added 15 points, eight assists and three rebounds for a club that won the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif. It was also an extremely motivated group with regards to capturing the WCAC crown after head coach Pat Behan was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in early summer of 2022 at age 34.
18. (3) Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) 31-4
The Panthers were serious FAB 50 national title contenders and their positioning here and loss amount shouldn’t detract from that fact they were easily one of the nation’s best teams. After a two point loss (57-55) to No. 6 Columbus, the Panthers were able to rebound and rose to No. 1 in the FAB 50 until falling to No. 16 Sidwell Friends by seven points, 75-68, their largest loss margin of the season. Paul VI went into that game with little on the line, in terms of conference standings, and was playing without 6-foot-7 senior wing Isaiah Abraham. At halftime, Sidwell-Friends led 32-30, but Paul VI was outscored by eight points in the third period and to make matters worse, standout freshman guard Jordan Smith broke his wrist. Still. The Panthers had a chance to become the first team to go through their WCAC slate unbeaten since the 2012 Paul VI team that finished No. 12 in the FAB 50, but came up just short when DeShawn Harris-Smith’s long 3-point attempt rimmed out at the buzzer in the 65-63 WCAC title game loss to No. 17 St. John’s. Paul VI split with St. John’s and also had a bit of bad luck with their seed at GEICO Nationals. The Panthers drew the No. 5 seed against No. 4 seed Link Academy, who entered the event No. 2 in the FAB 50. Predictably, the Panthers gave the eventual champions their toughest game of the tournament, falling 68-65. Harris-Smith had a game-high 24 points in the WCAC title game and a team-high 18 vs. Link Academy. The WCAC MVP bound for Maryland averaged 17.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 6.3 apg and 2.6 spg.
19. (6) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 17-8
The Ascenders are another NIBC club that was quite formidable throughout the season, but took a high loss count because of the competitive nature of the conference. Coach Sean McAloon’s club finished tied for third place in conference play at 8-4 with No. 9 AZ Compass Prep. The Dragons lost twice to IMG, but finished ranked higher by beating the Ascenders, 68-50, in the semifinals of GEICO Nationals. IMG did defeat No. 10 Long Island Lutheran and split with No. 14 Sunrise Christian Academy, but in the final analysis drop a few notches because of losses to unranked clubs Wasatch Academy of Utah, Huntington Prep of West Virginia and DME Academy of Florida. The team’s biggest victory was its 66-63 win over Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) to open GEICO Nationals, as first team all-NIBC performer Blue Cain (Georgia) scored 21 points. Cain’s backcourt mate Jacob Hutchinson, headed to George Wahington, was also a steady performer for a club that lost talented junior Bryson Tucker mid-way through the season.
20. (12) Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 27-7
The Wildcats showed why they were so highly-regarded in the preseason (the highest-ranked non-NIBC team in the Southeast Region) with their showing at the State Champions Invitational. After capturing the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAAAA title with a 78-58 win over Cherokee of Canton, Wheeler advanced to the SCI championship game without the services of USC-bound point guard Isaiah Collier. He had 22 points and seven assists in the state title game, but more than that was the nation’s best guard and arguably the best senior. Wheeler’s two-deep team showed what it could do without him, as the Wildcats downed No. 21 Roselle Catholic, 78-68, in the SCI semifinals with center Arrington Page, who will join Collier at USC, scoring 24 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots. Iowa St.-bound Jelani Hamilton contributed 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Wheeler led the title game vs. No. 16 Sidwell friends, 47-40, entering the fourth period, but just couldn’t sustain its lead and lost control of the contest in the final minute and a half before falling, 57-53. Regardless, the Wildcats moved up 11 spots in the rankings after the completion of the SCI. With Collier (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg. 6.8 apg, 2.3 spg) in the lineup, Wheeler did lose to unranked Sierra Canyon of California and Bishop Gorman of Nevada, with its other losses all to higher ranked clubs: No. 5 John Marshall, No. 6 John Marshall, No. 13 Imhotep Charter and No. 18 Paul VI.
