2015 National Invitational Preview
Fan-I Sports has hit another pinnacle, covering the 7th annual Dick's National High School Invitational tournament, held in New York City. This tournament will feature 8 of the best high school teams in the country, boys and girls(4), and a couple of the best players also. The tournament will start Thursday with the quarterfinal round and end on Saturday in Madison Square Garden, airing on ESPNU all weekend long.
I will be taking the trip to the Big Apple, and I must say, that I'm honored, blessed, and appreciative of this opportunity. This is our preview for things for the tournament which will include the #1 ranked player in the country, Ben Simmons.
I am very excited to watch this young man play basketball. As you can see, the 6'9 forward is without question the best player in the country, I don't think you need to be an expert to make that call. Ben is Austrailian bred but has been playing ball for the Montverde Academy Eagles in Florida since 2013. In his junior season, Ben and the Eagles won the NHIT, defeating Oak Hill Academy 71-62. Simmons was crowned the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, dropping 25 points, 12 boards, and 4 dimes in the championship game. This season, Simmons leads the 28-1 Eagles, averaging 28 points, 12 boards, 4 dimes, and shooting 70% from the field. He will be attending LSU next fall, and I'm sure he will only be there for 1 year.
Montverde only loss came against another team participating in this year's NHIT, Wheeler High School based out of Georgia. Wheeler went 30-2, winning the 6A State title and giving the Eagles of Montverde their only loss in the last two seasons.
Wheeler defeated the Eagles 72-65 in the City of Palms classic, riding the shoulders of the #2 player in the country, Jaylen Brown. Brown dropped 25 points and 12 boards that game, winning MVP of the Classic. JB is a 6'7 forward that is a step down from the Ben Simmons, but not too far off I hope they will get the opportunity to play each other one more time because both play with a chip on their shoulder. Brown hasn't committed to any schools yet but his top schools are Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Michigan, North Carolina, and of course, Georgia.
Wheeler will face Huntington Prep in the quarterfinal round, another school with elite talent. Prep has 2 players ranked in the ESPN Top 100, #22 Thomas Bryant and #40 Ted Kapita who will be playing at Arkansas. Bryant is the 7th best center, according to ESPN, standing at 6'10. Mizzou, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Miami, Oklahoma are just a few of his many offers.
Prep also has two players ranked in the ESPN 60, which features the top juniors in the country, Miles Bridges and Curtis Jones. Prep is led by first year coach Arkell Bruce but still is one of the best programs in the country, ranked #7.
Another player I am very excited to witness live, Dwayne Bacon of Oak Hill Academy. We all know what kind of talent Oak Hill produces, just look at across the NBA and college ranks, and Bacon is the next big star to come out of OHA. He is a strong 6'6 guard that always gets his shot off and makes the game look easy. ESPN has him ranked at 20, but I think he should be a little higher than that. Entering the NHIT, he is fresh off winning the McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest, jumping over a 6'4 Jalen Rose . Bacon will be taking his back to his home state of Florida, playing for the Florida State Seminoles.
Oak Hill enters this tournament a staggering 45-0, setting a new school record for wins. I'm more shocked that they have played 45 games, which is more than what any college team will play, and more than half of an NBA season. Then you have to factor in the traveling, playing in 9 different states, even going as far as Hawaii. New York will make 10, and I'm sure they want to end this long rigorous season 48-0.
Ball Is Life says Findlay Prep's, Allonzo Trier, is "The Most Unstoppable Scorer in High School" and after the watching the highlight reel, its hard for one to argue with that claim. Allonzo is 6'5 and very athletic. As you can see, he has tremendouns leaping ability for dunking on people or blocking shots. What I am most impressed with is how he can score after the contact so effectively. A few videos I watched all had him taking the contact, adjusting in the air, and getting the bucket. The handles are grade A and the shooting is exceptional. Not sure if he is one-n-done but playing at "Guard University" aka Arizona, he has an opportunity to engrave his name into a rich history.
Greensboro Day School 33-2 (NC)
The Bengals are ranked #17 in the country and will be making their first appearance in the NHIT. Their head coach, Fred Johnson has been apart of the program for 38 years and has 900 wins under his belt.
Wings Academy 28-2 (NY)
Wings Academy, ranked #19, also is making their first appearance in the NHIT. They are the 2014-15 New York City PSAL champs, led by Georgetown bound, Jessie Govan.
Blanche Ely 28-0 (FL)
Ely is the only other team in this year's field undefeated along with Oak Hill. They became the first team in Broward County Florida to finish the season undefeated. I'm real excited to see this team, who is ranked 5th in the country, because they have 0 ESPN top 100 players.
I am expecting a great tournament with many highlights so make sure you tune in and follow us on all our social networks, even SnapChat (username Fani TV). Here is the full bracket for both boys and girls.