Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rip Through and Attack

Posted by Chris Langley | Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Category: , | 0 comments

The rip-through and attack move, that we teach players at training, is a great move for offensive players to use when defensive players reach or are off balance. We teach players to catch the ball at their waist (in good triple threat position) and then rip it strong to their opposite knee. By teaching offensive player's this move, they can get the one step advantage that it takes to beat a reaching defender when attacking the basket. To make the move even more effective, use as few dribbles as possible when attacking the basket. This move will lead to some easy points for players who utilize it properly!

Check out below how the the rip-through and attack move is used effectively in game action!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

University of Georgia Team Practice

Posted by Elite Hoops | Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | Category: , , | 0 comments

Whenever I get a chance to attend a college practice, I make sure to bring my notebook to write down anything that might be valuable to help us train young players or teach young coaches. Today, up in Athens, Georgia I watched the Bulldogs practice for a couple of hours in preparation for their game against UAB. Now, I have been to about a dozen practices since Mark Fox has been the coach, but everytime I'm up there I pick up something new from him and his staff.

At the top of John Wooden's Pyramid of Success is Competitive Greatness. Now, in order for a team to achieve that the team must have a great coach. And Coach Fox is just that. He is a fearless leader who takes command of his players, staff and practices. He opened practice with a brief message about where the team stood and what they needed to accomplish that day at practice. The energy level was extremely high throughout 99% of the practice, however at one point during practice, there was a lull of energy. Fox reminded his players. "that enthusiasm is contagious," and that a couple of the players needed to lift the rest of their teammates energy levels. Not only is enthusiasm contagious, but it is also one of Wooden's corner building blocks on his pyramid.

Fox not only tells players how he wants things done, he shows them how he wants it done. During drills, he will act as another defender, show guards how to make the pass, he'll even hit the Bigs with a pad to get them used to contact. During the scouting report, Fox put on a blue jersey and played for 15 minutes as one of UAB's starters. After hitting a 15 footer, Fox told the Georgia player guarding him, "I'm 6'3 and 42 years old and hitting shots on you. Whats the (UAB player) gonna be able to do?"
video

High School players ask me all the time how much difference there is between high school and collegiate practice. It's immeasurable. Practice is longer. Coaches are tougher. Players are bigger and faster. And concepts and terminology are more immense.

The three things I noticed in this practice is that are much different than typical high school practices are: Sounds, Intensity and Comradery.

By sounds I mean players voices. Players on the college level talk and communicate much more with each other than most high school teams. I always joke that players talk on the way to practice, in the locker room and after games, but when they are on the floor most of them fail to talk to their teammates. I think the easiest way to teach player communication is through the Shell Drill.

The intensity level easily doubles from the high school level to college. I think this tends to be because on most high school teams there is a notable difference between the top few players the the rest of the squad. Many times the top player(s) can go half speed and still beat their teammates. For the most part on the college level, there is less disparity from player 1 to player 12 and thus players battle and fight on a more level playing field which in turn makes for a more intense practice.

Lastly is comradery. College players eat, sleep, practice and go to school together. The more you are with teammates the more comradey you will have. On the high school level, players typically go home after practice and do not see each other until the next day at school. On the college level, players have study hall after practice, then eat together and then head back to the dorms together. To make up for this, I think it is vital that high school coaches take their teams to out of town tournaments as well as social events planned together as a team.

As I mentioned earlier, I take every opportunity to watch college practices. One of my mentors, Coach Jim Harrick once told me, "You can always learn from a coach. Sometimes it's what to do, and sometimes its what NOT to do." In the case of Fox and his Bulldogs, its what to do.


Lee Miller
Elite Hoops Director

Know Your Role

Posted by Elite Hoops | | Category: , | 0 comments

Does every player in your program know what their role is? Are you sure?

A major factor in your team’s success is getting every player to:

-Know Their Role
-Accept Their Role
-Have Pride in Their Role

Coach Jones takes a unique approach. Prior to our first game, he conducts a 15 minute meeting with every player and their parents. He offers his thoughts on their first 3 weeks of practice, he clearly defines their role on the team, he estimates how much playing time they will get, and he outlines his expectations.

He encourages each player to speak freely and voice any concerns. The parents are included to make sure nothing is lost in translation. The meeting isn’t adjourned until everyone is on the same page.

