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November 1, 2007

Preseason FAB 50: The Nation's Top 10 Teams


(Compiled by StudentSportsBasketball.com Senior Editor Doug Huff & Senior Writer Mark Tennis. Intro written by StudentSportsBasketball.com Managing Editor Ronnie Flores who also contributes to the Rivals.com FAB 50. Mike Loveday of MDVarsity.com also provides additional write-ups, which include final 2006-2007 won-loss record & FAB 50 ranking where applicable.)

Ever since it was announced that Duncanville High of Texas would tangle with defending FAB 50 national champion Oak Hill Academy right before Christmas, Lone Star State prep basketball followers have been giddy in anticipation for the start of the 2007-2008 season.

The reason they are so excited is that the Panthers not only have the players to run with Oak Hill, but a talented enough team to claim the first mythical FAB 50 national title from Texas since the Chris Bosh-led Dallas Lincoln club in 2002 as they claim the No. 1 rating in the 2007-2008 Rivals.com Preseason FAB 50 National Rankings.

Last season's EA SPORTS National Coach of the Year, Phil McNeely, welcomes back nine lettermen form a club that defeated Kingwood, 60-46, to win the Class 5A state title. And with 6-foot-9 transfer Will Brown also in the fold this season, this unit could be McNeely's best team yet.

Brown is a banger in the mold of former Maryland All-American Buck Williams and the top scoring threat is 6-foot-6 Shawn Williams, one of the nation's top juniors who averaged 14.5 points per game on a balanced team. Another top-notch junior is 6-foot-5 Roger Franklin, who averaged 10 points 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 Preseason FAB 50 Rankings are the most up-to-date ratings you'll find anywhere. Most preseason rankings found on newsstands are compiled over the summer, including the ones our own Huff compiles for The Sporting News, and those rankings do not reflect recent transfers and schedule upgrades in the world of prep basketball. If you enjoy reading our extensive preseason coverage, you'll love the premium content we provide during the season, so it you haven't already now would be a great time to join our team.)

1. Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 39-0 (4)
Head Coach: Phil McNeely

Last season's state title was the third for McNeely at Duncanville since 1991 with the other one coming from 1999. He sports a 639-171 career record and is the son of the late and legendary Pampa coach Clifton McNeely. Although Oak Hill will travel to Texas for its match up with the Panthers, the Warriors are used to playing on the road in hostile environments so Duncanville has to show the talent it has on paper can translate into wins against national-level programs.

2. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 40-1 (1)
Head Coach: Steve Smith

What can the defending FAB 50 national champion do for an encore after posting back-to-back 40-1 record 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 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 in 6-foot-9, 280-pound Keith Gallon from Texas and wing Malik Story (6-4) from California and a USC recruit. From Ohio is 6-2 sophomore Pe'Shon Howard while 6-7 junior Glenn Bryant hails from Michigan. It will probably be a three-guard attack for the Warriors, which has been successful in previous seasons.

3. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 30-0 (6)
Head Coach: Kevin Sutton

Five touted foreign-born transfers will join five returning veterans from an unbeaten team as this Sunshine State private school is loading up 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 senior Femi 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 Kadeem 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. Sutton is a former assistant under Montrose Christian's Stu Vetter and last year Montverde Academy posted a win over Vetter's squad.

4. Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 21-3 (27)
Head Coach: Stu Vetter

The Mustangs have reloaded with new players to go with three talented junior veterans who should contend for the FAB 50 national title. Veteran coach Vetter feels he has 10 solid players for a rotation that could give most teams fits. 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 two rangy Nigerians in 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. Sophomore Kieth Crockett (6-3) also is in the mix.

5. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 30-2 (2)
Head Coach: Kevin Boyle

St. Patrick's won the Tournament of Champions for the second consecutive year in New Jersey and Boyle was selected as 2007 State Coach of the Year. St. Patrick's participates 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 match up against FAB 50 No. 6 St. Anthony's, which was handed its only loss last season by the Celtics. These two teams have a history as the Celtics knocked the Friars out of the North Jersey Non Public B tournament last season. The Celtics are anchored by 6-3 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 7.1 assists per game while dropping six points per game on opponents. 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.

6. St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 28-1 (11)
Head Coach: Bob Hurley

Hurley may have one of the more potent lineups in the nation this season with five Division I athletes on the roster. 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 also returns Tyshawn Taylor and Jiovanny Fontan plus St. Joseph bound A.J. Rogers. Dominic Cheek rounds out the roster and is a top junior prospect who gives the Friars depth at guard.

7. Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 29-3 (8)
Head Coach: Eddie Martin

The Blue Devils have been a state, and national, contender the last 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 plus three contributing reserves plus two touted newcomers. The team is anchored by 6-8 all-stater Al-Farouq Aminu, a Wake Forest recruit and junior All-America honoree. Aminu averaged 13.7 points and 9.5 rebounds 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).

8. Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) 27-5 (23)
Head Coach: Harvey Kitani

The Lions return as the defending California Div. I state champions and open up 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 of Lakewood 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. Depth will be provided by juniors Wesley White (6-6) and Kendrick Thomas (6-6) plus sophomore newcomers Donte McFrazier (6-0) and Dre Coleman (6-1).

9. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 25-1 (29)
Head Coach: Eric Flannery

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 recruit who was named EA SPORTS National Junior of the Year. Roe averaged 20.5 points last season. Other veterans on hand include 6-8 center Tom Pritchard, an Indiana recruit who averaged 11.6 points last season, and 6-2 point guard Frankie Dobbs (5.1 ppg).

10. Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 24-6 (24)
Head coach: Dwayne Morton

When Lincoln is mentioned, one name might come to mind, Lance Stephenson. The 2006 EA SPORTS National Freshman of the Year was last seen putting up 20 points and 15 rebounds as Lincoln won the Class AA Federation state title last season with Stephenson again being named the top player nationally in his class. According to head coach "Tiny" Morton, this year's team could be even better. Three transfers -- junior James Padgett, junior Vincent Council and senior Reggie Davis -- give this year's team versatility and athleticism that will give Morton options. The Railsplitters will be able to play a big or small lineup, depending on their competition and with guard Devon McMillian pushing the offense the team will be able to stretch the court. What may take some time early in the season is for Morton to find a seven-man rotation that works every night. The team's biggest game amongst a schedule that takes them to Louisville, North Carolina and Ohio may be the Jan. 25 game against preseason FAB 50 No. 11 St. Benedict's (N.J.).

About Student Sports
We provide national high school content for Rivals.com, SPARQ and previously published Student Sports Magazine for 11 years. We produce the Nike Football Training Camps, EA SPORTS Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, the EA SPORTS All-American teams, the Area Code Games for baseball and numerous television projects. The Student Sports High School Network on Rivals.com also is the largest high school sports network in the world.

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