21. (5) Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 23-6
The Lions weren’t quite as good as forecasted in the preseason, but they only ended up losing once game to an unranked team in Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. (76-66). Gonzaga is no slouch and from a national perspective Roselle Catholic has been consistently relevant, earning a preseason ranking each season since 2013-14 and finishing outside the FAB 50 in a full season only once in that time period. Roselle Catholic captured the final NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title in 2021-22 and that core of players went on to capture this season’s NJSIAA Non-Public B state title with a 68-59 victory over St. Rose of Belmar. Akil Watson led the way vs. St. Rose with 23 points, while Duke-recruit Mackenzie Mgbako added 13 points and nine rebounds. Roselle Catholic defeated No. 41 Curtis (University Place, Wash.), 84-82, in a play-in game at the CSI, before falling in the semifinals to No. 20 Wheeler, 78-68. Two-time first team all-stater and All-American Simeon Wilcher had 29 points, five assists and three blocks in a highly-anticipated matchup with Curtis’ Zoom Diallo, but the offense sputtered in the loss to Wheeler. Wilcher averaged 15.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 5.7 apg for a team that did not lost in-state and went 17-0 in the NJSIAA state tournament during his stellar career.
22. (BB) Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) 30-1
After all the games were complete in April, Perry fell two spots to make room for two teams that finished strong, particularly No. 16 Sidwell Friends and No. 21 Wheeler at the SCI. Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) state champs have competed in sanctioned end-of-the season national events, but Perry did not participate at the SCI even though AIA state champs are eligible. One season after capturing the program’s first Class 6A state crown, Perry won the first ever AIA open division state crown with a 74-58 win over Sunnyslope of Phoenix. We certainly knew about the Pumas in the preseason, but started them below Owyhee of Idaho and Liberty and Durango of Nevada partially because of their lack of a national schedule. Had Perry not dropped one game to Pinnacle of Pheonix, it certainly would have cracked the Top 15. Colorado bound Cody Williams (18.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.0 apg) was a McDonald’s All-American, but the team’s best player was sophomore Koa Peat. He finished with 35 points in the state title game and averaged 19.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.7 bpg and 1.3 spg as one of the best overall players in high school basketball.
23. (9) Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 30-4
The Huskies were at No. 7 in the FAB 50 entering the CIF SoCal open final, where it fell to No. 11 Harvard-Westlake, 80-61, at home. The loss ended Centennial’s two-year reign as California’s best team. Had it 3-peated in one of the nation’s toughest playoff brackets, the Huskies’ losses to No. 20 Wheeler and unranked Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey (lost to No. 21 Roselle Catholic) would have been overcome. Centennial’s other loss was to No. 3 Duncanville, 59-57, in Texas. The Huskies were able to capture their third consecutive CIF Southern Section open title in incredible fashion when LMU-bound senior forward Aaron McBride (13.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 bpg) jumped a passing lane and went straight downhill for a game-winning dunk at the buzzer in the big venue setting of the Honda Center. Coach Josh Giles called McBride the most irreplaceable player in program history. A terrific senior class also included California Mr. Basketball Jared McCain, a Duke recruit who averaged 18.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.0 apg while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the line.
24. (BB) Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 29-0
The Thunderbirds opened up at No. 10 in the Southwest Region preseason rankings, behind two Texas teams and Staley (Kansas City, Mo.). We knew they were going to be good, but Bellevue West exceeded expectations and capped a dominant season with a 64-41 win over playoff rival Millard North of Omaha in the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) Class A state title game. Bellevue West won 28 of 29 games by double-digits with a average winning margin of 26 ppg. Bellevue West and Millard North met in the title game for the fourth consecutive season, as Millard North won last season and finished No. 20 in the Southwest Region rankings. As a comparison, Millard North’s 2020-21 team had one of the most talent-laden rosters in NSAA history and won the state title game in overtime, 84-78, to finish No. 15 in the FAB 50. Josiah Dotzler netted 16 points in this year’s state final and was named Gatorade State Player of the Year after averaging 16.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.0 apg, and 2.1 spg, while junior Jaden Jackson averaged 14.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.8 spg. The Thunderbirds became the first unbeaten Class A state champ since Omaha Central in 2011-12, a team that finished No. 31 in the FAB 50.
