For those that missed our preseason rankings last week, here they are again (text-only) minus the slide show;
1. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Head coach: Steve Smith
2009-2010 record: 29-4
Key returnees: Ketih Hornsby (6-4, 180, Sr., G, committed to North Carolina-Asheville)
New additions: Jordan Adams (6-5, 225, Jr., G/F), Quinn Cook (6-1, 168, Sr., G), R.J. Curington (6-5, 180, So., G/F), Daniel Gomis (6-9, 205, Sr., F, Oregon State), A.J. Hammons (6-11, 250, Jr., C), Sidiki Johnson (6-8, 230, Sr., F, Arizona), Ben McLemore (6-5, 190, Sr., G), Jourdan Stickler (6-4, 180, Jr., G), Brandon Ward (6-1, 155, Jr., G), Damien Wilson (6-5, 185, Jr., G/F)
Scouting report: Believe it or not, Oak Hill Academy's season is already underway. The Warriors looked the part of the nation's No. 1-ranked program last Friday in a 105-58 win over Princeton Day Academy of Lanham, Md.
Legendary head coach Steve Smith has assembled one of his more talented rosters in recent memory, one capable of being the first Warrior team to go undefeated since 2004 and erasing memories of a disappointing, four-loss 2009-10 season. Oak Hill Academy has finished with two or fewer losses in 10 of the last 13 years.
DeMatha transfer Cook – No. 12 in MaxPreps.com's 2011 Top 100 – is the most high-profile addition. He earned player of the year honors in Washington, D.C., as a junior after posting 20.0 points and 5.9 assists per game.
Cook will be joined in the backcourt by McLemore, another Top 100 selection being pursued by the likes of Kansas and Missouri. Hornsby, the program's lone returnee, is expected to contribute on the perimeter along with Adams.
The frontcourt – a weakness for Oak Hill a year ago – is stocked with Pac-10 commitments Gomis and Johnson. But junior Hammons, an Indiana native, could be the biggest key in the long run. Wilson adds an athletic presence on the wing.
As usual, Smith isn't making things easy in terms of the schedule. Melrose and Quality Education Academy are on the December slate before heading to Hawaii for the Iolani Classic. After the break, Milton, United Faith Christian Academy, Knoxville Bearden, Christ School and Westchester Country Day provide a gauntlet of quality opponents en route to another National High School Invitational bid.
2. Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Head coach: David Boyd
2009-2010 record: 29-4, Georgia AAAAA state champions, No. 14 in final Xcellent 25
Key returnees: Kevin Kornegay (6-1, Sr., G), Jordan Loyd (6-2, 170, Sr., G, Furman), Evan Nolte (6-8, 200, Jr., F), Dai-Jon Parker (6-3, 185, Sr., G), Eric Riley (6-6, Sr., F), Julian Royal (6-8, 215, Sr., F, Georgia Tech), Shannon Scott (6-2, 180, Sr., G, Ohio State)
Keep an eye on: Shaquille Johnson (6-4, Jr., G/F), Mo Lewis IV (6-6, 210, F), Jalyn Patterson (5-10, Fr., G)
Scouting report: Boyd says he took some heat a year ago when he publically stated that winning a national title would be a goal for his team in 2010-11. Even so, the expectations will remain sky high.
"I've always believed in setting high goals," Boyd said. "If you don't reach them you can still have a great year. Our goal here is going to be to try and win a state championship every year – that's a huge accomplishment. The other stuff is just icing on the cake."
Milton's hopes revolve around "The Big Three" – national Top 100 seniors Parker, Royal and Scott. The trio helped the Eagles reach Georgia's AAAAA title game as sophomores and then took it a step further last season. Each of them earned All-State honors as juniors and will have their college decisions made and behind them by the time the season starts – a major bonus according to Boyd.
"Huge, huge, huge," Boyd said. "It allows them to just concentrate on the season and that's big. To have a group like this has been a dream come true. It's been an incredible experience and has had a great impact on the school and the community. They are great players and really great kids."
Not to be overlooked, Nolte is a fourth All-State honoree and is being pursued by the likes of Florida, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Stanford, Virginia and Wake Forest.
The program will also be bolstered by three newcomers. Boyd expects transfer Johnson and freshmen Lewis and Patterson to log meaningful playing time. Johnson is attracting attention from programs like Auburn, Clemson, Jacksonville, Liberty and Western Kentucky and "probably jumps higher than any athlete I've ever coached," Boyd said.
Lewis, who wears a size 16 shoe, is the son of former New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, a three-time Pro-Bowler.
The Eagles will tackle one of the nation's most ambitious schedules with games against nationally-ranked programs like Greater Atlanta Christian, Norcross, Miller Grove, Oak Hill Academy, Rainier Beach, Wheeler and Winter Park, plus a trip to Fort Myers, Fla., for the City of Palms Classic.
3. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
Head coach: Michael Peck
2009-2010 record: 32-2, National High School Invitational Champions, No. 5 in final Xcellent 25 national rankings
Key returnees: Nick Johnson (6-3, 190, Sr., G, committed to Arizona), Winston Shepard (6-8, 205, F), Nigel Williams-Goss (6-4, 180, So., G)
Keep an eye on: Anthony Bennett (6-7, 230, Jr., F), Benas Griciunas (6-8, 215, So., F), Amir Garrett (6-6, 205, Sr., G/F), Myck Kabongo (6-2, 175, Sr., G, Texas), Kevin Kaspar (6-0, 175, Sr., G), Nazareth Long (6-3, 180, Jr., G), Landen Lucas (6-9, 240, Jr., F/C)
Scouting report: Even with two of the top 25 seniors in America and a 94-3 record as head coach of the program, Peck is approaching this season with cautious optimism.
"It's been a great group. They are very receptive and doing everything we are asking them to do," Peck said. "But with seven new players, it's a different group and with our tough schedule, until we go out there I just don't know how we will do."
Leading the way will be the backcourt combination of Johnson – and Arizona commitment rated No. 18 nationally among all seniors – and St. Benedict's Prep transfer Myck Kabongo, an All-American for the Gray Bees last year as they finished ranked No. 2 nationally. Kabongo is the No. 11-ranked senior and a Texas verbal commitment.
"One of Myck's strengths is defending. He's got that in him. He likes it and that's a huge head start for us," Peck said. "What he has done with Danny (Hurley) at St. Ben's, he was a huge part of their success."
Williams-Goss and Kaspar will also be major contributors at the guard positions. Kaspar, a native of Turkey, has opened his coach's eyes early on.
"He has been a delight to have," Peck said. "He has a great feel for the game and an unbelievable team guy. He's tough, quick and just a good basketball player. He's going to get major minutes and be a key factor for us."
University of Texas freshman Tristan Thompson is gone from the Pilot frontcourt, but transfers Bennett (from Mountain State Academy in West Virginia) and Lucas (from Sunset High School in Portland, Ore.) along with holdover Shepard give Findlay Prep plenty of size and strength.
