It’s a somber week in basketball, as the nation’s top teams in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings rankings powered by Ballislife.com mourn the loss of iconic high school basketball coach Morgan Wootten and global icon Kobe Bryant, the latter whom passed in a shocking aviation accident over the weekend. There are four newcomers this week, led by No. 35 Camden (Camden, N.J.)
By Ronnie Flores
RELATED: FAB 50 – Past, Present, Future
Last week the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com was delayed by a day because of the games surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but this week they are delayed by six hours or so because of a tragic loss.
On the day the storied program at DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) buried its beloved long-time coach Morgan Wootten, who amassed 1,274 wins in 46 seasons of coaching at the high school level, high school basketball teams across the country, and basketball fans across the globe, continued to mourn the passing of Kobe Bryant, the former Los Angles Lakers superstar who led the storied franchise to five NBA championships after turning pro straight out of Lower Merion (Ardmore, Pa.) in the spring of 1996. The 41-year old Bryant died in a Sunday morning aviation accident in Calabasas, Calif., while on his way to his daughter’s basketball event at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna “GiGi” Bryant was also on board the helicopter along with six other passengers and the pilot. All nine were killed instantly when the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in foggy conditions.
Teams all the across the country have paid tribute to Bryant, who was arguably the biggest global icon the game has ever seen, largely because of his visibility with the Lakers and his ability to speak five languages. The basketball world is in complete shock at the loss.
Wootten, who for many years served as the chairman of the selection committee for the McDonald’s All-Americna Game, died at 88. He led the Stags program to three National Sports News Service (FAB 50 precursor) national titles in 1962, 1965 and 1978, the latter which was his first unbeaten team. DeMatha was also named mythical national champion in 1968 and 1984 (USA Today). Incredibly, Wootten was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2000 while still an active coach and Bryant’s induction will be one of the most anticipated ceremonies of all-time. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to give what was already a much-anticipated speech even before Sunday’s tragedy.
Bryant, who scored 2,883 career points at Lower Merion, led his team to the 1996 PIAA Class 4A state title after starting out the season 1-3. The Aces won 30 straight games to finish 31-3 and finished just outside the FAB 50/National Prep Poll Top 25, as Bryant averaged 30.8 ppg, 12 rpg, 6.5 apg, 4.0 spg, and 3.8 bpg. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) was the final team from the Northeast Region to crack the poll at No. 24. In honor of Bryant, who was the 1996 USA Today, Gatorade and Parade Magazine National Player of the Year, we are listing the final ranking for his Lower Merion team during his senior season.
Final 1995-96 FAB 50/National Prep Poll
Northeast Region Rankings (PA-NY-NJ-MA-CT-RI-ME-VT-NH)
1. St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 31-0; 2. Rice (New York) 23-5; 3. Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 26-1; 4. Norwalk (Conn.) 28-0; 5. South Boston (Boston, Mass.) 25-1; 6. Shawnee (Medford, N.J.) 27-4; 7. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 24-4; 8. Lower Merion (Ardmore, Pa.) 31-3; 9. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia) 27-3; 10. Edison (Philadelphia) 21-3.
Note: St. Anthony, coached by now retired Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr., went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 ranked team and ended the 1995-96 season on a 53-game winning streak. St. Anthony, which is now closed, handed Lower Merion one of its three losses that season.
While this week’s FAB 50 got out late due to the shocking death of Bryant and preparation to discuss his high school career in our next “In The Paint” Podcast scheduled for January 28, we already know there will be some changes in next week’s set of rankings after the first 14 teams remained the same this week.
On Monday night, No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) fell at home to No. 29 West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.), 86-81. It was Oak Hill’s first home loss since the 1996-97 season. Selton Miguel had 27 points and three assists and A.J. Staton added 21 points and five rebounds for West Oaks Academy, which participates in the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA).
