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Prep Circuit Power 50: Bubble Teams To Watch

By Prep Circuit Staff, 11/07/18, 8:45PM EST


The 2018-19 Preseason Top 50 launched late last week, and while each team was worthy of their ranking, it was inevitable that some teams felt snubbed.

Scroll down for a look at the teams that just missed the top 50, some teams on the fringe, and some other deep sleepers from across the country.

Just Missed:

Roman Catholic (PA)

First things first - yes…we heard your complaints. Roman Catholic makes a very strong argument for being ranked as a top 50 team in the country. With prospects like Penn State commit Seth Lundy, Saint Joseph’s commit Hakim Hart, junior point guard Lynn Greer III and star freshman Jalen Duren and Justice Williams they are set to have a huge season. Greer recently re-enrolled after a brief transfer to Oak Hill, and his addition to the lineup is a huge lift for the Cahillites. Head coach Matt Griffin led them to a Philadelphia Catholic League Championship in 2017-18 and is more than capable of doing so again this season.

Long Island Lutheran (NY)

Long Island Lutheran is consistently regarded as one of the top teams in the country. Head coach John Buck has done a tremendous job developing players and has another team that can make a serious run at the New York State title this season. They are always very well disciplined and full of talent and this year is no different. Some prospects to keep an eye on are senior Essam Mostafa, junior Andre Curbelo, junior Zed Key and Yoro Sidibe. Long Island Lutheran makes a strong case to be in the top 50 and could easily make their way in with a couple of key wins.

Holy Spirit Prep (GA)

Holy Spirit has Anthony Edwards on their roster. Thus, the Cougars are a threat to beat anyone in the country. A 6-foot-4 junior ranked No. 2 by 247 Sports in the 2020 class, Edwards has the look of a future lottery pick. The Atlanta-native is a strong, physical player who excels in transition and on the perimeter. Edwards won MVP of the Under Armour Association with the ATL Xpress, averaging nearly 25 points per game while showcasing his refined shooting stroke and elite athleticism. 6-foot-8 senior Ahmir Langlais transferred in and will start in the frontcourt, providing rebounding and sturdy defense for the Cougars. Junior Deandre Brown-Perry will start alongside Edwards in the backcourt, making up one of the best shooting backcourts in the southeast. They play a gruesome schedule, which might make it difficult for them to crack the top 50. Their first test is against 11th-ranked McEachern in a week, and it doesn’t get much easier after that.

Warren Central (IN)

Of all the public schools that missed out of the top 50, Warren Central may have the biggest grip. The Warriors finished last season without a loss, accruing a 32-0 record behind a balanced lineup. Seniors David Bell, Jesse Bingham and Jakobie Robinson are set to return, and they maintain their health, they have a legitimate chance at repeating in 4A. Bell is plenty tough, doubling as a 247 4-star wide receiver recruit on the football field. Robinson and Bingham supply the Warriors with size, length, and a massive amount of production. There are two issues that held Warren Central’s ranking back on the national level. The first, is just that. Indiana’s travel rules don’t allow Warren Central to exit the state, so they don’t have many chances to pick up signature victories. Basically, if they want to remain ranked, they can’t afford to lose. The second drawback is their lack of size. If they were to match up against the majority of the top 50, they would have a noticeable size differential in the frontcourt.

Vashon (MO)

The Vashon Wolverines finished 21-6 in 2017-18, and they bring back the majority of their production. Senior guard Mario McKinney is their heart and soul. McKinney is looking to parlay a terrific showing at Peach Jam for Brad Beal Elite (17 PPG, 5 RPG) into a standout senior campaign for the Wolverines. McKinney is committed to in-state Missouri, so local fans will be able to get a first-hand look at their guard of the future. 6-foot-7 juniors Cam’Ron Fletcher and Kobe Clark provide talent, length and athleticism on the wing, while fellow junior Phillip Russell will man the point. Fletcher, ranked 34th by ESPN in the 2020 class, is coming off a standout spring and summer with Brad Beal Elite on the E16 circuit. Senior Donyae McCaskill will receive major run, as will 6-foot-9 transfer Akor Yor. The Wolverines will be tough-as-nails, and they’ll have plenty of chances to pick up signature wins at the, Chicago Elite Classic, City of Palms and Montverde Invitational.

On the Fringe:

Bishop Montgomery (CA)

The Knights lost quite a bit of talent from last year’s 28-2 squad, but head coach Doug Mitchell doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. Senior point guard Gianni Hunt will be the floor general for Mitchell, and the 6-foot-3 Oregon State commit is coming off an impressive spring for the NIKE EYBL’s Oakland Soldiers. In the backcourt, Hunt is joined by Montana commit Josh Vazquez, a 6-foot-3 combo guard that will be playing in a much larger role in 2018-19.

Dorman (SC)

Combined with a strong supporting cast, Dorman’s three-headed monster of Ta’Lon Cooper, Myles Tate and PJ Hall should be more than enough to make a play for the top 50. Dorman will play Oak Hill, Ridge View and in the Chick-Fil-A Classic before the year turns, so we’ll find out rather quickly if the Cavaliers are worthy of national attention.

