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High school basketball rankings: Montverde Academy holds at No. 1 in Way-Too-Early 2021-22 HIGHSCORE Top 25 - HIGHSCORE
High school basketball rankings: Montverde Academy holds at No. 1 in Way-Too-Early 2021-22 MaxPreps Top 25
Looking into the crystal ball toward the next high school basketball season, two teams clearly sit above the rest: Montverde Academy and IMG Academy. The two-time defending national champion Eagles and 2018-19 national champion Asceenders each return elite talent to their rosters that should separate them from the pack to start the year.

Since Kevin Boyle's arrival prior to the 2011-12 season, Montverde has a 93.9 win percentage and produced NBA players R.J. Barrett, D'Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons as well as projected lottery picks Scottie Barnes of Florida State, Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State and Moses Moody of Arkansas.

Montverde has won MaxPreps National Championships in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020, and the Eagles' dominance should continue past this season where they outscored opponents by an averaged of 25.8 points and finished 11-1 against MaxPreps Top 25 teams. The program has won 49 of its past 50 games has Top 10 finishes each year for the past decade.

The Eagles return MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Jalen Duren along with top 100 Class of 2022 prospects Jalen Hood-Schifino, Malik Reneau, Dariq Whitehead and Justice Williams. The formidable Eagles rotation is also certain to be bolstered with key additions in the offseason.

The second-ranked Ascenders are expected to return top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Jaden Bradley, Eric Dailey, Jett Howard and Jarace Walker, all MaxPreps Junior-All-Americans.

The elite high school basketball landscape is always tough to define as the offseason transfer season can dramatically shift fortunes quickly. Today, we take a look ahead anyway to get people thinking about what will, hopefully, be a return to a "normal" schedule across the country.

While plenty is certain to change over the summer, here's an early look at what the Way-Too-Early 2021-22 MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
Montverde Academy looks to start the 2021-22 season where it ended the recently finished year - at No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
Photo by Pete Wright
Montverde Academy looks to start the 2021-22 season where it ended the recently finished year - at No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
1. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Coach: Kevin Boyle
2020-21 resume: (25-0) No. 1 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jalen Duren (6-10, Sr., C), Jalen Hood-Schifino (6-4, Sr., G), Malik Reneau (6-8, Sr., F), Dariq Whitehead (6-5, Sr., W/G), Justice Williams (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Captured their second consecutive national championship and third in the past four seasons in 2020-21. The Eagles will again be strong contenders next season behind MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Duren and All-American Whitehead.

Coach: Sean McAloon
2020-21 resume: (21-3) No. 5 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Noah Batchelor (6-6, Sr., W), Jaden Bradley (6-2, Sr., G), Eric Dailey (6-7, Sr., F), Anthony Gilkes (6-6, So., G), Jett Howard (6-4, Sr., G), Jarace Walker (6-8, Sr., W), Gus Yalden (6-8, Jr., F/C).
Outlook: The Ascenders have all the pieces on paper to compete for their second national title in the past four years next season behind a strong returning core that includes Junior MaxPreps All-Americans Bradley, Dailey, Howard and Walker.

3. Milton (Ga.)
Coach: Allen Whitehart
2020-21 resume: (29-3) No. 7 in final Top 25
Notable losses: Broc Bidwell
Notable returners: Kendall Campbell (6-7, Sr., W/F), Kanaan Carlyle (6-2, Jr., G), Lebbeus Overton (6-5, Jr., F), Bruce Thornton (6-2, Sr., G), Cam Walker (6-3, Sr., W)
Outlook: After capturing their first state championship since 2012 and earning a first GEICO Nationals berth, the Eagles return virtually all significant pieces from 2020-21 headlined by Campbell, Carlyle and Ohio State commit Thornton.

Coach: Mike Jones
2020-21 resume: (9-0) No. 4 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jacoi Hutchinson (6-2, Jr., G), Jason Moore (6-6, Jr., W), Rodney Rice Jr. (6-4, Sr., G), Jerrell Roberson (6-8, Sr., W/F) AJ Swinton (6-6, So., W/F), Tyrell Ward (6-5, Sr., W), Ben Woodward (6-3, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Stags secured their fourth consecutive Top 10 finish in the final MaxPreps Top 25 after completing an abbreviated season unbeaten. Although DeMatha loses MaxPreps Maryland Player of the Year Hawkins to graduation, second team MaxPreps Junior All-American Ward headlines a strong returning cast.

