Who: No. 1 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) vs. No. 8 Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah)
When: 6 p.m. ET Thursday
Where: Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
About La Lumiere: Ranked No. 2 in the Super 25, the Lakers return to the DICK’S Nationals after losing to Oak Hill Accademy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in last year’s title game. Victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals were the first DICK’S wins in program history. La Lumiere comes in with a 26-1 record, with the lone loss coming against Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) at the Spalding HoopHall Classic in January. The Lakers are on a 10-game winning streak.
The lineup is stacked beginning with 6-8 small forward Brian Bowen, ranked No. 12 in the ESPN 100, and 6-10 power forward Jaren Jackson, a Michigan State commit who is ranked No. 16. Both players will join the team in New York after Wednesday’s McDonald’s All American Game in Chicago. (Both also will play in the Jordan Brand Classic.) The Lakers also feature 6-4 Michigan commit Jordan Poole, sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell and senior combo guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands.
About Wasatch Academy: The Tigers, ranked No. 16 in the Super 25, return to DICK’S after making their tournament debut a year ago, losing to eventual champion Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the quarterfinal. Wasatch is 24-4 and on a five-game winning streak. Two of its losses came to DICK’S participants Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). The two others came to Chino Hills (Calif.), which has been ranked in the Super 25 all season, and Windward (Los Angeles).
Wasatch is led by by a pair of 6-7 forwards in Emmanuel Akot and Josip Vrankic. Akot, a 6-7 small forward in the Class of 2018 who is committed to Arizona, averages 16.5 points per game. Vrankic, a 6-7 power forward, averages 17.4 and has signed with Santa Clara.
Wasatch has created a pipeline from Canadian, with five players from north of the border.
What to expect: The two teams’ different experiences create an interesting parallel. For La Lumiere finally winning a game and getting within a hair of the title has made this season about getting back to New York and finishing the job.
For Wasatch, a return trip is a validation of a program that is looking to further establish itself as a national power. Winning games at this type of event is a powerful statement of their intentions. Coach Curtis Condie is 62-8 in his two seasons. Among those wins was one against La Lumiere last season.
The difference here might be depth. La Lumiere, ranked No. 1 in the preseason, has a lot of players who can serve as the go-to option, making the Lakers tough to defend.
Only two of the Lakers’ wins have been by fewer than 10 points — one by seven and another by six — so you never know how it might react in the game is tight down the stretch.