Video: 2015 MaxPreps Holiday Classic lineup announcedPALM SPRINGS, Calif. —
It's nine days until the MaxPreps Holiday Classic and we look at Jonesboro (Ga.)
, winners of back-to-back state Class 4A titles.
The Cardinals finished No. 9 in the 2014-15 MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings presented by the Army National Guard.
They had a 32-1 record and finished on a 31-game win streak after losing to the No. 1 team in the land, Montverde Academy, 92-72 the second game of the season.
Jonesboro averaged 74 points per game — twice hitting triple digits — and were led by the nation's Sophomore of the Year James (M.J.) Walker, Jr.
(17.3 points per game) along with a pair of seniors Tracy Hector Jr. (12.7 ppg) and Deantre Mack (10.9).
Walker, a 6-foot-5, 218-pound power forward, is considered the nation's No. 24 recruit overall
. Interestingly, he's also a top football recruit as well, with offers already from Clemson and North Carolina in that sport.
He has six basketball offers, including Auburn, Florida State and Memphis.
The Cardinals and Walker are currently 7-2, but winners of seven straight after losing the first two games to powers Norcross (70-65) and Wesleyan Christian Academy (52-51) at the Atlanta Hardwood Jam Fest. Those two squads opened the season a combined 16-2. Walker had 36 against Norcross.
Under coach Daniel Maehlman, Jonesboro has won back-to-back state titles and gone a combined 67-9 since 2013-14. Walker is currently averaging 22.6 points, 6-3 senior Eric Lovett
is at 12.6 per game and 6-foot senior Tariq Jenkins
The Cardinals now turn their attention to Windward and the 117-team, 11-division MPHC, which runs Dec. 26-30 in beautiful Palm Springs (Calif.), considered a desert oasis in December.
One of the nation's top tournaments, the MaxPreps Holiday Classic features defending state champions from Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Utah, along with nine of California's top programs.
See MPHC site for all teams, brackets, stories
"The MaxPreps Holiday Classic has become the talk of the town," tournament co-director Wayne Merino said of the event, now in its 13th year. "It's a hot ticket, without a doubt among the most desirable high school basketball tournaments for teams and coaches to attend in the country."See MPHC Open Division bracket
Jonesboro will play in the loaded Open Division which features elite programs from Florida, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin and many elite national players. See many of the top players
"We are proud to mark our fifth year as the primary sponsor of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Palm Springs," MaxPreps event director Chris Stonebraker said. "The 2015 field is loaded with Top 10 national prospects and storied programs. We can't wait to get them all on the floor for the high school basketball fans in the Coachella Valley."