Looking into the crystal ball toward the next high school basketball season, two teams clearly sit above the rest: Montverde Academy and IMG Academy. The two-time defending national champion Eagles and 2018-19 national champion Ascenders each return elite talent to their rosters that should separate them from the pack to start the year.
Since Kevin Boyle's arrival prior to the 2011-12 season, Montverde has a 93.9
win percentage and produced NBA players R.J. Barrett, D'Angelo Russell
and Ben Simmons as well as projected lottery picks Scottie Barnes of
Florida State, Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State and Moses Moody of
Montverde has won MaxPreps National Championships in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020, and the Eagles'
dominance should continue past this season where they outscored opponents by an averaged of 25.8 points and finished 11-1 against MaxPreps Top 25 teams. The program has won 49 of its
past 50 games has Top 10 finishes each year for the past decade.
The Eagles return MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Jalen Duren along with top 100 Class of 2022 prospects Jalen Hood-Schifino, Malik Reneau, Dariq Whitehead and Justice Williams. The formidable Eagles rotation is also certain to be bolstered with key additions in the offseason.
The second-ranked Ascenders are expected to return top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Jaden Bradley, Eric Dailey, Jett Howard and Jarace Walker, all MaxPreps Junior-All-Americans.
The elite high school basketball landscape is always tough to define
as the offseason transfer season can dramatically shift fortunes quickly. Today, we take a look ahead
anyway to get people thinking about what will, hopefully, be a return to a "normal" schedule across the country.
While plenty is certain to change over the summer, here's an early look
at what the Way-Too-Early 2021-22 MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
Coach: Kevin Boyle
2020-21 resume: (25-0) No. 1 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jalen Duren
(6-10, Sr., C), Jalen Hood-Schifino
(6-4, Sr., G), Malik Reneau
(6-8, Sr., F), Dariq Whitehead
(6-5, Sr., W/G), Justice Williams
(6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Captured their second consecutive national championship and third in the past four seasons in 2020-21. The Eagles will again be strong contenders next season behind MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Duren and All-American Whitehead.
Coach: Sean McAloon
2020-21 resume: (21-3) No. 5 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Noah Batchelor
(6-6, Sr., W), Jaden Bradley
(6-2, Sr., G), Eric Dailey
(6-7, Sr., F), Anthony Gilkes
(6-6, So., G), Jett Howard
(6-4, Sr., G), Jarace Walker
(6-8, Sr., W), Gus Yalden
(6-8, Jr., F/C).
Outlook: The Ascenders have all the pieces on paper to compete for their second national title in the past four years next season behind a strong returning core that includes Junior MaxPreps All-Americans Bradley, Dailey, Howard and Walker.
3. Milton (Ga.)
Coach: Allen Whitehart
2020-21 resume: (29-3) No. 7 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Kendall Campbell
(6-7, Sr., W/F), Kanaan Carlyle
(6-2, Jr., G), Lebbeus Overton
(6-5, Jr., F), Bruce Thornton
(6-2, Sr., G), Cam Walker
(6-3, Sr., W)
Outlook: After capturing their first state championship since 2012 and earning a first GEICO Nationals berth, the Eagles return virtually all significant pieces from 2020-21 headlined by Campbell, Carlyle and Ohio State commit Thornton.
Coach: Mike Jones
2020-21 resume: (9-0) No. 4 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jacoi Hutchinson
(6-2, Jr., G), Jason Moore
(6-6, Jr., W), Rodney Rice Jr.
(6-4, Sr., G), Jerrell Roberson
(6-8, Sr., W/F) AJ Swinton
(6-6, So., W/F), Tyrell Ward
(6-5, Sr., W), Ben Woodward
(6-3, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Stags secured their fourth consecutive Top 10 finish in the final MaxPreps Top 25 after completing an abbreviated season unbeaten. Although DeMatha loses MaxPreps Maryland Player of the Year Hawkins to graduation, second team MaxPreps Junior All-American Ward headlines a strong returning cast.
Coach: Mark Phelps
2020-21 Resume: (31-4) No. 10 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Adem BonaOutlook:
(6-10, F/C), Mouhamed Gueye
(7-0, Sr., F/C), Kamari Lands
(6-8, Sr., W), Stefan Todorovic
(6-7, Sr., G), Milos Uzan
(6-3, Sr., G)
Coming off back-to-back top 10 finishes, the Crew are expected to
return the majority of their rotation.
