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Circuit Scouting

Way Too Early 2020-2021 HS Top-25

By Samad Hines, The Season Ticket, 05/15/20, 1:45PM EDT

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The 2019-2020 high school season did not end the way we wanted it to just a few months ago. The outbreak of the COVID-19 has postponed and/or cancelled a bunch of postseason tournaments and/or games nationwide. The famous and annual GEICO Nationals high school tournament was one, of many, postseason events that was forced to be cancelled due to the outbreak. The eight teams who were expected to compete for a national title include Montverde Academy (FL), Wasatch Academy (UT), Sunrise Christian (KS), Dorman (SC), La Lumiere (IN), Oak Hill Academy (VA), IMG Academy (FL), and Prolific Prep (CA) in that order. The spring has just begun and below we take a look ahead at the 2020-2021 high school season and predict an early preview on which teams could start out in the national top-25 . Remember, we are just in the spring season, so there are plenty of moves that can happen between now and the beginning of the season. 

1. IMG Academy Ascenders (FL) 

Last Season Record: 19-6
Key Losses: Jaden Springer, Mark Williams, Matt Murrell, Zach Edey
Key Returners: Moussa Diabate, Lynn Kidd, Jarace Walker, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, Eric Dailey Jr., Chikara Tanaka

The Ascenders took home the 2019 GEICO Nationals title just a year ago in 2019-2020 and were looking defend their title as a 7th seed this season before the coronavirus cancelled the GEICO Nationals. IMG has been posted as our preseason number one for now in our way-too-early top-25. The backcourt of Tennessee bound Jaden Springer and Ole Miss bound Matt Murrell and starting big man Duke bound Mark Williams will be big pieces to fill on the roster as all three were seniors. The Ascenders still return top highly ranked prospects in 2021 F Moussa Diabate, 2022 F Jarace Walker, 2022 F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, 2022 SG Eric Dailey Jr., and 2021 F Lynn Kidd. They also recently have added 2021 G Tamar Bates, a 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Kansas  who holds major offers such as Kansas, Oklahoma State, Creighton, and more. It is without a doubt that IMG will receive another big time name or high major prospect to their 2020-2021 roster and should begin the season in the top-10 regardless. The Ascenders are expected to compete in a plethora of national events for the 2020-2021 season as always. 

2. Montverde Academy Eagles (FL)

Last Season Record: 25-0
Key Losses: Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, Moses Moody, Day'Ron Sharpe, Zeb Jackson
Key Returners: Dariq Whitehead, Caleb Houstan, Langston Love, Ryan Nembhard, Micahel Wu, Abdou-Balil Barre

The Montverde Academy Eagles started the 2019-2020 high school season as our number one team in the country and ended their perfect season as the number one team in the country. The Eagles are our preseason number two in our way-too-early top-25 even though they lose a bunch of their scoring load. Cunningham, Barnes, Sharpe, Moody, and Jackson are off to college next season which brings back key pieces like 2022 G Dariq Whitehead, 2022 F Caleb Houstan, 2021 SG Langston Love, and 2021 PG Ryan Nembhard. They also add another major prospect to their 2020-2021 roster in 2022 C Jalen Duren, who is transferring from Roman Catholic (PA). Duren averaged 17.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 3.4 BPG in his sophomore season. Like IMG, Montverde has always been able to pull in top tier talent to put together their roster for the upcoming season and this year should be no different then past years. 

3. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (CA)

Last Season Record: 30-4
Key Losses: Ziaire Williams, Brandon Boston Jr. Terren Frank, Zaire Wade
Key Returners: Amari Bailey, Shy Odom, Harold Yu, Bronny James Jr.

The Trailblazers were just one game away from trying to capture their third straight CIF state championship before the COVID-19 outbreak, which forced the postseason to come to an early end. Sierra Canyon had themselves another amazing season playing on the national stage and only taking four loses. They will be losing major scorers like Stanford commit wing Ziaire Williams and Kentucky commit shooting guard B.J. Boston and glue guys like TCU commit forward Terran Frank. Highly ranked prospects 2022 SG Amari Bailey and 2022 F Shy Odom are expected to return for their junior season. Other key guys like 2021 C Harold Yu and 2023 SG Bronny James Jr. will also be returning to the roster as well.. Expect the Trailblazers to be another national threat next season and the favorites to win it all in the state of California. 