Defending national champion Yates of Houston, Texas, stands in the way Dec. 16. That game will be televised on ESPN. The Pilots will also participate in the Spalding Hoophall Classic (vs. Dallas Lincoln), Montverde Academy Invitational and the PrimeTime Shootout (Montrose Christian). A two-game swing through Memphis, Tenn., to take on local powers White Station and Ridgeway will also provide a stiff test.
4. Melrose (Memphis, Tenn.)
Head coach: Jermaine Johnson
2009-2010 record: 37-4, Tennessee Class AAA state champions, No. 10 in final Xcellent 25
Key returnees: Willie Atwood (6-7, Jr., F), Markel Crawford (6-4, So., G), Davonte Hampton (6-1, Jr., G), Cedric McAfee (6-2, Sr., G, Auburn), Darrius Moore (6-9, Jr., F), Adonis Thomas (6-6, Sr., G/F), Tevin Wilkerson (6-5, Sr., G/F)
Keep an eye on: Joseph Northington (6-1, Sr., G)
Scouting report: Despite the expectations that come with being Tennessee's Class AAA state champions, having one of the nation's top players in Thomas and an MTV reality series crew following the team's every move, Johnson isn't worried about a circus-type atmosphere ruining things for the Golden Wildcats this season.
"These kids are humble, hungry and thirsty," Johnson said. "It's like we were the state runners-up last year, that's how hungry we are."
Thomas, rated No. 3 overall in the 2011 class by MaxPreps.com and expected to choose between Arkansas, Florida, Memphis, Tennessee and UCLA later this month, averaged 18.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game during an All-American junior season at Melrose.
"He is a great human being and knows how to treat people," Johnson said of his star. "He has an insatiable desire to work. If you had a daughter you would want him to marry her. He is just an outstanding kid and really wants to make other players around him better."
McAfee, Northington, Hampton and Crawford – who has offers from Ohio State and Tennessee and Johnson calls "the best sophomore in Tennessee" – will handle things in the backcourt. Atwood and Moore will man the paint and Thomas will play wherever he needs to given the situation.
According to Johnson, the future is extremely bright for the program with as many as 10 freshmen who could eventually be Division I recruits. He expects four or five to make the varsity roster.
While national championship aspirations are high and one publication has already tabbed Melrose No. 1 nationally, just surviving December is going to be a chore. Oak Hill Academy is on the schedule Dec. 3 followed by a trip to the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
5. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)
Head coach: Kevin Boyle
2009-2010 record: 23-3, No. 18 in final Xcellent 25
Key returnees: Austin Colbert (6-8, 190, So., F), Michael Gilchrist (6-7, 190, Sr., F, Kentucky), Derrick Gordon (6-2, 180, Sr., G, Western Kentucky)
Keep an eye on: Jason Boswell (6-6, 185, So., F), Dakari Johnson (6-8, 250, Fr., F), Chris Martin (6-1, 180, Sr., G), De'shawn Suber (6-1, Jr., G)
Scouting report: For most programs, losing a player talented enough to sign with Duke would drop expectations dramatically. That's not the case at St. Patrick, where Boyle will simply ask the nation's best player to raise his game in the absence of freshman Blue Devil Kyrie Irving.
Gilchrist has experienced success in high school, AAU and even international competition, and would love to finish his career with another Tournament of Champions title in New Jersey. And the future Kentucky Wildcat and his teammates will be attacking that goal with a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder after being banned from postseason play a year ago.
Transfers Martin (from Washington, D.C.) and Suber (New York City) will help ease the loss of Irving at the point guard position. Returnee Gordon is also a proven option in the backcourt.
While young, the frontcourt features an intriguing trio including sophomores Boswell and Colbert, as well as Johnson, a member of USA Basketball's Developmental National Team pool.
After winning the MaxPreps Holiday Classic last December, the Celtics will attempt to capture another prestigious tournament title at the City of Palms Classic. Showcase games against Bishop Gorman (Spalding Hoophall Classic) and Melrose (PrimeTime Shootout) are other highlights on the schedule.
6. St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
Head coach: Bob Hurley
2009-2010 record: 26-3
Key returnees: Rashad Andrews (6-4, Jr., G), Naje'a Brown (5-8, Sr., G), Jerome Frink (6-7, Jr., F), Jimmy Hall (6-6, Jr., F), Lucious Jones (6-4, Sr., G), Tyuan Williams (6-5, Sr., F)
Keep an eye on: Kyle Anderson (6-7, Jr., G/F), Josh Brown (6-4, So., F), Myles Mack (5-9, Sr., G, Rutgers)
Scouting report: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Anderson and Mack adopted that philosophy after St. Anthony ended their season at Paterson Catholic last year in the playoffs. It wasn't your routine transfer, however. Paterson Catholic closed its doors for good, forcing the duo to seek another school.
Anderson and Mack, also teammates for the successful Playaz club team, were key members of a 28-1 Cougar team last winter that captured the prestigious City of Palms Classic. Their arrival at St. Anthony gives Hurley more than enough firepower to challenge for another Tournament of Champions title.
Jones and Frink – both Division I prospects – are back after contributing to the Friars' 26-3 run a year ago. Brown, just a sophomore, created some buzz with his play at the Eddie Griffin Challenge in early October.
Not to take away from the long line of college and pro talent that has come through St. Anthony, but as always, the program's greatest strength is on the bench. Hurley was welcomed into the Basketball Hall of Fame in August. He has 984 wins and 24 state championships on his resume entering the 2010-11 campaign.
7. Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.)
Head coach: David Bailey
2009-2010 record: 29-6, Florida Class 6A state champions
Key returnees: Brett Comer (6-2, Sr., G, Florida International), James Ferrell (6-2, Sr., G), Austin Rivers (6-4, Sr., G, Duke), Alex Swanson (6-5, Sr., F)
Keep an eye on: Austin Keel (6-2, Sr., G), Michael Merlano (6-9, Jr., G/F), Billy Dee Williams (6-5, Jr., G/F), Josh Williams (6-6, Jr., F)
Scouting report: The Wildcats aren't just a one-man show, but talk of the defending Florida 6A champions seems to always begin with future Duke Blue Devil Austin Rivers.
"It's been absolutely amazing," Bailey said of his first three years with Rivers in the program. "I've been coaching for 16 years and never had a player close to Austin's caliber. He's one of a kind, but very level-headed, very receptive to coaching and he works incredibly hard. It makes it easy when your best player is your hardest worker.
"I may never get the opportunity again. Kids like him just don't stay at the public schools anymore. That's just Austin. He had those same opportunities but wanted to stay in his hometown and win a state championship."
Winter Park did just that last season as Rivers averaged 23.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Backcourt mate Comer is also back after posting 12.3 points and 4.8 assists per outing as a junior. The program also got some outside help.
Keel, a transfer from Winter Springs, is regarded as one of the finest outside shooters in the state. Billy Dee Williams is another highly-regarded transfer with "off the charts athleticism" according to Bailey.