Coach Jones’ honesty, sincerity, and inclusion of the parents make this approach extremely effective. Here is another useful exercise to try with your team: Have every player write down the number of minutes they would like to play in each game. Collect everyone’s number and total them up.

In a standard high school game there are160 playable minutes available (32 minutes of game time x 5 players on the court at all times). I guarantee the number you total will far exceed 160 minutes. In many cases, it will be double. What does that mean? It means that most of the players want to play more minutes than they actually will (or are even possible!). They may have written down 20 minutes… yet realistically will play significantly less than that.

Discrepancies in playing time can become a major distraction if not handled appropriately.

While things can certainly change, it is important to clearly define each player’s role (including an honest estimate of playing time) to reduce the chance of it becoming an issue later in the season. Grumblings at the “end of the bench” can become a cancer to the team. Team’s that keep high morale and great attitudes at the “end of the bench”… are teams that will maximize their potential. They epitomize the word “team.”

While every player wants to start and wants to score points… that is not everyone’s role. There are so many ways players can positively impact a game… in limited minutes… that don’t make the newspaper.

Villanova’s men’s basketball program records the following on a board called “Attitude Club” after every game:

Extra pass (a pass that sets up an assist)

Screen assist (a screen that leads to an immediate score)

Tap backs (tapping a loose ball or rebound to teammate to gain position)

Quick outlets (getting the ball to a guard immediately after a rebound)

Shot contests (high hand on all shots)

Dives (getting on the floor for loose balls)

Deflections (disrupting the offense’s flow by getting a hand on the ball)

Paint passes (working the ball inside; hitting cutters and feeding the post)

Players that play limited minutes can still score highly in these areas. Players that don’t play at all can still do these things in practice (which will help earn time in the future). Whether you play 30 minutes a game, 3 minutes a game, or don’t play at all… make the most of every opportunity you have (even if it is in practice) and find a way within your role to contribute and make your team better.

One of my primary roles with DeMatha is to get our team mentally and physically ready to compete. Coach Paul Ricci has the same role at the University of Maryland.

Here is a video of their pre-game warm-up: http://TinyUrl.com/MDPreGameWarmUp

This is what they do prior to lay-up lines, passing drills, etc. This warm-up takes about 10 minutes.

Please keep me posted on how your team is doing this season.

I can be reached at:

Alan@StrongerTeam.com

www.Twitter.com/AlanStein

www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam

Play hard. Play smart. Play together.

Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Does "Practice" Mean to You?

Posted by Patrick Hughes | Monday, November 22, 2010 | Category: , | 0 comments

The word "practice." What does it mean to you? For some its a dreaded word while for others its something that they relish. Today I want to touch on two things that I look for when I see players practicing. I have been told many times before in the past by various different individuals that practice makes perfect. While at face value this statement may make sense I have to disagree with it and let me explain why. If you continually practice a skill, lets say shooting, over and over again but you do it incorrectly then you are simply reinforcing a bad habit. Therefore I want each and everyone of you to attempt for perfection. Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." Therefore when you are working on the skills and drills that you have learned at the various Elite Hoops camps and skills trainings I want you to attempt perfection. Try to shoot every shot with perfect form finishing with your elbow above your eye. I want to see you all changing speed and direction when making a move. I want to see your crossover below your knee when going from left to right or right to left. If you practice perfect form and technique over and over again then it will mold the correct way to dribble and shoot into your muscle memory.

Often times when I walk into a gym before a skills training, a camp, or a high school practice I observe players taking shots and getting loose. 99% of the time when I see a player taking a shot though they are not going at what I would refer to at game speed. Then when they get in a game and miss their shot or are not able to shake a defender they wonder why. I always tell my players that they need to practice at game speed and practice like they want to play. Everyone wants to be a good basketball player but there are only a select few that will put in the work necessary to become one. If you are one who is willing to put in the work practice for perfection, practice like you want to play, and practice at game speed.

Coach Hughes
Camp Director and Skills Trainer

Monday, November 15, 2010

Want a Free Pair of Nike Kobe V's?

Posted by Elite Hoops | Monday, November 15, 2010 | Category: , | 0 comments

Elite Hoops is giving away a free pair of Nike Kobe V's in the Elite Hoops navy and red colorway. Question is-How do you get your hands on these sweet kicks?


#1- If you haven't already done so already, become a fan of Elite Hoops Facebook page.

#2- Suggest Elite Hoops page to all of your friends.

