We are just two months away from the start of the 12th annual GEICO Nationals from April 4-6 at Christ the King High School in New York City. The field is beginning to come into focus as the end of the high school basketball regular season quickly approaches.
Six teams appear to be virtual locks for an invitation to the national championship event, as La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) have set themselves apart from the pack.
If you take off those six elite programs off the board, it leaves two open spots for approximately seven teams, all with similar resumes.
The eight-team field will be announced in early March, after an internal selection process at Paragon Marketing Group. Programs eligible for the event include members schools of Florida, Georgia, Utah, Washington, Nevada, Hawaii, and Arizona as well as independent schools from North Carolina and South Carolina and programs from the Baltimore Catholic League and DCISAA.
With just over a month of basketball remaining until the field is released, let's predict the field for GEICO Nationals based on each team's current resume.
National Rank: No. 1
Projected Seed: No. 1
The Lakers have gotten off to a hot start this season behind their dominant post duo of Keion Brooks
and Isaiah Stewart
, while under-the-radar 2020 point guard Wendell Green Jr.
plays a pivotal role in orchestrating the offense. A pair of wins over No. 4 Montverde Academy and a blowout win over No. 6 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) are the signature wins for a program looking to return to their fourth consecutive GEICO Nationals, winning the event in 2017. La Lumiere has come on strong in recent years, establishing itself as one of the top three independent programs in high school basketball.
National Rank: No. 2
Projected Seed: No. 2
If McEachern is able to capture its first ever Georgia AAAAAAA state title the Indians will undoubtedly be invited to their first ever GEICO Nationals. If they chose to accept, they could become the highest-ranked public school in the event history, with the 2013-14 Rainier Beach squad coming into the 2014 Dick's Nationals as the No. 2 seed. The Indians have a 5-0 record against teams currently ranked in the Top 25 with event titles at the City of Palms and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. One of the most lethal duo's in high school basketball continue to shine as 5-star guard Sharife Cooper
and Auburn signee Isaac Okoro
continue their incredible seasons.
National Rank: No. 3
Projected Seed: No. 3
In search of their second GEICO Nationals appearance, it appears this may be the best team in program history led by a trio of McDonald's All-Americans. Last week, IMG Academy became the first team in the 42-year history of the McDonald's All American game to feature three players as North Carolina-bound Armando Bacot Jr.
, Villanova pledge Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
and Arizona signee Josh Green
all will participate in the prestigious All-Star game. Signature wins over No. 5 Oak Hill Academy, No. 6 DeMatha and No. 20 University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) solidify the Ascenders' impressive resume.
National Rank: No. 4
Projected Seed: No. 4
The defending GEICO Nationals champions would look to extend their lead in event titles after capturing a record fourth last season —
breaking a tie for first with Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), which has three event titles. The Eagles possess one of the deepest high school basketball teams in recent memory, with a talented nine-man rotation led by McDonald's All-American Precious Achiuwa
, 5-star juniors Cade Cunningham
and Moses Moody
, rising senior Harlond Beverly
and their anchor down low, 7-foot-0 Florida State signee Balsa Koprivica
National Rank: No. 5
Projected Seed: No. 5
The lethal Warriors attack averages 78.5 points per game led by four players who average double figures. Top-ranked senior guard Cole Anthony
, deadly scorer Cam Thomas
, Illinois bound big man Kofi Cockburn
and athletic wing Christian Brown
all average 12-plus points per contest this season. Although the Warriors are still in search for their first win against an Xcellent 25 opponent, a blowout 96-59 victory over Olive Branch (Miss.) in the City of Palms Classic quarterfinals and a tightly contested loss to No. 3 IMG Academy without Anthony proves Oak Hill is a serious contender to capture its second event crown.
National Rank: No. 8
Projected Seed: No. 6
Last season looked to be the year the Buffaloes would receive their first ever GEICO Nationals invite, however roster issues deemed them ineligible. Assuming there's no major collapse or any additional roster issues, Sunrise Christian Academy is in prime position for its first GEICO berth. N'Faly Dante
, the 5-star junior, has been playing at an ultra high level this season, establishing himself as one of the top rim protectors in high school basketball while averaging 14.6 points per game. Baylor commit Jordan Turner
, Vanderbilt pledge Austin Crowley
and unsigned senior Grant Sherfield
all join Dante with double digit averages in the scoring column.
Shadow Mountain (Phoenix)
National Rank: No. 16
Projected Seed: No. 7
The three-time defending Arizona Class 4A state champions look to make it three consecutive GEICO Nationals appearances in search of their first win at the event. In what may be Mike Bibby's last season with the program, Shadow Mountain has signature victories over Top 25 opponents No. 11 Belleville West (Belleville, Ill.) and No. 25 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) to bolster its national resume. Led by senior guards, Arizona State pledge Jaelen House
and Grand Canyon commit Jovan Blacksher
the Matadors fierce pressure averages 20 steals per contest. Shadow Mountain sits firmly on the bubble at 19-3, but the Matadors were competitive in their two previous first round games at the event.
2018-19 Record: 16-4National Rank:
Projected Seed: No. 8
This group made a special run last season, falling short of capturing the GEICO Nationals crown in their first appearance at the event, losing in the championship game to Montverde Academy. Their superstar duo of Duke pledge Vernon Carey Jr.
and 5-star junior Scottie Barnes
once again lead the Sharks and would be major attractions to the Big Apple if they get the nod. University is in real danger of missing the postseason event with an 0-3 record against current Top 25 teams. However, quality wins over Vashon (St. Louis) and Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.) strengthen their case.
National Rank: Not Ranked
In their first year of event eligibility, the Gaels appear to need some help to receive an invite.
National Rank: Not Ranked
North Carolina participants have not fared well in the past, going 1-7 at GEICO Nationals. Will that history hurt the Cougars case for the Big Apple?
Record: 18-2National Rank:
Will need to capture a WIAA Class 4A state title and get some help to receive an invitation to New York.
Record: 16-3National Rank:
Appear to be on the outside looking in entering the stretch run, but could have an opportunity if others slip up in state tournament play.
Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)
Record: 21-2National Rank:
Will have the opportunity to jump back into the conversation should the Tigers grab wins over No. 1 La Lumiere and No. 8 Sunrise Christian Academy down the stretch.