25. (NR) De Pere (De Pere, Wis.) 29-0
Defending Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) D2 champ Pewaukee opened up as the state’s highest FAB 50 ranked team at No. 47, but it was the Redbirds that went to be the state’s best unit by capturing the D1 state crown with a 69-49 win over Arrowhead of Hartland. De Pere defeated Pewaukee along the way, 70-63, and set a WIAA record for most win in an unbeaten season while winning its first state crown since 1934. Senior guard John Kinzinger led the way in the state final with 24 points, while his young brother, sophomore Zach Kinzinger, added 19 points. Junior big man Will Hornseth added 17 points and 11 rebounds. The elder Kinzinger is headed for Illinois St. after earning all-state laurels for the third consecutive season and sharing Mr. Basketball honors with Pewaukee’s Milan Momcilovic.
26. (NR) Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.) 28-1
The Technicians burst onto the scene and capped their historic season by capturing the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) D1 crown with a 78-63 victory over Muskegon (Mich.). Cass Tech used its “36 Minutes of Hell” full court pressure defense to take control in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Darius Acuff and senior Travon Cooper each netted 19 points for the Technicians, who lost one game in overtime, 66-65, to highly-regarded Brother Rice of Bloomfield Hills in the Operation Friendship game to close the regular season between the top team from Detroit’s Catholic and Public School Leagues. The big win was the state semifinal contest where Cass Tech outlasted Grand Blanc in overtime, 62-56, after Acuff banked in a game-tying 35-footer with two and a half seconds remaining in regulation. A 8-2 run keyed overtime for a team that made its first title game appearance since 1974. Acuff, the Public League’s Mr. Basketball as a sophomore, had 19 points and the Technicians also got a big performance off the bench from freshman Corey Salter Jr., who had 13 points and two key steals down the stretch in regulation.
27. (28) Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) 38-4
The Gaels fell one spot in the final rankings, but finish right in the range predicted of them in the preseason. We pegged coach Pat Clatchey’s club as the team to beat in the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) in the preseason over St. Frances Academy and Mt. St. Joseph went on to capture their second consecutive BCL title with a 59-50 victory over St. Maria Goretti (Hagerstown, Md.) at Goucher College in Baltimore. The Gaels defeated Goretti two out of three times during the season and also beat St. Frances twice in three tries. The other losses came against Philadelphia Catholic League runner-up Neumann-Goretti (which spent time FAB 50 ranked) and to No. 18 Paul VI with the big regular season win coming against No. 2 Montverde Academy at the Iolani Classic. All-American Amani Hansberry had 17 points and 21 rebounds in the BCL title game, while power forward Tyrone Farrell (17 points) and veteran guard Ace Valentine (17 points, 6 rebounds) also played well. With that win, the Gaels tied the BCL record for most victories in a single-season.
28. (NR) Richmond Heights (Richmond Heights, Ohio) 29-0
The Spartans were not on our preseason radar, but were able to jump into the FAB 50 when they defeated then No. 40 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), 83-80, to cap off an unbeaten regular season. Richmond Heights took over as the state’s top ranked overall team and remained there after capturing the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) D4 state crown. The Spartans led Convoy Crestview 31-22 at halftime, but completely blew open the game with a massive third quarter run, as the program won its second consecutive state title. Sophomore Dorian Jones went bonkers from 3-point range and nearly outscored Convoy Crestview by himself, making 7-of-10 3-pointers and finishing with 25 points in the 70-26 victory. The 6-foot-5 Jones (20.1 ppg) was named D4 State Player of the Year while another sophomore, 5-foot-11 De’Erick Barber (8.9 ppg) also earned all-state laurels. Sophomore Demarris Winters Jr. and junior Jeremy Wilson will also return next year as double-digit scorers.