Coach: Rick Brunson
2020-21 resume: (13-0) No. 9 in final Top 25
Outlook: Notable returners: Aaron Bradshaw
(7-0, Jr., C), Rasheer Fleming
(6-8, Sr., F), Desear Haskins
(6-5, Jr. F/C), Cian Medley
(5-10, Jr., G), Cornelius Robinson
(6-1, Jr., G), D.J. Wagner
(6-3, Jr., G)
The Panthers have gone 42-1 over their past two seasons with consecutive Top 25 finishes. They havne't had an opportunity to cap their season with a Tournament of Champions title as postseason play has been canceled in each of the last two years. Next year, the public school will be favorites to win their first crown since 2000 behind top-ranked Class of 2023 prospect Wagner.
Coach: Steve Smith
2020-21 Resume: (20-9) No. 24 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Tybo Bailey
(6-2, So., G), Xavier Brown
(6-1, Sr., G), Caleb Foster
(6-4, So., G), Justin McBride
(6-7, So., W), Luke McEldon
(6-9, So., F), Jalen Reed
(6-8, Sr., F), M.J. Rice
(6-5, Sr., W/G)
Outlook: Despite suffering the program's most losses since the 1978-79 season, the Warriors snuck into the final Top 25 with a play-in victory at GEICO Nationals. A strong returning core is expected to be led by MaxPreps Junior All-American selection Rice and Sophomore All-American Foster.
Coach: Kevin Lawson
2020-21 resume: (26-2) No. 20 in final Top 25Outlook:
Following the program's first state semifinals appearance since 1987, the Eagles are early favorites to capture their first state title next season behind Co-District 7-6A MVP's Wallace and Griffen.
Coach: Patrick Holmes
2020-21 resume: (7-10) GEICO Nationals participant
Notable returners: Hunter Duncan
(6-1, Jr., G), Jeremy Fears Jr.
(6-1, Jr., G), Vincent Iwuchukwu
(7-0, Sr., C), Kebba Njie
(6-9, Sr., F), J.J. Starling
(6-2, Sr., G), Chisom Okpara
(6-7, Sr., W)
Outlook: A disappointing 2020-21 season saw the Lakers finish with a sub-.500 record, but a strong returning cast is expected to return this program to national prominence. Top returners include Top 60 Class of 2022 prospects Starling and Iwuchukwu along with MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Fears.
2020-21 resume: Spring season in progress
Notable returners: Amari BaileyOutlook:
(6-4. Sr., G), Bronny James
(6-3, Jr., G), Ramel Lloyd Jr.
(6-6, Sr., G), Shy Odom
(6-6, Sr., W/F) , Chance Westry
(6-6, Sr., G)
It is hard to predict how the Trailblazers current spring season will play out, but the high school basketball calendar should return to normal next season in the Golden State. Top 5 Class of 2022 prospect Bailey is expected to be the catalyst, while plenty of intrigue will surround James' return to the court after a knee injury.
Coach: Luke Barnwell
2020-21 resume: (21-4) No. 3 in final Top 25Outlook:
Expect the Buffaloes to reload in the offseason after graduating four starters. The Sunflower State powerhouse has been a constant on the national prep scene in recent seasons and made their first GEICO Nationals title game appearance last season.
2020-21 resume: (29-1) No. 6 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Cameron BarnesOutlook:
(6-11, Jr., C), Aric Demings
(6-0, Jr., G), C.J. Ford
(6-1, Sr., G), Ronald Holland
(6-8, Jr., F), Davion Sykes
(6-5, Sr., G/W)
The Panthers lose three of their top four scorers from last season, but MaxPreps 2020-21 National Coach of the Year Peavy has proven his ability to overcome those losses as the program has graduated its top scorer each of the previous two seasons.
2020-21 resume: (18-7) No. 12 in final Top 25Outlook:
The Tigers have some major holes to fill with the loss of three starters headlined by MaxPreps Utah Player of the Year Hickman. Top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Gayle and Isaacs are the cornerstones for Wasatch to retool its roster.
Coach: Nicholas Myles
2020-21 resume: (15-1) Baltimore Catholic League finalist
Notable returners: Daquan DavisOutlook:
(6-1, So., G), Cortez Johnson
(6-5, Sr., G), Jahnathan Lamothe
(6-4, Jr., G), Derik Queen
(6-7, So., F)
Finished their 2020-21 campaign almost unbeatean, losing their perfect mark in the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship game. MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year Queen headlines a talented returning core that includes Top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Lamothe.
2020-21 resume: (17-7) FHSAA Class 3A state champions
Notable returners: Marvel AllenOutlook:
(6-5, Jr. G), Carl Cherenfant
(6-5, Jr., G), Gregg Glenn
(6-8, Sr., W/F), Taylor Hendricks
(6-10, Sr., F/C), Tyler Hendricks
(6-5, Sr., G/W)
Reigning state champions return each of their top four scorers highlighted by MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Allen and talented post presences Glenn and Hendricks.
