Whitney Young of Chicago clinches final top 10 ranking by capturing Illinois Class 4A state title. State champions also crowned in New York, Michigan and New Jersey. We actually waited to release this week’s rankings to include Monday’s New Jersey Tournament of Champions final. The season has two weeks left with state champions crowned in California this weekend and the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament concluding on April 5.
By Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis
Contributing: Doug Huff
Great high school players are often defined by leading their teams to state titles. The problem for Duke-bound and Mr. Basketball USA candidate Jahlil Okafor from Whitney Young (Chicago) as an underclassman was he happened to play in the backyard of Jabari Parker. A two-time Student Sports All-American, Parker is already an Illinois prep legend for leading Simeon (Chicago) to four consecutive state titles.
With Parker now in college, and soon to the NBA, Okafor had a prime opportunity to capture his first state title as a senior and he took advantage, leading the Dolphins to a Class 4A state title after Simeon knocked them out during his junior and sophomore seasons. Whitney Young defeated Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.) in a low scoring affair to capture the school’s first state title since 2009, the year before Parker entered high school.
Okafor scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds as Benet Academy focused on slowing him down, but others stepped up. St. Louis-bound guard Miles Reynolds scored a game-high 19 points and Georgetown-bound forward Paul White hit two late free throws to clinch the 46-44 victory. Quentin Richardson led Whitney Young to its first state title in 1998.
Whitney Young survived a magnificent 56-point explosion by junior guard Jalen Brunson of FAB 50-ranked Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Ill.) to advance to the state championship game with a 75-68 semifinal win. Brunson set a IHSA playoff single-game scoring record by making 16-of-30 field goal attempts, including 7-of-14 on 3-pointers, and 17-of-23 free throws, but it wasn’t enough as Okafor’s 33 points and 14 rebounds helped knock off the previous No. 8 team in the Student Sports FAB 50.
With its state title in tow against one of the nation’s toughest overall schedules, Whitney Young has clinched a top 10 spot in our final rankings. Its final ranking could be effected by how well No. 4 Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.) and No. 6 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) fare at the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament. Whitney Young has played a tougher overall schedule than NCA and defeated Oak Hill in a head-to-head affair.
State Title Roundup
As Monday night’s New Jersey Tournament of Champions was concluding with a back-and-forth affair between two FAB 50-ranked teams, we had this week’s rankings complete but with different pecking orders depending on whether previous No. 18 East Side (Newark, N.J.) or previous No. 38 St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) was victorious. St. Joseph, the team led by Kentucky-bound 7-footer Karl Towns Jr., edged East Side 49-47, ending East Side’s bid to become the first public school to win the TOC in Jersey since 2000. Karl Towns’ brother, Marcus, hit two free throws with one minute left to give St. Joe a 48-47 lead, then added another free throw with 14.7 seconds left. Akbar Hoffman of East Side went for a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds but the shot was contested and he missed.
With St. Joseph winning in that manner, East Side didn’t fall too far in this week’s FAB 50, settling at No. 25. The winning Falcons were boosted up to No. 21.
Another highly-ranked club that wrapped up a state title was unbeaten Muskegon (Muskegon, Mich.). The Big Red finished 28-0 courtesy of their 91-67 rout of Bloomfield Hills (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) in the Michigan Class A title game. Michigan Mr. Basketball Deshaun Thrower had 21 points and 6-foot-9 junior Deyonta Davis had 26 for Muskegon, which earlier in the season handed Curie (Chicago) its first defeat of the season before Curie ran into eligibility problems and had all of its on-court wins forfeited.
In New York, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) makes a three-spot uptick this week by capturing its third New York Federation title in the last five years. The Royals overcame a slow start to defeat Long Island Lutheran (Hempstead, N.Y.) 58-52 behind tourney MVP Andre Walker’s 25 points. CTK scored four points in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 14 in the second against the team it also beat in last year’s federation title game.
In the semifinals, Christ the King downed previous No. 49 Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.) 54-51 in overtime, when Walker converted the game-winning lay-up with 16 seconds remaining. The federation games are played in Albany, N.Y. and considering how much New York City loves its high school basketball, it’s unfortunate only 200 fans were present for the all-Queens tussle between CTK and Cardozo.
Updated Student Sports FAB 50
Boys Basketball National Team Rankings
(13th poll of the 2013-14 regular season; Through games played on Monday, March 24; Previous ranking in parentheses; *Indicates season complete; **Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; ***Indicates season complete plus forfeits not included)
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(*Indicates season complete; **Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; ***Indicates season complete plus forfeits not included)
Dropped Out: Previous No. 26 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.); No. 31 Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.); No. 34 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.); No. 49 Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.); No. 50 Orr (Chicago, Ill.).
Bubble Teams: Allentown Central Catholic (Allentown, Pa.) 29-1*; Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.) 25-8*; Bowman Academy (Gary, Ind.) 22-4; Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) 26-1*; Capital Christian (Sacramento, Calif.) 28-4*; Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 26-2*; Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.) 30-3*; Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.) 24-7*; Covington Catholic (Park Hills, Ky.) 32-2*; DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 29-6*; De La Salle (Minneapolis, Minn.) 26-3*; Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 29-5*; Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) 22-7*; J.W. North (Riverside, Calif.) 26-2***; Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 30-3*; La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.) 23-7*; Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 26-4*; Linden (Linden, N.J.) 27-5*; Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 24-2*; Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 24-6*; Natchidoches Central (Natchidoches, La.) 29-2*; North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 26-2*; O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) 20-12*; Parkview (Little Rock, Ark.) 29-2*; Potomac (Dumfries, Va.) 28-1*; Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 25-6*; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 21-10*; Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) 35-4*; Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 21-7***; St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 26-2*; Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio) 25-3*; Upper Arlington (Upper Arlington, Ohio) 27-2*; Wando (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) 25-4*; Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 24-9*; Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) 30-7*; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 29-6*; Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 24-2*.