#3 – Your friend needs to then go on Facebook, “like” Elite Hoops page, and then write on our wall, “I’m a fan because of (your name).” The person who has the most unique people become a fan of Elite Hoops will win the shoes just in time for the New Year!

We’ll be keeping you updated on who’s winning as the contest goes on. Remember, we must reach a minimum of 1000 fans to be able to give away the Kobe's, so get all the friends you can to join us. The contest will continue until December 15.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Youth Training

Posted by Elite Hoops | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Category: , , , | 0 comments


Will lifting weights stunt your growth? At what age should you start lifting weights?

Let me put an end to this lingering myth once and for all…

Proper strength training does not stunt growth! In fact, you can actually begin a safe, age appropriate training program as young as 8 or 9 years old.

For all of the 13 and 14 year olds who email me or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook asking when they should start strength training… my answer is… today!

The most important concept to understand is that a child’s chronological age and their physical and mental maturity are not always congruent. This includes their muscular and Central Nervous System maturity (coordination, body awareness, etc.) as well as their mental maturity (attention span, ability to process and follow instructions, etc.). Children mature and progress at different rates. Some 10 year olds look and act 16 and some 16 year olds look and act 10! Therefore, individualized modifications should be made for any outlier and you should get approval from a qualified professional prior to implementing a training program.

However, as a general rule of thumb, young players (ages 8-12) can and should participate in a structured, supervised, age appropriate training program.

There is a difference between “lifting weights” and “strength training.” I strongly prefer to use the term strength training as it encompasses a variety of modalities and methodologies. You can improve strength without weights. When I say a young player should learn how to squat correctly, I am referring to the functional movement (not implying you load their spine with a barbell!). My goal is not to produce better “weight lifters”, but rather to use appropriate training methods to produce stronger, more coordinated, and more confident players. A truly comprehensive program utilizes more than just weights. In fact, some of the most intense and difficult strength workouts we have our players do don’t even use weights!

An age appropriate strength training program will not harm a child’s growth, but will actually help strengthen their skeletal and muscular system as well as their connective tissue. It will also help facilitate an improvement in their coordination and body awareness.

A proper youth training program should involve dynamic flexibility, movement preparation, footwork, strength training, and agility drills. The program should be done two times per week, for 30-45 minutes per workout, and focus on multi-joint movements such as skipping, hopping, jumping, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling, throwing, and twisting. The workouts should be challenging, yet fun and engaging with the goal of building great training habits and a solid foundation of efficient movement.

It is important for younger players to regularly experience a variety of motor skills in order to promote future athletic success and injury prevention. Developing this basic coordination through a wide variety of movements, drills, and exercises is integral… with the eventual goal of developing basketball specific coordination in their teenage years. In other words, children need to learn how to run and jump properly, how to control their body in space and how to move efficiently before they learn how to dribble, shoot, and pass. They need to do this for the same reason they need to learn addition and subtraction before they learn algebra and geometry… one builds on the other.

Research has shown that coordination is best developed between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. There are several components to coordination, such as balance, rhythm, body awareness in space, and reaction. Younger players that master these components, and improve their coordination through appropriate training, tend to have better athletic success at later ages. Of course, one’s absolute athletic potential is somewhat pre-determined based on genetic predispositions. However, regardless of their absolute athletic potential, every young player can make progress. This is why introducing a proper youth training program is so important!

For the record, I am not saying that children under the age of 10 to 12 shouldn’t be playing basketball or learning basketball skills… they should. But they should also be learning how to master their general motor skills (particularly running and jumping).

Here are 4 guidelines to a quality youth training program:

  • Safe: young players must use proper form and appropriate resistances (if applicable).
  • Fun: young players should be engaged and enjoy training!
  • Fundamental: young players should master a variety of general motor skills (skipping, hopping, jumping, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling, throwing, and twisting) before trying to master sport-specific skills (ball handling, shooting, etc.).
  • Challenging: young players learn quickly, so challenge them physically and mentally with a variety of new movements, exercises, and drills.

Believe me, my twin sons Luke and Jack will be exposed to a safe, age appropriate youth training program at a very early age!

