SI's Preseason Top 20

Follow the nation's top teams with updated power rankings each week at SI.com
November 27, 2006

1. OAK HILLACADEMY, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (40--1) Despite losing four starters, includingforward Michael Beasley, the Warriors are still loaded. Duke-bound senior guardNolan Smith, who averaged 17 points last year, is the lone returning starter,but he'll be playing with some stellar transfers: senior guard Alex Legion ofDetroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), junior guard Brandon Jennings ofDominguez (Compton, Calif.), senior forward Julian Vaughn of South Lakes(Reston, Va.) and junior forward Howard Thompkins of Wesleyan (Norcross,Ga.).

2. ARTESIA,Lakewood, Calif. (33--1) The Pioneers are poised for another big season afterwinning the Division III state title last year. New head coach Loren Groverinherits a talented squad: Senior guard James Harden (Arizona State) averaged18.6 points last year; junior guard Malik Story (USC) is an offensive threat;and they added Piney Woods (Miss.) sophomore forward Renardo Sidney.

3. HUNTINGTON,Huntington, W.Va. (25--2) Huntington won its second consecutive Class AAA statetitle last year behind Patrick Patterson, a senior power forward who averaged15.6 points. Star guard O.J. Mayo transferred in, so Huntington now has anunstoppable one-two punch.

4. MATER DEI,Santa Ana, Calif. (33--3) The Monarchs, who fell in the state finals lastseason for the second straight year, have three seniors: forward Taylor King(Duke), who averaged 26.4 points last year, center Alex Jacobson (Arizona) andguard Kamyron Brown (Oregon).

5. LAKE HOWELL,Winter Park, Fla. (28--5) Led by University of Florida recruits Nick Calathesand Chandler Parsons (sidebar, page 73), Lake Howell should win the statetitle.

6. DEMATHA,Hyattsville, Md. (34--1) Coach Mike Jones has plenty of firepower, includingsenior guard Austin Freeman (Georgetown), senior forward Jerai Grant (Clemson)and junior big man Chris Braswell (Georgetown).

7. SIMEON,Chicago (33--4) Led by senior guard Derrick Rose, who averaged 20 points, theWolverines won both the Class AA state and Chicago Public League titles lastyear.

8. ST. BENEDICT'SPREP, Newark (29--2) The Gray Bees won their fourth Prep A title last season inDan Hurley's five years as coach. Despite losing three top players--LanceThomas (Duke), David Cubillan (Marquette) and Eugene Harvey (Seton Hall)--St.Benedict's is still loaded, led by senior guard Corey Stokes (Villanova).

9. ST. PATRICK,Elizabeth, N.J. (29--4) Coach Kevin Boyle has one of the nation's top playersin senior point guard Corey Fisher (Villanova), who averaged 16 points lastyear. Senior forward Jeff Robinson (Memphis) averaged 13.0 points, 8.5 reboundsand 4.5 assists.

10. NORCROSS,Norcross, Ga. (28--4) Eddie Martin's crew has a good chance of defending itsClass AAAAA state title this year, despite losing all-state guard Jodie Meeks,who's now at Kentucky. Senior forward Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech), who averaged17.5 points last year, will assume more of the scoring load.

11.NEUMANN-GORETTI, Philadelphia (22--6) Point guard Antonio (Scoop) Jardine andpower forward Rick Jackson have been best friends since seventh grade and willstill be playing together at the next level, since they've committed toSyracuse. But before they play for the Orange, Jardine and Jackson are goingfor a third consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League title.

12. LAKE OSWEGO,Lake Oswego, Ore. (26--3) The Lakers are led by UCLA-bound senior power forwardKevin Love (below), who averaged 29 points and 17 rebounds last year. Also backis senior point guard Ernie Spada, a four-year starter, and senior guard TaylorMarr.

13. WESTCHESTER,Los Angeles (25--7) The Comets won their seventh L.A. City Section championshipin nine years last season. Coach Ed Azzam has three solid seniors--wing DaneSuttle, guard Isaiah Jenkins and forward Jesse Griffin--and freshmanguard-forward Dwayne Polee Jr.

14. CHRIST THEKING, Middle Village, N.Y. (25--5) The Royals aren't big, but they aretalented. They're led by the backcourt of senior Malik Boothe (St. John's) andjunior Erving Walker, both of whom are 5'8".

15. ARLINGTONCOUNTRY DAY, Jacksonville (27--3) The Apaches won their second consecutiveClass 2A state crown last year but lost center Jason Bennett (Kansas State) andpoint guard Josue Soto (Florida State). Senior forward A.J. Stewart (Kentucky)averaged 17 points last year and was the state tournament MVP.

16. REDFORD,Detroit (23--4) The Huskies made it to the Class A state semifinals last year,and with three starters back they could go all the way this season. Leading thecharge is senior guard Corperryale Harris (Michigan), who averaged 25 pointslast year.

17. WHEELER,Marietta, Ga. (29--2) Senior power forward J.J. Hickson (N.C. State) is atremendous worker, and the same can be said for the entire Wildcats squad,which is why they're strong contenders for the Class AAAAA state crown. Hicksonaveraged 20 points last season and gives the Wildcats tremendous power up frontwhen paired with senior forward Trey Lang.

18. LINCOLN,Brooklyn (29--4) With combo sophomore guard Lance Stephenson, who averaged 19.5points last year, back, the Railsplitters should challenge for a statetitle.

19. NORTHCENTRAL, Indianapolis (20--4) Guard Eric Gordon (Indiana) averaged 26.1 points,5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year, but North Central is more than aone-man show, thanks to seniors Adnan Hodzic and Kevin Gant and juniors ChrisToler and James Hollowell.

20. SCHENLEY,Pittsburgh (30--2) A loss in the Class AAAA finals last year snapped its30-game winning streak, which should be motivation enough for its fourreturning starters, led by power forward DeJuan Blair (Pitt), who averaged 17points and 12 rebounds last year.

• For Nos. 21--25go to SI.com/highschool.

PHOTOGREG NELSON NOLANSMITH
Oak Hill Academy

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