The high school basketball landscape has experienced unprecedented change over the past decade with an increasing number of prospective college and pro players gravitating toward programs outside the realm of state governing bodies and prep hoops in a traditional sense. In response to those changes comes a shift in the way MaxPreps is approaching national rankings heading into the 2021-22 season.
With roughly half of the 247Sports Composite Top 100 players in the Class of 2022 attending independent or academy programs, it is no longer reasonable to compare side-by-side traditional high schools with teams composed solely of high-level prospects. Reverting back to an approach tried in 2012, 2013 and again in 2017, we are making a distinction between the levels of competition and offering two sets of rankings moving forward.
In April 2022, we will proudly crown a national champion for each set of rankings.
Today, we unveil the Preseason MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings with Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) beginning the season as the team to beat behind reigning California Player of the Year Amari Bailey, four-star junior Bronny James, four-star Nebraska commit Ramel Lloyd Jr. and an elite crop of incoming transfers.
Five-star sophomore guard Isaiah Elohim headlines the newcomers for the Trailblazers along with four-star USC commit Kijani Wright, 6-foot-9 Tim Rudovskiy and the possibility of Top 100 junior Mike Price (eligibility pending).
Sierra Canyon won CIF Open Division titles in 2018 and 2019 before being declared co-champions in 2020 after COVID-19 forced an abrupt end to the season prior to the state championship game.
There were no state playoffs last season as the Trailblazers fell in the CIF Southern Section title game to Centennial (Corona) 80-72 and lost to Etiwanda in the Southern California Open Division Regional semifinals.
Challengers for the top spot this season include Milton (Ga.), which is favored to capture its fourth state championship in Georgia’s highest classification, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and Camden (N.J.), which owns the nation’s second longest win streak.
Read on for a complete look at our Preseason MaxPreps Top 25. Click on team names for in-depth previews.
1. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)
2020-21: 16-2, spring season
Breakdown: Challenging national schedule includes showdowns with No. 3 Camden, No. 5 Duncanville, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Simeon along with trips to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions and ‘Iolani Classic.
2. Milton (Ga.)
2020-21: 29-3, No. 7 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Reigning AAAAAAA champions are led by Ohio State commit Bruce Thornton and five-star junior Kanaan Carlyle. The Eagles made their first GEICO Nationals appearance last season.
3. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
2020-21: 9-0, No. 4 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: First-year head coach Pete Strickland is the program’s third head coach since Morgan Wootten’s hiring in 1956. The Stags will be led by Virginia Tech pledge Rodney Rice and Xavier commit Tyrell Ward.
4. Camden (N.J.)
2020-21: 13-0, No. 9 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Riding a 38-game win streak dating back to early in the 2019-20 season, Camden is led by top-ranked Class of 2023 prospect D.J. Wagner. The reigning MaxPreps Sophomore of the Year is joined by five-star 7-footer Aaron Bradshaw.
5. Duncanville (Texas)
2020-21: 29-1, No. 6 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Anthony Black has been ruled ineligible by the UIL for now, but the Panthers are still loaded — led by a frontcourt of five-star senior Ron Holland and four-star junior Cameron Barnes.
6. North Little Rock (Ark.)
Breakdown: Reigning 6A state champions are favorites to capture the program’s 16th state championship behind five-star seniors Arkansas commit Nick Smith and Oregon pledge Kel’el Ware.
7. Richardson (Texas)
2020-21: 26-2, No. 20 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: After making the program’s first Class 6A final four appearance since 1987, the Eagles bring back five-star senior Cason Wallace and four-star senior Rylan Griffen.
8. Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)
Breakdown: Return four starters from their first ever 7A state title run, highlighted by five-star Kansas commit Ernest Udeh Jr., Florida-bound Denzel Aberdeen and Mississippi State pledge Riley Kugel.
9. Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.)
Breakdown: The Crusaders were able to play just three game last season due to COVID but return a balanced and talented group looking to remain near the top of the rankings behind key returners Jayden Reid, Jayden Pierre and Jaxon Koroll.
10. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Breakdown: Michigan commit Gregg Glenn, UCF pledge Taylor Hendricks and five-star junior Marvel Allen hope to steer the reigning 3A state champions to their third state title since 2017.
11. Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)
2020-21: 31-0, No. 23 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: After a pair of buzzer-beating, 3-pointers from four-star Houston pledge Terrance Arceneaux gave the program its first Class 5A state crown, the Timberwolves are favorites to repeat behind four-star junior Wesley Yates III and last year’s hero.
12. Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
2020-21: 21-2, spring season
Breakdown: Five-star junior Jared McCain and New Mexico commit Donovan Dent will make the Huskies a contender in California.
13. Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)
2020-21: 27-0, No. 15 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Enter the season with the nation’s longest win streak at 47 games. Key returners include four-star junior Jayden Hastings along with senior Ohio commit A.J. Brown and Top 100 prospect Ven-Allen Lubin.
14. Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.)
Breakdown: The Knights feature a talented roster centered around Georgetown commit Denver Anglin, elite junior prospect MacKenzie Mgbako and highly-regarded sophomore Naasir Cunningham.
15. Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)
Breakdown: Five-star junior North Carolina pledge Simeon Wilcher, top 40 junior Akil Watson and senior Nebraska commit Jamarques Lawrence anchor a Lions roster looking to capture its fifth New Jersey Tournament of Champions title since 2013.
16. Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia)
Breakdown: Coming off an unbeaten season cut short because of the pandemic, the Panthers are in search of their eighth state championship since 2009 and feature a deep lineup that includes five-star junior Justin Edwards and highly-regarded sophomore Ahmad Nowell.
17. Whitney Young (Chicago)
Breakdown: Miami-bound forward A.J. Casey leads a strong returning cast that brings back three starters to face a daunting schedule that includes trips to the City of Palms Classic and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
18. Centerville (Ohio)
Breakdown: Three-star junior Gabe Cupps leads four returning starters for the defending Division I state champions.
19. Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.)
Breakdown: Following a trip to the AAAAAA state championship game, the Patriots seek their first state title since 2001 anchored by Mississippi pledge Malique Ewin and four-star guard Jemahri Hill.
20. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
2020-21: Did not play
Breakdown: Debuted at No. 6 nationally last season before the Nevada became one of two state associations to cancel the season due to COVID-19. The Gaels’ goal is breaking the national record with a 10th consecutive state championship this year.
21. Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)
Breakdown: Favored to win their third consecutive state championship after dropping down to AAAAAA last season. Five-star junior Isaiah Collier is expected to be the catalyst for a strong mix of newcomers and key returners.
22. Knoxville Catholic (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Breakdown: Reigning MaxPreps Tennessee Player of the Year B.J. Edwards and top 100 junior Blue Cain are among four returning starters. The Fighting Irish are in search of their second state title in three seasons.
23. Carmel (Ind.)
2020-21: 26-2, No. 25 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Experienced group looks to capture its third state title in the past four years behind seniors Peter Suder and William & Mary commit Charlie Williams.
24. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Breakdown: An experienced, senior-rich roster is headed by Gonzaga commit Braden Huff, Princeton pledge Caden Pierce and incoming Army-bound guard Bobby Durkin. The Hilltoppers’ only significant national challenge is Jan. 22 against No. 17 Whitney Young.
25. St. Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)
2020-21: 7-4, No. 21 in final MaxPreps Top 25
Breakdown: Youthful group may take some lumps early but Top 100 Michigan commit Knasir McDaniel will provide senior leadership as the Panthers battle through a challenging national slate.