I wrote this blog because I am passionate about this message (not to push a product). However, I have created an 8-Week Youth Training Program download for any parent or coach who needs it: http://shop.strongerteam.com/p-36-8-week-training-program-for-youth-basketball-players.aspx

The Vertimax is an invaluable training tool for improving explosiveness and can be used both in and out of season. But did you know it could do all of this?

http://TinyUrl.com/VertimaxBasketballTraining

Make sure you join in the fun with my Daily Question and Funniest Caption contests at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein and www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam.

This past week’s winner won a pair of Skull Candy headphones!

Who will my next winner be?


Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

Practice YOUR Game-like Situations!

Posted by Chris Langley | Monday, November 8, 2010 | Category: | 0 comments

If you are a player who has trained with us in the past, or if you are a new player that is just beginning to train with us, you know that many of the drills that we use to develop ballhandling, perimeter moves, passing techniques, and shooting are drills that simulate game-like situations. Our goal is to force players to pay attention to proper technique, while having to think about a defender, speed, time, and the pressure that comes along with playing in an actual game. We want to make trainings as HARD as possible, so games are EASY!

So as you begin your seasons and you continue to work on your individual skills, Elite Hoops wants to remind you to work on the skills that you will be expected to use during your team games. After the first couple of days of practice, coaches will begin to assign positions to players and start to teach offensive plays. As you are assigned your position and as you find out your role in your team-offense, notice what the coach expects of you. Are you expected to be the primary ballhandler, set screens, get rebounds, or shoot?

Once you figure out what you are expected to do, then begin to work on that skill on your own! If you are expected to:

1) be the primary ballhandler; work on your dribbling skills with stationary ballhandling drills, full court ballhandling drills, cross-over drills (focusing on keeping the ball below the knee and changing speed and direction on your moves), and attacking the parts of the court you will most likely find yourself during your games. Also don't forget to work on your passing. Be able to make a bounce pass, chest pass, shovel pass with your right hand and left hand. The easiest way to work on passing is use a brick wall, cinder-block wall, or if you are luck enough to have a partner you can work on these drills, and go through all the types of passes you are expected make out of your team's offense.



2)set screens; work on your timing and position. Make sure you set a screen at a spot on the court and let the ballhandler or the cutter use your screen. Don't set a moving screen! Make sure you establish position on the court with your screen. If you run into players out of control, you will be called for committing a "moving screen" violation. Make sure that that the player that is using your screen is either coming of the screen shoulder to shoulder or shoulder to hip, so the defender can't slip through making the screen useless. Also as a screener you must be able to roll to the basket or pop out for a shot. Make sure that no matter what your coach wants you to do as a screener, you don't turn your head away from the ball because you must always be ready to catch the ball. So no matter what make sure that you always pivot in a way that makes sure that you see the ball.



3)get rebounds; work on your footwork and positioning. When the ball goes up, your hands need to go up, so you are ready for the basketball as it comes off as a missed shot. Also remember to BOX OUT! Get low, pivot in the proper direction according to which way the opposing player moves, put your back-side on the nearest opposing player and move them away from the missed shot. Once you have established better position than your opponent, then you can head towards the rebound! Rebounding is all about hustle and position. It doesn't matter how tall you are if you have your heart and mind set on getting a rebound!



4)Shoot; Know where your shots are going to come from out of your team's offense. If you are a guard know if you are expected to just catch and shoot, if you are expected to come off screens, or if you are someone who is supposed to drive to the basket. Wherever you are expected to shoot from in games, practice those shots!

If you are a post player make sure that you are working on shots around the basket (hook shots, drop steps, up and unders) or maybe you are also expected to play at the high post and shoot from the elbow. Your coach may expect you to shoot from other spots depending on your position and the offense that he or she runs.

No matter what just make sure that you are practicing shots that you will be shooting during games. (If you aren't going to shoot a 3 pointer or a half court shot during a game, don't practice those shots during the seasons. The off-season is the time to add moves to your game.) During the season, work on the stuff that helps your team!

If you practice on your own time and make your practices even harder than your games, you will make games much easier and you will experience great success!



Friday, November 5, 2010

What makes a "good basketball player?"

Posted by Patrick Hughes | Friday, November 5, 2010 | Category: | 0 comments



What makes a good basketball player? This is a question that I thought about rather intensely in the past week or so as my high school team under went tryouts. A person who plays basketball will often times tell you that they want to become a better player or want to be seen by their peers as a good player but have you ever sat down and mapped out what you need to do to become a good player?