29. (NR) Tualatin (Tualatin, Ore.) 24-5
At first glance it might appear the Timberwolves are ranked too high, but taking a deeper look they deserve plenty of rankings credit for the timing of their wins. Tualatin defeated No. 30 West Linn in the title game of the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) Class 6A state tournament to avenge three earlier losses to that club. Keep in mind, West Linn was ranked No. 20 at that time and had a win over No. 3 Duncanville. West Linn would have been ranked much higher, too, if not for a loss to De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), a team that lost to No. 31 St. John Bosco. Tualatin pulled off the 60-47 championship upset win behind a terrific defensive performance and 20 points from senior point guard Josiah Lake. Tualatin held West Linn to one field goal in the first quarter and out-rebounded the top seed, 37-23. It’s not as it was a total fluke either, as Tualatin could have beat the Lions in regulation in the quarterfinals of the Les Schwab Invitational, but missed some free throws and lost in overtime. Tualatin’s core played together since middle school and won two consecutive Class 6A state crowns.
30. (NR) West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) 28-2
The Lions were expected to be a quality team, but no OSAA club was placed in the preseason West Region rankings. Even if West Linn and/or Tualatin were, there was no way we’d have forecasted the type of season West Linn had under first-year coach Robert Key. West Linn defeated preseason West No. 5 Modesto Christian (Calif.), FAB 50 No. 31 St. John Bosco and West preseason No. 6 Sierra Canyon (Calif.). The win over Sierra Canyon came in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational, and the next night the Lions became the first OSAA team to capture the prestigious tourney title since 2012 when it handed No. 3 Duncanville its only loss of the season, 62-50. Three-time Three Rivers League Player of the Year and two-time Gatorade State POY Jackson Shelstad played a big role in the LSI crown netting 30 points vs. Duncanville and averaging 33 ppg in four tourney games. With the Oregon-bound Shelstad (28.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.0 spg) leading the way, the Lions defeated Tualatin three of four times, but in the state title game Tualatin out-rebounded West Linn and beat them to 50-50 balls. Some of the luster was taken off those LSI results when West Linn fell to host De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in a MLK showcase game when it was No. 12 in the FAB 50. West Linn, however, never was ranked higher than Duncanville.
31. (NR) St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 26-7
Coach Matt Dunn’s program had a terrific season and could be even better in 2023-24 after exceeding 2022-23 preseason expectations. Bosco was able to crack the FAB 50 after advancing to the CIF Southern Section open division title game vs. No. 23 Centennial despite losing a pool play game to then No. 35 West Ranch (Valencia. Calif.). Bosco defeated eventual CIF open champ Harvard-Westlake in its second pool play game and advanced after Harvard-Westlake defeated West Ranch in the final pool play game. It took a memorable play for Centennial to down Bosco in the section final, 58-56. Harvard-Westlake then got its avenging win over Bosco in the SoCal open semifinal, 69-64. From a national perspective, Bosco only had one bad loss (a Trinity League split with JSerra) and was able to end the 34-year run of league titles by SoCal kingpin Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Sophomore Elzie Harrington was named Trinity League Player of the Year, junior and Loyola-Chicago-bound guard Jack Turner was often the leading scorer in big games and freshman Brandon McCoy Jr. is a star in the making.
32. (BB) Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas) 31-3**
For the second consecutive season, the Eagles were on the FAB 50 bubble but played their way into this range of the rankings. For the second consecutive season, they ventured to the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, where they fell to host Bishop Gorman by two points (82-80) and lost a heart-breaking third place game at the buzzer to Mater Dei (63-61), the club No. 31 St. John Bosco bested for the Trinity League crown. Faith Family didn’t keep up with No. 1 Link Academy, falling 70-40, but as expected won their second consecutive University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 4A state crown. Faith Family downed Houston Washington (a team that defeated No. 15 Beaumont United) in the title game, 70-56, as all-state and New Mexico-bound forward J.T. Toppin shined. He scored 14 of Faith Family’s 15 first quarter points and finished with 20, as the Eagles pulled away in the second half. Junior center Doryan Onwuchekwa also had a big game with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Faith Family’s final ranking is easy to place, as it defeated Dallas Carter (a team No. 33 Kimball lost to in overtime) in the state quarterfinals, 71-61 and owns a win over No. 34 Edmond North.
