Covering High School Sports in America
Photo by Jim Redman

Prestonwood Christian and Julius Randle will return to the City of Palms Classic in December after topping Grace Prep in an all-Texas final in 2011.

City of Palms Classic organizers unveiled the field for their 2012 event Monday and – as expected – it has all the ingredients to be considered the top high school tournament in the country once again.

Defending champion Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) and star forward Julius Randle headline a cast of 26 teams headed to Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., Dec. 18-22.

An in-depth preview can wait as the event is still four months away, but here is our attempt at seeding the 16 tournament teams and participants and matchups for the City of Palms Signature Series and Sunshine Series:

16-team championship bracket
1. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
2. Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)
3. Chester (Pa.)
4. Lone Peak (Highland, Utah)
5. Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)
6. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
7. Whitney Young (Chicago)
8. Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.)
9. Tift County (Tifton, Ga.)
10. Callaway (Jackson, Miss.)
11. Prime Prep (Dallas)
12. Omaha Central (Omaha, Neb.)
13. Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.)
14. Lake Wales (Fla.)
15. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
16. Bishop Verot (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Signature Series (mini-bracket for "non-traditional" schools)
Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.)
HCYA North (Houston, Texas)
Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.)
Kiski School (Saltsburg, Pa.)

Sunshine Series (showcase for Florida, Georgia teams)
Dec. 18 – American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) vs. Riverview (Sarasota, Fla.)
Dec. 22 – East Lee County (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) vs. Evans (Orlando, Fla.)
Dec. 22 – Norland (Miami, Fla.) vs. Eagle's Landing (McDonough, Ga.)

Buried lead?

There was a bit of a bombshell included in the City of Palms' announcement with the inclusion of Prime Prep. The Dallas charter school – founded by Fort Myers native Deion Sanders – will apparently be led by former Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) head coach Ray Forsett and include former Grace Prep stars Emmanuel Mudiay, Karviar Shepherd and Jordan Mickey.

Along with Baylor-bound 7-footer Isaiah Austin, Forsett led that group to a 27-4 record last season and No. 11 final national ranking by MaxPreps. Grace Prep reached the finals of the 2011 City of Palms Classic before losing to Randle and Prestonwood Christian.

Prime Prep, slated to participate in Texas' public school ranks in the University Interscholastic League (UIL), is embroiled in some controversy back home, surprisingly dropping its varsity football program this fall and being ousted from District 11-3A in all sports at all levels.

If Forsett's move and subsequent talent relocation goes as planned and highly-touted prospects Mudiay, Shepherd and Mickey are all eligible to play this season, Prime Prep would warrant a higher seed in our informal look at the field above.