4. Sunrise Christian Buffaloes (KS)

Last Season Record: 22-3
Key Losses: Ty Berry, Jayden Stone, Dillon Jones, Isaac Ondekane
Key Returners: Kendall Brown, Willie Lightfoot, Shaedon Sharpe, Zach Clemence, Jaylon McDaniels, Kenny Photo, David Oyona

The Buffaloes finished in our top-5 national rankings last season to end the 2019-2020 high school season and made their second straight GEICO Nationals appearance. Sunrise Christian will lose a couple key pieces from last year's squad like Northwestern bound point guard Ty Berry, Grand Canyon commit shooting guard Jayden Stone, Weber State commit guard/forward Dillon Jones. They will, however, return top talented prospect 2021 F Kendall Brown to the roster. Other key pieces like Kansas commit 2021 F Zachary Clemence, 2022 PG Willie Lightfoot, and 2022 Shaedon Sharpe will be returning to the roster. The Buffaloes should be one of the nation's best next season and could reel in some more prospects before the beginning of next season.

5. La Lumiere Lakers (IN)

Last Season Record: 23-3
Key Losses: Wendell Green Jr., Jaden Ivey
Key ReturnersKamari Lands, Jeremy Sochan, Denham Wojcik, Jonathan Bryan, Rocco Muratory, Treyton Thompson, Darion Smith, Joe Harkness

The Lakers are stacked at the frontcourt spots and might have one of the most underrated front courts in the country next season for 2020-2021. No Isaiah Stewart and no Keion Brooks Jr. last season for the Lakers, who made the GEICO Nationals title game in 2018-2019, but head coach Patrick Holmes and his staff got things done last season finishing with a 23-3 overall record. Their 2019-2020 starting backcourt of Eastern Kentucky commit point guard Wendell Green Jr. and Purdue commit shooting guard Jaden Ivey will be key loses for the Lakers but they do indeed return most of their roster from a year ago. Key guys like 2022 SG Kamari Lands and 2021 F Jeremy Sochan will headline the 2020-2021 La Lumiere roster for now. La Lumiere has shown the nation they do not need any big named prospect to be a national contender, and with Holmes as their head coach, the Lakers are in great shape. 

6. Hillcrest Prep Bruins (AZ)

Last Season Record: 30-5
Key Losses: Dalen Terry, Makur Maker, Puff Johnson, 
Sadraque Nganga
Key Returners: Mike Foster Jr., Keon Edwards

The Bruins of Hillcrest Prep had one of the toughest schedules out of any top program in the country during the 2019-2020 high school season. Hillcrest Prep traveled to 10 different states and competed in major tournaments or events such as the John Wall Invitational, Spalding Hoophall West, Spalding Hoophall Classic, and others. Hillcrest Prep will be back in our national top-25 and rank number six in our way-too-early top-25. Their 2020-2021 season roster should be headlined by highly ranked prospects in 2021 F Michael Foster Jr. and DePaul commit 2021 F Keon Edwards. The Bruins are expected to load up and rebuild their roster for the 2020-2021 high school season. Next year's squad should also expect to play another big time national schedule. 

7. Oak Hill Academy Warriors (VA)

Last Season Record: 37-3
Key Losses: Cam Thomas, K.K. Robinson, Evan Johnson, Jamari Sibley, Darrius Maddox, Bradley Ezewiro, Darrick Jones Jr.
Key Returns: Jalen Ricks, Jalen Reed
Key Additions: Dior Johnson, Zion Cruz