But the new faces also mean inexperience when it comes to playing the high-profile schedule Winter Park will tackle. The Wildcats lost seven seniors from last year's championship squad.
"We have four new guys who haven't experienced that all," Bailey said. "How they handle that attention and being part of a nationally-ranked program, that remains to be seen."
8. Norcross (Norcross, Ga.)
Head coach: Jesse McMillan
2009-10 record: 27-3
Key returnees: Chris Bolden (6-2, 185, Jr., G, Miami), Brelan Butler (6-3, 180, Sr., G/F), Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (6-8, 200, Sr., F, Richmond), E. Victor Nickerson (6-6, 175, Sr., G/F, UNC-Charlotte), Josiah Moore (6-5, 185, Sr., G, Nebraska), Nate Sims (6-3, 190, Jr., G)
Keep an eye on: Rod Booker (6-7, 190, Sr., F), Derrick Herbert (6-1, 165, Jr., G)
Scouting report: Picking Norcross this high was a bit of a conflict. The Blue Devils are loaded with talent and tradition, but the schedule isn't designed to produce a glossy record.
Thankfully, McMillan isn't worried about national rankings.
"If we were new to the scene and new to success, we might be worried about that stuff," McMillan said. "But we have been there for a decade and people know our program. It's really about preparing for the state playoffs. We want to see where we are and keep the guys focused."
With a roster featuring four players already committed to Division I schools, Norcross opens against Florida powers Oldsmar Christian and Arlington Country Day at the Iverify Invitational in Charlotte, N.C. Games against in-state juggernauts Milton and Wheeler will be in the books before Christmas break. Add in the Chick-Fil-A Classic, Memphis vs. Atlanta Shootout, Hoops in Overdrive Shootout and the program's own Marriott Invitational and the Blue Devils have their hands full.
It's all by design as state championships won't come easy in Georgia this year with at least five programs on the national Top 50 radar. And Norcross is still stinging from a controversial, 52-51 loss to Milton in last year's playoffs.
"It is a motivator," McMillan said. "It wasn't easy for Milton to win state, but they won it convincingly. Now we want the opportunity to do that. It helped to illustrate the point with our guys, it's little things that count."
In addition to Bolden, Nelson-Ododa, Nickerson and Moore, McMillan is expecting big things from transfer Herbert.
"He is perfect for what we are trying to do," said McMillan, entering his third year as head coach of the program. "He will be a big key for us. He is really the only true point guard on the roster so we expect big minutes and a lot of our success will hinge on him."
9. Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas)
Head coach: Danny Henderson
2009-2010 record: 37-3, Texas 5A runner-up
Key returnees: Austin Bianco (5-11, Sr., G), Phillip Forte (5-11, Jr., G), Lucas Golding (6-5, Sr., F), A.J. Luckey (6-0, Jr., G), John Malone (6-8, Jr., F), Marcus Smart (6-4, Jr., G), Connor Taggart (6-2, Sr., F), Jacob VanNattan (6-4, Jr., F)
Keep an eye on: Nick Banyard (6-8, Jr., F), Ricky Roberts (6-0, Jr., G)
Scouting Report: The Marauders reached the Texas 5A semifinals a year ago with three sophomores – Forte, Luckey and Smart – in the starting lineup. With a reinforced roster, Marcus is the favorite to take it a step further and capture the school's first state championship in basketball.
Smart is regarded as one of the nation's top juniors. He averaged 16.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game as a sophomore, earning All-American honors from MaxPreps. Schools like Baylor, Kansas and Texas have already extended offers.
Banyard and Roberts have caused a bit of a stir in the area with their transfers from Grace Prep in Arlington. Banyard has been cleared to play while the status of Roberts is in doubt.
The Marauders will hook up with Douglass of Oklahoma City for one of the season's first major showdowns at the DFW Metroplex Hoopfest Nov. 27. The Whataburger Tournament in late December will be another major test.
10. Simeon (Chicago, Ill.)
Head coach: Robert Smith
2009-10 record: 25-9, Illinois Class 4A state champions
Key returnees: Sondale Conner (6-4, 180, Sr., G/F), Ahman Fells (6-6, 175, Sr., F), Terrell Green (5-10, 165, Sr., G), Kevin Hunter (6-4, 210, Sr., F), RaShawn McElrath (6-6, 175, Sr., F), Jaleni Neely (5-10, 160, Jr., G), Kendrick Nunn (6-1, 165, So., G), Jabari Parker (6-6, 210, So., G/F), Tywon Pinkney (5-10, 160, Sr., G), Darien Walker (6-1, 165, Sr., G)
Keep an eye on: Steve Taylor (6-7, 200, Jr., F)
Scouting report: The Wolverines lost leading scorer Brandon Spearman to the University of Dayton, but just about everybody else returns from a team that clicked at the end of the 2009-10 season for an impressive state title run.
Spearman's production should be replaced by the combination of Parker – Chicago's top frosh a year ago – and Taylor, who left the program mid-season only to return a few days later. He is a fast-rising prospect garnering praise as possibly the state's best in the 2012 class.
Depth will be strength for Derrick Rose's alma mater. Simeon returns 10 players who played in at least 30 of the team's 34 games last season.
11. Penn Wood (Lansdowne, Pa.)
Head coach: Clyde Jones
2009-2010 record: 27-4
Key returnees: Akil Anderson (6-5, 180, Sr., F), Darian Barnes (6-8, 180, Sr., F), Aaron Brown (6-5, 205, Sr., G/F, West Virginia), Jeff Kyem (6-4, 220, Sr., F), Shawn Oakman (6-9, 250, Sr., F, Penn State football), Kali Smith (5-11, 190, Sr., G), Rahjul Young (6-7, 200, Sr., F)
Keep an eye on: Jerry Price (5-8, 140, So., G), Mike Reddick (6-0, 185, So., G), Malcolm Richardson (5-11, 150, Jr., G)
Scouting report: The Patriots are seven points away from seeking a three-peat in Pennsylvania's AAAA classification. That was the losing margin in last year's title game against Plymouth Whitemarsh – a team Penn Wood beat three weeks earlier.
That disappointment should serve as motivation for this year's team led by Brown, a sturdy wing-forward who averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
The frontcourt appears set with the massive Oakman (9.9 points, 9.6 rebounds per game) and Barnes. The question mark for the southeastern Pennsylvania power is in the backcourt, where Will Brown and Tyree Johnson were responsible for helping the program go 55-8 over the past two seasons.
Expect Brown to spend more time on the perimeter in combination with Smith, Richardson and promising sophomores Price and Reddick.
The Patriots will participate in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in South Carolina and the Burger King Classic in Erie, Pa. Other high-profile opponents include Rice, Chester, Winter Park at St. Benedict's Prep.
12. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Head coach: Grant Rice
2009-2010 record: 30-2, Nevada Class 4A state champions, No. 7 in final Xcellent 25
Key returnees: Rosco Allen (6-9, Jr., G/F), Ben Carter (6-8, Jr., F), Shabazz Muhammad (6-6, 210, Jr., G), Ronnie Stanley (6-7, 285, Jr., F)
Keep an eye on: Rashad Muhammad (6-4, So., G)
Scouting report: Entering his 10th season as head coach at the school, Rice has established Bishop Gorman as the big dog in Nevada basketball with four state titles and 231 wins.
Despite losing nine seniors from last year's nationally-ranked, state championship squad the Gaels aren't mapping out a rebuilding plan. With one of the top juniors in the country leading the way in Shabazz Muhammad, BG enters the season as a heavy favorite once again in the Silver State and will have plenty of opportunities to make an impression against elite competition.
"We are going to miss those guys, Johnathan Loyd (Oregon signee), Taylor Spencer (Nevada-Las Vegas football signee) and Anson Winder (BYU signee)," Rice said. "They were three- and four-year players with a lot of varsity experience. But our guys are ready to step in."
Shabazz Muhammad, who will be joined by younger brother Rashad this year, is rated the No. 4 prospect in the 2012 class by MaxPreps.com and was a first team All-State selection as a sophomore. Fellow junior Allen is also a Top 100 junior and will continue to play on the wing for the Gaels despite growing to 6-9 during the off-season.
Rice expects big things from post players Carter and Stanley, one of the nation's most highly sought-after offensive line recruits in the 2012 class.
The Gaels will participate in the City of Palms Classic and Les Schwab Invitational in December, which could be the toughest two-week stretch any team in the country will face in 2010-11. They also take on St. Patrick at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in January and Long Beach Poly at the Nike Extravaganza in February. Despite his new-look roster, Rice had no reservations about challenging his team this winter.
"It was unanimous what we wanted to do," Rice said. "We may take our lumps this year, but it will get us ready for the playoffs and to make a run next year."
13. North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Head coach: Doug Mitchell
2009-2010 record: 24-3, Indiana Class 4A state champions
Key returnees: Dedric Griffin (6-5, 175, Sr., G/F), Patrick Ingram (6-2, 180, Jr., G), Ronnie Johnson (5-9, 150, Jr., G), Darius Latham (6-4, 260, So., F), D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (6-3, 215, Jr., G, Xavier)
Scouting report: Bloomington South illustrated just how tough it is to repeat as state champion in Indiana last year, so North Central's 95-74 win over Warsaw in the 4A title game shouldn't be viewed as a sign that the Panthers will waltz to another crown.
Smith-Rivera exploded for 16 first-half points in the title tilt and highlights the list of returnees, but Purdue freshman Terone Johnson will be missed. Younger brother Ronnie and Patrick Ingram will be asked to do much more this winter.
Due to restrictions on out-of-state play, North Central doesn't have a nationally-ranked opponent on the schedule, but the in-state slate is going to be challenging with Marquis Teague and Pike, Bowman Academy, Hamilton Southeastern, Lawrence North, Muncie Central and Bishop Luers.
14. Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
Head coach: Ken Novak
2009-2010 record: 30-2, Minnesota Class AAAA state champions
Key returnees: Siyani Chambers (5-11, 165, Jr., G), Joe Coleman (6-3, 185, Sr., G, Minnesota), Marvin Singleton (6-4, 225, Sr., F)
Scouting report: The Royals rolled to 23-straight wins to close out the 2009-10 season and blew out St. Cloud Tech in the title game. Hopkins averaged 86.2 points per game and big things will be expected again with Top 100 senior Coleman leading the way.
Coleman, rated No. 59 nationally in the senior class by MaxPreps.com, averaged 25.2 points per game as a junior. Undersized post Singleton is a major force in the paint, while Chambers is already drawing high-major college interest.
Novak has led Hopkins to five state championships (2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010).
15. Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.)
Head coach: Tyrone Slaughter
2009-2010 record: 23-7, Illinois Class 4A runner-up
Key returnees: Nate Brooks (6-5, 205, Jr., F), Luke Hager (6-8, 210, Sr.), Thomas Hamilton (6-10, 250, So.), Jermaine Morgan (6-8, 210, Jr.), Kwai Pearson (6-0, 170, Sr.), Derrick Randolph (5-7, 150, Jr.), Samuel Thompson (6-6, 190, Sr., G/F, Ohio State)
Keep an eye on: Jahlil Okafor (6-8, 250, Fr., F), Paul White (6-7, 180, Fr., F)
Scouting report: Not many teams pass the eye test quite like Whitney Young. And since Tyrone Slaughter arrived in 2005, not many teams have won with as much frequency as the Dolphins.
Despite some struggles in high-profile games over the past two seasons, Whitney Young has still piled up 49 wins with a state title in 2009. Slaughter's five-year record is 115-42 (.732). Expect that winning percentage to improve this winter with a roster packed with future college players.
Leading the way is Thompson, who averaged 9.8 points per game as a junior. He showed the ability to take over games, including 17 points and 14 rebounds in a regular-season win over Simeon and 28 points and 13 rebounds against Foreman.
The second-leading scorer was Hamilton at 9.1 points per game to go along with 7.8 rebounds. Big things are expected of the massive sophomore post. He will team with Whitney Young's latest freshman phenom Okafor to give the program a frontline that is unrivaled in terms of size and potential in high school basketball. Both are considered elite college prospects.
Guard play will be a question with Ahmad Starks now at Oregon State. Randolph and Pearson will be asked to carry the load.
Under Slaughter, the Dolphins haven't hesitated to take on all comers. The prestigious City of Palms Classic is part of the ambitious scheduling this winter.
16. Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.)
Head coach: Sharman White
2009-2010 record: 27-6, Georgia Class AAAA state champions
Key returnees: Henry Brooks (6-8, Sr., F), Justin Colvin (6-3, Jr., G/F), Tony Evans (6-4, Jr., F), Thomas Marshall (6-0, Sr., G), Brandon Morris (6-8, Jr., F), Tony Parker (6-9, Jr., F/C), Devon Provost (6-3, Sr., G/F), Davante Provost (6-1, Jr., G)
Keep an eye on: D'londo Evans (6-2, Jr., G/F)
Scouting report: With all the great programs and players in Georgia, Miller Grove's rise to prominence tends to get overlooked a bit nationally. Entering its sixth year of existence, the school and basketball program is looking to three-peat at the Class AAAA level following state championships in 2009 and 2010.
Leading a cast of four returning starters and nine lettermen will be first team All-State selection Brooks (10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds per game) and Parker (10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds), who already has extensive experience representing the United State in international play.
Brooks has been a bit overlooked in recruiting circles, but according to his coach, one lucky college program is going to land a gem.
"Not only is he long, active and athletic, but he is going to probably be the salutatorian of his class," White said. "He has offers from schools like Harvard, Princeton and Penn, along with a lot of mid-majors and other schools interested."
