This week’s highest-ranked newcomer to the FAB 50 is No. 32 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.).
The Lakers created national headlines on Dec. 29 when they defeated current FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 67-66 at the Mike Miller Classic event in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Since the 200-student, 47-year-old private co-ed boarding school had no previous comparable wins over an elite prep program, observers couldn't help but wonder if the northern Indiana school was a "one-hit wonder."
After that holiday contest, neither team has lost a game.
Findlay has won 13 in a row, including wins over three top-ranked foes -- No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas), No. 6 Simeon (Chicago) and No. 15 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) -- and it is a solid No. 2 in the FAB 50 behind unbeaten Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.). The Lakers, meanwhile, are now riding an 18-game win streak with a 24-2 overall record and moved into the FAB 50 for the first time.
To be eligible for the FAB 50, schools must not accept post-graduates and confirm they are allowed to participate against member schools that belong to the state high school association where the program resides. Once the Indiana State High School Association confirmed the Lakers met those requirements, the only reason they wouldn’t be ranked was if their on-the-court resume was not strong enough.
Until a few years ago, La Lumiere was noted mostly for its academics and college prep curriculum. With graduates like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the reputation was well-earned.
In 2005, the school, in an effort to improve its athletic program, hired former Indiana high school basketball All-American Delray Brooks as basketball coach. The Lakers improved their talent level under Brooks before he departed after a five-year stint.
Enter current coach Alan Huss in 2010, who had coached at Culver Academics (Culver, Ind.). Beefing up the schedule and talent base even more, the Lakers currently have five college scholarship players on the roster, including 6-foot-5 Raphael Davis (Purdue), 6-foot-8 Hanner Perea (Indiana) and point guard Andre Drummond (Southern Illinois). A touted sophomore is 6-foot-10 Johnathon Wilkins.
Newcomer Mitty familiar with Jeremy Lin
This week’s other newcomer to the FAB 50 is No. 50 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.). And since Jeremy Lin connections are sought wherever possible, we can bring it to the FAB 50 through the Monarchs.
When Lin was a senior at Palo Alto (Calif.) in the 2006 season, Archbishop Mitty stood in the way of Lin’s team as it was going for the CIF Division II state title. Palo Alto had to beat Mitty to win the Central Coast Section crown and then had to get past the Monarchs again in the Northern California championship. Palo Alto won both times (the second time it took a last-second 3-pointer by one of Lin’s teammates) and eventually won the state title.
Mitty’s team that season was led by sophomore Drew Gordon, the older brother of current Monarchs’ sensation Aaron Gordon. Drew is now starring at the University of New Mexico. Aaron still has one more year left of high school.
It’s more of a reach, but two other current FAB 50 schools with ties to Lin would be No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and No. 17 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.). Oak Hill is the alma-mater of Lin’s New York teammate, Carmelo Anthony, while St. Benedict’s is the alma-mater of another teammate, the newly acquired J.R. Smith.
FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week
Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas, Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.)
The 6-foot-3 senior guard helped the Hornets advance to last year's Class 5A state title game before they lost to St. Augustine (New Orleans).
This year, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun recruit wants to close the deal as his team has been seeded No. 1 in the state playoffs that start this week.
Earlier in the season, Thomas led the Hornets to a 54-53 revenge win over St. Augustine.
Last week, in a tune-up game for the playoffs, Thomas scored a game-high 28 points to pace the Hornets to an 86-41 victory over Walker (La.) and push the team's record to 31-2 and up to No. 18 in the FAB 50.
At Louisiana-Lafayette, Thomas will join brother J.J. on the Ragin' Cajun roster.
Looking Ahead: Bishop Gorman season to end
Several teams in this week’s rankings have just two weeks left before hopefully wrapping up their seasons with a state championship.
For No. 15 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), though, its attempt at finishing off its year with a state crown will take place this weekend.
The Gaels, led by Mr. Basketball USA front-runner Shabazz Muhammad, open the Class 4A state tourney Friday night at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno against Douglas (Minden, Nev.).
If Bishop Gorman wins, its state championship opponent will be either Proctor Hug (Reno, Nev.) or Green Valley (Henderson, Nev.).
Last year, just like this year, the Gaels (26-4) were a huge favorite to win their state title, but they were upset in the semifinals by Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nev.).
Of the teams potentially finishing in two weeks, No. 36 Wayne County (Waynesboro, Miss.) already knows it will be in the Class 5A state semifinals on Feb. 28 with a matchup against Starkville (Miss.). The War Eagles are the defending champions and have won 62 of their last 63 games.