Let the games begin. The National Prep Showcase tips off the basketball season beginning on Friday, Nov. 17 at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. The best prep schools gather together for three days of basketball. Rivals.com will be there from start to finish.
This year's event features the nation's top player, Michael Beasley, and a number of prep schools that are aiming to be become the nation's top prep school team.
Beasley, who recently signed with Kansas State, leads the charge for Bill Barton's club. Beasley has a number of players around him that will play on at the mid-major level or better next year.
Jamine Peterson, a New York native, is one of the top unsigned seniors in the country. Damian Saunders, a Marquette signee, is an under the radar prospect that has impressed Barton in his short time at the school. Deonte Roberts, a Wisconsin-Milwaukee signee, should play well in the up and down style of prep school ball.
Hargrave Military Academy is no stranger to big time prep school basketball. Kevin Keatts has another dynamite group this year and his bench is deep with high-major players. Dorenzo Hudson (Virginia Tech), Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech), Eric Wallace (Ohio State), Jordan Crawford (Indiana) and Jeremy Jacob (Georgia) are some of the signed prospects on the team.
One player - Mike Scott - will be one of the most watched players on the prep school scene this year. The one-time Temple commitment has a host of ACC schools hot on his trail.
Once again, Chris Chaney has a team at the Patterson School that can contend for 35 (or more) potential wins this year. The North Carolina team is deep and has a great balance at each position.
Led by wings Cameron Tatum, who is headed to Tennessee, is joined by Kansas State prospect Dominique Sutton and Rutgers bound Earl Pettis, the perimeter has athleticism, size and good rebounders. Inside is a pair of future SEC players in James Tyler, a 2008 big man who is committed to LSU, and Auburn's only early signee Tyrell Lynch.
Karron Johnson, a five-star prospect in the 2009 class, might be the best player on the entire roster. Tirrell Baines, an unsigned senior, could really help bolster his recruitment with a big weekend.
South Kent's strength is inside and with three Division I signees standing over 6-foot-9, there will be few teams that can match the size and strength that Raphael Chillious will employ down low. Matthew Bryan-Amaning, the prize of Washington's 2007 recruiting haul, leads the way down low. He's joined by Papa Dia, a SMU pledge, and Christian Morris, a burly 6-foot-9 junior.
UTEP bound Manuel Cass will fly on the wings while junior point guard Mark Lyons could really emerge from the event.
Stoneridge Prep will leave the sunshine of Southern California and head East to the cold for the weekend. Babacar Sy's team might be his best one he's had since he took the head coaching position at Stoneridge.
Oklahoma State bound Ibrihima Thomas, a 6-foot-11 small forward, is the only senior big man that signed on the team. Mamadou Diarra and Boubacar Sylla will be two of the most sought after big men in the country this year. Junior Troy Gillenwater returns home to the Boston area. It could be a huge weekend for him.
Bridgton Academy's club probably won't come out in mohawks like they did last year but expect them to compete just as hard and play just as good. St. John's bound big man Justin Burrell is the team's top player and he'll dominate the glass. He's joined by a team full of solid mid-major players that know how to play, and more importantly, win. Rashad Green, Greg Hill, Aaron Ellis and Ronnie Moss round out the team.
Winchendon will be a team with a big fan base this weekend. Why? A pair of future Connecticut Huskies are on the team's roster. Boston natives Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs have a couple of years to go before making it to Storrs. Playing against older players like they will face at the Prep School Tip-Off tournament will have them ready. So will playing with future Villanova guard Malcolm Grant.
American Christian boasts the top junior in the tourney field in guard Tyreke Evans. The five-star guard is the top guard in the tourney field and seems to always shine on the big stage. Evans is joined by future UAB big man Keenan Ellis and a host of others.
St. Thomas More may be slim up front but the team has one of the top juniors in the country manning the wing in Devin Ebanks. The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the top overall prospects in the entire field. He'll have from Rhode Island bound guard Marquis Jones and Rutgers bound wing Justin Sofman.
Perhaps one of the most watched players at the event will be 7-foot-1 center Tomasz Kwaitkowski of Lee Academy. The Polish native has visited Virginia but opted to sign late. He, along with teammate Chris Baez, should see their recruitment at an all-time high after the weekend.
Other players of note include Our Savior New American's Teeng Akol, Northfield Mount Hermon's Tyrone Nash, Blair Academy's Alexis Wangmene and Patrick Hazel, Maine Central's Kodi Augustus and Massanutten's Darian Pellum.
Rivals.com will be on hand for the event from start to finish. Buckle up. The hoops season is upon us.
FRIDAY, NOV. 17 2:30 p.m. - St. Thomas More (Conn.) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) 4:10 - Winchendon School (Mass.) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) 5:50 - Lee Academy (Maine) vs. Our Savior New American (N.Y.) 7:30 - Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) vs. Stoneridge Prep (Calif.) 9:10 - Bridgton Academy (Maine) vs. Patterson School (N.C.)
SATURDAY, NOV. 18 9:15 a.m. - Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) vs. Our Savior New American (N.Y.) 10:45 - New Hampton (N.H.) vs. Champlain St. Lambert (Montreal, Canada) 12:15 p.m. - St. Thomas More (Conn.) vs. Patterson School (N.C.) 1:45 - Winchendon School (Mass.) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) 3:30 - Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) 5:00 - South Kent (Conn.) vs. Maine Central Institute (Maine) 6:30 - Brewster Academy (N.H.) vs. Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) 8:00 - Bridgton Academy (Maine) vs. American Christian (Pa.) 9:30 - Lee Academy (Maine) vs. Stoneridge Prep (Calif.)
SUNDAY, NOV. 19 10:00 a.m. - New Hampton (N.H.) vs. Patterson School (N.C.) 11:30 - Brewster Academy (N.H.) vs. American Christian (Pa.) 1:00 p.m. - Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) vs. Champlain St. Lambert (Canada) 2:30 - South Kent (Conn.) vs. Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) 4:00 - Tilton School (N.H.) vs. Blair Academy (N.J.) 5:30 - Maine Central Institute (Maine) vs. Stoneridge Prep (Calif.)