Debuting back in 2009, this year’s GEICO High School Nationals, to be held in New York City once again, already know their field of contestants, and it is definitely stacked with quality prospects. Per Ballislife’s FAB 50 National Rankings, seven of the eight teams present in the tournament are among the best fifty teams of the nation and will battle for the championship on March 29-31.
These are the seeded matchups, followed by our breakdown and view on how each team arrives at the tournament, including crystal ball predictions for the whole tournament:
#3 University School (FL) v #6 Shadow Mountain (AZ)
The second most-leveled matchup on paper will see University go against Shadow Mountain. First things first: both teams have lost just one game during the season with those from Florida winning 33 and the guys from Arizona getting the W on 25 occasions.
University arrives at the tournament having lost only to Oak Hill (back in January) and with a roster nothing short of a showcase-caliber one. Seniors Trey Doomes and Drue Drinnon (both ranked by 247Sports Composite) are only the starts. Vernon Carey Jr. is the 2019 #2 prospect in the nation and he’s arguably as good as they come already, and he’s joined by Scottie Barnes, the 2020 #6 nationally ranked prospect. Talk about a deep roster.
On his side, Shadow Mountain doesn’t fall short of quality either. Its only loss this year came against Findlay Prep and the Matadors will have the chance to upset University taking advantage of the presence of the likes of 2019 studs Jovan Blacksher and Jaelen House (#111, ASU commit), along soon-to-be-star 2020 SF Shemar Morrow (#64 national). Although the current level of Shadow Mountain may be a notch below that of University School, they got quality wins over their season and could advance without much surprise if they reach their peak.
Not super close, we have #3 University School (FL) advancing here.
#2 Oak Hill Academy (VA) v #7 Garfield (WA)
This starts to get serious as we enter top-2 seed territory in Oak Hill, one of the historically most lauded schools of the whole field (do Melo, Beasley, KD or Jennings ring any bell?). Only at the other side of the ring, the Bulldogs of Garfield and Brandon Roy (HC) will try and make the most of their chance after having lost just one game during the past bunch of months.
As you could expect, Oak Hill comes as loaded as ever, and with more wins than anyone (43 to 1 L). Per 247Sports, the Warriors have three prospects ranked #41 (Will Richardson), #34 (David McCormack, McDonald’s All-American) and #13 (Keldon Johnson, also MD’s All-American) in their 2018 class, but they also boast future 2020 top-end recruit, Josh Hemmings.
Roy’s Garfield team is no slouch either. With a 28-1 record on their season, the Bulldogs will be led by senior PF J’Raan Brooks (#79, USC commit) and junior SG P.J. Fuller (2019 #46, leaning towards committing to the Huskies, thus staying home). Keep an eye on Brandon Roy and his kids because while Oak Hill could easily be slotted as the #1 team in the nation, the boys from Washington could make the unthinkable happen and get to play on Friday.
We have to go #2 Oak Hill all the way here. They’re not the #1 seed just because of that 1 in the L column, but their winning record is staggering.
#4 Findlay Prep (NV) v #5 La Lumiere (IN)
Welcome to the Bol vs. Tyger matchup, point blank. And it couldn’t be more of a contrasting one, so expect fireworks of way different sizes and shapes. You sure know Bol Bol because, well, he’s Bol Bol and he is also 7’1″ and he’s headed to Oregon come next college season. And if you haven’t heard of Tyger Campbell, it’s about time you do. The senior is headed to UCLA next year and he can become the second player to reach three consecutive national finals only after Ben Simmons did it with Montverde.
Don’t get fooled, though, because the Bol Show is not all Findlay Prep is made of. The Pilots have four 2018 4-star recruits per 247Sports and are built to win now. Yes, they have flopped during the season and not been able to snatch any gold, but they arrive at the nationals with as good a chance as every other team given they’re more than a ready crop of players.
La Lumiere, last season’s champion, gets on the lower side of the seeded teams while still maintaining the chance of advancing by defeating the lowest high-rank team. We’re talking about a team that lost two key seniors last year on Jaren Jackson, Jordan Poole and Brian Bowen, yet they arrive at the tourney restocked and led by Tyger Campbell and junior C Isaiah Stewart (already ranked 2019 #25 nationally).
Don’t be shocked if La Lumiere pulls the upset, but bet on Bol Bol. #4 Findlay Prep locks a second-round presence with a W.
#1 Montverde Academy (NV) v #8 Lone Peak (UT)
Even for the HS hoops illiterates, Montverde is a name that must be familiar to their ears. Lone Peak, on the other hand, is the ultimate Cinderella of the bracket and the team you want to root for if you are one of those that think the earth is flat.
Undefeated after 33 games, led by some Canadian kid by the name of R.J. Barrett, three-peaters in the past, holders of four top-70 prospects in the class of 2018,… I better stop. The Eagles are eyes-closed the best team of the tournament and they’re playing to prove it, so it’d be no surprise see them fighting –if anyone is able to put up a somewhat serious opposition– for the championship come Saturday.
Lone Peak earned, for some reason, the right to enter the Nationals at the eighth and last seed. Mad props to them for snatching a place among the cream of the crop, but it looks like they can only dream of advancing past Montverde. The Knights have just completed a 23-3 season in which they came close to upset the likes of Oak Hill and DeMatha, something they couldn’t ultimately get to achieve. Frank Jackson came out of Lone Peak, played for Duke, and is waiting for his pro-debut. And that is most of you may know about the Knights and everything they have to back-up their chances.
Call me crazy but Lone Peak beating Montverde would be harder to see that UMBC defeating Virginia as a #16 seed.
#3 University School vs #2 Oak Hill Academy – Again, no surprise here. Oak Hill has too much quantity and quality in place.
#4 Findlay Prep vs #1 Montverde – No-contest for Montverde, which reaches the final and sends Bol Bol packing home.
National Championship Game Predictions
#2 Oak Hill Academy vs #1 Montverde – Just in case R.J. Barrett had any hardware left to win, he gets crowned the king of NY by lifting the trophy with his Montverde Eagles squad after ousting Oak Hill in a predictable yet packed-of-action tourney.