33. (BB) Kimball (Kimball, Texas) 33-2
The last team in the preseason Southwest Regional rankings, the Knights got the last laugh after losing their season opener in overtime to Dallas Carter, which opened at No. 8 in the region, one spot behind Oak Cliff Faith Family. The only other team coach Nicholas Smith’s club lost to was FAB 50 No. 20 Wheeler. Kimball rolled to the UIL Class 5A state crown with a 69-48 victory over Ellison of Killeen. Kimball’s defense held Ellison to 33 percent shooting from the field and the Knights had four players in double figures, led by the 17 points of senior guard Tyler Hankamer (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.7 spg). Senior guard T’Johnn Brown (17.8 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.5 spg) and senior forward DaCannon Wickware (11.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg) also were named to the Class 5A all-tournament team. Kimball won its seventh overall state title and first since 2014 when it finished No. 20 in the Southwest Regional rankings.
34. (BB) Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.) 26-2
The Huskies started out No. 11 in the preseason Southwest Regional rankings right behind Bellevue West of Nebraska. That club went on to win a state title and was the best team in its state and so was Edmond North. The Huskies earned that designation by downing Broken Arrow, 58-49, in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) Class 6A title game. They lost a holiday tournament game to Crossings Christian of Oklahoma City and to No. 32 Oak Cliff Faith Family in their second game by one point, 52-51. Coach Scott Norris felt his team did a good job of handling expectations as they were expected to repeat as state champions with the core of the team still underclassmen. In the state title game junior guard T.O. Barrett led the way with 17 points and three steals, while Dylan Warlick turned in a triple-double performance with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Junior Tatum Ridge added nine points off the bench, while junior guard Dontrell Yearby did an excellent defensive job of Oklahoma St.-bound Connor Dow of Brown Arrow. Warlick was one of two juniors named to the long-running and prestigious Oklahoman Super 5 and could be an All-American in 2023-24.
35. (NR) Warren Central (Bowling Green, Ky.) 36-1
The only Bluegrass team in the preseason FAB 50 was No. 43 George Rogers Clark (Winchester, Ky.), which defeated the Dragons by one point (43-42) in last year’s Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) Sweet 16 championship game. The Dragons had plenty of motivation all season long, especially when a missed throw likely sealed their fate in that game. As fate would have it, Warren Central got another shot at the defending champions in this year’s UK HealthCare Sweet 16 title game and wouldn’t be denied, recording a 64-60 win. Kade Unseld, the son of Warren Central coach Will Unseld, hit two clutch free throws with 8.1 seconds remaining to seal the win and give the Dragons their first Sweet 16 title since 2004, when they finished No. 35 in the FAB 50. Unseld, a 6-foot-5 junior who averaged 16.1 ppg and 17.4, joined Sweet 16 MVP and Fourth Region Player of the Year Chappelle Whitney, a 6-foot-4 senior, on the all-state team. Whitney (16.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is headed to Auburn-Montgomery.
36. (NR) Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 31-4
The Greenies captured the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) Class 4A state crown with a 53-48 victory over Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.). Carmel Christian had opened the season as the top-rated NCISAA club and were the defending champions, but the Greenies wouldn’t be denied as they hit their free throws down the stretch. Carmel Christian, which jumped out to a 16-7 first quarter lead, had three players in double figures: Emmanuel Richards (16 points), Jamari Briggs (12) and Bryson Cokley (10). Christ School, which owned a win over No. 39 Dorman, was led in the scoring department by junior Keenan Wilkins (14.1 ppg, 4.5 apg), while Briggs (12.5 ppg) is also a junior.