Coach: Mark Phelps
2020-21 Resume: (31-4) No. 10 in final Top 25
Notable losses: Nathan Bittle, Fallou Cisse
Notable returners: Adem Bona (6-10, F/C), Mouhamed Gueye (7-0, Sr., F/C), Kamari Lands (6-8, Sr., W), Stefan Todorovic (6-7, Sr., G), Milos Uzan (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Coming off back-to-back top 10 finishes, the Crew are expected to return the majority of their rotation.

Coach: Rick Brunson
2020-21 resume: (13-0) No. 9 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Aaron Bradshaw (7-0, Jr., C), Rasheer Fleming (6-8, Sr., F), Desear Haskins (6-5, Jr. F/C), Cian Medley (5-10, Jr., G), Cornelius Robinson (6-1, Jr., G), D.J. Wagner (6-3, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Panthers have gone 42-1 over their past two seasons with consecutive Top 25 finishes. They havne't had an opportunity to cap their season with a Tournament of Champions title as postseason play has been canceled in each of the last two years. Next year, the public school will be favorites to win their first crown since 2000 behind top-ranked Class of 2023 prospect Wagner.

Coach: Steve Smith
2020-21 Resume: (20-9) No. 24 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Tybo Bailey (6-2, So., G), Xavier Brown (6-1, Sr., G), Caleb Foster (6-4, So., G), Justin McBride (6-7, So., W), Luke McEldon (6-9, So., F), Jalen Reed (6-8, Sr., F), M.J. Rice (6-5, Sr., W/G)
Outlook: Despite suffering the program's most losses since the 1978-79 season, the Warriors snuck into the final Top 25 with a play-in victory at GEICO Nationals. A strong returning core is expected to be led by MaxPreps Junior All-American selection Rice and Sophomore All-American Foster.

Coach: Kevin Lawson
2020-21 resume: (26-2) No. 20 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Rylan Griffen (6-5, Sr., G), Tre Howell (6-0, Sr., G), Cason Wallace (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Following the program's first state semifinals appearance since 1987, the Eagles are early favorites to capture their first state title next season behind Co-District 7-6A MVP's Wallace and Griffen.

Coach: Patrick Holmes
2020-21 resume: (7-10) GEICO Nationals participant
Notable returners: Hunter Duncan (6-1, Jr., G), Jeremy Fears Jr. (6-1, Jr., G), Vincent Iwuchukwu (7-0, Sr., C), Kebba Njie (6-9, Sr., F), J.J. Starling (6-2, Sr., G), Chisom Okpara (6-7, Sr., W)
Outlook: A disappointing 2020-21 season saw the Lakers finish with a sub-.500 record, but a strong returning cast is expected to return this program to national prominence. Top returners include Top 60 Class of 2022 prospects Starling and Iwuchukwu along with MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Fears.

Coach: Andre Chevalier
2020-21 resume: Spring season in progress
Notable losses: Ryan Grande
Notable returners: Amari Bailey (6-4. Sr., G), Bronny James (6-3, Jr., G), Ramel Lloyd Jr. (6-6, Sr., G), Shy Odom (6-6, Sr., W/F) , Chance Westry (6-6, Sr., G)
Outlook: It is hard to predict how the Trailblazers current spring season will play out, but the high school basketball calendar should return to normal next season in the Golden State. Top 5 Class of 2022 prospect Bailey is expected to be the catalyst, while plenty of intrigue will surround James' return to the court after a knee injury.

Coach: Luke Barnwell
2020-21 resume: (21-4) No. 3 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Gradey Dick (6-7, Sr., W/F), Willie Lightfoot (6-0, Sr., G)
Outlook: Expect the Buffaloes to reload in the offseason after graduating four starters. The Sunflower State powerhouse has been a constant on the national prep scene in recent seasons and made their first GEICO Nationals title game appearance last season.

Coach: David Peavy
2020-21 resume: (29-1) No. 6 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Cameron Barnes (6-11, Jr., C), Aric Demings (6-0, Jr., G), C.J. Ford (6-1, Sr., G), Ronald Holland (6-8, Jr., F), Davion Sykes (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: The Panthers lose three of their top four scorers from last season, but MaxPreps 2020-21 National Coach of the Year Peavy has proven his ability to overcome those losses as the program has graduated its top scorer each of the previous two seasons.

Coach: Paul Peterson
2020-21 resume: (18-7) No. 12 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Roddy Gayle (6-5, Sr., G/W), Richard Isaacs (6-3, Sr., G), Keba Keita (6-9, Sr. C)
Outlook: The Tigers have some major holes to fill with the loss of three starters headlined by MaxPreps Utah Player of the Year Hickman. Top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Gayle and Isaacs are the cornerstones for Wasatch to retool its roster.

Coach: Nicholas Myles
2020-21 resume: (15-1) Baltimore Catholic League finalist
Notable returners: Daquan Davis (6-1, So., G), Cortez Johnson (6-5, Sr., G), Jahnathan Lamothe (6-4, Jr., G), Derik Queen (6-7, So., F)
Outlook: Finished their 2020-21 campaign almost unbeatean, losing their perfect mark in the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship game. MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year Queen headlines a talented returning core that includes Top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Lamothe.

Coach: Cilk McSweeney
2020-21 resume: (17-7) FHSAA Class 3A state champions
Notable losses: Dylan Canoville
Notable returners: Marvel Allen (6-5, Jr. G), Carl Cherenfant (6-5, Jr., G), Gregg Glenn (6-8, Sr., W/F), Taylor Hendricks (6-10, Sr., F/C), Tyler Hendricks (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: Reigning state champions return each of their top four scorers highlighted by MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Allen and talented post presences Glenn and Hendricks.

Coach: Jeff McInnis
2020-21 resume: (28-3) No. 15 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Robert Dillingham (6-1, Jr., G), Mekhi Grant (6-8, Jr., F), Antonio Hamlin (6-2, Sr., G), A.J Smith (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: The Goats look to build on their first national Top 25 finish behind top 10 Class of 2023 prospect Dillingham. Former NBA journeyman Jeff McInnis looks to continue to ascension of the Combine Academy basketball program.

Coach: David Green
2020-21 resume: (31-0) UIL Class 5A state champions
Notable losses: Kendris Henry
Notable returners: Terrance Arceneaux (6-7, So., W), Kayde Dotson (6-1, So., G), Clarence Payia (6-4, So., G/W), Trealyn Porchia (6-5, Jr., W), Wesley Yates III (6-4, Jr., G)
Outlook: This group loses one role player off its unbeaten state championship run. Leading scorer Arceneaux hit buzzer beaters at the end of regulation and overtime to help bring home the school's first high school basketball state championship last season.

 Coach: Tyrone Slaughter
2020-21 resume: (15-1)
Notable losses: Grant Newell, Jaehshon Thomas
Notable returners: Xavier Amos (6-8, Sr., F), A.J. Casey (6-8, Sr., F), Dalen Davis (5-11, Jr., G), Marcus Overstreet (6-7, Sr., F), Marcus Pigram (6-3, Sr., G), Jordan Streeter (6-5, Sr., W)
Outlook: The Dolphins have all the pieces to return to the national rankings for the first time since their 2013-14 campaign next season behind five-star Class of 2022 prospect Casey.

Coach: John Buck
2020-21 resume: (3-0)
Notable returners: Jaxon Koroll (6-11,Jr., C), Jayden Pierre (6-2, Sr., G), Jayden Reid (5-9, Sr., G)
Outlook: The Crusaders had one of the most abbreviated seasons playing three games, including two games against the same opponent. Looking ahead to next season, the Big Apple power looks to build around talented returning guards Pierre and Reid.

Coach: Glenn Farello
2020-21 resume: (7-4) No. 21 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Ben Hammond (5-11, So., G), Darren Harris (6-5, So., G/W), DeShawn Harris-Smith (6-4, Jr., G) Knasir McDaniel (6-0, Sr., G), Kris Mickens (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: Despite losing MaxPreps Virginia Player of the Year Keels to graduation, the Panthers return a strong group highlighted by top 100 Class of 2022 prospect McDaniel and top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Harris-Smith.

Coach: Rick Zych
2020-21 resume: (22-1) KSHSAA Class 4A state champions
Notable losses: Harrison Braudis
Notable returners: Christian Bowen-Webb (6-2, Sr., G), Xavier Hall (6-0, Sr., G), Taj Manning (6-6, Sr., F), Mark Mitchell (6-8, Sr., W/F), Aiden Wing (6-4, Jr., G)
Outlook: First team all-state performers Manning and Mitchell lead the heavy favorites to capture their fifth state title since 2015-16 next season.

