SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25: IMG Academy beats Montverde in NIBC tipoff, jumps to No. 1 in national boys basketball rankings

The busiest week of the young 2021-22 high school basketball season also brought movement in the SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25.

The NIBC season tipoff produced three days of high-level matchups last week, and more states started their seasons.

IMG Academy beat Montverde and vaulted to the top spot, but lost to Sunrise Christian, which leapt to No. 3. La Lumiere, which jumped to No. 6 and looked like a top-tier NIBC team after convincing wins over Bishop Walsh, Wasatch Academy and Legacy.

St. Frances of Baltimore made its first big splash, jumping seven spots to No. 15 after beating No. 8 DeMatha in the final game of the D.C. Nike Hoopfest on Sunday. Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) made its Power 25 entrance at No. 16, continuing its torrid 11-0 start by thrashing Dream City Christian (Ariz.) and Denver Prep Academy (Colo.).

Find the complete breakdown of the latest Power 25 national boys basketball rankings below.

SBLIVE POWER 25: PRESEASON RANKINGS NOV. 22| NOV. 29

The Power 25 is a collaboration between SBLive and Sports Illustrated. Power 25 rankings are compiled by SBLive reporter Andy Buhler and SI Director of Basketball Recruiting Jason Jordan based on observations and conversations with an extensive network of coaching and media sources across the country. You can reach Andy on Twitter @AndyBuhler or email him at andy@scorebooklive.com.

SBLIVE/SI POWER 25 NATIONAL BOYS BASKETBALL RANKINGS

Dec. 6, 2021

1. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) (3-1)

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Tampa Catholic (Fla.)

Last ranking: No. 2

Baylor-bound guard Keyonte George notched in a layup in the final seconds to upend top-ranked Montverde, 65-64, then beat Oak Hill (87-75) after losing to Sunrise Christian (68-62) in a series of much-awaited three-day NIBC season tipoff showdown.

2. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) (4-1)

Up next: Dec. 9 vs. Duncanville (Tex.)

Last ranking: No. 1

Dropped a one-point nail-biter to IMG Academy despite a 31-point effort from Dariq Whitehead. Also thrashed Oak Hill Academy 86-51 and beat Sunrise Christian 53-44 in the NIBC season tipoff.

3. Sunrise Christian (Bel Aire, Kan.) (7-1)

Up next: Dec. 11 vs. La Lumiere

Last ranking: No. 4

Defeated IMG Academy 68-62 and Oak Hill 64-61 before losing to Montverde by nine in its third NIBC game in three days. Big weekend for five-star forward Mark Mitchell, who had 22 and 19 points in the first two games. 

4. Duncanville (Duncanville, Tex.) (8-0) 

Up next: Dec. 9 vs. Montverde (Fla.)

Last ranking: No. 5

Beat Rock Hill (Tex.) on the road, then ran away from Zachary (La.) behind 20 points and nine boards from junior forward Ron Holland and beat Carver Collegiate Academy (La.) behind Anthony Black’s 31 points (95-52) in the Red River Hoopfest in Texarkana.

5. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) (7-1) 

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Viewpoint (Calif.)

Last ranking: No. 6

UCLA commit Amari Bailey made his debut, returning from injury to fuel a 100-72 win over West Ranch, a 93-64 win over Beverly Hills and Bronny James took center stage at Staples Center Saturday, leading the Trailblazers past his dad LeBron James’ alma mater  — St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron, Ohio — with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Look out for Dec. 27, when five-star Heritage Christian (Calif.) transfer Isaiah Elohim becomes eligible.

6. La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) (8-0)

Up next: Dec. 11 vs. Sunrise Christian (Kan.)

Last ranking: No. 12

Swept the first weekend of NIBC play with convincing wins over Bishop Walsh (57-36), Wasatch Academy (86-57) and Legacy Early (78-46). Notre Dame-bound guard JJ Starling stood out, with 20 points and nine boards against Legacy Early.

7. Camden (Camden, N.J.) (0-0)

Up next: Dec. 17 vs. Roselle Catholic (ESPN Tip Off)

Last ranking: No. 7 

Has not started its season.

8. Richardson (Richardson, Tex.) (9-0)

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Coppell (Tex.)

Last ranking: No. 13

Beat Memorial of Frisco (78-59) and Southlake Carroll (73-46) convincingly ahead of a matchup with Texas Class 6A Coppell.

 

9. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2-1) 

Up next: Dec. 8 vs. Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.)

Last ranking: No. 8

Opened the season by beating D.C. Division AA Coolidge in its opener behind Virginia Tech signee Rodney Rice’s 30, beat Westtown (Pa.) and five-star Duke-bound center Dereck Lively II with a standout game from Xavier commit Tyrell Ward (23 points, seven boards) and AJ Swinton (20 points, six boards, two steals) then lost to No. 22 St. Frances (Md.) late Sunday despite a double-double from Rodney Rice.

10. Milton (Milton, Ga.) (1-1)

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Etowah (Ga.)

Last ranking: No. 3

Dropped its first game in weeks to strong Georgia 7A opponent Pebblebrook, 64-47, in a game  where its scorers couldn’t find a flow. Junior Seth Fitzgerald’s 15  points leading the way. It was the Eagles’ first game since two players were arrested on murder charges

11. Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) (11-0)

Up next: Dec.10 vs. Ravenscroft (N.C.)

