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Though seven Montverde Academy (Fla.)
seniors from the 2013-14 season are now playing Division I college basketball, the narrative surrounding the Eagles isn't about how much talent has departed.
Instead, the focus is on returning senior Ben Simmons
, the 6-foot-9 Australian forward who is among the most polished high school stars to come along in recent years.
Simmons was the centerpiece of last year's Montverde Academy team, averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game en route to MaxPreps National Junior of the Year and second team All-American honors. Over the summer, he solidified his reputation as the top teenage hoops prospect in the country – and arguably the entire world – and owns the No. 1 spot in the 2015 247Sports Composite Rankings.See the entire preseason national Top 25
Headed to LSU, Simmons narrowly missed a roster spot on Australia's World Cup team, which was populated by NBA veterans and former college stars.
Forward Ben Simmons
Photo by Andrew Bershaw
Simmons might get a feel for what it would have been like to play on that team this season at Montverde Academy. That's because head coach Kevin Boyle has surrounded him with a pro-sized lineup.
Expected to be in the Eagle rotation will be 7-4 Jean Marc Christ Koumadje
(headed to Florida State), 7-0 Doral Moore
(Wake Forest), 6-8, 260-pound Noah Dickerson
(Georgetown), 6-8 Ifeanyi Umezurike
, 6-7 Marquez Letcher-Ellis
and 6-9 freshman phenom E.J. Montgomery
That size could push Simmons to the perimeter more. He will be more than comfortable there operating alongside Martez Cameron
, Howard Washington
and Poland national team representative Marcel Ponitka
.View gallery of Montverde Academy preseason photo shoot
Montverde Academy has been crowned the national champ by at least one media outlet each of the past two seasons (though MaxPreps opted for California state champ Mater Dei in 2013-14). The Eagles begin their quest for a three-peat over the weekend with a pair of games against Georgia state title contenders Berkmar (Lilburn) and Jonesboro.Montverde Academy's last five years:2013-14 –
28-0, No. 2 final national ranking2012-13 –
25-2, MaxPreps national champions2011-12 –
23-4, No. 4 final national ranking2010-11 –