Coach: Greg Phillips
2020-21 resume: (25-6) GHSA Class 7A state finalist
Notable losses: Ja'Ron Ford, Dara Olonade
Notable returnes: Malique Ewin (6-10, Sr., F/C), Jermahri Hill (6-4, Sr., G), Destin Logan (6-4, Sr., G), Jameel Rideout (6-2, Sr., G)
Outlook: After advancing to the state championship game last season, the Patriots are expected to be strong contenders to contend for their first state crown since 2001 next season behind a talented incoming senior classification.

Coach: Ed Gipson
2020-21 resume: (28-2) No. 2 in final Top 25
Notable returners: A.J. Storr (6-5, Sr., G), Sadraque Nganga (6-9, Sr., F)
Outlook: This program made a major statement last season, ascending to No. 2 in the national rankings and presenting national champion Montverde Academy with its stiffest test at GEICO Nationals. Despite losing the bulk of its production, AZ Compass Prep remains a budding prep powerhouse on the rise.

Coach: Corey Tucker
2020-21 resume: (9-3)
Notable losses: None
Notable returners: Marlon Barnes Jr. (6-6, Jr., G/W), Emoni Bates (6-9, Sr., W/F), Javaughn Hannah (6-4, Sr., G), Dillon Hunter (6-5, Sr., G), Shawn Phillips (6-10, Sr., C)
Outlook: Top-ranked Class of 2022 prospect Bates looks to lead a talented group of prospects into the national rankings next season after the Ball Boys struggled to field a significant schedule in 2020-21.

Coach: Mike Thomas
2020-21 resume: (14-2) Division I state champions
Notable returners: Amonte Allen-Johnson (6-1, Jr., G), Tae Boyd (6-3, Jr., G), Ty Rodgers (6-7, Sr., W), R.J. Taylor (6-0, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Bobcats made the most of their first state championship game appearance since 1952, capturing the school's first title with a 45-36 victory over previously unbeaten Huron. The return the majority of their rotation including four-star Class of 2022 prospect Rodgers and rising point guard prospect Taylor.
California high school sports: State officials, CIF, coaches find common ground, talks to resume next week - HIGHSCORE
California high school sports: State officials, CIF, coaches find common ground, talks to resume next week
When seven people meet on a Zoom call for the first time, to largely make decisions concerning more than 3 million young athletes, it’s good to start with some commonality.

The seven who met Thursday afternoon to discuss the return of youth sports in California got to that space early in the 62-minute call, said Serra (San Mateo, Calif.) football coach Patrick Walsh, and it led to what he called a “progressive, positive and open” dialogue.

Walsh, one of three coaches, California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Ron Nocetti, Let Them Play co-founder Brad Hensley, and two Gov. Gavin Newsom staffers — Dr. Mark Ghaly and Jim DeBoo — planned to meet again early next week to continue talks on how to return youth and high school sports back safely and swiftly.

“There were a lot of similarities between every man on that call,” said Walsh, the organizer of the 700-member Golden State High School Football Coaches Community. “All of us have kids, all of them play sports and all of us care about sports. How do we all get to the same point in an expeditious way? The phone call did not impede that conversation.

“I felt like the aura of the call was positive. The spirit of the kids were in that room and on the call. Hopefully we can advance the ball down the field knowing that we can’t do this forever because at some point we’re going to run out of time."
Patrick Walsh (right) leads his Serra Padres into the 2019 CIF State Division 1-AA championship game against Corona del Mar.
File photo by Ming Chung
Patrick Walsh (right) leads his Serra Padres into the 2019 CIF State Division 1-AA championship game against Corona del Mar.
Part of the positive feeling came from improving COVID-19 test results throughout the state.

That led Newsom to lift mandatory at-home orders on Jan. 25, which opened high school play this week for sports slotted in the purple tier: cross country, golf, tennis, swimming and diving and cross country.

Other contact or indoor sports, such as football, volleyball and basketball, are running out of time. Lifting or altering the current tier California system would go a long way to getting other sports started and finished by the end of the school year.

On Tuesday, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national governing body of prep sports, revised its May guidance document on the risk of COVID-19 during high school athletics, highlighted by the elimination of tiers assigned to specific sports.

