High school basketball hotbeds New Jersey and Texas have produced the past three Xcellent 25 national champions.
The 2012-13 preseason rankings included squads from Chicago, Philadelphia, Southern California and the suburbs of Dallas and Houston. Again, all prep hoops hot spots.
But thanks to an ambitious schedule and a series of statement victories, Lone Peak emerged as the clear No. 1, becoming the first Utah team in any sport to be recognized as a national champion by MaxPreps. The Knights finished 26-1 and won their fifth Class 5A state title in six years under head coach Quincy Lewis.
The average margin of victory in Lone Peak's four state tournament victories was 32.5 points, but it was what the Knights accomplished against non-Utah competition that really set them apart.
The tour de force began in early December at the Chicago Elite Classic with a 38-point win over eventual Illinois 4A semifinalist Proviso East (Maywood). A week later, the Knights blasted Colorado 5A runner-up Denver East by 19.
Next came the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., where the Utah dynasty recorded impressive wins over Callaway (Jackson, Miss.), Chester (Pa.) and Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) before falling to Montverde Academy (Fla.) in the final. The win over Chester ended a 61-game win streak for the Keystone State powerhouse.
After Christmas the Knights beat eventual North Carolina private school state champ Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point) and then recorded perhaps the most impressive win on their 2012-13 resume – a 35-point drubbing of California Open Division runner-up Archbishop Mitty (San Jose).
For the season, Lone Peak averaged 72.7 points per game while allowing just 46.4.
The Knights' balance was on display as postseason awards began to roll out in the Beehive State. BYU-bound (following a two-year mission) senior guard Nick Emery
was named Mr. Basketball by the Deseret News
. Junior guard T.J. Haws
(also committed to BYU) earned Class 5A MVP honors. Two other future BYU Cougars in 6-foot-9 senior Eric Mika
and football recruit Talon Shumway
earned first team Class 5A All-State honors. Senior guard Connor Toolson
was named to the second team.Past Xcellent 25 National Champions
2012 – St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
2011 – St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
2010 – Yates (Houston)
2009 – Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
Read on for a complete look at the final MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Boys Basketball Rankings.