The GEICO High School Basketball Nationals will feature seven state champions and a boys and girls field that will include a dozen teams that are in or have been in, the Super 25 basketball rankings this season.
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That includes No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), a three-time High School Nationals champion, which will face No. 25 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) in a 6 p.m. boys quarterfinal on ESPNU on March 29 at Christ the King High (Middle Village, N.Y.), the tournament site.
The GEICO High School Nationals are in their 10th season, but were called the DICKS’ High School Nationals from 2014 to 2017 and the National High School Invitational from 2009 through 2013.
The other three boys quarterfinals on March 29, all of which are on ESPNU:
At noon, No. 2 University (Fort Lauderdale), the Florida 5A champion, will play No. 4 Shadow Mountain (Phoenix), which won its state 4A title.
At 2 p.m., No. 7 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), the defending tournament champion, will face No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), which has won three GEICO titles.
La Lumiere coach Patrick Holmes said his team will have to rely on defense to have a chance to repeat as champions.
“We have a good mixture of juniors and seniors, but we don’t score the ball as well as last year,” Holmes said. “We are going to have to rely on our defense, get stops and make the game ugly a bit and keep these games down in the 50s.”
Findlay Prep coach Paul Washington said the top teams have been preparing for this event all season.
“It boils down to preparation, and we prepared by playing a good schedule,” Washington said. “I think we’re the deepest team out there. We’re not afraid of anybody. The toughest thing for everyone is having that month off and who can come in and play well in that first game.”
At 4 p.m., No. 11 Garfield (Seattle), a 3A state champion, will face Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which won the tournament in 2016 and has been in the finals five times.
The boys semifinals will be held March 30 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
The girls field includes four teams and the semifinals will be held March 30 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
The first semifinal matchup will be No. 8 Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.), which won the National Association of Christian Athletes title vs. No. 13 Winter Haven, the Florida 8A state champion. The other semifinal will have No. 9 Central Valley (Spokane, Wash.), its state 4A champion vs. No. 23 Westlake (Atlanta), which won the Georgia AAAAAAA title.
The boys and girls championship games will be March 31, with the girls game being at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 and the boys title game at noon on ESPN.
The event, which uses the Twitter handle, @whosnexths takes place during Final Four weekend and it serves as an introduction to some of the top future college players.
That includes the No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 100 for 2018, Montverde Academy forward R.J. Barrett, as well as the No. 4 player, Findlay Prep center Bol Bol. Other ESPN 100 players include three other Montverde players in guard Andrew Nembhard, center Filip Petrusev and guard Michael DeVoe. There will are also four ESPN 100 players from Oak Hill in forward Keldon Johnson, center David McCormack, forward Keyontae Johnson and guard Will Richardson. Other ESPN 100 seniors include Garfield forward J’Raan Brooks and La Lumiere guard Tyger Campbell.
University doesn’t have any top seniors, but it does have forward Vernon Carey, Jr., the No. 2 junior on the ESPN 60 list and the No. 5 sophomore in Scottie Barnes.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter: @jimhalley