Fivestar Basketball
Wednesday March 21st, 2012

Just one week remains in the high school basketball season, and many of the nation's contenders are still jockeying for position. DeMatha moves up after defeating Paul VI and St. Benedict's en route to winning the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, and Simeon and St. Anthony solidify their lofty spots after capturing respective state titles. Their results add to already impressive résumés -- and further clarify the national title picture.

Mater Dei challenges for a CIF state crown over the weekend, and the ESPN National High School Invitational tips off on March 29. The final rankings will be released following their conclusion on Monday, April 2. Until then, here's how things stand.

High School Basketball Power Rankings
1Oak Hill Academy
Last Week: 1
Paul VI, Oak Hill's most impressive win this season, suffered a tough loss to DeMatha in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational finals. The Warriors' record remains perfect, but only time will tell if their strength of schedule holds up. Their talent level is certainly among the nation's best: All seven seniors are committed to Division-I programs.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
2Brewster Academy
Last Week: 2
After winning the National Prep Championship, it's hard to imagine the Bobcats finishing any lower than No. 3. But with its season complete, Brewster will have to see how Findlay Prep fares at the ESPN National High School Invitational to know its ultimate national status. In the meantime, N.C. State-bound T.J. Warren and Xavier-bound Semaj Christon can cheer on their future college teams.
Last week: None
Next game: Season Complete
 
3Findlay Prep
Last Week: 3
It's going to be a busy week for the Pilots. Anthony Bennett and Brandon Ashley, Rivals' No. 7 and No. 13 prospects, respectively, will compete in the McDonald's All-American Game before heading to the ESPN National High School Invitational on March 29. Findlay has an outside shot at climbing to No. 1, but would have to dominate a nationally loaded field to do so.
Last week: None
Next game: March 29 at the ESPN National High School Invitational
 
4St. Anthony
Last Week: 4
UCLA-bound point guard Kyle Anderson wrapped up a marvelous high school career by beating Plainfield, 66-62, to earn Tournament of Champions honors. He collected 14 points and five blocks in the effort, and helped extend the Friars' winning streak to a once unimaginable 65 games. Even more remarkable: Anderson finishes his St. Anthony career with one -- count it -- one overall loss.
Last week: Beat Atlantic City, 72-42; Beat Plainfield, 66-62
Next game: Season complete
 
5Hargrave Military Academy
Last Week: 5
After beginning the year relatively under the radar, Hargrave established itself as a bona fide national force. It's easy to see why. Following point guard Corey Heyward's commitment to Georgia Tech on Sunday, five Tigers' seniors are committed to major conference college programs. A sixth, small forward Ryan Taylor, holds offers to Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati and Seton Hall.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
6Huntington Prep
Last Week: 6
For all of the great things that Huntington accomplished this year, its 2011-12 season will be viewed as somewhat of a missed opportunity. The Express lost their two biggest matchups, to Tilton and St. Anthony, and didn't play in a third when their game against Simeon was cancelled. Andrew Wiggins and Co. are now susceptible to being passed by teams playing in the high-profile ESPN NHSI.
Last week: None
Next game: Season Complete
 
7Simeon
Last Week: 7
Even for a storied high school basketball program, Simeon's history of success is nothing short of astounding. The Wolverines became the first team to win six Illinois state titles -- their third in a row and fifth in seven seasons -- after defeating Proviso East, 50-48, in the Class 4A final. And they could be even better next year. Top contributors Jabari Parker (15 points) and Kendrick Nunn (five points, nine rebounds) both return in 2012-13.
Last week: Beat Bloom, 45-35; Beat Proviso East, 50-48
Next game: Season complete
 