The Oak Hill Academy Warriors lose a plethora of seniors from last season's 37-3 squad during the 2019-2020 campaign, including LSU bound Cam Thomas, who is also now the Oak Hill all-time leading scorer. Famous head coach Steve Smith and his Oak Hill Academy staff will certainly have to rebuild their entire roster to prepare for the 2020-2021 high school season. So why is Oak Hill Academy even considered a preseason top-25 team as of now? Highly ranked prospects 2022 PG Dior Johnson, who played last season for Mayfair (CA), and 2022 G Zion Cruz will headline their backcourt for the next two seasons. Cruz and Dior will be dynamic together and the Warriors are not even close to done with adding pieces to their roster to compliment the pair. Highly ranked prospect 2022 SG M.J. Rice is the most recent addition to the Warriors roster for next season. Oak Hill Academy is also expected to return 2021 SG Jalen Ricks to the 2020-2021 roster. 

8. Wasatch Academy Tigers (UT) 

Last Season Record: 27-2
Key Losses: Mike Saunders Jr., Maddy Sissoko, Caleb Lohner, Richie Saunders, Leonardo Colimerio
Key Returners: Richard Isaacs Jr., Foussenyi Traoré, Matus Hronsky, Trey Evans, Brennan Rigsby, Kamryn Waites

Wasatch Academy had themselves an incredible 2019-2020 high school season finishing with a 27-2 overall record and ending their season as a number two seed in the cancelled 2020 GEICO Nationals field. The Tigers were loaded last season and will certainly have to replace the load of multiple seniors that have moved on. 2022 PG Richard Isaacs Jr. will headline the 2020-2021 high school season roster for now but the Tigers do bring back a few role players from their 27-2 squad last season. Prospects like 2021 F Foussenyi Traoré, 2022 G/F Matus Hronsky, 2023 G Trey Evans, and 2021 G Brennan Rigsby will play major roles for the Tigers next season. The Tigers also recently added 2021 G/F Robbie Armbrester to their 2020-2021 roster, a versatile prospect out of Atlanta, Georgia. 

9. Bishop Gorman Gaels (NV)

Last Season Record: 28-3 
Key Losses: Mwani Wilkinson, Noah Taitz, Braden Lamar
Key Returners: Will McClendon, Zaon Collins, Jonathan Braggs, Christian Bento

The Gaels were just a couple spots away from making their second straight appearance in the GEICO Nationals last season. They finished the 2019-2020 high school with a 28-3 overall record and captured their 9th straight NIAA class 4A state championship. Key guys like LSU commit forward Mwani Wilkinson and Stanford commit shooting guard Noah Taitz have graduated and will begin their college careers. Bishop Gorman has been one of the most consisent national programs in the country and that should not change at all for the 2020-2021 high school season. The Gaels return their elite backcourt of 2021 PG Zaon Collins and UCLA commit 2021 SG Will McClendon. While Collins and McClendon lead the way for Gorman, guys like 2021 G Jonathan Braggs will help carry the scoring load as well. Expect Bishop Gorman to play another big time and tough national schedule next season. 

10. Westtown School Moose (PA)

Last Season Record: 24-7
Key Losses: Jordan Collier, Tyler Berger
Key Returners: Frank Kepnang, Jalen Warley, Nymire Little, Quin Berger, Dereck Lively II

Big time prospects like 2021 C Frank Kepnang and 2021 PG Jalen Warley will headline next year's Westtown School roster. Other returnees like 2021 SG Nymire Little, 2022 Dereck Lively II, and 2022 PG Quin Berger will play quality minutes next season to replace the seniors who have graduated from last season. The Moose captured their third PAISAA title in the last five years last season and finished with a 24-7 overall record. Westtown School was in and out our national top-25 last season but should begin the 2020-2021 high school season in our top-10 or at least top-25 once the actual season begins. The Moose should once again be on the national stage next season playing a national schedule, as they have in past years. 