What I want to address to you now is what I believe makes a good individual player. When I look at a player I want to see how they perform in five major aspects of the game. Those aspects are shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding, and defending. In my mind an above average high school player will excel at two of those five facets that I previously listed. A good high school player will excel at three of the five areas I listed and a great player four or more.

As your season starts sit down and write down your individual goals as well as the goals that you have for your team. Write down what you believe to be your strengths and what you believe your weaknesses to be so that you can focus on playing to your strengths and improving your short comings. List the five aspects of the game as I have typed above and give yourself an honest assessment of where you think your game is compared to other players of your age. Don't be discouraged if you are only good at one aspect of the game. Each basketball team has their own personality and make up. A coach can always find playing time for a player who is good at one aspect. There is always a spot on my team from a player who is a great spot up shooter, a savvy ball handler, or someone who can get a tough rebound.

Make sure that as your season progresses you look as your goal sheet and are charting how you are doing compared to your individual and team goals. Let us know what your individual and tam goals are now before your season starts and then in March lets see how you all did.

Playing College Basketball

Posted by Lee Miller | | Category: , , , | 0 comments

I am honored to receive hundreds of emails per week from coaches and players around the world… almost all of which offer kind words and support (for which I am truly grateful).  I also get asked a lot of questions.  The three questions I get asked most often by players are:

What is the best way to improve my vertical?
How do I get a college scholarship?
Will lifting weights stunt my growth?

If you are looking to improve your hops, please check out the episodes, articles, and downloads at www.CanHeDunk.com

As for getting a college scholarship, I happily offer my thoughts in this blog.  Next week I will address age appropriate strength training and the myth that strength training will stunt growth.

In my 10+ years as a basketball strength and conditioning coach, I have worked with hundreds of high school players who have gone on to play college basketball.  They have gone to schools ranging from Division III to major Division I.  Only a very small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of kids who play high school basketball have an opportunity to play in college, and an even smaller percentage will play on scholarship (NOTE: Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships). 

If you are 7 feet tall, a scholarship will probably find you.  If you play for a nationally renowned high school or AAU program, you have a much better chance as well.  But what if you don’t?  What if you are of average size, decent skill level, and have a ton of heart? Can you still play college basketball?  Yes! But it’s not easy.

Here are 8 tips on how you can improve your chances of attaining a basketball scholarship: 

1)    Be an outstanding student.  Being a great student expands the ranges of schools you can attend and shows a coach you are committed to excellence on and off the court.  Unless you are a bona fide All-American, coaches at every level are tired of taking risks on kids who are poor students.  This is the first question every coach asks.  Don’t let the first filter be the one that weeds you out!

2)    Be a great teammate.  Every coach I have ever talked too looks to recruit players that are coachable and who get along with their teammates.  No one wants a jerk. Be the teammate everyone loves to play with because you are unselfish, coachable, enthusiastic, committed to team goals, and raise the level of those around you. Being a great teammate will raise your stock tremendously.  I have seen players (literally) lose a coach’s interest because of bad body language or acting like a jackass when they didn’t agree with a foul call or when they came out of the game.  Before college coaches ask me to evaluate a player’s athletic ability, they always ask, “are they a good teammate?”

3)    If you can’t, don’t.  Stick to what you do best and play to your strengths. Stop doing what you think coaches want to see. If you aren’t a great 3 point shooter, stop shooting 3’s! Coaches want players who know, understand, and accept their role.  Nothing can lose a scholarship faster than trying to show off for a coach during a practice or a game.  All you are doing is exposing your weaknesses!  Every team, from JV to the NBA needs role players and players who know how to play to their strengths.

4)    Do the little things. Contrary to what most high school players think, it is not all about scoring.  To play college basketball, you need to do the little things: good footwork, set screens, box out, share the ball, communicate, play solid defense, dive for loose balls, work hard, and be a leader on and off the court.  These things alone will separate you from 95% of the players who are your size and skill level.  The little things can earn you a big scholarship!

5)    Maximize your ability. You can’t control your height, and to some degree, your overall athleticism.  But you can make sure you are in great basketball shape.  You should be on a year round strength & conditioning program and work on your ball handling and shooting daily.  Focus on the things you have complete control over!

6)    Be realistic. It is so important that you have an accurate evaluation of the level you can play.  Not everyone can play major Division I basketball.  I am not opposed to setting high standards and chasing your dreams; but don’t pass up on a great opportunity to play (and get an education) at a D-II or D-III school because you think Duke or Kentucky is going to call.  I have seen so many players left out in the cold because they kept holding out for a better offer that never came.