8Notre Dame Prep
Last Week: 9
The Crusaders, like many other top teams in the rankings, feature a stable of D-I talent: Pittsburgh-bound Steven Adams, Clemson-bound Adonis Filer, Xavier-bound Myles Davis and uncommitted guard Sam Cassell Jr. But Adams didn't come over from New Zealand until the Jordan Brand Classic, and the team struggled without him. If he would've been on the roster from the season's opening tip, Notre Dame Prep may very well be a top five team.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
9Paul VI
Last Week: 8
It's hard to beat a team four times in one season, especially if that team is DeMatha, arguably the most historic program in the DMV area. That's exactly what the Panthers learned on Saturday, dropping a 71-56 contest after coming out flat in the second half. It's disappointing, of course, but it doesn't diminish what has been a season for the ages at Paul VI.
Last week: Beat Bishop Walsh, 68-27; Beat Gonzaga College, 64-63; Lost to DeMatha, 71-56; Beat Coolidge, 70-64
Next game: Season complete
 
10Marcus
Last Week: 10
It's been mentioned before, but with the Marauders' season officially over, it's time to keep an eye on the Flower Mound-to-Stillwater connection. Five-star forward Marcus Smart and three-star point guard Phil Forte, back-to-back Class 4A champions, will head to Oklahoma State together next year in hopes of resurrecting a Cowboys' team that went 15-18 in 2011-12.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
11Mater Dei
Last Week: 11
It was more of the same for Mater Dei against Bullard, as Xavier Johnson amassed 26 points and 11 rebounds and Stanley Johnson tallied 18 points and 10 boards in another Monarchs' rout. Coach Gary McKnight's crew now takes on Sheldon (29-5) for the CIF state title on March 24.
Last week: Beat Bullard, 85-66
Next game: March 24 vs. Sheldon
 
12La Lumiere
Last Week: 12
Given St. Benedict's loss at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, the Lakers stand the most to gain at the ESPN NHSI. It's up to the their Big Ten-bound trio -- power forward Hanner Perea (Indiana), shooting guard Rapheal Davis (Purdue) and power forward Jay Simpson (Purdue) -- to outperform a field brimming with championship-caliber college talent.
Last week: None
Next game: March 29 at ESPN National High School Invitational
 
13Montrose Christian
Last Week: 14
With the ESPN NHSI just over a week away, the Mustangs will prepare to defend their 2011 title. Problem is, they could come out a little bit rusty. Montrose Christian hasn't played a game since Feb. 23 and may need some time to regain late-season form. That could prove costly against a field that includes Findlay, St. Benedict's and Montverde, among other national powers.
Last week: None
Next game: March 29 at ESPN National High School Invitational
 
14Grace Prep
Last Week: 15
Though their TAPPS 4A championship season is over, the Lions' national ascent may not be finished yet. Mater Dei is one win away from a state title, and Montverde stands a puncher's chance at the ESPN NHSI. Grace Prep beat both of those teams this season, and could potentially rise if both continue to enhance the Lions' already admirable strength of schedule.
Last week: None
Next game: Season Complete
 
15New Hampton
Last Week: 16
After an inconsistent start to the year, the Huskies twice knocked off NEPSAC power Tilton to earn a spot among the nation's upper tier. Now, two of the team's headliners will prepare for D-I futures: Four-star power forward Zach Auguste signed his letter of intent to Notre Dame and three-star shooting guard Olivier Hanlan verbally pledged to Boston College.
Last week: None
Next game: Season Complete
 
16St. Benedict's
Last Week: 13
Despite freshman Isaiah Briscoe's best efforts filling in for starting point guard Tyler Ennis, the Gray Bees came up short against DeMatha in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational semifinals. But there was a silver lining. Briscoe's emergence sets the stage for the upcoming ESPN NHSI -- an event in which he could join Ennis, Isaiah Watkins and Miami-bound guard Melvin Johnson on a team with a legitimate shot to win it all.
Last week: Beat John Carroll, 69-65; Lost to DeMatha, 64-49; Beat Gonzaga College, 64-61
Next game: March 22 vs. Redemption Christian Academy
 