11. Minnehaha Academy RedHawks (MN)

Last Season Record: 26-3
Key Losses: Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson
Key Returners: Chet Holmgren, Prince Aligbe, Hercy Miller, Chase Carter, Isaiah Davis, Donovan Smith

Although the Redhawks lose top talented point guard Gonzaga commit Jalen Suggs, they should still be one of the best programs in the country next season headlined by 2021 F Chet Holmgren. Minnehaha Academy finished the season last year with a 26-3 overall record and bring back some major key pieces for the 2020-2021 high school season. Quality players like 2022 F Prince Aligbe and 2021 SG Hercy Miller will play big roles next season and should help carry the scoring load for Minnehaha Academy. The Redhawks biggest win of the season last year was probably their matchup with Sierra Canyon last January in Minnesota and Holmgren went for 12 blocks. The big three of Holmgren, Aligbe, and Miller could be one of the best trio's in the country next season. 

12. Blair Academy Bucs (NJ) 

Last Season Record: 24-3
Key Losses: Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Luke Kolaja, James Lu, Michael O'Connell
Key Returners: Jaylen Blakes, Kyle Cuffe Jr., Akoldah Gak, Lual Manyang

Blair Academy made their way into the national top-25 late in their 2019-2020 high school season just a year ago. The Bucs secured themselves some high quality wins last season and also captured their third straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship. Although they lose a big name like Virginia commit Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Blair returns major key pieces like 2021 PG Jaylen Blakes, 2022 PG Kyle Cuffe Jr., 2022 C Lual Manyang, and 2021 F Akoldah Gak to the 2020-2021 roster. Blair Academy ranks number twelve in our way-too-early top-25 national rankings for the 2020-2021 season. The Bucs will not only be one of the best programs in the Northeast this season, but they should receive early national attention for this upcoming season. They are also the favorites to repeat as Mid-Atlantic Prep League champions for next year. 

13. Compass Prep Dragons (AZ)

Last Season Record: 35-6
Key Losses: Xavier Dussell, Fallou Diagne, Isaiah Floyd, Seryee Lewis, Sincere Parker, Ariel Bland, Jabari Walker
Key Returners:
Frankie Collins, TyTy Washington, Maxwell Lewis, Sadraque Nganga, Jordan Williams, Siddy Diallo

Compass Prep, out of Chandler, Arizona, will be one of the best programs nationally during the 2020-2021 high school season. The Dragons did not receive much appreciation last season, but that will change coming into next season. They finished their 2019-2020 campaign winning over thirty games playing a national schedule and making it to the "Grind Session" World Championships semifinals. The Dragons bring back a plethora of their scoring from last season including key guys like 2021 PG Frankie Collins, 2021 PG TyTy Washington, 2021 F Maxwell Lewis, and 2022 F Sadraque Nganga. Both Collins and Washington will round out to be one of the best backcourts in the country next season. Compass Prep will be held to high standards as a top-25 program next season and will have the schedule and talent to do so.

14. Long Island Lutheran Crusaders (NY) 

Last Season Record: 22-3
Key Losses: Andre Curbelo, Zed Key, Jalen Celestine
Key Returners: Rafael Pinzon, Drissa Traore, Jelani Johnson, Jayden Reid, 
 Kacper Klaczek

One of the nation's best duos in Illinois commit point guard Andre Curbelo and Ohio State commit forward Zed Key have left Long Island Lutheran to begin their college careers next season. Curbelo and Key headlined the Crusaders roster last season and that means other key pieces should be available for the 2020-2021 high school season. Long Island Lutheran finished their 2019-2020 high school with a 22-3 overall record while playing an extremely tough national schedule. They do indeed return a few key players from last season incredible team. Key pieces include 2021 SG Rafael Pinzon and 2021 F Drissa Traore for Long Island Lutheran for the 2020-2021 season. The Crusaders have been on the last national stage for the last few years and with the pieces they are returning to their roster, we should expect the exact same thing. 

