Video: Shadow Mountain (AZ) Basketball Highlights
Former NBA player Mike Bibby has his 'Maniac' Matadors tearing it up early this season.
Directed by fifth-year head coach and former 14-year NBA veteran Mike Bibby, Shadow Mountain (Phoenix)
is quickly becoming a blockbuster show in high school basketball.
The 4-0 "Maniac" Matadors have swept opponents off the floor — leading the country in both points (100.3) and steals per game (35.3). Shadow Mountain also is second nationally in assists per game (24.8) and is blowing out opponents this season by an average of 53 points per contest.
The five starters of this frenetic bunch average double figures and combine for 86 points per game while notching 100 points in three out of four contests this year.
The Matadors' suffocating full-court defense makes up for a lack of height — their tallest player is just 6-foot-5, — and leads to countless layups and no-look alley-oop dunks. Offensively, they're a high-octane bunch whose up-tempo, unselfish signature style produces highlight-reel slams that leave fans and camera crews wanting more.
All reasons why the No. 8 Matadors skyrocketed 16 spots in this week's Xcellent 25 High School Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
We'll get a taste of how Shadow Mountain stacks up against national competition when they battle California heavyweights Chino Hills (Calif.) and Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) this weekend at the American Family Insurance Hoophall West in Arizona.
For the past few years, Chino Hills — and the Ball brothers — captivated the national spotlight with their on-court showmanship as well as their off-court personalities. Perhaps, Bibby's crew might be the next team with that sort of panache.
But how did America's most entertaining team ascend into the national spotlight?
It all starts with the proven winner, Bibby. The Shadow Mountain alum guided the Matadors to its first state title as a senior in 1996. The next year he piloted the Arizona Wildcats to an NCAA championship as a true freshman. Now, as head coach of his alma mater, he's led Shadow Mountain to three state titles in the last four years.
Bibby utilizes his professional background to implement NBA-like conditioning exercises and he practices his hallmark of hard work.
"We run in practice the entire time," Shadow Mountain assistant coach August Mendes said. "If we aren't running hard enough, we run outside. We always sprint in everything we do. Bibby has a gift for coaching, especially with his ability to draw up plays in a small amount of time and make adjustments in crucial game situations. He's taken this thing to another level."
Last year, Shadow Mountain became the first Arizona team to ever qualify for the Dick's Sporting Goods High School Nationals and was the only public school to compete in the event. The Matadors clawed back from a 20-6 deficit in the quarterfinals and led powerhouse Montverde Academy (Fla.) at halftime. Yet, even the mastermind Bibby couldn't diagram a winning solution with 4-star guard Jaelen House
, their second-leading scorer (22.3), serving a one-game suspension. Shadow Mountain subsequently fell 74-61, along with its 33-game winning streak, and finished the season with an impressive 27-1 mark and No. 14 national ranking.
The Matadors fly across the country to the second-ranked Eagles' home floor in late January for the 15th annual Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament — and a possible shot at redemption. It's a stacked event that also includes No. 13 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and No. 30 Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, La.).
It's a pivotal tournament for a young, hungry Matador squad eyeing a return to Dick's Nationals.
"It is a great opportunity to challenge one of the top teams in the country again," Bibby said.
Bibby's dynamo bunch is fully loaded and better, perhaps, than they were a year ago. House and 3-star guard Jovan Blacksher
have been learning under Bibby since the sixth grade and have blossomed into one of the nation's best backcourt combos. Their magnetic defensive chemistry in the full-court trap has sparked a 43-point, 19 steals per game average between the two electric juniors.
"House and Blacksher have gotten older and more mature on the defensive side," Bibby said.
And while it might start with the backcourt duo, Shadow Mountain adds five talented out-of-state transfers to the explosive mix. Sophomore 4-star swingman Shemar Morrow
, a Top 35 prospect, can change a contest with one show-stopping slam. Senior Immanuel Allen
is an explosive 3-star wing averaging 17.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. Junior guard Antonio Reeves
posts 12 points per game. Junior small forward Jalen Williams
, an imposing outside linebacker on the gridiron, averages six points and four steals per game.
These key additions give the Matadors more athletes, scorers and finishers. Early on, that's paying dividends of 20 more points and 15 more steals per game compared to last season.
The scariest thing might be this: Four of Shadow Mountain's five starters are underclassmen.
"It has been a good transition because of the new kids that have come in as well," Bibby said. "They are just as talented as the players who have left."