Coach: Jeff McInnis
2020-21 resume: (28-3) No. 15 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Robert DillinghamOutlook:
(6-1, Jr., G), Mekhi Grant
(6-8, Jr., F), Antonio Hamlin
(6-2, Sr., G), A.J Smith
(6-3, Sr., G)
The Goats look to build on their first national Top 25 finish behind top 10 Class of 2023 prospect Dillingham. Former NBA journeyman Jeff McInnis looks to continue to ascension of the Combine Academy basketball program.
Coach: David Green
2020-21 resume: (31-0) UIL Class 5A state champions
Notable returners: Terrance ArceneauxOutlook:
(6-7, So., W), Kayde Dotson
(6-1, So., G), Clarence Payia
(6-4, So., G/W), Trealyn Porchia
(6-5, Jr., W), Wesley Yates III
(6-4, Jr., G)
This group loses one role player off its unbeaten state championship run. Leading scorer Arceneaux hit buzzer beaters at the end of regulation and overtime to help
bring home the school's first high school basketball state championship last season.
Coach: Tyrone Slaughter
2020-21 resume: (15-1)
Notable returners: Xavier AmosOutlook:
(6-8, Sr., F), A.J. Casey
(6-8, Sr., F), Dalen Davis
(5-11, Jr., G), Marcus Overstreet
(6-7, Sr., F), Marcus Pigram
(6-3, Sr., G), Jordan Streeter
(6-5, Sr., W)
The Dolphins have all the pieces to return to the national rankings for the first time since their 2013-14 campaign next season behind five-star Class of 2022 prospect Casey.
Coach: John Buck
2020-21 resume: (3-0)Outlook:
The Crusaders had one of the most abbreviated seasons playing three games, including
two games against the same opponent. Looking ahead to next season,
the Big Apple power looks to build around talented returning guards
Pierre and Reid.
Coach: Glenn Farello
2020-21 resume: (7-4) No. 21 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Ben HammondOutlook:
(5-11, So., G), Darren Harris
(6-5, So., G/W), DeShawn Harris-Smith
(6-4, Jr., G) Knasir McDaniel
(6-0, Sr., G), Kris Mickens
(6-5, Sr., G/W)
Despite losing MaxPreps Virginia Player of the Year Keels to graduation, the Panthers return a strong group highlighted by top 100 Class of 2022 prospect McDaniel and top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Harris-Smith.
2020-21 resume: (22-1) KSHSAA Class 4A state champions
Notable returners: Christian Bowen-WebbOutlook:
(6-2, Sr., G), Xavier Hall
(6-0, Sr., G), Taj Manning
(6-6, Sr., F), Mark Mitchell
(6-8, Sr., W/F), Aiden Wing
(6-4, Jr., G)
First team all-state performers Manning and Mitchell lead the heavy favorites to capture their fifth state title since 2015-16 next season.
Coach: Greg Phillips
2020-21 resume: (25-6) GHSA Class 7A state finalist
Notable returnes: Malique EwinOutlook:
(6-10, Sr., F/C), Jermahri Hill
(6-4, Sr., G), Destin Logan
(6-4, Sr., G), Jameel Rideout
(6-2, Sr., G)
After advancing to the state championship game last season, the Patriots are expected to be strong contenders to contend for their first state crown since 2001 next season behind a talented incoming senior classification.
Coach: Ed Gipson
2020-21 resume: (28-2) No. 2 in final Top 25Outlook:
This program made a major statement last season, ascending to No. 2 in the national rankings and presenting national champion Montverde Academy with its stiffest test at GEICO Nationals. Despite losing the bulk of its production, AZ Compass Prep remains a budding prep powerhouse on the rise.
Coach: Corey Tucker
2020-21 resume: (9-3)
Notable losses: None
Notable returners: Marlon Barnes Jr.Outlook:
(6-6, Jr., G/W), Emoni Bates
(6-9, Sr., W/F), Javaughn Hannah
(6-4, Sr., G), Dillon Hunter
(6-5, Sr., G), Shawn Phillips
(6-10, Sr., C)
Top-ranked Class of 2022 prospect Bates looks to lead a talented group of prospects into the national rankings next season after the Ball Boys struggled to field a significant schedule in 2020-21.
Coach: Mike Thomas
2020-21 resume: (14-2) Division I state champions
Notable returners: Amonte Allen-JohnsonOutlook:
(6-1, Jr., G), Tae Boyd
(6-3, Jr., G), Ty Rodgers
(6-7, Sr., W), R.J. Taylor
(6-0, Jr., G)
The Bobcats made the most of their first state championship game appearance since 1952, capturing the school's first title with a 45-36 victory over previously unbeaten Huron. The return the majority of their rotation including four-star Class of 2022 prospect Rodgers and rising point guard prospect Taylor.