Last ranking: No. 14

Strung together blowout wins over Caldwell Academy (73-27), Cannon School (53-46) and Charlotte Country Day School (62-33) the same week senior forward Vernon Collins Jr. announced his commitment to Princeton.

12. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) (4-4)

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Providence Academy (Tenn.)

Last ranking: No. 9

The Warriors showed flashes, but still looking to find a rhythm after dropping three games in three days over Top 5 NIBC opponents Montverde (86-51), Sunrise Christian (64-61) and IMG Academy (87-75).

13. North Little Rock (Little Rock, Ark.) (6-1)

Up next: Dec. 11 vs. Richardson (Tex.)

Last ranking: No. 10

Arkansas’s top preseason team took its first hit. Beat Beebe (Ark.) and Bartlett (Tenn.) handily, but Arkansas commit Nick Smith’s 23 points weren’t enough to get past defending Arkansas 5A champ Jonesboro in the Barry Pruitt Hurricane Classic finals. 

14. Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) (11-0)

Up next: Dec. 9 vs. Jonesboro (Ark.)

Last ranking: NR

Beat Dream City Christian 81-64 on Friday. Beat Denver Prep Academy by 27 on Saturday. Highly anticipated matchup with Joneboro, Arkansas 5A power, in the Ozark Mountain Shootout on Thursday. Tarris Reed Jr. and Jordan Walsh led the way as Link moved to 11-0.

15. St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) (5-0) 

Up next: Dec. 8 vs. Goretti (Md.)

Last ranking: No. 22

Beat Calvert Hall (Md.) on Friday, 68-50, then upended No. 8 DeMatha in its own gym, 59-55, behind a 16-point, 20-board double-double from junior forward Cortez Johnson in the Nike D.C. Hoopfest.

16. Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.) (7-1)

Up next: Dec. 9 vs. Unknown

Last ranking: No. 15

Took its first loss of the season to Moravian Prep (N.C.) behind 15 points from AJ Smith and bounced back with a blowout win over Hamilton Height Christian Academy in the Tyler Lewis Hoopfest in Lewisville, N.C.

17. Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) (0-0)

Up next: Unknown

Last ranking: No. 17

Has not started its season. The NJSIAA regular season starts Dec. 15.

18. Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) (2-1)

Up next: Dec. 8 vs. Wekiva (Fla.)

Last ranking: No. 17

Defeated Riviera Prep (Miami) 72-67 on Friday behind 21 points, seven assists and five boards from senior point guard Denzel Aberdeen.

19. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) (5-0)

Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Glenbrook South (Ill.)

Last ranking: No. 18

The Hilltoppers’ hot start continued with two home wins — a 73-36 win over DeKalb (Ill.) and a 71-34 win over Lyons Township (Ill.) Friday night, in which Princeton-bound senior Caden Pierce had a team-high 23 points.

20. Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) (4-2)

Up next: Dec. 7 vs. Centennial (Nev.)

Last ranking: No. 11

Beat Legacy Early College (62-60) and Bishop Walsh (78-68), but lost to La Lumiere by 29 points in the NIBC season tipoff. The road doesn’t get easier for the Tigers, who take on Nevada power Centennial (with its former point guard Ricky “Pop Pop” Isaacs), prep powerhouse AZ Compass Prep and Montverde this week. And head coach Paul Peterson loaded up the schedule for a reason.

21. Westtown School (Bellefonte, Penn.) (4-1) 

Up next: Dec. 8 vs. William Penn Charter (Pa.)

Last ranking: No. 19

Beat La Academia (Pa.) 74-25, then suffered its first loss of the season to Power 25-ranked DeMatha by 15 points in the D.C. National Hoopfest Saturday, 77-62. The Patrick School chose  not to play Westtown on Sunday “it was brought to our attention that a member of the opposition presented a health and safety dilemma,” the team wrote on Twitter

22. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-0)

Up next: Dec. 11 vs. Gulliver Prep (Fla.)

Last ranking: No. 21 

Continued to roll in its second week, beating American Heritage (Fla.) 86-43 then Gulliver Prep (Fla.), 68-29.

23. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) (3-0)

Up next: Dec. 8 vs. Mojave (Nev.)

Last ranking: No. 25

Impressive start to the season for the young Gaels, who hadn’t played an official game since the 2019-20 season. They swept their way to a tournament championship in the WildWest Shootout at Reno’s Bishop Manogue, beating Folsom (Calif.) 56-50, Manogue 78-41 and Jesuit of Carmichael, Calif. 78-30. Senior guard Ryan Abelman was named tournament MVP, sophomore combo guard Jase Richardson had 26 against Manogue and John Paul Mobley hit five 3s in the first half on his way to 26 points against Jesuit. 

24. Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) (2-0)

Up next: Dec. 9 vs. Half Hollow Hills East (N.Y.)

Last ranking: No. 23

Collected two wins in the Crusaders’ first week of the season, thrashing St. Mary’s (N.Y.) (78-46) and Luther (70-40).

25. Corona Centennial (Corona, Calif.) (5-1)

Up next: Dec. 2 vs. Oak Hills (Calif.)

Last ranking: No. 24

Played once this week, beating Oak Hills (Calif.) 80-34. 

Who qualifies for the Power 25?

In order to qualify, programs must be either affiliated with the state high school athletic association in the state it resides in or recognized by the association and allowed to play member high schools in its home state.

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— Andy Buhler, SBLive – @AndyBuhler

— Jason Jordan, SI – @JasonJordanSI

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