37. (NR) Reading (Reading, Pa.) 32-1
The Red Knights were not on our preseason radar, but perhaps they shouldn’t have been doubted, as they closed out the season on a 23-game winning streak while capturing the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 6A crown. Reading got plenty of rankings credit for defeating then No. 23 Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.), 62-56, in overtime in the championship game, as seniors Aris Rodriguez (16 points) and Myles Grey (14 points) led the way offensively. The Red Knights’ ranking makes sense since Roman Catholic defeated No. 39 Dorman and only lost one game to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) power Gonzaga of D.C., which was regionally ranked to begin the season and owned a win over No. 21 Roselle Catholic. In 2021, Reading won the Class 6A crown and finished No. 19 in the FAB 50.
38. (NR) Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 27-4
Similar to No. 37 Reading, the Cahillites moved up four spots in the final rankings after results played out in other states and the State Champions Invitational. Roman Catholic lost the regular season Philadelphia Catholic League game to Neumann-Goretti, but came back to beat that club to win the city title, 57-52, in overtime. Roman was down five points with a minute to go and it seemed over, but the Cahillites stormed back and got the game to overtime on an incredible bank shot by senior guard Xzavier Brown, who iced the game with free throws in the final seconds. Brown finished with 20 points, while Anthony Finkley added 13 points. Neumann-Goretti missed five free throws in the final minute of regulation, including two by standout guard Robert Wright that led to Brown’s banker. Even though the Cahillites won the Philly Catholic League crown for the 33rd time, they fell in overtime, 62-56, to No. 37 Reading in the PIAA Class 6A state title game. Roman must stay ahead of No. 39 Dorman because of a 56-54 head-to-head victory. Another feather in Roman’s cap was an early season win over No. 16 Sidwell Friends.
39. (NR) Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.) 29-2
The Cavaliers continued their Palmetto State dynasty by capturing a fifth South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) state championship in seven seasons. Despite the graduation of big man Noah Clowney (a 2023 NBA first round draft choice), Dorman utilized team ball to become a dominant in-state team and captured the Class AAAAA title with a 58-56 win over Goose Creek. All five starters netted double figures for Dorman, as Clooney’s replacement, 6-foot-8 senior Jamarcus Wilkins, had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while the five starters scored all 58 points in the championship game. From a national standpoint, it’s easy to know where Dorman lands, as the Cavaliers lost to No. 38 Roman Catholic (56-54) and to No. 36 Christ School (52-45).
40. (NR) Lake City (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) 26-0
We wanted to make a splash in the preseason by ranking a team from Idaho for the first time in 36 years of weekly polls. Based on their track record and national schedule, we placed Owyhee (Meridian, Idaho) at No. 50. We had the right idea, but the wrong team, as the Timberwolves let it be known they would be a force to be reckoned with by defeating Owyhee in their third game, 80-60. Three games later they downed No. 41 Curtis, 77-65, in the title game of the Curtis Winter Classic, as Blake Buchanan and Kolton Mitchell combined for 48 points. Lake City rolled from there on out, culminating its campaign with the Idaho High School Activities Association (IDHSAA) Class 5A state title. Lake City finished undefeated via its 75-61 victory over Meridian to secure the first ever FAB 50 ranking for an Idaho team. Mitchell, a point guard headed to Idaho State, was named 5A Inland Empire League MVP while averaging 18.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.1 apg and 2.8 for his career. The Virginia-bound Buchanan (15.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.9 bpg) was named Idaho Mr. Basketball and Gatorade State Player of the Year.
41. (NR) Curtis (University Place, Wash.) 28-4
The Vikings played a tough schedule and were able to repeat as Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) Class 4A champions. Curtis defeated South Puget Sound League rival Olympia in the state title game, 49-43, as the Vikings got a big game from superb junior guard Zoom Diallo (21 points) despite his father Siaka being hospitalized the night before the game. Tyce Paulsen, a Carolina Baptist recruit, also did a great job defensively on Olympia star Parker Gerrits, holding the WSU recruit to seven points. The two teams know each other well, as Olympia was able to win one of four matchups with its SPSL rival. As a state champ, Curtis was invited to play in the State Champions Invitational, where it fell to No. 21 Roselle Catholic, 84-82, despite 25 points and eight assists from Diallo and 24 points from Devin Whitten. Curtis also lost to No. 40 Lake City in its own Winter Classic and to No. 11 Harvard-Westlake in the Classic at Damien semifinals.
