We continue our 2019-20 preseason FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com countdown with an in-depth look at teams No. 1-50. These are the teams that can challenge for the mythical FAB 50 title with some big wins and the right bounces!
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 20 years ago.
42. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 26-5
Key Players: PG Lynn Greer III 6-2 2020 (No. 212 247Sports.com), C Jalen Duren 6-9 2022 (No. 2 247Sports.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SF Justice Williams 6-3 2022 (No. 18 247Sports.com).
Why This Ranking: The Cahillites return three starters and six lettermen off a Philadelphia Catholic League title-winning team. Coach Matt Griffin’s club begins in the exact same preseason FAB 50 spot it did in 2018-19 despite losing Hakim Hart (St. Joseph’s) and Seth Lundy (Penn St.) to graduation. In 2018-19, Roman Catholic entered the season as the defending PIAA Class 6A champs and with more depth than this club, but had to find its chemistry and change lineups for the state tournament. The Cahillites were able to defend their Catholic League title, but fell short in the state playoffs. This time around, Griffin will have Greer III (14.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.3 apg) from the pre-season all the way through the PIAA tournament. He’s complimented nicely inside by Duren (12.8 ppg, 9.rpg), a physical specimen who rates only behind Emoni Bates of No. 44 Lincoln as a 2022 prospect.
The Skinny: This team may lack depth, but it is certainly talented and the players will have more certainty about their roles from the onset. Greer also has plenty of motivation for a monster senior season and if Duren can continue to improve on offense, this team will compete with No. 35 Archbishop Wood and FAB 50 entrant Neumann-Goretti for Catholic League supremacy. The schedule is loaded, with games versus FAB 50 title contenders Wasatch Academy of Utah and La Lumiere of Indiana at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia (January 3-4) plus a December trip to the City of Palms Classic in Florida, where the Cahillites open up with defending Georgia state champ McEachern. In order to survive that schedule and remained ranked, Williams (7.0 ppg) will need to double his production and Roman’s talented freshman class, particularly Will Norman (6-5, 2023), will need to make timely contributions.
35. Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) 20-9
Key Players: PG Rashool Diggins 6-1 2021 (No. 62 Rivals.com, Ballislife Underclass All-American), SF Daeshon Shepard 6-6 2021, SF Marcus Randolph 6-5 2021.
Why This Ranking: The Vikings have the necessary ingredients to capture the PIAA Class 5A state crown after losing in last year’s title game to Moon Area. Coach John Moscoe has one of the most balanced teams in the East Region, with five potential D1 players in his lineup that each brings something different to the table. Diggins is a complete floor general who can shoot the deep ball or get in the key and distribute. Sheppard is the best athlete on the team and nicely compliments Randolph. The transfer from Willingboro, N.J. is a terrific wing capable of slashing or scoring on the outside. There is talent at each position and plenty of motivation to erase the memory of last year’s finals disappointment.
The Skinny: The motivation exists because Wood held a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of the state title game against Moon Area and fell, 74-64. Three sophomores in the lineup off last year’s club joining Randolph give this team great optimism to end the season as the Keystone State’s best. Wood, however, will have to show it can win the big games without a true center and prove it’s the best club in the competitive Philadelphia Catholic League. It will have that opportunity to on January 24 when it travels to face FAB 50 ranked Nueman-Goretti. The Vikings also face FAB 50 national title contender Paul VI of Virginia on December 14. Helping Wood navigate through the Catholic League is Jaylen Stinson (5-11, 2021), the team’s best defender, Mainer Newton (6-5, 2021), an undersized power forward, and Rob Jackson (6-5, 2021), a Grid-Hooper who will be counted on to help Newton and doesn’t mind banging inside
16. (NR) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 21-8
Key Players: PG Hakim Byrd 5-9 2020, SF Jordan Hall 6-6 2020 (St. Joseph’s commit), SG Cam Young 6-6 2020 (Bowling Green commit), SF Che Evans 6-8 2020 (No. 174 247Sports.com, San Diego St. commit).
Why This Ranking: On the strength of three returning starters and eight returning lettermen, the Saints rate as the Philly Catholic League favorites over No. 35 Archbishop Wood. Neumann-Goretti has versatile players and depth to go along with that trademark Philly toughness. It starts with Byrd, a returning All-Catholic selection who can score and get up under and harass offensive players. Byrd has the heart of the Lion and makes coach Carl Arrigale’s team go. Hall is a versatile component who can play inside or out and Young is another D1-bound talent who is a terrific spot up shooter. Goretti can go to its bench for scoring punch and doesn’t have to worry about its perimeter defenders getting into foul trouble too much because of the depth on the wings. “The strength of our team in the versatility, shooting and depth,” Arrigale said.
The Skinny: With Imhotep Charter graduating a strong senior class, the Philly Public League is down, but the expectations surrounding the Saints are similar to Imhotep Charter’s in recent seasons because of the talent on deck and national schedule. Evans is a well-known player on the national grassroots circuit and if he can blend in with the other talented wings and excel in his new role, Neumann will have the ability to climb in the rankings. As is that’s not enough, Chris Evans (6-1, 2021) is another excellent shooter and big things are expected of Blaise Vespe (6-6, 2021). Neumann-Goretti takes on Wood January 24 in a Catholic League showdown a week after tangling with always-dangerous No. 42 Roman Catholic. The Saints have an early season test with highly-regarded Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.) and take on No. 30 Legacy Early College at the Governor’s Cup in Maryland after returning from the West Coast before Christmas, where it will compete in the Tarkanian Classic with the likes of No. 5 Gorman and No. 18 Mater Dei.