Morris is another key piece for the Wolverines. He shined while stepping in for an injured Parker during last season's postseason run and combined with a solid summer on the travel circuit, the 6-8 junior has attracted offers from the likes of Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Memphis and Ohio State.
"We are fortunate to have a really deep team with a lot of interchangeable parts," White said.
Like most of the nation's elite high school programs, Miller Grove is tackling a grueling schedule with games against in-state powers Columbia, Milton and Rockdale County, as well as trips to the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina and Flyin' to the Hoop in Dayton, Ohio.
"We want to play the best competition," White said. "We feel like our players are as good as any when you talk about the top teams in Georgia. We want to be mentioned with the best of them."
17. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
Head coach: Sharrief Metoyer
2009-2010 record: 28-5
Key returnees: Ryan Anderson (6-8, 220, Sr., F, Boston College), Chris Camper (6-3, 210, Sr., G/F), Alex Carmon (6-3, 180, Sr., G), Chris Croom (5-8, 160, Jr., G), Alexis Moore (6-1, 170, Sr., G, Southern California), Earnest Pettway (6-4, 225, Sr., F), Roschon Prince (6-6, 195, So., G/F)
Keep an eye on: Jordan Bell (6-7, So., F), Josh Munzon (6-1, Jr., G)
Scouting report: Anderson, Carmon and Moore have been the backbone of Jackrabbit teams that have won 51 games over the past two seasons and won 15 in a row during January and February last year. That trio will be counted on to provide leadership on a team being pegged as potentially California's best.
"I think they will handle it quite well," eighth-year head coach Metoyer said. "This has been a process. We were fortunate enough to win a championship my first year and then we took a dip and have been building ever since.
"Three years ago we got a group of kids that was very committed in Alexis, Ryan and Alex and their focus has been getting to the top."
Prince is one of the nation's top sophomores. After averaging 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, much more will be expected this season.
"He might be quite possibly our best player as a sophomore," Metoyer said. "He does it all."
Long Beach Poly will be staying close to home for much of the season, but that doesn't mean the schedule is forgiving. The Jackrabbits are taking part in the National Prep Classic in Santa Maria as well as the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. Showcase games against Bishop Gorman are scheduled for the Nike Extravaganza in February and an opponent will be named later for the Pangos Dream Classic in Las Vegas in early January.
18. Douglass (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
Head coach: Terry Long
2009-2010 record: 30-0, Oklahoma Class 4A state champions
Key returnees: Marquis Buxtin-Hill (6-9, Sr., F), Stephen Clark (5-9, So., G), Ramond Jenkins (6-6, Sr., F), Romond Jenkins (6-6, Sr., F), Dominique Manuel (5-10, Sr., G), Darvis Mitchell (6-1, Sr., G), Devonte Smith (5-10, Jr., G), Dorrian Williams (6-3, Sr., G),
Scouting report: Like Oklahoma City's NBA franchise, the Douglass High School basketball team has a chance to be a big story this winter. And like the Thunder with Kevin Durant, Douglass has a superstar on the rise leading the way.
Behind the play of then-freshman Clark (17.5 points, 3.2 assists per game) the Trojans beat opponents down by an average margin of over 24 points per game en route to Oklahoma's 4A state title. Incredibly, they did it without a single senior on the roster.
Clark will be joined once again by double-digit scorers Romond Jenkins (12.1 points per game), Smith (11.3), Williams (11.2) and Buxton-Hill (10.5). Ramond Jenkins, Romond's twin, gives Douglass another athletic inside presence.
After getting all but one win in-state a year ago, the Trojans are branching out in a big way this season. Trips to the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions are schedules, as well as showcase showdowns with Texas powers Berkner and Flower Mound Marcus.
19. Lincoln (San Diego, Calif.)
Head coach: Jason Bryant
2009-2010 record: 29-2, California Division II state champions
Key returnees: Javonte Byrd (6-3, 175, Sr., G), Kendal Kirkland (6-4, 210, Sr., F), Norman Powell (6-3, 200, Sr., G, UCLA), Tyree Robinson (6-3, 200, So., G), Tyrell Robinson (6-4, 205, So., G/F), Rasean Simpson (6-6, 180, Sr., F), Josh Smith (6-4, 180, Sr., F), Kevin Smith (6-1, 170, Sr., G)
Keep an eye on: Jerry Cobb (6-3, 200, Jr., G)
Scouting report: The Hornets return eight of their top 10 scorers from last season's state championship team, including UCLA commitment Powell (19.7 points per game) and promising sophomore twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson.
Simpson, Byrd, Josh Smith, Kevin Smith and Kirkland all served as valuable role players for a team that won 24 games in a row to close out 2009-10, including a 15-point win over St. Francis of Mountain View in the title game.
Powell is ranked No. 48 overall in the 2011 class by MaxPreps, while the Robinson twins – also promising football prospects – are already attracting major conference college attention. Tyree played the more significant role as a freshman, averaging 9.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
The Hornets will be tournament tested in December. Lincoln hosts the Hosea Hall Christmas Invitational and also heads to events in Santa Monica and Torrey Pines. Showdowns with Gardena Serra and Sacramento come in January.
20. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.)
Head coach: Roshown McLeod
2009-2010 record: 20-1, No. 2 in final Xcellent 25 national rankings
Key returnees: Grant Ellis (6-4, 190, Jr., G/F), Blaise Mbargorba (7-0, 215, Sr., C), Andris Misters (6-5, 180, Sr., G)
New additions: Jamel Artis (6-4, 190, Jr., G/F), Jaylen Beckham (6-0, 165, Jr., G), Neville Fincher (6-9, Jr., F), Vaughn Gray (6-5, 200, Sr., G/F, George Mason), Tyler Harris (6-8, 180, Sr., F), Dylan Langkabel (6-3, Jr., G), Da'Jon Streeter (6-3, So., G), Mike Young (6-8, 210, So., F)
Scouting report: The Gray Bees are the biggest mystery this winter among the nation's elite. While there is no question that first-year coach McLeod has put together a top-flight roster, it's difficult to project how 11 new faces will interact on the floor.
Headlining the newcomers are seniors Gray and Harris, junior Beckham and sophomore Young. Gray joined the program from nearby Don Bosco Prep, while Harris – the younger brother of Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris – made the move from New York's Half Hollow Hills West. Beckham, a Lexington, Ky., native is expected to fill the point guard spot while Young caused a stir in the Pittsburgh area as a freshman.
McLeod's search for talent also drew in players from Maryland (Artis) and Indiana (Langkabel). The Gray Bees have their usual contingent of foreign talent, including Mbargorba (Cameroon), Misters (Lithuania), Gabby Anglero (Puerto Rico) and Nehemias Morillo (Dominican Republic).
The schedule includes games with Life Center Academy, Arlington Country Day, Penn Wood, St. Frances Academy and Montrose Christian.
21. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Head coach: Mike Jones
2009-2010 record: 32-4, WCAC champions, Abe Pollin City Title, No. 19 in final Xcellent 25
Key returnees: BeeJay Anya (6-8, So., F), Marcellous Bell (6-0, Jr., G), Jerami Grant (6-7, 180, Sr., F), Mikael Hopkins (6-8, 210, Sr., F, Georgetown), Kelvin Howard (6-5, So., F), James Robinson (6-3, 195, Jr., G)
Scouting report: It's a huge credit to the job Jones is doing at DeMatha that he could lose star point guard Quinn Cook to Oak Hill Academy and still be saddled with a top 25 national ranking.
Cook, the player of the year in the Washington, D.C., area a year ago, left the program with Jones' blessing but the Stags still have plenty of talent.
Grant will eventually join fellow senior forward Hopkins in committing and signing to a major-conference college program. Along with rapidly-developing sophomore Anya, Jones has three long, tall post players that will be difficult for any opponent to matchup with.
Cook will be tough to replace in the backcourt, but Robinson is another Stag on the rise and helped Team Takeover capture Nike's inaugural Elite Youth Basketball League championship over the summer. He has been on the radar since his freshman season and could step out of the shadows in a big way this winter.
In addition to the grueling Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule, DeMatha will step out to compete in the Les Schwab Invitational in Oregon and square off with Bob Hurley and St. Anthony at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
22. Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
Head coach: Joe Auer
2009-2010 record: 23-2, Kansas Class 6A state champions
Key returnees: E.J. Dobbins (5-8, 160, Sr., G), Perry Ellis (6-8, 220, Jr., F), Terrence Moore (6-1, 165, Jr., G), Dreamius Smith (6-0, 200, Sr., G), Evan Wessel (6-4, 190, Sr., G)
Scouting Report: Since Ellis arrived on campus, Wichita Heights is 47-3 with two state titles. The star junior forward and four other key contributors are back and a third crown is the expectation this winter.
Ellis (22.2 points per game as a sophomore) will be joined by fellow returning double-digit scorers Wessel (12.4), Moore (11.1) and Smith (10.0). That foursome plus Dobbins combined to score 64.3 of the Falcons' 66.8 points per game in 2009-10.
The only knock on Wichita Heights is the lack of a nationally-recognized opponent on the schedule. That won't change this winter so media and fans will have to continue speculating how Ellis and Co. would matchup beyond Kansas. The Falcons carry a 19-game win streak into the season.
23. Norcom (Portsmouth, Va.)
Head coach: Leon Goolsby
2009-2010 record: 23-4, Virginia Group AAA state champions
Key returnees: DeCarlos Anderson (6-2, 170, Sr., G), Jeremy Canty (6-1, 170, Sr., G, Liberty), Dorian Finney-Smith (6-7, 190, Sr., F, Virginia Tech), Kameron Mack (6-5, 200, Sr., F, Virginia football)
Scouting report: After starting 7-3 last year, the Greyhounds won 16 of their final 17 games and beat previously-unbeaten Petersburg in dramatic fashion to win a state title.
Now the underdog element is out the window. Norcom will be forced to manage high expectations and playing with a target on its back as a defending state champion.
A virtual unknown at this time last year, Finney-Smith has emerged as an elite prospect after beating out North Carolina commitment James McAdoo for local player of the year honors. The versatile future Virginia Tech Hokie averaged 19.7 points and 13 boards per contest as a junior and is No. 25 in MaxPreps.com's 2011 Top 100.
In the backcourt, Canty is already committed to Division I Liberty and Anderson is on the radar of several low-major schools as well. Mack is a good enough athlete at 6-5 to project as a defensive back when he heads to the University of Virginia next fall.
Goolsby's squad will get a big test in December at the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational in Raleigh, N.C.
24. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Head coach: Kevin Sutton
2009-2010 record: 24-5, National High School Invitational runner-up, No. 11 in final Xcellent 25 national rankings
Key returnees: Steve Moundou-Missi (6-6, Sr., F, Harvard), Mark Overdevest (7-3, Sr., C)
New additions: Enrico Buono (6-3, Jr., G), DeForest Carter (6-2, Sr., G), Chris Davenport (6-7, So., F), Joey De La Rosa (6-10, Sr., C), Patricio Garino (6-6, Jr., F), Paul Gombwer (6-6, Sr., F, Colgate), Kasey Hill (6-1, So., G), Ian Malone (6-5, So., F), Jason Pimentel (6-8, Sr., F, Old Dominion), Jose Rodriguez (6-5, Sr., G), Kyle Simmons (5-10, Sr., G)
Scouting report: If the whole is even equal to the sum of the parts, Montverde Academy should be in good shape this season.
Harvard commitment Mondou-Missi was a contributor for last year's nationally-ranked squad and is the only returnee that logged significant minutes for the team that beat Montrose Christian and Winter Park en route to the National High School Invitational finals last April.
But Sutton stocked the shelves nicely, getting key additions De La Rosa from New York City, Gombwer from Montrose Christian and Pimentel from West Port High School in Ocala.
And then there are the two sophomores Hill and Davenport, perhaps creating the biggest buzz among Montverde's incoming group. Hill earned a major rep coming out of the middle school ranks and backed it up last season at Mount Dora Bible, averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.8 steals and 4.3 rebounds per game to earn All-American honors from MaxPreps. It would be a surprise if he didn't run the show at the point guard position from the get-go. Davenport, an Atlanta native and part of the Southern Kings summer program there, is also regarded as an elite 2013 prospect.
The Eagles will participate in the Iolani Classic, the Junior Orange Bowl Classic and host their own Montverde Academy Invitational in late January, which will feature Findlay Prep among others.
25. Fort Bend Bush (Richmond, Texas)
Head coach: Ronnie Courtney
2009-2010 record: 35-4, Texas Class 5A state champions
Key returnees: Glenn Andrews (6-4, 185, Jr., F), Chibuike Chidomera (6-5, 190, Sr., F), Travis Courtney (5-9, 190, Sr., G), Rodshard Davis (5-10, 170, Sr., G), Cameron Ridley (6-10, 240, Jr., F), Adrian Tepker (6-3, 180, Sr., G), Tobi Tinubu (6-3, 195, Sr., G/F), Ryne Williams (5-9, 150, Jr., G)
Keep an eye on: Kelechi Anagha (6-4, 180, Jr., F), Donald Monroe (6-0, 160, Fr., G), Ronald Monroe (6-1, 160, Fr., G), Kelly Oubre (6-5, 180, Fr., G/F)
Scouting report: With several expected contributors still playing football and the Broncos' first basketball game just a couple of weeks away, don't be surprised if it takes the defending champs a while to hit full stride. But once they do, watch out.
While Bush lost three starters, Ridley developed into one of the nation's hottest prospects over the summer after serving in a supporting role for the champs last year. He has attracted offers from the likes of Baylor, Georgetown, Kansas, North Carolina and Texas.