15. Combine Academy Goats (NC)

Last Season Record: 26-7
Key Losses: Jalen Miller, Lawrence Frost
Key ReturnersJalen Hood-Schifino, Kris Robinson, Mehki Grant, Shawn Wilson, Jacori Owens, Robert Dillingham, Ja'Mylan Blakeney

The Goats return a plethora of key prospects from last year's 26-7 overall squad during the 2019-2020 high school season. Combine Academy, a program out of Lincolnton, North Carolina, had an outstanding season last year with their first year head coach former NBA player Jeff Mcinnis. Mcinnis played his high school career at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (VA) on the national stage and will be trying to do the same with Combine Academy. The Goats return basically their same roster from last season plus more to the 2020-2021 high school season. Their star prospect, Pittsburgh commit 2022 PG Jalen Hood-Schifino will headline their roster. Other key guys who will play much bigger roles include 2021 PG Kris Robinson, 2023 PG Robert Dillingham, 2023 F Mehki Grant, 2021 F Ja'Mylan Blakeney, and 2021 F Jacori Owens

16. Paul VI Panthers (VA) 

Last Season Record: 27-8
Key Losses: Jeremy Roach, Josiah Freeman, William Paige
Key Returners: Trevor Keels, Knasir "Dug" McDaniel, Tyler Coleman, Christian May, Jack Jensen, DeShawn Harris-Smith, Luke Triggs

The Paul VI Panthers had an amazing season during their 2019-2020 campaign capturing the Division 1 Virginia State title and coming out with multiple high quality wins. They finished with a 27-8 overall record playing a national schedule and playing in one of the toughest high school basketball conferences in the nation, the WCAC. Paul VI did reach the WCAC tournament title game but eventually lost to powerhouse DeMatha Catholic (MD). The Panthers will lose their star point guard Jeremy Roach for next season but bring back heavy hitters 2021 SG Trevor Keels and 2022 PG Knasir "Dug" McDaniel. 2021 F Tyler Coleman, who started a few games last season, will also be a major piece to their returning roster next season. Paul VI will certainly be one of the favorites once again in the WCAC and should play another national schedule for the 2020-2021 season. 

17. Dream City Christian Eagles (AZ)

Last Season Record: 27-13
Key Losses:
MarJon Beauchamp, Jalin Anderson, Jhaylon Martinez, Ra'Shjon Martinez, Maj Dusanic
Key Returners: Arthur Kaluma, Alex Tchikou, Marko Milivojevic

The Eagles of Dream City Christian, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, should be one of the nation's top-25 programs to begin the 2020-2021 high school sesason coming this fall. They should have one of the best frontcourts in the country with 2021 F Arthur Kaluma, 2021 C Alex Tchikou, and 2021 C Marko Milivojevic, who all return from last season's 2019-2020 roster. Dream City Christian finished their 2019-2020 season with a 27-13 overall record playing a national schedule last year. They lose big time scoring guards MarJon Beauchamp and Jalin Anderson but should reload as the spring, summer role along. The Eagles have added 2022 Ramel Lloyd, who should assist carrying the scoring load, and 2021 PG Tyler Simon, to the 2020-2021 roster. Dream City Christian will once again play on the national stage and has already been booked for a couple of national events and/or tournaments for next season. 

18. St. Frances Academy (MD) 

Last Season Record: 38-4
Key Losses: Adrian "Ace" Baldwin, Jamal West
Key Returners: Julian Reese, Elijah Davis, Byron Ireland, Khyrie Staten, Jonathan Lamothe, Tevin Curtis

One of the DMV's most consistent basketball programs over the last few years, St. Frances Academy, should begin the 2020-2021 high school season ranked in the national top-25. The Panthers finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 38-4 overall record playing a national schedule and capturing the 2019 Baltimore Catholic League title. St. Frances will lose major key pieces like Adrian "Ace" Baldwin, and Jamal West but bring back half of their scoring core from a year ago. Next season's squad should be headlined by Maryland commit 2021 F Julian Reese. Other key players like 2021 PG Tevin Curtis, 2021 PG Khyrie Staten, 2021 G Elijah Davis, 2023 SG Jonathan Lamonthe, and 2021 G Byron Ireland return for the 2020-2021 season as well. 

