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.
An early December shakedown of the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings had six schools drop out as the most critical and pivotal three weeks of the season are upon us.
One of the key criteria for the ESPN RISE rankings is strength of schedule. A majority of the schools will participate in elite pre- or post-Christmas tournaments or shootouts, looking to prepare themselves for the postseason. Several schools will play in two tournaments, enhancing their national reputation.
Aggressive schedulers include No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), No. 2 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), No. 6 Fairfax (Los Angeles); No. 8 Duncanville (Texas), No. 15 Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.), No. 18 Westchester (Los Angeles) and No. 21 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.).
Top programs will traverse the globe for superior competition. Those searching for elite pre-Christmas events can catch them this week at: Iolani Prep Classic (Honolulu); Mission Prep Christmas Classic (San Luis Obispo, Calif.); Bank of America City of Palms Classic (Fort Myers, Fla.); Chick-Fil-A Classic (Columbia, S.C.) and Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic (the two New Jersey sites this weekend are Union High and Seton Hall University in South Orange).
Most tournaments start Friday or Saturday and conclude early next week. The pre-Christmas events will be reflected fully in the Dec. 30 rankings.
Game Ball: Brandon Triche of Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.) had a career night against perennial power Rush-Henrietta Saturday at Peppino's Invitational in Syracuse, N.Y, earning him player of the week. Triche a 6-foot-3 guard headed to Syracuse University in the fall, pumped in a career-best 38 points as the regionally-ranked Red Rams won, 86-76, for their 22nd straight victory, the longest active streak in the New York. Triche, an ESPNU 100 player (No. 93 in the Class of 2009), struck for 24 points in the opening half as JD opened a 52-20 lead. Triche's uncle, Howard, starred for Syracuse in the mid 1980s.
Game of the week: Supremacy in the state of Arkansas will be decided, at least for now, Friday at Bulldog Fieldhouse (7 p.m. ET) when Fayetteville hosts No. 26 Hall (Little Rock). The host Bulldogs (7-0), No. 19 in the Southwest Region, captured the CAC/Ortho Arkansas Invitational last weekend, defeating Little Rock Catholic, the defending Class 7A champion, in the semifinals. Hall upped its mark to 10-0 after beating Park View (Little Rock), 65-45, in the finals of the Jammin' for Jackets Tournament.
Must-see event: The prep basketball world will convene starting Thursday at the Bank of America City of Palms Classic for a five-day run at Bishop Verot High in Fort Myers, Fla. (Note: Florida state rules do not permit high school activities or athletic contests on Sundays). The tournament features nine teams ranked nationally or regionally in the ESPN RISE FAB 50, including top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). No. 32 Montverde (Fla.) Academy makes an appearance in the Sunshine Series, a separate competition affiliated with COPC. A slam dunk competition is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.
The finals and third-place games will be televised Dec. 23 on ESPNU at 3 and 5 p.m. ET, respectively.
Records through Dec. 14.
Dropped out: No. 33 St. Mary's (Phoenix); No. 36 Whitney Young (Chicago); No. 43 Bellaire (Houston); No. 46 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.); No. 48 Academy of New Church (Bryn Athyn, Pa.); No. 50 Boys and Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.).