Travis Courtney, the coach's kid, is in the midst of a solid senior year under center for the Fort Bend Bush football team with over 1,500 yards through the air and accounting for close to 20 touchdowns. He will resume his role as the starting point guard once the gridiron season comes to a close.
Six other letterwinners return, plus Ronnie Courtney has three talented freshmen expected to compete for a spot in the rotation in twins Donald and Ronald Monroe and Oubre.
Coach Courtney won't be in unfamiliar territory with a defending champion. He won state titles with T.J. Ford and Daniel Ewing at Willowridge in 2000 and 2001 before spending six seasons as head coach at Texas Southern University.
The Next 25 (listed alphabetically)
Academy of the New Church (Bryn Athyn, Pa.)
With senior twin towers Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 235, Syracuse) and Malcolm Gilbert (6-11, 230, Pittsburgh) along with superstar junior Savon Goodman (6-5, 205, G/F), things have to go better this winter for the Lions, who struggled to a 13-9 mark a year ago. It won't take long to see where ANC stands as it opens with a three-game slate in Illinois against upstart Indiana program La Lumiere, Brehm Prep and Findlay Prep.
Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The Apaches are no longer part of the Florida High School Athletic Association and will be forging on as an independent. That move has opened up the floodgates to poor into the school from all over the world. Delron Summey (6-5, 215, Sr., W) is one of the team's few returnees, but the ACD roster reads like a college team with Pape Morsall (7-1, 190, Jr., F/C), Christian Mwepe (6-11, 240, Jr.,F/ C), Brandon Adams (6-7, 225, Jr., F), Spenser Wells (6-7, 215, Sr., F), Carlos Morris (6-6, 170, Jr., F). Then there is 6-8, 210-pound sophomore Kerem Kanter – the younger brother of in-limbo Kentucky freshman Enes Kanter – and 6-10, 185 freshman Michael Gilmore – nephew of NBA great Artis Gilmore.
Bearden (Knoxville, Tenn.)
The Bulldogs return 11 players from a team that went 32-3 a year ago and played Melrose tough in the state tournament before bowing out. Senior guards Ty Greene (6-0, 165, South Carolina-Upstate) and Rico White (6-1, 150) are the headliners. Bearden faces No. 1-ranked Oak Hill Academy in late January.
Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
Juniors Brandon Ashley (6-9, 220, F) and Richard Longrus (6-7, 210, F) helped the Dragons go 30-4 as sophomores and reach California's Division III championship game. Nine other players return to help the Oakland power tackle a schedule that includes McClymonds and Sacramento, as well as challenges in tournament play at the Father Barry Christmas Classic and Torrey Pines Classic.
Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Ruth Lovelace returns 10 players from a team that went 25-6 and battled Christ the King to the wire in New York's Federation Class AA championship game. Leroy Isler (6-5, Sr., G/F), Jeffland Neverson (6-4, 180, Jr., G/F), Antione Slaughter (5-10, Sr., G) and Michael Taylor (6-3, Sr., G, Rutgers) are among the key cogs in the Kangaroo machine.
Butler (Huntsville, Ala.)
Senior guards Trevor Lacey (6-4, 190) and Justin Pride (5-10, 175) would love to finish their careers with another state championship after going back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. An injury to Lacey – the No. 22 overall prospect in MaxPreps.com's 2011 Top 100 – forced him out of action in the postseason last year and denied the Rebels the opportunity to three-peat. Also keep an eye on 6-6, 220-pound freshman Robert Steele, who contributed for the Rebels last year as an eighth-grader.
Christ School (Arden, N.C.)
The senior trio of Trevonte Dixon (6-4, 190, G, College of Charleston), Damarcus Harrison (6-4, 195, G, BYU) and Marshall Plumlee (7-0, 220, F/C, Duke) could take the rebuilt Greenies a long way if they can find chemistry. Justin Dotson (6-3, 190, So., G) was one of the top freshman in South Carolina a year ago, averaging 13.5 points per game for the state's AAA state champions. The schedule includes Oak Hill Academy, Oak Ridge Military and Westchester Country Day, plus tournament play at the City of Palms Classic and the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational.
Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
New York's defending Federation Class AA state champions will be led by the backcourt combination of Omar Calhoun (6-3, 185, Jr., G) and Corey Edwards (5-11, 170, Sr., G, George Mason). Chris Ortiz (6-7, 210, Sr., F) is back at CTK after spending his junior year at Lincoln in Brooklyn. Neumann-Goretti, Gonzaga, Westchester Country Day and South Atlanta dot the schedule.
Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Once he finishes quarterbacking the Panthers' nationally-ranked football team, two-sport sensation Jacoby Brissett will lead the charge for a state title run at Dwyer on the hardwood. The 6-4, 225-pound guard averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game as a junior, leading the South Florida school to a 25-4 record. He will be joined by key returners Derrick Davis (6-7, Sr., F), Terrell Harris (6-2, Sr., G), Greg Louis (6-6, Sr., F) and Montel Williams (6-0, Sr., G). Joel James, a 6-9, 260-pound junior, could also see an increased role.
Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)
Do-it-all star Tony Wroten Jr. (6-4, 195, Sr., G, Washington) led the Bulldogs to a 23-4 record and Washington's Class 4A state championship game as a sophomore before missing his entire junior campaign with an injury. His absence allowed Glenn Brooks (6-0, 175, Sr., G), Des'Juan Newton (6-1, 185, Sr., G/F) and Pierre Wright (5-11, 190, Jr., G) to shine. Garfield also showcased the state's best freshmen class last winter, including Aja Buchanan (5-8, 160, So., G), Will Dorsey (5-6, 145, So., G), Daeshon Hall (6-6, 200, So., F), DeMario Hall (5-10, 170, So., G) and Tucker Haymond (6-3, 175, So., G/F). With Wroten back from injury, Brandon Roy's alma mater is the favorite in the state's largest classification. The schedule includes a trip to the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., for a clash with Morgan Park of Chicago.
Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
The Eagles might be a year away from big things, but a quartet of sophomores will ensure plenty of buzz remains around the program this season. Nate Britt (6-1, 170, G), Charles Glover (6-0, 165, G), Kris Jenkins (6-6, 245, F) and Seattle transfer Derrick "D.J." Fenner (6-5, 200, G/F) give Gonzaga a rock-solid nucleus for the next three years. Fenner was the top frosh in the state of Washington last winter, averaging over 18 points per game in the rugged Metro League. Junior Will Rassman (6-7, 190, F) is being recruited by Cornell. Seniors Ben Dickinson (6-9) and Oliver Ellison (6-8) add even more size.
Greater Atlanta Christian (Norcross, Ga.)