42. (NR) Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 30-3
Bentonville started off as our highest rated Arkansas High School Activities Association (AHSAA) club in the Southwest Region, but it was the Hurricane that took the state by storm. They went on to defeat Springdale, 48-43, to capture the Class 6A state crown after moving up from 5A, where Jonesboro won state titles in 2021 and 2022. Deion Buford-Wesson, a 6-foot senior, keyed the 3-peat by hitting a clutch 3-pointer to put Jonesboro’s lead at seven with 1:16 remaining and finished with a game-high 15 points. As for Bentonville? The Hurricane plowed right through them in the state quarterfinals, 61-28. Jonesboro lost its first two matchups with North Little Rock, but beat that club in the third meeting, with its third overall loss coming against No. 15 Beaumont United. Sandwiched in between the loss to Beaumont United at the King Cotton Tournament, Jonesboro defeated Georgia powers Newton and McEachern of Powder Springs.
43. (NR) Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.) 30-11
The White Tigers are FAB 50 ranked for the second time in three years after finishing No. 35 in 2020-21. The big difference? This time Central Pointe Christian captured the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) championship after losing to Victory Rock Prep in the 2021 semifinals. The White Tigers defeated top-seed DME Academy, 69-66, in the SIAA Final Four before defeating second seed West Oaks Academy in the title game, 63-60. Senior guard Carlos Cortijo led Central Pointe in the title game with 17 points, junior wing Eric Mejias added 13 points, and 6-foot-7 all-SIAA senior Vuk Vukcevic was named tourney MVP after scoring 10 points, including nine in the third period. SIAA play is very balanced and difficult to navigate through, so many times the conference’s top teams has many more losses than the other teams in its FAB 50 range. The teams often play in the Grind Session and at this year’s Worlds Championships, the White Tigers were seeded third and advanced to the Elite 8 before losing to Bella Vista Prep of Arizona.
44. (BB) Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) 21-6
The Trailblazers opened up third in the pecking order among Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) clubs behind Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas and Liberty of Henderson. Despite some tough losses during the holiday tournament season and the resignation of head coach Chad Beeten on the eve of the post-season, Durango rallied to capture the program’s first NIAA title since 1996. Two days after the resignation, Durango lost to Gorman, 68-64, but rallied to beat the Gaels in the South regional semifinals, 63-55. The Trailblazers then beat Liberty, 65-59, in the South final before beating them for the third time in four tries in the NIAA Class 5A state title game, 57-47. Long Beach St-bound point guard Tyler Riley and junior wing Taj Degourville were both first team all-Southern Nevada choices and led a gritty group that believed it could win each outing.
45. (BB) Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah) 25-3**
The Chargers began right behind Durango in the preseason West Regional Rankings at No. 15, and that’s the same club they finish behind on a national scale. Corner Canyon captured the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) Class 6A title with a 66-51 victory over American Fork. The Chargers got 61 of their points from senior guards Max Toombs and Jaxson Roberts, and junior forward Brody Kozlowski. Roberts finished with 24 points while Tombs added 21 points and eight rebounds. As a result, the Chargers were invited to the SCI, where they defeated Mississippi entrant Yahoo City, 89-62, before losing to No. 16 Sidwell Friends in the semifinals, 60-53, despite 14 points and 14 rebounds from Kozlowski. Corner Canyon also lost to No. 15 Beaumont United, but must remain behind No. 44 Durango because of a loss to Liberty of Nevada.