19. DeMatha Catholic Stags (MD)

Last Season Record: 30-3
Key Losses: Hunter Dickinson, Earl Timberlake Jr., Paul Smith
Key Returners: Elijah Hawkins, Jordan Hawkins, Tyrell Ward, Jason Moore, Jacoi Hutchinson, Jerrell Roberson

DeMatha Catholic finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 30-3 overall record while playing a national schedule and capturing the loaded WCAC title over rival Paul VI (VA). The Stags are one of the best and most consistent programs nationally led by their head coach Mike Jones. They will indeed lose their two leading scorers from last season in Miami bound Earl Timberlake Jr. and Michigan bound Hunter Dickinson, who both were seniors last season. The Stags, do however, return key guys like 2021 PG Elijah Hawkins, 2021 SG Jordan Hawkins, and 2022 W Tyrell Ward, who should all be in the starting lineup for the 2020-2021 season. Other key guys like 2022 F Jerrell Roberson, 2023 F Jason Moore, and 2023 PG Jacoi Hutchinson will play even big roles next season for DeMatha. The Stags are certainly the favorite to repeat as champions next season in the WCAC. 

20. O'Dea Fighting Irish (WA) 

Last Season Record: 23-6
Key Losses: Daniel Thomas, Paul Johnson
Key ReturnersPaolo Banchero, John Christofilis, Dezjay Perkins, Semaj Brown, Max Deibec, Jaylon Ellis, Jermain Davis

The O'Dea Irish finished as runner ups last season in the WIAA class 3A Hardwood Classic and could return to the same championship game next season in 2020-2021. O'Dea finished the 2019-2020 high school season with a 23-6 overall record while playing a national schedule. Their star player and leading scorer, 2021 F Paolo Banchero, is expected to return for his senior season and most of their roster from a year ago. The Irish return their entire starting lineup from last season and are expected to play another national schedule next year. Key guys like 2021 SG Jermaine Davis, 2021 PG Jaylon Ellis, 2021 F Max Debiec, and 2021 SG John Christofilis will be playing big roles once again for O'Dea as they look to capture their first WIAA class 3A title since the 2018-2019 season. 

21. St. Mark's (TX) 

Last Season Record: 29-4
Key LosesAndrew Laczkowski, Camp Collins, Taylor Hopkin, Aaron Thorne
Key Returners:
Harrison Ingram, Collin Smith, Corvin Oprea, Jake Laufenberg, Tate Laczkowski, Noah Shelby

St. Mark's, out of Dallas, Texas, finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 29-4 overall record and captured their first SPC Championship since 2007. The Lions played a national schedule last season and will play an even tougher national schedule for the 2020-2021 high school season. They will return most of their core from last year's squad and bring back their leading scorer 2021 G Harrison Ingram. Ingram certainly headlines their roster but 2022 F Collin Smith is also expected to return and will help with the scoring load for next season. The Lions are expected to compete in top national events like the Thanksgiving Hoopfest in Dallas, Texas and the famous Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts next season. St. Mark's will have the schedule and the talent to become a preseason top-25 program for the 2020-2021 season. With a few quality wins, they will be able to climb up the national rankings. 

22. Legacy Early College Lions (SC) 

Last Season Record: 23-8
Key Loses: Rayshon Harrison, Eduardo Sierra, Channin Griffith, Javon Douglas, Braylan McIntyre
Key Returns: Jacobi Wright, Isaiah Cornish, Perry Smtih Jr., Kameron Little, Tyrek Preistly, Randy Caldwell, Kavion Morris

Legacy Charter, out of Greenville, South Carolina, finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 23-8 overall record while playing a national schedule. The Lions will have another tough and competitive schedule for the 2020-2021 high school season and bring back their starting backcourt of 2021 PG Jacobi Wright and 2021 SG Isaiah Cornish. Wright, who averaged 17.4 PPG and 5.3 APG, is one of the nation's top sleepers in the class. Legacy Charter has also added top prospect Florida State commit 2021 SG Bryce McGowens, who transferred in from Wren (SC). McGowens will definitely help the Lions put points on the board and compliment the backcourt of Wright and Cornish. 