University of Virginia commitment Malcolm Brogdon (6-4, 200, Sr., G/F) is back after leading the Spartans to a 32-1 record and Georgia's Class AA title as a junior. The only loss last winter came to Melrose at the Arby's Classic in Tennessee. Brogdon's 20.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game will be supported by fellow returnees A.J. Davis (6-6, So., F), Paul Dawson (5-10, Sr., G) and Dylan Harper (6-6, Sr., F). Key games include in-state tangles with South Atlanta and Milton, as well as trips out-of-state for the Beach Ball Classic and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, N.Y.)
Reigning MaxPreps.com National Sophomore of the Year DaJuan Coleman (6-8, 265, Jr., F/C) is back after leading the Red Rams to a 25-1 record last winter. The No. 3 overall prospect in the 2012 class, Coleman posted 24.1 points and 15.4 rebounds per game. J-D is 52-3 since the big man joined the program as a freshman.
Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)
The Crusaders lost eight seniors from last year's nationally-ranked, Class 6A state championship team, but the most important player is back – senior star Kyle Wiltjer (6-9, 220, F). The Kentucky verbal commitment anchored title teams the last two years at Jesuit and will be joined by fellow battle-tested seniors Jordan Akwenuke (6-5, 185, G/F) and Jack Grodahl (6-2, 190, Sr., G). The Portland powerhouse could encounter the likes of Bishop Gorman and DeMatha at the Les Schwab Invitational in December.
La Verne Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.)
California's defending Division V state champions return nearly intact. Grant Jerrett (6-8, Jr., F) was the team's leading scorer a year ago at over 18 points per game, but head coach Eric Cooper's nephew C.J. Cooper (6-0, Sr., G, Texas-El Paso) is the three three-time league MVP and team catalyst. Bruce English (6-1, Sr., G, Loyola Marymount) is the third double-digit scorer back from last season. Kevin Payne (6-2, Sr., G), Xavier Jones (6-8, Sr., F) and coach's kid Eric Cooper Jr., provide a solid support unit. "I want us to play every single second like it's our last," Eric Cooper. "If we play hard every single night out, I'll be happy."
Lincoln (Dallas, Texas)
LeBryan Nash (6-7, 220, Sr., F, Oklahoma State) and Keaton Miles (6-6, 190, Sr., G/F, West Virginia) are back after leading the Tigers to a 24-3 mark last season. With Yates re-tooling, the 4A title could be there for the taking. If Lincoln can get through the early part of its schedule – which includes Prestonwood Christian and a trip to El Paso for the McDonald's Classic – unscathed, a rapid climb in the rankings could transpire.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
The Monarchs lost all five starters and 11 seniors from last year's 32-2 Southern Section Division I-AA championship team, but don't expect head coach Gary McKnight's team to disappear from title contention in the Golden State. Transfer Xavier Johnson (6-7, 190, Jr., G/F) and talented freshmen Shaqquan Aaron (6-6, 160, G) and Stanley Johnson (6-5, 190, F) join mainstays David Brown (6-3, 180, Sr., G), Josh Cook (6-4, 200, Jr., F), Katin Reinhardt (6-5, 200, Jr., G/F) and Eli Stalzer (6-3, 190, Jr., G) to give Mater Dei seven capable starters. Sophomore Jordan Strawberry (6-3, 195, G) is also expected to contribute heavily. The schedule is challenging with a trip to the City of Palms Classic in December and a showdown with Los Angeles power Price in February.
Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.)
With all the great teams in Memphis a year ago, this one got overlooked a bit despite beating Melrose twice. Junior bruiser Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 250, F/C) is the focal point, but the Warriors also feature tight end recruit Cameron Clear (6-6, 265, Sr., F/C), D'Airrius Sorrell (6-6, 185, Jr., G/F) and Andre Applewhite (6-4, 205, Jr., G). Georgia powers Norcross and Rockdale County, Findlay Prep and all the usual suspects in Memphis (Melrose, White Station, Southwind) are on the schedule.
Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)
Last season was a bit of a down year by Montrose Christian standards, going 16-6 with an early exit from the National High School Invitational. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson (6-3, 190, Villanova) and junior wing Justin Anderson (6-7, 225) should help put head coach Stu Vetter's program back on the right track this winter. Arlington Country Day, Findlay Prep and St. Benedict's Prep are among the high-profile games on the schedule, as well as a trip to Puerto Rico in December to participate in a 16-team tournament.
Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.)
The Vikings will be favored over South Seattle rival Franklin to come out on top in the state's 3A classification. University of Washington commitment Hikeem Stewart (6-2, 185, Sr., G) is the latest star at a school that has also produced Doug Christie, Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson, as well as Stewart's older twin brothers Lodrick and Rodrick. Michael Middlebrooks (6-8, 190, Sr., F/C), Jeff Perkins (6-5, 180, Sr., G/F), Kadeem Stewart (5-8, 150, Sr., G) and Joe Stroud (6-6, 190, Sr., F) are also back for head coach Mike Bethea.
Sacramento (Sacramento, Calif.)
Arizona commitment Josiah Turner (6-3, 185, Sr., G) is back after pouring in 26.7 points per game as a junior and helping the Dragons go 26-7. Other key returnees include Robert Garrett (6-11, Sr., F/C, Santa Clara), Darius Graham (5-9, Jr., G) and Leander Carter (5-10, Sr., G).
South Atlanta (Atlanta, Ga.)
Head coach Michael Reddick's squad could find itself back in the national spotlight it enjoyed during the Derrick Favors era. South Atlanta's big three of Nick Jacobs (6-9, 250, Sr., F, Alabama), Dominique McKoy (6-7, 205, Sr., F) and Rashaud Bell (6-6, 200, Sr., G/F) were the nucleus for a 28-3 team in 2009-10 and will look to help land the program its second state title in three seasons.
Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.)
The Toreadors took a big hit when De'Andre Daniels left to spend his senior season at IMG Academies in Florida. Kevin Johnson (6-10, 260, Sr., F) will look to pick up the slack along with summer star Spencer Dinwiddie (6-4, 165, Sr., G), Brandon Perry (6-6, 245, Jr., F) and C.J. Blackwell (6-5, 215, Sr., G/F). The schedule includes three major tournaments in late November and December, as well as New York's Mount Vernon at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
Westchester Country Day (High Point, N.C.)
Baylor commitments Quincy Miller (6-9, 210, Sr., F) and Deuce Bello (6-4, 175, Sr., G) along with Ike Nwamu (6-3, 210, Sr., G/F, Cleveland State) lead what head coach Pat Kahny calls "one of our deeper teams." The schedule will be a major challenge with games against Christ School, Christ the King and Norfolk Christian. The Wildcats will also participate in the City of Palms Signature Series and the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in December.
Yates (Houston, Texas)
The defending national champions lost a ton of talent and production from last year's team. But as impressive as Joseph Young and Brandon Peters were individually, it was more about the system than it was overwhelming talent. Head coach Greg Wise's assaulting full-court style has resulted in 58-straight victories entering this season and back-to-back 4A state titles. The 2009-10 Lions were the highest-scoring team in high school basketball history. Junior forward Clyde Santee (6-7, 190) leads the short list of returnees.