17Chester
Last Week: 17
Following another pair of dominant victories, the Clippers are just two games away from defending their Class 4A state title. They aren't showing any signs of slowing down, either. Junior swingman Rondae Jefferson collected 21 points, 12 rebounds and three assists against Coatesville, and Chester outrebounded the Red Raiders a whopping 38-11.
Last week: Beat Norristown, 72-53; Beat Coatesville, 87-46
Next game: March 21 vs. Central Dauphin
 
18Montverde Academy
Last Week: 18
The ESPN National High School Invitational will be Michael Frazier's last high school go-around before he heads to Billy Donovan and Florida. He'll have some Gainesville-bound help. Point guard Kasey Hill, a 2013 Gators' commit, will help Frazier try to exit in style -- and keep Montverde unbeaten since streak its last loss on Jan. 22 intact.
Last week: None
Next game: March 29 at ESPN National High School Invitational
 
19Tilton School
Last Week: 19
With the Rams' season over, the recruiting battle for 2012 center Nerlens Noel -- projected by many analysts as a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft -- is on. The 6-foot-10, 200-pound big man is down to Georgetown, Syracuse and Kentucky and, by all accounts, could make a season-altering impact wherever he ends up.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
20Milton
Last Week: 20
If the Eagles didn't have to forfeit several early-season contests -- including back-to-back-to-back games against Harding, Huss and Buford -- they could have finished significantly higher in the national rankings. Nonetheless, coach David Boyd's team has nothing to be down about. Milton won its last 24 games including the Class 5A championship, and sends Shaquille Johnson to Auburn, Evan Nolte to Virginia and Charles Mann to Georgia next year.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
21Bishop Gorman
Last Week: 21
The Gaels might be done for the season, but Shabazz Muhammad certainly isn't. He will be one of the top players at the McDonalds All-American game next week, a precursor to his much anticipated college decision. He also leaves Gorman in good hands. Junior Rashad Muhammad, Shabazz's younger brother, already holds offers to Colorado, Maryland and USC, among others, and will spearhead the team's 2012-13 campaign.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
22DeMatha Catholic
Last Week: 24
The Stags' regular season didn't go according to plan, as rival Paul VI cruised to the WCAC conference crown. But DeMatha finally exacted some revenge in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational. Syracuse-bound Jerami Grant scored a game-high 23 points and three-star shooting guard Jairus Lyles added 16 as DeMatha finally got the best of the Panthers, 71-56. An equally convincing win against St. Benedict's, a game in which Grant netted 19 points, further ups the Stags' national stock.
Last week: Beat Benedictine, 65-63; Beat St. Benedict's, 64-49; Beat Paul VI, 71-56
Next game: Season complete
 
23Prestonwood Christian
Last Week: 22
Outside of earning the No. 1 national ranking, there's no better way to end a season than by capturing a state title. That's exactly what Julius Randle and Co. did, and scouts are drooling. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Randle holds offers to Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, N.C. State, Ohio State and Texas, among others.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
24Columbia
Last Week: 23
Mentioned in last week's Power Rankings, Columbia's Tahj Shamsid-Deen is one of the nation's most overlooked point guards. It's no secret why: He's a diminutive 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds. His title game performance (17 points) loomed unmistakably large, however, and his recruitment will be one to monitor as the summer season progresses.
Last week: None
Next game: Season complete
 
25Proviso East
Last Week: 25
The Pirates may have suffered their first loss, a 50-48 heartbreaker to Simeon in the Class 4A championship, but they cemented their national reputation in an incredibly valiant effort. Sterling Brown led all scorers with 25 points against one of the country's most stifling defenses, and Proviso East actually led 39-34 entering the fourth quarter. It's certainly a letdown, but it's also a harbinger of likely success to come. With Brown's return and first-year coach Donnie Boyce's maturation, the emerging Pirates should be even better in 2012-13.
Last week: Beat Auburn, 55-45; Lost to Simeon, 50-48
Next game: Season complete

Dropped out: None

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