GEICO Nationals, the season-ending tournament designed to crown a high school basketball national champion, returns to the Suncoast Credit Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., for the third consecutive season from March 30 through April 1.
Known previously as the National High School Invitational (2009-13) and Dick's Nationals (2014-17), GEICO Nationals will field an eight-team bracket and crown its 14th champion this season.
This year's field is likely to be comprised of primarily teams from the National Top 10, as each of the top six teams in the rankings are expected to earn an invitation, including No. 1 Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)
, No. 2 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
, No. 3 Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.)
, No. 4 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)
, No. 5 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
and No. 6 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.)
Make sure to check back in March for the official announcement of the field, but for now here is a detailed look at each of the eight teams who are expected to earn an invite to the prestigious postseason event.
Projected GEICO Nationals field
Five-star senior Matas Buzelis looks to guide Sunrise Christian Academy to its first GEICO Nationals title. (Photo: Marty Beck)
MaxPreps Top 25: No. 1
Projected seed: No. 1
Although the Panthers have never competed in the national championship event, this season they are expected to participate upon invitation. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powerhouse owns a 4-1 record against ranked opponents, defeating MaxPreps Top 25 programs No. 15 St. John's (Washington, D.C.), No. 17 Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas), No. 22 Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore) and No. 25 Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) and falling to No. 7 Columbus (Miami, Fla.). Maryland signee Deshawn Harris-Smith
, Duke commit Darren Harris
and junior Ben Hammond
have been the catalysts. Paul VI has become a mainstay in the national rankings in recent seasons and may have their best team ever in 2022-23.
National Top 10: No. 1
Projected seed: No. 2Breakdown:
The top-ranked team in the National Top 10 has outscored opponents by an average of 23.1 points this season. The Lions are just 1-0 against ranked opposition after defeating National Top 10 No. 5 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 72-66 in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions title game. The second-year program is coming off a run to the GEICO Nationals title game in its inaugural season and have an upcoming contest against No. 2 Montverde Academy in a potential battle for the GEICO Nationals top seed. Baylor signee Ja'Kobe Walter
, North Carolina commit Elliot Cadeau
and Tennessee signee Cameron Carr
have been the top contributors for the Lions.
National Top 10: No. 2
Projected seed: No. 3Breakdown:
Against one of the most challenging schedules in high school hoops, the Eagles boast a 5-2 record against ranked teams with wins over MaxPreps Top 25 No. 4 Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) and National Top 10 programs No. 5 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), No. 9 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) and No. 4 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) twice while losing to National Top 10 No. 6 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) and MaxPreps Top 25 No. 22 Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore). The three-time defending national champions are loaded with top 100 prospects including five-star sophomore Cooper Flagg
, five-star junior Derik Queen
and McDonald's All-American selections Sean Stewart
and Kwame Evans
MaxPreps Top 25: No. 4
Projected seed: No. 4Breakdown:
Following losses to National Top 10 No. 2 Montverde Academy and No. 5 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) in their second and third games of the season, respectively, the Crusaders have reeled off 11 consecutive wins including knocking off MaxPreps Top 25 No. 5 Imhotep Charter and National Top 10 No. 9 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.). The first-year NIBC program still has an opportunity to bolster its resume ahead of GEICO Nationals with games against MaxPreps Top 25 No. 25 Roselle Catholic and National Top 10 No. 4 Sunrise Christian Academy and No. 6 AZ Compass Prep. Top players include junior V.J. Edgecombe
, senior Jayden Reid
and Connecticut signee Jayden Ross
National Top 10: No. 3
Projected seed: No. 5Breakdown:
The Crew made the most of their surprising GEICO Nationals invitation last season, defeating top seed Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) in the first round before falling to then first-year program Link Academy in the semifinals. Under first-year head coach Ryan Bernardi, Prolific Prep won 21 consecutive games to start the season before falling to National Top 10 No. 7 Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.) 90-87 over the weekend. Auburn signee Aden Holloway
, Xavier signee Trey Green
, Baylor commit Yves Missi
and highly-regarded freshman Tyran Stokes
are among the team's top players. Prolific Prep is 1-1 against ranked opponents with its only win over a nationally-ranked team coming against DME Academy (Daytona Beach, Fla.).
National Top 10: No. 4
Projected seed: No. 6Breakdown:
The perennial powerhouse program has faced a rigorous schedule with a 3-4 record against nationally-ranked opponents. The Buffaloes have ranked wins over National Top 10 No. 5 IMG Academy and No. 9 La Lumiere along with MaxPreps Top 25 No. 25 Roselle Catholic while their defeats came against National Top 10 No. 1 Link Academy, No. 5 AZ Compass Prep, No. 3 Montverde Academy twice and unranked American Fork (Utah). Five-star senior Matas Buzelis
, Arkansas signee Layden Blocker
and Ohio State signee Scotty Middleton
lead the way. Sunrise Christian Academy is 2-3 in three GEICO Nationals appearances.
National Top 10: No. 5
Projected seed: No. 7Breakdown:
Own a 4-3 record against nationally-ranked opponents this season as the Ascenders defeated National Top 10 No. 5 AZ Compass Prep twice, No. 9 La Lumiere and MaxPreps Top 25 No. 4 Long Island Lutheran, while suffering losses against National Top 10 No. 2 Montverde Academy, No. 4 Sunrise Christian Academy, MaxPreps Top 25 No. 15 St. John's (Washington, D.C.) and unranked Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.). Maryland signee Jamie Kaiser
, George Washington signee Jacoi Hutchinson
and juniors Amier Ali
and Khani Rooths
are among the key pieces for the Sunshine State powerhouse.
National Top 10: No. 6
Projected seed: No. 8Breakdown:
Following a pair of quality wins over No. 2 Montverde Academy and No. 4 Sunrise Christian Academy early in the season, the Dragons have struggled to gain their footing against top competition with losses to Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah), Red Rock Academy (Las Vegas) and No. 5 IMG Academy twice. In its first season of NIBC play, AZ Compass Prep is currently 7-3 in conference play and have a strong chance of earning their third consecutive GEICO Nationals invite. Despite a roster filled with high-major Division I talent, this group doesn't have a player who averages more than 8.4 points per game in NIBC play. Saint Mary's signee Jordan Ross
, senior Tru Washington
and Oregon signee Mookie Cook
have been the top performers so far.
Outside looking in
National Top 10: No. 7Breakdown:
After defeating No. 3 Prolific Prep in one of the bigger upsets of the season, Dream City Christian appears to be the top team on the outside looking in who could benefits from multiple slips ups from the teams ahead of them.
National Top 10: No. 8Breakdown:
Ranked higher than La Lumiere and Wasatch Academy in the National Top 10, it is unlikely they receive strong consideration for the field based on the history of the event.
National Top 10: No. 9
Breakdown: Always a well-coached unit, the Lakers should be seen as a threat to make GEICO Nationals because of a long history of appearances with nine in total.
National Top 10: No. 10Breakdown:
The Gray Bees likely have very little chance to make the GEICO Nationals field with a lackluster schedule that has held them back in the national rankings.
National Top 10: NRBreakdown:
Despite pulling off a few big wins this season, the bad losses are starting to pile up as it appears the Tigers will remain in search of their first trip to GEICO Nationals under head coach Paul Peterson since his first season in 2020-21.