46. (38) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) 27-10
The Knights finish just a shade below preseason expectations and were able to stay FAB 50 ranked despite a high loss count. The two reasons they land in this spot is playing one of the toughest schedules in the country and by rolling to a CIF D1 state title after not getting picked for the CIF SoCal open regional playoffs. After not being chosen, it was pretty evident Notre Dame had a good chance at a D1 state title, provided it got past Mission League rival Sierra Canyon. It did for the fourth time in the SoCal D1 final before defeating Granada of Livermore, 67-58, in the state title game. Mission League champ Harvard-Westlake won the state open crown and beat Notre Dame twice, as did No. 23 Centennial and West Ranch of Valencia, which spent most of the season FAB 50 ranked. Notre Dame’s ranking is predicated by losses to American Fork (which lost to No. 45 Corner Canyon in its state title game) and to Liberty of Nevada, which lost in the same playoff division as No. 44 Durango. In four victories over Sierra Canyon, Duke-bound guard Caleb Foster averaged 20.5 ppg and for the season averaged 21.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.9 apg and 1.2 spg, while Gonzaga-bound Dusty Stromer averaged 17.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.2 apg and 1.2 spg.
47. (NR) Moline (Moline, Ill.) 35-3
In terms of results, Illinois and Chicago had a down year, but the Maroons deserve a spot in the FAB 50 after defeating Benet Academy of Lisle, 59-43, to win the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 4A state crown. The Maroons rode a dominant performance and season from 6-foot guard Brock Harding and 6-foot-10 center Owen Freeman, long-time travel ball teammates and both headed to Iowa. Harding finished with 28 points, including 11-of-14 from the free throw line, while Freeman had six points, one rebound and three assists in the title game. Harding (18.5 ppg, 5.6 apg) was named Illinois Mr. Basketball for a team that lost its first game to Wisconsin Lutheran of Milwaukee and Chicago clubs Mt. Carmel and Simeon, the latter whom also beat Benet Academy.
48. (NR) Kell (Marietta, Ga.) 28-2
The Longhorns put forth a terrific season, concluding it by winning the GHSA Class AAAAA state crown with a 61-53 victory over 29-2 Eagle’s Landing of McDonough. Kell trialed entering the fourth quarter, but got back in the game and took control when coach Jermaine Sellers inserted star big man Peyton Marshall back into the lineup with 3:36 to play and his team trialing by a point. Marshall scored the next five points and helped the Eagles pull away from Eagle’s Landing down the stretch. Kell gets the nod as the No. 2 GHSA team and final team from the Southeast Region, as it owns a win over Liberty of Nevada and St. Augustine of California, with its only losses to Grayson of Loganville in overtime and to West Ranch of California, which captured the Tarkanian Classic but lost to St. Augustine in the SoCal open playoffs. Kell will be formidable once again in 2023-24 as Marshall, a center, and fellow junior C.J. Brown, a guard, are returning all-staters.
49. (NR) Archbishop Hoban (Akron, Ohio) 26-3
The Knights get the nod as the final Midwest Region team in the rankings in front of Illinois club Metamora, which defeated Simeon of Chicago for the Class 3A state crown and Indiana Class 4A semifinalist Kokomo. Archbishop Hoban won the OHSAA D1 state crown, 53-47, over Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio). Pick Central was the defending D1 state champ and looking to finish FAB 50 ranked for the second consecutive season. Senior Logan Vowles led the way offensively for Hoban in the title game with 17 points, while senior Will Scott Jr. (13 points) and freshman Sam Greer (12 points) also hit double figure scoring. The Knights’ defense, meanwhile, held Ohio Mr. Basketball Devin Royal to 5-of-15 shooting. Hoban lost three in-state games, but gets rankings credit for winning one of the toughest playoff divisions in the Midwest while beating St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), which spent time in the FAB 50, along the way.
50. (NR) Lincoln Park (Midland, Pa.) 30-1
The Leopards get the nod as the twelfth and final team from the East Region after they knocked off then No. 24 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.), 62-58, to capture the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 4A state crown. Sophomore Maleek Thomas, one of the best guards in the country regardless of class, hit the game-winning basket (a driving, 12-foot runner) with 11 seconds remaining. Junior Brandin “Beebah” Cummings made clutch free throws down the stretch, including two with 0.5 seconds left in the game. Thomas (24.9 ppg) finished with 22 points while Cummings (23.1 ppg) netted 25. The Leopards, which lost only to Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) by five points, won the program’s third state crown and should be formidable once again in 2023-24.