That result will be reflected in next week’s FAB 50.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
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(Sixth poll of 2019-20 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 26; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||22-0|
|2||2||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||29-1|
|3||3||Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)||23-1|
|4||4||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||14-2|
|5||5||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||14-4|
|6||6||Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.)||19-1|
|7||7||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||18-2|
|8||8||Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)||22-1|
|9||9||Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.)||20-2|
|10||10||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||16-4|
|11||11||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||16-3|
|12||12||La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)||15-3|
|13||13||Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.)||11-2|
|14||14||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||24-3|
|15||16||St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.)||17-2|
|16||19||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||20-3|
|17||20||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||20-2|
|18||18||Shiloh (Snellville, Ga.)||20-2|
|19||21||Westlake (Austin, Texas)||25-1|
|20||23||Collinsville (Collinsville, Ill.)||18-0|
|21||22||St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)||18-4|
|22||15||Poly (Baltimore, Md.)||14-2|
|23||27||Centennial (Corona, Calif.)||21-2|
|24||26||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||15-6|
|25||25||Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.)||15-1|
|26||32||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||14-2|
|27||31||Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas)||24-2|
|28||35||Curie (Chicago, Ill.)||19-1|
|29||36||West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.)||16-5|
|30||33||St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.)||16-3|
|31||42||Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie, Minn.)||15-0|
|32||38||Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.)||21-0|
|33||44||Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)||9-5|
|34||28||Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.)||25-2|
|35||NR||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||13-1|
|36||29||North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.)||17-1|
|37||37||Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.)||18-5|
|38||24||Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.)||25-3|
|39||43||Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.)||18-1|
|40||41||Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)||14-4|
|41||17||Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.)||15-1|
|42||40||Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.)||15-2|
|43||45||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)||18-3|
|44||46||Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.)||21-2|
|45||47||Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)||11-2|
|46||NR||Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)||14-1|
|47||49||O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.)||12-3|
|48||NR||Thornton (Harvey, Ill.)||21-0|
|49||50||Beecher (Flint, Mich.)||11-1|
|50||NR||Rangeview (Aurora, Col.)||15-0|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 30 Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.), No. 34 Lee (Montgomery, Ala.), No. 39 Evanston (Evanston, Ill.), No. 48 Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.).
Bubble Teams: Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 24-2; Benton Harbor (Benton Harbor, Mich.) 8-1; Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.) 16-0; Bogan (Chicago, Ill.) 19-2; Brookfield Central (Brookfield, Wis.) 12-1; Clarkston (Clarkston, Mich.) 9-1; Concord First Assembly (Concord, N.C.) 27-3; Davidson Day (Davidson, N.C.) 23-1; Davis (Kaysville, Utah) 14-1; Del City (Del City, Okla.) 13-1; Dickinson (Dickinson, Texas) 21-5; Eastside Catholic (Manchester, Conn.) 11-0; Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 10-1; Elizabeth (Elizabeth, N.J.) 11-1; Elizabethtown (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 15-0; Evanston (Evanston, Ill.) 20-1; Farmville Central (Farmville, N.C.) 16-2; Fremont (Plain City, Utah) 15-1; Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas) 19-1; Hamilton (Sussex, Wis.) 11-1; Hilliard Bradley (Hilliard, Ohio) 14-1; Homewood Flossmoor (Flossmoor, Ill.) 17-2; Huron (Ann Arbor, Mich.) 9-0; Jackson South Side (Jackson, Tenn.) 21-0; Jemison (Huntsville, Ala.) 22-2; John Hardin (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 22-1; John Paul II (Plano, Texas) 31-1; Layton (Layton, Utah) 14-1; Lee (Montgomery, Ala.) 24-1; Lincoln (Ypsilanti, Mich.) 7-1; Lithonia (Lithonia, Ga.) 22-1; McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 16-6; Muskegon (Muskegon, Mich.) 6-1; Niles Notre Dame (Niles, Ill.) 21-3; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 22-2; North Shore (Houston, Texas) 25-3; Olive Branch (Olive Branch, Miss.) 16-4; Ribet Academy (Los Angeles, Calif.) 18-1; River Rouge (River Rouge, Mich.) 11-1; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 7-5; Rutgers Prep (Somerset, N.J.) 16-0; Shadow Creek (Pearland, Texas) 20-2; Southmoore (Moore, Okla.) 12-2; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 20-2; St. Anthony (Long Beach, Calif.) 24-1; St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 10-1; St. Mark’s (Dallas, Texas) 22-4; St. Mary’s Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) 9-1; St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 10-3; Summer Creek (Houston, Texas) 25-4; Union (Vancouver, Wash.) 17-0; Wildwood Catholic (North Wildwood, N.J.) 13-2; Yates (Houston, Texas) 14-4.
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 20 years ago.