Duncanville (TX)

David Peavy takes over the Duncanville head coaching job, moving his way over from Dekaney high school. Also joining Duncanville is Peavy’s son Mican, a 6-foot-5 junior swingman ranked in the top 100 of most recruiting outlets. The late addition of Jahmius Ramsey (247. No 33) makes Duncanville into a legitimate contender in Texas.

East Ridge (MN)

Led by the Brown brothers - Courtney Jr and Kendall - East Ridge is arguably the team to beat in Minnesota in 2018-19. Junior big man Ben Carlson provides some beef in a rotation that should run 9-10 deep. The only issue with East Ridge, is they won’t have a chance to test themselves against national competition. Regardless, if they don’t lose, the Raptors will have a decent chance of cracking the top 50.

First Love Christian (PA)

First Love Christian finished 18-10 last season, and they have the necessary rotation to shatter that mark in 2018-19. The five man core of JJ Eubank, Jamier Fletcher, Naim Miller, Isaiah Wilson and DJ Gordon will be more than enough to beat most of the competition on their schedule, and they’ll have a chance to pick up some big wins against a difficult schedule.

Immaculate Conception (NJ)

Immaculate Conception has gone from a local program to a nationally recognized one. With invitations to high level events like the City of Palms Classic, the Lions have a big season ahead of them. Head coach Jimmy Salmon is coming off a big season, but unfortunately for they lose Jalen Carey as he’s now a freshman at Syracuse. Even with this loss the Lions have a talented roster with high major prospects like junior big men Elijah Hutchins-Everett and Cliff Omoruyi and junior guard Zion Bethea and sophomore guard Amare Marshall will make big impacts. They didn’t make the cut in the top 50, but can make their way in with some big victories.

Independence (NC)

The Patriots are the defending 4A State Champions in North Carolina, and they return enough talent capable of making another run. Seniors AJ McKee and Raja Milton will man the backcourt, while Murray State commit Matt Smith is back to produce on the wing. Head coach Preston Davis will have a small lineup, but they will be super disciplined and should beat people with their defense.

Little Elm (TX) 

Little Elm (TX) has one of the best prospects in the nation on board in junior guard R.J. Hampton. Hampton is as dynamic as they come with how he scores the ball in multiple ways. Hampton will draw a lot of attention this year, but this isn’t a one man show. Freshman Tre White will make his high school debut with Little Elm this season. White, one of the most highly regard freshman in the nation, will complement Hampton well. Little Elm has become one of the better teams in Texas, but are now starting to become a team on the national radar.

Meadowcreek (GA)

Meadowcreek won the title in Georgia’s highest classification last season, and they’ll have a target on their backs as they head into 2018-19. Jamir Chaplin, Jalen Benjamin and Damian Dunn lead an undersized unit that will compete against one of the hardest public school schedules in the country.

Olive Branch (MS)

DJ Jeffries led Olive Branch to a 26-4 record in 2017-18, and if his season-opening 51-point performance is any indication, they looked prime to top that mark this winter. Joe Cooper, Shamar Brown, Kyron Pleas and Wes Taylor are a solid supporting case, and if Jeffries stays healthy, Olive Branch is the odds-on favorite to win the state championship, and they have a great chance of cracking the rankings.

Our Saviour Lutheran (NY)

Our Saviour Lutheran makes a strong argument to be regarded as a top 50 team in the nation. They have a lot of top notch talent with players like senior guard DaShawn Davis, senior forward Bernard Kouma, junior guard Posh Alexander, junior forward Max Amadsun and more.  OSL plays a fast brand of basketball and is very difficult for teams to keep up with. Coach Pete Wehye knows his personnel really well and creates havoc for opponents. With their different approach to the game they compete in games where they are considered the underdog. They will be one of the most fun teams to watch this high school season.

Our Savior New American (NY)

After some years off, Our Savior New American returns on the national radar. They have had some impressive alumni in the past with players like New Orleans Pelicans power forward Cheick Diallo. This year they will have quite the frontcourt with prospects like Five-Star sophomore Jonathan Kuminga, seniors Fousseyni Drame and Hassan Drame, sophomore Adama Sanogo and more. They are set to play in big time events like Slam Dunk to the Beach, Saint James School and more. The Pioneers are a team to watch this season.

Porter-Gaud (SC)

6-foot-7 senior Josiah James puts Porter-Gaud on the radar, and the Tennessee commit will look to match last year’s 25-2 squad that won the SCISA AAA Championship over First Baptist. James is a special talent, and he has a solid supporting cast in Nicky Schwartz (6-foot-1) and Chase Cannon (6-foot-8). The Cyclones are a big favorite to repeat, and could crack the rankings if they keep a 0 in the loss column.