NFHS REVISES COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Complete NFHS guidance

"That was awesome timing for us," De La Salle (Concord) football coach Justin Alumbaugh said. "It's not like we were saying 'we told you so.' It just supports what we've been saying and what people have been telling us. To get that information confirmed from a major institution like the NFHS was awesome."

Discussions of the tiers were mentioned Thursday, but more details will come next week Walsh said. The coaches group, which also includes Ron Gladnick, of Torrey Pines (San Diego), had met twice earlier with DeBoo, Newsom's top aide, but this was the first time they had met Ghaly, the state's Secretary of Health.

"I really liked his demeanor," Walsh said. "He's very pleasant, very thoughtful. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the man."

Alumbaugh and Walsh said Ghaly was very receptive to the data that the Golden State and Let Them Play groups have supplied over the last three weeks, and encouraged more. Ghaly and DeBoo asked many questions, according to Alumbaugh and Walsh.

"Dr. Ghaly is a very bright man, no doubt about that," Alumbaugh said. "He understands what's going on. He's definitely aware of all the dynamics — the science, the data, statistics. He's far more of an expert that we are.

"The meeting was cooperative. It was positive. We're just trying to push the dialogue forward and they are too. Let's get this done."

Said Walsh: "I think everyone would love to come out with an announcement right now, but I did not anticipate that happening today, particularly since it was the first time we've had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ghaly. It was a very good dialogue and discussion both ways. We're excited about setting a pathway forward."

So is Nocetti.

"Since the COVID-19 numbers have been trending in a better direction we definitely have had more frequent meetings with the California Department of Public Health and the governor's office," he said. "We feel those meetings are progressing toward a pathway to return. And we're going to continue to have those meetings."

Nocetti heads the organization that governs high school sports in the state and serves more than 800,000 athletes annually. Until this week, all California high school sports had been paused since April 3 due to the pandemic. It is one of 17 states that didn't play football in the traditional fall season.

The CIF has maintained that football's end date this spring can go as late as May 1, though some of the state's 10 sections have adopted an April 17 end date in order to prepare for the 2021 fall football season.

An earlier end date means the pressure is on to get the season going sooner. Walsh and Alumbaugh are hoping sections will be more flexible.

"You go from the end date and work backwards," Walsh said. "If we can start sometime in early March that gives us 5-8 games. I think all reasonable players and coaches would be happy with that.

"It's important that both sides know the hard ends and realize that we don't have a lot of time. Do we have some time? Yes. Do we have a lot of time? No."

Thursday's meeting came a day after Newsom addressed youth sports during a press conference at the Oakland Coliseum.

Among the topics included physical and mental health, the guidelines, football, data and even a lawsuit filed last week from two San Diego High School football players seeking an "immediate resumption of play."

In a stirring 32-minute press conference put on by the two advocacy groups on Friday, Gladnick had pleaded with Newsom to "help and engage with us," and to "work together."

Walsh said after hearing Newsom's remarks on Wednesday that he was more encouraged than ever that engagement is taking place. That was backed up with Thursday's meeting.

"I could tell he has put thought into youth sports in California and that's a great step in the right direction," Walsh said. "As we know, Gov. Newsom believes in sports and knows how much youth sports builds character, camaraderie, and self esteem.

"We are hopeful that the Governor will continue to look at the data and science presented to him and re-open the state for youth sports soon."

Here is what Newsom said Wednesday in its entirety about youth sports:

"Last week we made an announcement and that allowed for youth sports like track and field to take place. It's just the levels that we are and have provided a framework to allow certain youth sports to take shape in competition.

"That said, we have been in very direct conversations. Personally, I launched those conversations last week. My team is in constant contact, trying to work through these different tiers.

"The red tier, you'll start to see baseball. In subsequent tiers, we'll get to football. But I'll be honest with you, a lot of this is driven by football and folks wanting to get a football season in. And I am deeply sensitive to that.

"As I said, I not only have four kids who want to be educated, but they love sports. So I recognize all of the benefits — physical and mental — as well as the benefits to teachers and parents who have kids who are engaged in physical activities in terms of our responsibility to support those children as well. We want to see this happen.

"We want to do it safely and a lot of great data has been provided by the same groups that are suing us. If I was concerned about lawsuits, I would have collapsed a year ago. We receive dozens of them every week. And some of them are from folks who are very close to us. It's clarifying. It allows for focus. Some are specious, political. Others like this I think are quite legitimate in terms of what they ultimately want to achieve.