7)    Protect your brand.  You are the CEO of Brand You.  I wrote extensively about this concept in a previous blog: http://blog.strongerteam.com/post/2010/04/29/NEW-Brand-You.aspx. You need to carry yourself with professionalism and respect… both on and off the court.  Be careful what you Tweet or post on Facebook… it takes years to build credibility and a quality reputation and one click to ruin it. Someone is always watching and college coaches do significant background checks on all of their recruits.  Their first stop? Social media sites!

8)    Recruit them. Basketball is global.  If you can play; “they” will find you.  Don’t worry too much about getting exposure. Worry more about not getting exposed (for your weaknesses)!  And you don’t have to wait for a school to recruit you… you can recruit them!  If you know of a school that you would like to play for and is appropriate to your level… send them a letter and some game film.  If they like what they see; they will get back in touch! 

Bottom line is this; in addition to working on your handle and jump shot, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself from the pack.  You need to show college coaches a reason to offer you scholarship instead of giving them a reason not too!

Even though we held this workout outside; the following is a great workout you can do on court with minimal equipment after practice: http://TinyUrl.com/DeMathaOutdoor/Workout.

In the next couple of weeks I will post videos of our pre-practice warm-up as well as our post practice cool down.  Soon to follow will be videos of in-season strength workouts and pre-game warm-ups!

Make sure you join in the fun with my Daily Question and Funniest Caption contests at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein and www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam.

Please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com if I can ever be of service.

Alan Stein

PS: I take pride in facilitating quality information and have sent out dozens of Coaching Nuggets in the past. I have decided to change the format and will send out one new Basketball Nugget per month. This month’s nugget will be sent next week; so please sign up for our email newsletter if you haven’t already done so: http://www.strongerteam.com/Register.aspx

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is Georgia High School Basketball the Best in the Nation?


Check out Elite Hoops workout with Rivals #3 team in the Nation
MILTON HIGH SCHOOL:

Is Georgia high school basketball the best in the nation?
Check out the Rivals.com's 2010-2011 preseason rankings compiled by Senior Analyst Dallas Jackson and other Rivals.com high school site publishers, and then tell us what you think.



1. Melrose
Memphis
TN
37-4

Memphis has taken over New York City as the nation’s hotbed for high school hoops and this Melrose team could be the best in the country. The team will be without guard Chris Jones, who exhausted his eligibility, but the team returns two forwards in Adonis Thomas as well as guard Cedrick McAfee. The Golden Wildcats finished the 2009-10 season ranked No. 10 in the RivalsHigh 100 but have even higher expectations for this season.

2. St. Anthony
Jersey City
NJ
27-3
The Friars ended last season with a heartbreaking triple-overtime, one-point loss in the Non-Public Group B state finals and are out for more than redemption in the 2010-11 season. Despite the losses of Derrick Williams (Richmond) and Eli Carter (prep school), the Friars return a great core of talent. Seniors Lucky Jones and Tyuan Williams lead the returning cast alongside junior Jerome Frink. The team will welcome Myles Mack, the No. 84 ranked player in the Class of 2011, and Kyle Anderson, the No. 1 player in the New Jersey Class of 2012, from the now closed Paterson (N.J.) Paterson Catholic.

3. Milton
Alpharetta
GA
29-4
The no-brainer No. 1 team in the state of Georgia this year is the defending state champion, Milton Eagles. The team had a mixed bag of results against top-tiered competition in 2009-10, but as a young team had enough talent to win the Class 5A state title. The Eagles return three elite players and have expectations of a national Top 5 finish. Leading the way is Ohio State commit Shannon Scott. The 6-foot-2 point guard has great court vision and a quick step to penetrate. His counterpart in the backcourt, Dai-Jon Parker, provides a great second scoring option on the perimeter. Cleaning up the glass is 6-foot-7 forward Julian Royal. Royal, a Rivals.com four-star player, is down to Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Wake Forest for his college choices.

4. Poly
Long Beach
CA
28-5
The Jackrabbits have the unenviable distinction as being the top preseason team in the state of California. The team had solid - but not spectacular - performances in its national games in 2009-10, but then did not make a deep run into the playoffs. Poly returns only one nationally-ranked player in 6-foot-6 forward Ryan Anderson, but brings back three other top players in the state – seniors Alexis Moore (USC) at point guard and shooting guard Alex Carmon, as well as a rising star in 2013 wing player Roschon Prince.