Rainier Beach (WA)

Jamon Kemp and Marjon Beachamp transfer in from Garfield, making the Vikings into immediate national contenders. Fellow transfer Javion Garrett (6-foot-6) gives Beach a weapon on the wing, while returning point guard Kenny Curtis provides a dead-eye shooter from the perimeter. They will test themselves on the national level, including a visit to the Bass Pro TOC in January.

Rayville (LA)

Rayville finished the season 34-0 in 2017-18, winning the 2A State Championship in style. Senior guard Mylik Wilson is back to lead the Hornets, and the Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns commit will operate as one of the best playmakers in the state alongside fellow seniors JaMichael and JaMarkus Wilson. If Rayville continues their winning ways, they will undoubtedly work their way into the top 50.

Ridge View (SC)

Seniors Malcolm Wilson (6-foot-10), Crosby James (6-foot-3) and dual-sport athlete Walyn Napper (6-foot-2) lead a supremely talented Ridge View squad that is coached by Yerrick Stoneman. If they can escape early December’s Bojangle’s Bash without a loss, the Blazers could realistically work their way into a ranking.

Rock Bridge (MO)

Behind seniors Isiaih Mosley and DaJuan Harris, Rock Bridge will make a case for best team in Missouri. Mosley and Harris both started for MOKAN Elite (KS) in the EYBL, with the latter finished third in assists per game (5.7 APG). They won’t have much of a chance to pick up national victories, but they should be favored in just about every regular season matchup on their schedule.

Sheldon (CA)

Sheldon advanced all the way to the CIF Open State Title game in 2017-18, and they return with a super-talented rotation that should compete for the same trophy. Junior point guard Xavion Brown is turning into an elite playmaker, leading a backcourt that includes talented seniors Kaito Williams and Justin Nguyen. This is an experienced lineup, and they add Marcus Bagley, the younger brother of Kings’ rookie Marvin. Sheldon plays a difficult schedule, including games against Bishop Gorman and Rainier Beach.

Scott County (KY)

After a 37-2 campaign in 2017-18, Scott County will return with a number of starters headlined by 6-foot-6 senior Michael Moreno. Seniors Glenn Covington and Bryce Long should be major producers for the Cardinals, who won’t have much of an opportunity to beat national competition outside of their matchup against Mississippi’s Olive Branch.

Simeon (IL)

The Wolverines went 29-4 in 2017-18, riding the star talents of Talen Horton-Tucker, who has since departed to Iowa State. Senior Kejuan Clements returns for his fourth season on varsity, and he’ll be assisted in leading Simeon by incoming transfer Antonio Reeves. The Chicago powerhouse will likely deploy a deep rotation, and they’ll need to establish roles quickly.

South Shore (NY)

South Shore won the PSAL Championship lead season behind a 21-9 record, and they return a host of talented players. Junior Femi Odukale was a big difference-maker on last year's team, and he'll be assisted be seniors Dwight Davis Jr  (6-foot-1) and Isaiah Richards (6-foot-9). Simply put, South Shore will have to keep a loss of their record to be in contention for a top 50 slot, but they should be one of the best teams in New York City.

St. Frances (MD)

The Panthers went 36-7 in 2018-19, winning the Baltimore Catholic League title. The perennial powerhouse is back for more this winter, and will be lead by highly-ranked junior point guard Ace Baldwin. St. Frances will be one of the best defensive teams on the east coast, and if they can get increased production from 6-foot-3 guards Jordan Toles and Rajeir Jones, they will have a great chance of topping their 2017-18 campaign.

St. John Bosco (CA)

The Braves return all five starters from a 25-8 squad, and they’ll be a major contender to win the CIF Open Division as well as the Trinity League title. Seniors Jonathan Salazer, Fernando Gomez, Josh Adoh and Christian James lead a squad that should compete with California’s best, and they have a legitimate chance at breaking the top 50 with a strong start. They need to shoot well to win it, but they are loaded with offensive weapons from top to bottom.

Whitney Young (IL)

The Dolphins enter 2018-19 as the odds-on favorites to win the Chicago Public League, and they have a great chance at returning to the state championship game after losing a year ago. Juniors DJ Steward and Tyler Beard, also seen as the starting backcourt for the NIKE E16 MeanStreets, will lead the way for the Chicago powerhouse. Head coach Tyrone Slaughter will test his bunch, competing in the Chicago Elite Classic against No. 16 Mater Dei before going west to mid-December’s Tarkanian Classic.

Watch List:

Benton Harbor (MI)

Beardon (TN)

Cathedral (IN)

Carver (AL)

Christ the King (NY)

Chaminade (MO)

Creighton Prep (NE)

Curie (IL)

Gray Collegiate (SC)

Hamilton Heights (TN)

Hopkins (MN)

Immaculate Conception (NJ)

Jacksonville (AR)

La Crosse Central (WI)

Morgan Park (IL)

Morton Ranch (TX)

Northwest (TX)

Omaha Central (NE)

Pickerington Central (OH)

St. Benedict’s (NJ)

St. Edward (OH)

Wheeler (GA)

Wesley Christian (KY)

Ranked Team Previews: