Editor's note: The ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings are compiled by Christopher Lawlor, Ronnie Flores, Ryan Canner-O'Mealy and Doug Huff. They will be released each Tuesday throughout the season.
Coaches say the basketball season is a marathon not a sprint, but finally the finish line is in sight. Last weekend, key states such as Texas, Washington, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi, Georgia and Maryland concluded their seasons; the results helped reshape the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings.
The biggest shake-up occurred in Texas' Class 5A, where No. 29 DeSoto (33-8) took home the title. No. 31 Strake Jesuit (Houston) dropped 26 slots after seeing its 37-game win streak snapped in the semifinals. No. 13 Yates (Houston) won its 17th straight game to annex the Class 4A title.
No. 3 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) won the Non-Public B title but need two wins this week to close out the New Jersey State Tournament of Champions. No. 7 Rice (Manhattan) won the New York CHSAA Class AA intersectional championship, but must wait nearly two weeks for the start of the New York State Federation Class AA tournament to tip. Kudos to Rice Maurice Hicks who became the first coach to win six CHSAA AA interdivisional titles.
No. 14 South Atlanta (Atlanta) and No. 21 Lake Clifton (Baltimore) closed out their season winning state titles in Georgia and Maryland, respectively.
Three teams join the ESPN RISE rankings, DeSoto (Texas), No. 38 King's Fork (Suffolk, Va.) and No. 46 Ames (Iowa) on the heels of state championships.
This weekend tournaments in New York, New Jersey and California wind down and should impact the rankings. The 49th annual Alhambra Catholic Invitational opens Thursday with No. 6 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and No. 9 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), a pair of Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powers, vying in the quarterfinals. Gonzaga, the defending champion, is 1-2 vs. DeMatha this season, including a buzzer-beating loss to the Stags in the WCAC final.
Game ball: Harrison Barnes of No. 46 Ames (Iowa) saved his best for final week of the season, earning him ESPN RISE player of the week honors. Ames, which became Iowa's first Class 4A team to finish unbeaten since 2006, won its first state title in 18 years and seventh overall during a 55-45 win over Linn-Mar (Marion) before 12,000 at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Barnes, a 6-foot-6 junior forward and ESPNU 60 player, had 24 points, including six dunks on 9-of-17 shooting, and eight rebounds as the Little Cyclones (26-0) pulled away in the fourth quarter of finals.
He also scored 23 points (making 7-of-12 shots and 7-of-8 free throws) against Johnston in the semifinals and despite foul trouble dropped 11 points in the quarterfinals against Iowa City West. Barnes is considering schools such as Iowa State, Iowa, Duke and Kansas.
Games of the week: Friday and Saturday true aficionados will flock in droves to Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., for one of the nation's top basketball weekends. The California Interscholastic Federation rolls out 10 boys' and girls' title games during the two-day run. The weekend is headlined by Saturday's donnybrook between No. 5 Westchester (Los Angeles) and No. 10 McClymonds (Oakland) for the Division I crown at 11 p.m. ET.
McClymonds is playing in its third straight title tilt, winning it all in 2008, while Westchester looks to annex its fifth championship under coach Ed Azzam. Overall six of the 10 top-seeds from each region advanced to the state capital venue. Here's the remainder of the boys' pairings (All times Eastern): Friday, St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda)-Windward School (Los Angeles) in Division V, 4:30 p.m.; and Eisenhower (Rialto)-Rocklin in Division II, 11 p.m. Saturday, Salesian (Richmond)-Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) in Division IV, 2:15 p.m. Ocean View (Huntington Beach)-Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco in Division III, 5:45 p.m.
Updates: Derrick Favors, a 6-9 center from South Atlanta High in Atlanta, Ga., was named as the 2009 Naismith National High School Boys' Basketball Player of the Year, by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
He was selected by the club's Board of Selectors, a collection of leading basketball journalists and administrators from around the country, based on performances over the course of the season. Favors, who guided South Atlanta to Georgia's Class AAA championship last weekend, will be honored at an awards banquet on March 23 in Atlanta.
Elsewhere, USA Basketball announced that 6-10, 270-pound prep standout Renardo Sidney of No. 26 Fairfax (Los Angeles) will join the 2009 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Select Team roster following the withdrawal of the Georgia Tech-bound Favors. The USA squad will take on the World Select Team in the 12th Annual Nike Hoop Summit on April 11at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. "It's a big responsibility to put on a U-S-A jersey and represent your country, and I'm excited," Sidney said.
The World Select Team roster, which is expected to be announced this month, will consist of 11 players, age 19-years-old or younger from FIBA's five geographic zones.
Records are through March 15.
Dropped out: No. 32 Lawrence North (Indianapolis); No. 43 Mount Vernon (N.Y.); No. 45 Jenks (Okla.); No. 49 Hall (Little Rock, Ark.).