"I share that and we are processing that. I am very hopeful, very hopeful — I really mean this — I am very, very hopeful that we can find a compromise here and I believe that's possible as long as these case rates continue to move in the direction they're moving."
Bijan Cortes named 2020-21 HIGHSCORE Oklahoma High School Basketball Player of the Year - HIGHSCORE
Bijan Cortes named 2020-21 MaxPreps Oklahoma High School Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Bijan Cortes of Kingfisher is the 2020-21 MaxPreps Oklahoma High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3 senior point guard led the Yellowjackets to a 25-1 record and their second Class 4A state championship in three years.

Kingfisher went 107-4 during his four years on the varsity squad.

Cortes scored almost half of his team's points in a 48-40 win over Heritage Hall in the state championship game. Cortes poured in 13 of his game-high 23 points in the second half after Kingfisher fell behind by eight points in the third quarter en route to its 20th straight win.

The Oklahoma signee is regarded as one of the top 200 senior prospects in the country according to 247Sports. North Texas, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts and Tulsa also extended offers.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team, which is scheduled to be released April 13.
Bijan Cortes in action against Chickasha during his junior year.
Photo by Russell Stitt
Bijan Cortes in action against Chickasha during his junior year.
2012 Final HIGHSCORE Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings: John Curtis is the national champ - HIGHSCORE
2012 Final MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings: John Curtis is the national champ
Curtis has plenty of reason to celebrate: It finishes No. 1 the Xcellent 25.
Photo by Roddy Johnson
Curtis has plenty of reason to celebrate: It finishes No. 1 the Xcellent 25.
Lousiana power John Curtis finishes No. 1 in the 2012 MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings presented by the Army.

The Patriots dominated from start to finish and were remarkably consistent, especially in the playoffs. Curtis jumped on opponents early, scoring touchdowns on 36 of 41 first half possessions in the postseason.

While Curtis did not play the nation's most difficult schedule, it dismantled Florida's defending Class 8A champion Plant 33-3 in September and outscored opponents 677-60 on the season.

It was perhaps the finest team in J.T. Curtis' 43-year career, one that has seen the coaching giant amass 520 career wins, second only to John McKissick's total of 601.

Katy, which enjoyed a remarkable season punctuated by its seventh state title, finishes a close second with talent-laden Norcross, Georgia's undefeated AAAAAA state champion, checking in at No. 3.

Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard


1. (1) Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 14-0

Season complete. Class 2A champion.

2. (2) Katy (Texas), 16-0
Katy capped off a perfect season, winning its seventh state title in a 35-24 victory over Cedar Hill. Story

3. (3) Norcross (Ga.), 15-0
Season complete. Class AAAAA champion.

4. (4) De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), 15-0
Season complete. CIF Open Division Bowl champion.

5. (6) Allen (Texas), 14-1

Lamar put up a valiant effort, but Allen prevailed with a 35-21 victory. Story
Preseason HIGHSCORE Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 20 Sierra Canyon - HIGHSCORE
Preseason MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 20 Sierra Canyon
With California expecting to begin its high school basketball season March 12, most states will be wrapping it up by the time No. 20 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) tips off. And while that might present scheduling difficulties, the spotlight will only shine brighter on a program with plenty of national appeal and starpower.

The Trailblazers field a deep and talented roster led by top 50 prospects Amari Bailey, Bronny James and transfer Chance Westry. Much of the Sierra Canyon hype focuses on the son of four-time NBA champion LeBron James and how Bronny's game develops entering his sophomore season.

Other key members of the Trailblazers rotation include 7-foot-3 center Harold Yu and scrappy forward Shy Odom along with incoming transfers Max Allen and Ryan Grande.

Sierra Canyon was ranked No. 15 and favored to win its third straight CIF Open Division crown at the close of the 2019-20 season. The 30-4 Trailblazers had advanced to the state title game before COVID-19 ended the season.
Guard Bronny James
File photo by Catalina Fragoso
Guard Bronny James
Players to watch

Height: 6-8 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 213 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-4 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 3 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-1 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: NR | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-2 | Class: Sophomore (2023)
National rank: 30 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-6 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 192 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-4 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 27 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 7-3 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: 181 | Status: Uncommitted
Guard Amari Bailey
File photo by David Steutel
Guard Amari Bailey