It’s not that they’re in a hurry to paint the proverbial bull’s-eye smack-dab on their backs, it’s just that, when the ultimate goal is bringing home the national title the ever-elusive No. 1 spot just tends to come with the territory.
With a few weeks to go until we unveil our preseason Super 25 boys’ basketball rankings we took a look at five teams that could legitimately make the case for the No. 1 spot and caught up with a player from each team to give the hard sell on why his team is ready for top dog status.
Montverde (Montverde, Fla.)
Last year: Won the DICK’s Sports Good National High School Tournaement; their second straight.
Ben Simmons on why the Eagles could make the case for No. 1: “I feel like our chemistry is getting better every day in practice and even though we’ve got a lot of freshman and juniors on our team we’re still gonna be tough. Me and Noah (Dickerson) are working with everyone and teaching them what it means to play at Montverde and that standard we have here. People are definitely sleeping on us this year, but when we get on the court we’ve got the talent to win another national title. We’ve got the best coach in the country and we’ve got the pieces to get it done. That’s our only goal and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing we’re coming out to dominate. That’s the only thing we’re focused on.”
Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)
Last year: Lost in the state semifinals.
Jaylen Brown on why the Wildcats could make the case for No. 1: “We’ve been playing together since we were 12 or 13 years old and we know each other like the back of our hands and that’s why I think we’re gonna be the No. 1 team in the country. All these other schools like Montverde and Findlay Prep are putting together teams of players that don’t really know each other. We’re all best friends and I think that chemistry and the talent that we have combined will make us successful. We’ve got Shembari Phillips, who committed to Tennessee, and then we’ve got a sophomore point guard that not too many people know about named Darius Perry. He’s the best kept secret in the country; everyone is gonna know about him very soon. Then we’ve got a couple guys that played AAU with me and we were the best team on the adidas circuit last summer. Plus, I feel like I got a good look and feel for all the top players in the country this summer, and I know what I’m going up against; I’m not worried at all. We’re prepared for this. We’re ready.”
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
Last year: Lost in the DICK’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament semifinals.
Derryck Thornton on why the Pilots could make the case for No. 1: “I think we’re the No. 1 team because our chemistry is coming along really well and we’ve got a team full of players that know their role. We’ve got a great shooting guard in Zo (Trier), a great three-four in Justin (Jackson) and a great big man in Horace (Spencer). Our main goal is to go undefeated this year and I feel like we’ve got the talent to do that. We’ve put the work in to be the No. 1 team; we work early mornings and late nights. We’ve done the work to be the No. 1 team.”
Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.)
Last year: Won the state title; their second straight.
Harry Giles III on why the Trojans could make the case for No. 1: “We’ve got a great team with a lot of guys that may not be as well-known on the national level, but they go hard. When everyone’s locked in and ready to play we’re hard to beat. We play defense really well and we’ve got a lot of scorers. We’ve won back-to-back state titles and that’s because we play as a team. I’m in the paint then we’ve got a good point guard in Brandon Childress and another big time guard in Kwe Parker. Jalen Johnson and Michael Buckland are two sleepers for us and T.J. Jackson bangs down in the paint. I think people will sleep on us on the national level, but we’re coming out to just bust people in the mouth this year. We’ve got the talent to do some big things.”
Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Last year: Lost in the DICK’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament championship game.
Dwayne Bacon on why the Warriors could make the case for No. 1: “We’ve got a lot of weapons; a lot of bigs and a lot of good scoring guards and a lot of guys that clamp down on defense. I think we’re strongest in the backcourt because we’ve got guys like myself and Josh (Reaves) that can score like crazy. Our frontcourt is really good too with guys like Rodney (Miller), but our guards definitely trap the ball and swarm on defense. We’ll run a lot of man and do a lot of switching of the defenses, which keeps the other teams guessing. We’ve got so much talent on this team and I honestly think that we can go as deep as we want because everyone plays a role. I don’t mind saying that we have what it takes to not only be the No. 1 team, but I feel like we have what it takes to keep that spot when we get it.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY