Video: Shaq's 12-year-old daughter is 6-3
Shaquille O'Neal's preteen daughter has a nice looking jump shot.
Though the usual suspects dot the Xcellent 25, perceptive readers may have noticed a couple of startling changes — the states of Texas and California, combined, have only two representatives. In a normal season, the two powerhouse states would total at least five, if not six or seven, but this clearly is not a normal season.
First, let's make it clear that there's still plenty of talent in Texas and California — in fact, loads of talent. College coaches will flock to the big events that draw the top teams, and they will happily harvest the bumper crop of Division I-ready players.
In the past, though, especially in California, that talent tended to be concentrated in a few top teams, but this year, it seems much more spread out. Instead of two Power 5 girls surrounded by three or four legit D-I prospects, now there's one Power 5 player with two or maybe three D-Is joining her on the roster.
That drop off is huge, for a couple of reasons. Tactically, it's a lot easier for opposing coaches to draw up a game plan that's focused on stopping one big-time player than it is for two or three, and it's also easier to deal with a starting lineup that has one girl who isn't likely to beat you all by herself. Also, the elite talent is more spread out, so there are more Power 5 vs. Power 5 matchups rather than one Power 5 passing out of the double team to another Power 5.
Why this has happened is unclear, and it may just be a blip in the overall radar screen, or it could signal a sea change in these two talent-rich states. Regardless, with only two teams from Texas and California (at this point), the door is wide open for programs from other states to join the exclusive Xcellent 25 club.
MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (Last week 1) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 0-0
As with many teams across the country, Christ the King still has some time before its first game — but when the schedule begins, it begins with a bang: National Christian Academy on Dec. 7 and No. 2 St. John's on Dec. 8.
The season starts Thursday with a league game at Our Lady of Good Counsel, but Saturday, National Christian Academy — which lost to No. 5 Southeast Raleigh by 10 — will be a tough early test.
One reason for a high ranking in preseason? A difficult early schedule. Bishop McNamara plays No. 4 Hamilton Heights on Saturday.
A few more early-season games might give Hamilton Heights a bit of an edge against Bishop McNamara, but then again, Bishop McNamara is hosting the game.
After taking care of National Christian, the next tough game for North Carolina's best looks to be Riverdale Baptist on Dec. 14.
The two-spot jump comes courtesy of previous No. 3 Windward's loss and a 60-55 win over one of Ohio's top teams, Mount Notre Dame.
Edison Academy doesn't get going until Dec. 8 and the first challenge looks to be Chicago traditional power Whitney Young on Dec. 14.
Miami Country Day jumps into the Top 10 thanks to a convincing win over Montverde, a team many thought to be the best in Florida.
Long Island Lutheran will have to wait until Dec. 8 to prove it deserves this ranking, when it visits Paul VI in the Art Turner Classic.
Nevada is a slow-starting state, and so Centennial won't play until Dec. 11.
The Crescom Bank Holiday Invitational begins Dec. 19, and in a lot of ways, so does Riverdale's season.
Beaver Dam is a newcomer to this area of the Xcellent 25, but the stay could be brief as Saturday's opponent in Chicago is No. 15 Benet Academy.
Fort Smith's Tournament of Champions begins Dec. 6, and the team many see as the best in Kansas, Bishop Miege, is expected to meet Northside in the finals.
California's only representative in the Xcellent 25 — and when was the last time California had just one of the top 25? — gets two solid SoCal opponents, Troy and Long Beach Poly, next week.
Though Saturday's game against No. 12 Beaver Dam is technically a road game for both teams, Benet only has to take a 30-mile drive to get to Chicago.
Saturday, very talented St. Francis will take on Hoover, a team that always seems to be in the late-season mix in Alabama.
Southridge will warm up for the Nike TOC in Arizona with games against LaSalle and Pendleton, two pretty good Oregon teams.
La Jolla Country Day's Sweet 16 tournament this week is headlined by Arizona's best, Millennium, but there are also quality teams from Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and of course, California.
St. Frances won't face a challenge until Dec. 9, when Life Center shows up on the schedule.
New Jersey is one of the latest-starting states in the country, so St. John-Vianney's spot is secure for a couple weeks. (It's hard to lose when you don't play.)
Central is one of several quality Indiana teams, and more will be revealed
after Saturday’s game against Newark, one of the top teams in Ohio.
Incarnate Word's biggest challenge may be the 4,000 miles of travel to the 'Iolani Classic in mid-December. The top teams there are from California (including noted giant-killer Pinewood), but on talent, IWA should go 3-0.
Despite a loss to Cedar Hill (which also beat previous No. 16 Mansfield Timberview), New Hope beat two of Alabama's best, and handled some other top Texas schools.
Like California, you expect more than one Texas team in the Xcellent 25, but Cedar Hill, which slipped past Mansfield Timberview 53-52, has three losses — and this early in the season, three losses is at least two too many for X25 consideration.
Since Minnesota teams don't travel, the in-state games are critical, and the top two teams from last year, Hopkins and Eastview, play Saturday at the Breakdown Tip Off Classic. Don't be fooled, though, it's still a home game for Hopkins.Dropped out:
No. 3 Windward (Los Angeles), No. 19 Duncanville (Texas).