Ever since it was announced that Duncanville (Texas) would tangle with defending Fab 50 national champion Oak Hill Academy (Va.) right before Christmas, Lone Star State prep basketball fans have been giddy for the start of the 2007-2008 season.
That's because the Duncanville Panthers not only have the players to run with Oak Hill, but the team is talented enough to claim the mythical Fab 50 national title.
"We were probably going to pick Duncanville at No. 1 even if Willie Warren hadn't left Oak Hill," said Student Sports Executive Editor Mark Tennis, who compiles the Fab 50 along with Rankings Editor Doug Huff. "And we almost put Montverde or Montrose at No.
2. We also were struck by the quality of teams in New Jersey. The big three there -- St. Patrick, St. Anthony and St. Benedict's -- are so close. They easily could have all been in the top seven."
To take a look at the origins of the Fab 50 compiled by Huff and Tennis and for an in-depth synopsis of every Fab 50 national champion since 1988, go to StudentSportsBasketball.com
Here's the top 10 of this year's preseason Rivals.com Fab 50 boys' basketball rankings (with 2006-07 won-lost record and end-of-season Fab 50 ranking).
Note: The Fab 50 rankings were based on information available as of October 15, 2007. Players may have transferred to different schools since that date, which would have likely changed the rankings.
When Lincoln is mentioned, one name likely comes to mind -- Lance Stephenson. The 2006 EA SPORTS National Freshman of the Year tallied 20 points and 15 rebounds per game as Lincoln won the Class AA Federation state title last season, and Stephenson again was named the top player nationally in his class. According to coach Dwayne Morton, this yearıs team could be even better than last's. Three transfers -- junior James Padgett, junior Vincent Council and senior Reggie Davis -- give the squad versatility and athleticism that will let Morton deploy either a big or a small lineup, depending on the competition. With guard Devon McMillian pushing the tempo, the team will be able to stretch the court. It may take some time early in the season for Morton to find a seven-man rotation that works every game. The team's biggest contest on a schedule that takes them to Louisville, Ky., North Carolina and Ohio may be the Jan. 25 game against preseason Fab 50 No. 11 St. Benedict's (N.J.).
9. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 25-1 (29)
The Eagles return nine players, including three senior starters, from a team that went unbeaten in the regular season before suffering their only loss in the state Division 1 semifinals. The anchor is 6-foot-8 southpaw forward Delvon Roe, a Michigan State commit who was named EA Sports National Junior of the Year. Roe averaged 20.5 ppg last season. Other veterans include 6-8 center Tom Pritchard, an Indiana commit who averaged 11.6 ppg last season, and 6-2 point guard Frankie Dobbs (5.1 ppg).
8. Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) 27-5 (23)
The Lions are the defending state Div. I champions and open the season as slight favorites in the talent-laden L.A. City Section over a loaded Taft club and Western League rival Westchester. Four of the top seven players return for veteran coach Harvey Kitani, including 6-foot-2 senior Chris Solomon (11.5 ppg, 2.5 apg) and athletic 6-foot-6 junior Solomon Hill (8.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg). The returnees and Kitani's track record alone would make Fairfax one of the top teams in California, but what makes the Lions more of a favorite to win their third state title in five years is the arrival of 6-foot-10 junior Renardo Sidney. Last season he helped Artesia win a Div. III state title by averaging 18.6 points and nine rebounds per game while at times looking like the most dominant player in the state. Fairfax might drop a game or two early, but once Sidney jells with the veterans -- including 6-foot-2 junior Lance Bailey and 6-foot-4 senior Darius Singletary -- watch out.
7. Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 29-3 (8)
The Blue Devils have been a state and national contender the past five years, and this season should be no different. Norcross will seek a third straight state Class 5A crown with a roster that includes two returning starters and three contributing reserves, plus two touted newcomers. The team is anchored by 6-foot-8 all-stater Al-Farouq Aminu, a Wake Forest recruit and junior All-America honoree. Aminu averaged 13.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season. The other returning regular is 6-1 junior guard Taariq Muhammad (6.1 ppg, 5.9 apg). Other veterans include 6-3 senior Taylor Killian and a pair of juniors -- Prince Kent (6-4) and Denzail Jones (5-10). The newcomers are 6-6 senior transfer A. J. Hawkins and promising junior Quinton Square (6-1).
