Dick’s Nationals Preview: Montverde Academy

Student Sports FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) hopes to repeat as champions of the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament. The Eagles, the defending FAB 50 mythical national champion, is the top seed in a eight-team field which will conclude with a championship game at Madison Square Garden April 5.

Current Student Sports FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) is the event favorite, but it hopes to start off strong and not have an opening game major scare like it did last season.

We take an in-depth look at all eight teams competing at the 2014 Dick’s Nationals in New York and continue our series with defending event and national champion Montverde Academy. The Eagles are currently No. 1 in the Student Sports FAB 50 and favored to win a second consecutive title at the event. 

Related: Dick’s Nationals Team & Individual Records | No. 2 Seed Rainier Beach | No. 3 Seed Northside Christian Academy | No. 4 Seed Huntington-St. Joseph Prep | No. 5 Seed La Lumiere | No. 6 Seed Oak Hill Academy | No. 7 Findlay Prep | No. 8 Seed The Sagemont School | Dick’s Nationals Field Set

Team: No. 1 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 24-1*, No. 1 (No. 1 Southeast Region)
Head Coach: Kevin Boyle (72-8 in three years at Montverde Academy, 23 years
at St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J.)
Key Players: Justin Bibbs (6-4, Sr., G/Virginia Tech), Brendan Boyle (6-2, Sr., G), Jordan Caroline (6-6, Sr., F/Southern Illinois), Chris Egi (6-8, Sr., F/Harvard), Makinde London (6-8, Sr., F/Xavier), Jalyn Patterson (5-11, Sr., G/LSU), (6-4, Sr., G/Ohio State signee), Ben Simmons (6-8, Jr., F/LSU)
Dick’s Nationals History: Fifth appearance. Montverde is the defending event and FAB 50 champion and is 7-2 all-time, the second best winning percentage behind Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). The Eagles were runner-ups in 2010 under previous coach Kevin Sutton (George Washington assistant) and in 2012 in Boyle’s first season.

Road To Dick’s Nationals: Along with Whitney Young (Chicago), the Eagles played arguably the nation’s toughest schedule. They have beaten 13 teams that were at one point ranked in the Student Sports FAB 50, including current No. 4 Northside Christian Academy (83-60 in Wild Wings Café National Classic championship), No. 12 Paul VI (58-53 in City of Palms Classic championship), No. 16 Providence (58-51), No. 21 St. Joseph (79-70), No. 38 White Station (73-60 in the Bass Pro Shops championship) and No. 44 Tift County (76-53). Montverde also won its own Montverde Academy Invitational with its only on-court loss coming against Curie (Chicago) in a game that was later awarded to the Eagles via forfeit. The Eagles’ schedule was built to compete for a national title and they survived a brutal 11-game stretch in December and January with a 10-1 mark against some of the nation’s best teams.

Inside Scoop: In the preseason, coach Kevin Boyle said this team was every bit as good as last year’s club that won the Dick’s Nationals and finished No. 1 in the final Student Sports FAB 50 rankings and he wasn’t exaggerating. Despite graduating two McDonald’s All-Americans (and losing Cal recruit Ahmaad Rorie mid-season) the Eagles are quicker to the ball and up court that last year’s team with more athleticism. “We are really good defensively and good at making teams turn it over,” Boyle said. Justin Bibbs has really improved and is one of those players that can really get out and defend, as can Jordan Caroline. Makinde London has some length and he’s developed into a good 3-pointer shooter whose really affective when he doesn’t settle. LSU-bound guard Jalyn Patterson hit the game-winning 3-pointer is last year’s title game and is a steadying presence for the team. D’Angelo Russell specializes at taking over games. Because he missed the beginning portion of the season, he often steps back early and lets his teammates dictate, then takes over down the stretch. Sagemont cannot be fooled into thinking it has contained Russell if he doesn’t have much points in the first half. Speaking of containment, Sagemont is going to have to find a way to slow down Ben Simmons, arguably the most versatile player in the country. He can finish like a pro player already and can beat smaller forwards and wings down the court with ease. He’s also a great passer and unselfish. “When Duke was recruiting him, they thought he or Jahlil Okafor was the best player in the country,” Boyle said.

Versus The Sagemont School: The Eagles will be aware that Sagemont is not your typical No. 8 seed. In fact, in last year’s opener Oak Hill Academy took Montverde to overtime before losing, so Boyle will do his best to get his players not to take the Lions lightly. If Montverde is the much better team, it has to put Sagemont away. If they let them stick around anything could happen as last year’s Oak Hill game proved or even two years ago when the Eagles blew a large lead down the stretch against Findlay Prep. The knock on Boyle’s teams before last season (even while he was at St. Patrick) was that they sometimes let teams stick around or would get upset right after a big win. He got off the schneid by winning the tournament last year and that experience for players such as Simmons and Russell should pay dividends. In a nutshell, this Montverde team doesn’t having any glaring weakness outside the presence of the true dominant post, so Sagemont is going to have to be patient and shoot a high percentage in order to have a chance at an upset. If Montverde can contain Prince Ali, it should be in good position to win.

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Filed under boys basketball event, team rankings

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