5. Findlay Prep
Henderson
NV
32-2
The Pilots are a team without a home as the season approaches. The team was affiliated with the Henderson International School for the previous four seasons, but with the school closing, the accreditation for its players is up in the air. Coach Mike Peck has done a fabulous job molding both the talent and egos of many of the nation’s elite players, winning a RivalsHigh 100 National Championship in 2008-09 and finishing No. 3 in the country last season. For the Pilots to be successful in this coming season, they will rely on guard Nick Johnson to provide the scoring and leadership.

6. Oak Hill Academy
Mouth Of Wilson
VA
29-4
Perennial power Oak Hill could have finished last season in the Top 5 nationally had it performed better in the season-ending National High School Invitational tournament. There was an exodus of graduating talent, but that should not slow the machine at Oak Hill. Returning this season is standout forward Sidiki Johnson. Johnson, at 6-foot-8, can control the paint but still has room to develop. The future Arizona Wildcat will be joined by Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha transfer Quinn Cook to create an excellent inside-out opportunity for the Warriors.

7. Douglass
Oklahoma City
OK
29-0
Being the best team in Oklahoma is usually good enough for a national ranking in the mid-30s. However, the Douglass Trojans could prove to be a very strong exception to that way of thinking. The Trojans, who finished ranked No. 62 in the RivalsHigh 100 in 2009-10, are very reminiscent of last year’s national champion, Houston (Texas) Yates. Douglass returns all five starters from a team that was the best in its state despite not being in its highest classification. The Trojans like to score a lot of points and put the ball on the floor. It is very unlikely that many teams in Oklahoma - or the rest of the country for that matter - will be able to keep up with this team in 2010-11.

8. Wichita Heights
Wichita
KS
23-2
Wichita Heights is the reigning two-time Kansas 6A state champion and figures to three-peat and have its best team ever in 2010-11, after only losing one senior to graduation. Returning star Perry Ellis developed enough as a junior to dominate the competition and is probably among the Top 50 players in his class. Wichita State commit Evan Wessel and Dreamius Smith return for the Falcons. Smith would be a mid-major prospect if not for his ability on the football field. Many will focus on the ability of Ellis, but this team is much more than a one-man show.

9. Winter Park
Winter Park
FL
29-6
Winter Park had a great resume of wins and a handful of disappointing losses last season. However, the Wildcats were able to come together to win the Florida Class 6A state title. The team is led by the No. 6 player in the country and recent Duke commit Austin Rivers. Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and is rated as the second-best high school shooting guard in the country. Rivers’ specialty is scoring from pull-up jumpers behind the arc. If teams overplay that, he has a lightning-quick first step to the right. His basketball IQ makes him one of the better passers in the country as well.

10. North Central
Indianapolis
IN
25-3
North Central was the best team in a very basketball-rich state in 2009-10. The team returns a lot of talented players from that team, which won the Indiana Class 4A state title, and has a solid group of young athletes that will make the team a threat to win for the next two years. Leading the team will be all-state player D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Smith-Rivera averaged 17.7 points and six rebounds per game last year, and those numbers should rise this season. The defending champs lost all-state guard Terone Johnson but will replace him with his younger brother, Ronnie, who appears ready to be a star himself. 6-foot-4 Dedric Griffin and sophomore sensation Darius Latham also return to the best in the Hoosier State.

11. St. Patrick
Elizabeth
NJ
26-3

12. Taft
Woodland Hills
CA
26-6

13. Jesuit
Portland
OR
26-2

14. DeMatha
Hyattsville
MD
32-4

15. South Atlanta
Atlanta
GA
18-2

16. Norcross
Norcross
GA
27-3

17. Penn Wood
Lansdowne
PA
27-4

18. Norcom
Portsmouth
VA
25-4

19. Sacramento
Sacramento
CA
26-7

20. Bellaire
Bellaire
TX
35-2

21. Lincoln
Dallas
TX
24-3

22. Hopkins
Minnetonka
MN
30-2

23. Butler
Huntsville
AL
23-7

24. Southeastern
Detroit
MI
16-8

25. Merrillville
Merrillville
IN
22-4