6. St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 28-1 (11)
Coach Bob Hurley may have one of the more potent lineups in the nation this season with five Division I athletes. Rutgers commit Mike Rosario highlights the roster of experienced players that lost only one game last season. St. Anthony's looks to avenge that sole loss, which was to St. Patrick's in the North Jersey Non-Public B tournament. Along with Rosario, St. Anthony's returns Tyshawn Taylor and Jiovanny Fontan plus St. Joseph-bound A.J. Rodgers. Dominic Cheek rounds out the roster and is a top junior prospect who gives the Friars depth at guard.
5. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 30-2 (2)
St. Patrick's won the Tournament of Champions for the second consecutive year in New Jersey, and coach Kevin Boyle was selected as 2007 State Coach of the Year. St. Patrick's will participate in the NIKE Extravaganza in California on Feb. 4 and is scheduled to face Fab 50 No. 10 Fairfax. In state, the Tournament of Champions could feature an exciting matchup against Fab 50 No. 6 St. Anthony's, whom the Celtics eliminated from the North Jersey Non-Public B tournament last season. St. Patrick is anchored by 6-3 junior Dexter Strickland, who averaged 10 points per game, and 6-6 Paris Bennett. Running the point again this season is 5-10 Jermel Jenkins, who averaged 6 points and 7.1 assists per game last season. With a schedule that includes Fab 50 No. 2 Oak Hill, St. Patrick's will be battle-tested by the time it seeks a third straight state title.
4. Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 21-3 (27)
The Mustangs have reloaded with new players to go with three talented junior veterans and should contend for a Fab 50 national title. The juniors are third-year starter Terrell Vinson (6-6), Tristan Spurlock (6-7) and Isaiah Armwood (6-8). Senior Brandon Rascoe (6-4) was sixth man last season and 5-9 junior Micah Fraction also saw action. The newcomers include 7-foot, 245-pound junior Brian Ameka Orum and 6-10 senior Temidayo Adebayo. Two other transfers include 6-2 junior Dominic Milburn and 6-3 senior Kevon Moore.
3. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 30-0 (6)
Five touted foreign-born transfers will join three returning veterans from an unbeaten team as this Sunshine State private school is priming for a shot at the Fab 50 mythical title. The lead returnee in the backcourt is 6-foot point guard Dashan Harris (11.1 ppg, 10 apg), a native of California who's headed to Texas A&M. Other veterans are semior Femni Akinpetide
(6-6) and junior Nick Diatta (6-8). The rangy newcomers include 7-foot Johannes von Schoenfeldt,
6-11 Egor Shakhemtov, 6-9 Steve Tchiengang, 6-8 Kareem Green and 6-5 Dmitry Zimin. Six-foot-5 Washington State commit Marcus Capers is also in the mix after averaging 17 ppg. at Lake Region of Polk County.
2. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 40-1 (1)
What can the defending Fab 50 national champions do for an encore after posting back-to-back 40-1 seasons? Oak Hill, which has won 96 of its last 98 games, retains only one starter in 6-foot-1 point guard Brandon Jennings, an Arizona recruit. But the team has reloaded with transfers to the small private school. Coach Steve Smith, who has guided six national title teams and has a 22-year record of 684-40, welcomes 6-foot-9, 280-pound junior Keith Gallon from Texas and wing Malik Story (6-4), a USC commit, from California. From Ohio is 6-2 sophomore Pe'Shon Howard while 6-7 junior Glenn Bryant hails from Michigan. The Warriors will probably use a three-guard starting lineup, which has been successful in previous seasons.
1. Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 39-0 (4)
Last season's EA Sports National Coach of the Year, Phil McNeely, welcomes back nine lettermen from a club that won the Class 5A state title. And with 6-foot-9 transfer Will Brown (New Mexico commit) in the fold this season, this unit could be McNeely's best team yet. The top scoring threat is 6-foot-6 Shawn Williams, one of the nation's top juniors who averaged 14.5 points per game last season on a balanced team. Another top-notch junior is 6-foot-5 Roger Franklin, who averaged 10 ppg and is considered one of the top 100 players in his class nationally. The floor general is 5-foot-9 Brian Talley, who returns with averages of 9.7 points and 5.5 assists, while depth and leadership is provided by 6-foot-5 Kevin Butler, the state tournament MVP last season.
The Rivals.com Fab 50 is compiled by the staff of StudentSportsBasketball.com and is co-edited by Student Sports Executive Editor Mark Tennis and Rankings Editor Doug Huff. Student Sports has tracked and ranked the nation's top high school basketball teams for more than a decade, and Doug Huff has more than 35 years' experience covering prep sports nationally.