23. Coronado Cougars (NV)

Last Season Record: 20-9
Key Losses: Dallas Rider, Nick Walters, Felix Reeves Jr., Tyrelle Hunt, Maxwell Howard
Key Returners: Jaden Hardy, Jaxon Kohler, Andrew Marshall, Calvin Schmeling, Sargent Jeffrey

The Coronado Cougars are without a doubt a preseason top-25 program in our way-too-early national top-25 for the 2020-2021 high school season. The Cougars finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 20-9 overall record and were eliminated in the Nevada Desert Region semifinals. Coronado should certainly make national noise next season for sure, as they are scheduled to play in a bunch of national events. They return their leading scorer and highly ranked prospect 2021 SG Jaden Hardy, who averaged 30.4 points per game during his junior campaign. The Cougars are also returning their big man down low in high major prospect 2022 F Jaxon Kohler, who transferred in last season from Wasatch Academy (UT). 

24. Windward School (CA)

Last Season Record: 28-8
Key Loses: Devin Tillis, Marcus Joseph 
Key Returns: Kijani Wright, Dylan Andrews, Jaren Harris, Henry Hopper, Brandon Richard

The Wildcats captured the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Championship last season on their way to a 28-8 overall record during the 2019-2020 campaign. Windward returns most of their roster from last year's squad and should be one of the best in the state of California and in the nation. They return their two star prospects and leading scorers in 2022 F Kijani Wright and 2022 PG Dylan Andrews to the roster. Other key pieces like 2021 PG Jaden Harris, 2021 SG Henry Hopper, and 2021 F Brandon Richard will play even bigger roles to help Windward next season. The Wildcats will be playing a national schedule for the 2020-2021 high school season and will be able to have a chance to climb up the rankings. 

25. Camden Panthers (NJ)

Last Season Record: 29-1
Key Loses: Lance Ware, Tyshan Frisbey, Jeremy Council, Nafi Muhhamad, Davion Harper
Key Returns: DJ Wagner., Taquan Woodley, Cornelius Robinson, Jerome Brewer, Stebastian Robinson, Devin Benson, Jairaye Reyes, Haskings Dascar

Camden High School, located in South Jersey near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, secured their name on the national stage last season during their 2019-2020 campaign. The Panthers finished with an incredible 29-1 overall record and making it to the NJSIAA Group 2 semifinals before the COVID-19 outbreak cancelled the rest of their postseason play. Camden played a national schedule last season and are expected to do the exact same for the 2020-2021 high school season. They lose one of their major key pieces from last season's squad in Kentucky bound Lance Ware, who captured New Jersey's Mr. Basketball Award, but return their other leading scorers in 2023 PG DaJaun Wagner Jr. and Penn State commit 2021 F Ta'Quan Woodley. Wagner Jr., son of former Camden standout and NBA player DaJuan Wagner, stood out as one of the top in his class last season and should be the leader of this Camden squad over the next few seasons. The Panthers round out our preseason top-25 in our way-too-early national rankings. 

 

Next Five:

Milton Eagles (GA) 

Last Season Record: 26-5
Key Loses: Evan Hurst
Key Returns: Bruce Thornton Jr., Kanann Carlyle, L.T. Overton, Devin Farrell, Michael Feinberg

Milton High School, out of Alpharetta Georgia just North of Atlanta, was recently mentioned in our high school programs on the rise for the 2020-2021 season article. The Eagles finished their 2019-2020 high school season with a 26-5 record and making it to the Georgia class 7A semifinals. Milton brings back most of their starting lineup from a year ago and their top scorers. Their backcourt of 2022 PG Bruce Thornton Jr. and 2023 PG Kanann Carlyle return for the Eagles and will headline their 2020-2021 roster. Milton will also return key guys in 2021 G Devin Farrell and 2023 F L.T. Overton to the lineup. The Eagles should be one of the best teams in Georgia and nationally and could possibly begin the season in the top-25. A national schedule awaits for Milton for the 2020-2021 season. 

West Oaks Academy Flame (FL)

Last Season Record: 27-8
Key Loses: Selton Miguel, A.J. Staton, Carl Bigford, Kobe Gibbs, Jadrian Tracey, Jaquon Gatling
Key Returns: A.J. Neal, Manissa Biyengui, Fray Nguimbi, Zainubeen "Moe" Saibu

West Oaks Academy, located in the Orlando, Florida area, made their push into the national top-25 late during the 2019-2020 high school season. West Oaks captured themselves a few major quality wins last season including wins over Prolific Prep (CA) and Oak Hill Academy (VA) on their own territory. The Flame lose their leading scorer Selton Miguel, who is headed to Kansas State, from last season but return other key pieces from last year's 27-8 overall squad. Key guys like 2021 PG A.J. Neal, 2021 F Manissa Biyengui, 2022 F Fray Nguimbi, and 2022 F Zainubeen "Moe" Saibu return to the roster for the 2020-2021 season.  West Oaks Academy have also added 2021 SG Jordan Shorter and 2021 SG Jahseasn Corbett to their 2020-2021 roster. They are still expected to play a national schedule next season, including a trip to the famous City of Palms Classic once again. They will have the talent and schedule to have a chance to climb up the top-25 national rankings. 

Mater Dei Monarchs (CA)

Last Season Record: 25-8
Key Loses: Devin Askew, Logan Cremonesi, Ryan Evans, Aidan Prukop
Key Returns
Wilhelm Breidenbach, Harrison Hornery, Nick Davidson, Casey Jones, Eli Bradley, Zack Davidson, Gus Yalden, Matt Ashmore, Zac Van Den Heuvel

Famous Mater Dei head coach, Gary McKnight, has had Mater Dei one of the most consistent and top basketball programs nationwide for more than a decade. The Monarchs were in and out of the national top-25 last season and could possibly begin in the top-25 once the 2020-2021 season begins. They lose their star prospect and starting point guard from a year ago in Kentucky bound Devin Askew, who reclassified to 2020, and a couple other key guys from last season's 25-8 overall squad, but return highly ranked prospect 2021 F Wilhelm Breidenbach. Mater Dei is also expected to return USC commit 2021 F Harrison Hornery to their starting lineup. Both Breidenbach and Hornery make up an underrated front court for Mater Dei. The Monarchs shocked the nation during their postseason run a year ago and making it to the CIF Southern Section Championships title game as a low seed. They are expected to compete on the national stage like always for the 2020-2021 high school campaign. 

Pace Academy Knights (GA)

Last Season Record: 28-4
Key Losses: George Adams, Ben Crawford, Ben Caldwell, Reign Watkins

Key Returners: Matthew Cleveland, Cole Middleton, Madison Durr, Josh Reed, Justin Johnson, Kendall Evans, Bennett Boushka

Pace Academy, located in Atlanta, Georgia, sits right behind Milton (GA) when it comes to the top two teams in that state. The Knights, who are led by famous head coach Sharman White, captured their first class 3A state championship last season since 2018. They will be returning most of their core and their top three leading scorers from a year ago. Their roster will be headlined by highly ranked prospect 2021 F Matthew Cleveland and other key guys like 2021 F Cole Middleton and 2021 PG Madison Durr will round out their big three for the 2020-2021 season. The Knights are expected to compete in multiple national events next season and should be the favorite to repeat as class 3A state champions in the state of Georgia. 

Archbishop Wood Vikings (PA)

Last Season Record: 22-4
Key Losses: Brennen Kersey, Dominick Borzacchiello

Key Returners: Rahsool Diggins, Jaylen Stintson, Marcus Randolph, Daeshon Shepard, Muneer Newton, Robert Jackson

The Vikings of Archbishop Wood was on our list of programs expected to make a jump next season nationally in the top-25. Archbishop Wood sits in our "next five" as of now in our way-too-early preseason top-25 but will have the talent and schedule to have a chance to rise throughout next season. They return their leading scorer and starting point guard 2021 PG Rahsool Diggins, who averaged 20.2 points per game last season while receiving the Philadelphia Catholic League MVP award. The Vikings also return starters 2021 SG Daeshon Shepard, 2021 PG Jaylen Stinson, and 2021 G Marcus Randolph. Archbishop Wood finished last season with a 22-4 overall record before the COVID-19 outbreak forced them to cancel their postseason play.

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H/T 247sports.com
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