SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25: No. 7 Camden (New Jersey) picks up big win, holds steady in national boys basketball rankings

All eyes were on New Jersey Friday night as two of the top-ranked high school boys basketball teams in the country went head-to-head. And the game did not disappoint.

Roselle Catholic led Camden through most of the season-opener between the New Jersey powers, but Camden roared back and won, 67-64, behind five-star junior DJ Wagner’s 25 points.

That was the highest-ranked SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25 matchup of the week, but there were plenty of great games with a schedule that included the City of Palms Classic, Tarkanian Classic, Hoophall Central and other elite high school showcases.

Arkansas power North Little Rock moved up two spots to No. 10 after beating No. Dr. Phillips (Fla.), and Calvary Christian (Fla.) made the biggest jump to No. 15 after handling No. 11 Greensboro Day by 19 points in the opening round of the City of Palms Classic.

Cardinal Hayes (N.Y.) made its entry into the rankings at No. 25 after a 4-0 start that includes a win over No. 23 Long Island Lutheran, who is now on the edge of the outside looking in.

Find the complete breakdown of the latest SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25 national boys basketball rankings below.

SBLIVE/SI POWER 25: PRESEASON RANKINGS NOV. 22NOV. 29 DEC. 6 | DEC. 20

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. 20, 2021

1. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) (7-1) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. North Little Rock (Ark.)

Last ranking: No. 1

Trailed at half, then rallied to beat Ballard (Ky.) 75-61 behind Keyonte George’s 24 points at the City of Palms Classic Saturday night. Monday night showdown with North Little Rock looms.

2. Duncanville (Duncanville, Tex.) (11-0) 

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. DeSoto (Tex.)

Last ranking: No. 2

Received well-earned break after an 11-0 start that included a win over Montverde.

3. Sunrise Christian (Bel Aire, Kan.) (9-1) 

Up next: Jan. 6 vs. Montverde Academy 

Last ranking: No. 3

Duke commit Mark Mitchell’s 15 points and six boards helped put away Kenwood Academy (Ill.) at Hoophall Central in South Dakota Friday. Buffaloes cap 2021 among the country’s best with wins over IMG Academy, Oak Hill and La Lumiere with its lone loss coming to Montverde.

4. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) (8-2) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Orlando Christian Prep

Last ranking: No. 4

Beat Georgia powerhouse Berkmar 76-51 in the City of Palms Classic on Saturday. Five players finished in double figures, highlighted by Dariq White and Jalen Hood-Schifino’s 16 points apiece.

5. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) (9-1) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. ‘Iolani (Hi.)

Last ranking: No. 5

With UCLA-bound Amari Bailey still out, Bronny James stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points (four 3s), seven assists, five boards and four steals in a 63-39 win over Punahou (Hi.) on Saturday in the ‘Iolani Classic in Honolulu.

6. La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) (8-1) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Vision Prep (N.Y.)

Last ranking: No. 6

Junior point guard Jeremy Fears’s 24 points helped the Lakers put away St. Francis (Ill.) on Saturday. 

7. Camden (Camden, N.J.) (1-0)

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Woodrow Wilson (N.J.)

Last ranking: No. 7 

Five-star combo guard DJ Wagner scored 25 points and New Jersey high school basketball opened with a bang as Camden took down No. 15 Roselle Catholic 67-64 in a game Roselle led most of the way. ESPN billed the showcase as the “Castle on the Hill.” Panthers extend their win streak to 39.

8. Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) (15-0)

Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Tigard (Ore.) (Les Schwab Invitational)

Last ranking: 8

Swept its way through the Tarkanian Classic with wins over Veritas Prep (67-49), The Patrick School (51-35) and Central Pointe Christian (62-54) to move to 15-0.

9. Richardson (Richardson, Tex.) (12-1) 

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Nimitz (Tex.)

Last ranking: No. 9

Kentucky-bound Cason Wallace and Alabama pledge Rylan Griffen continue to show why they are one of the nation’s top backcourts. Returned home and beat Highland Park, 70-53, before opening district play Tuesday.

10. North Little Rock (Little Rock, Ark.) (7-1) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. IMG Academy (City of Palms)

Last ranking: No. 12

After beating Texas power Richardson last week, Arkansas pledge Nick Smith Jr. led North Little Rock to another Power 25 win over No. 16 Dr. Phillips, 63-62 in the first round of the City of Palms. But its biggest test is ahead: IMG Academy on Monday night.

11. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (6-1)

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.)

Last ranking: No. 10

Beat St. Mary’s Ryken 66-53 then had a Sunday showdown with St. Maria Goretti canceled.

12. St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) (12-1)

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Md.)

Last ranking: No. 13

Did not play.

13. Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.) (10-1)

Up next: Dec. 19 vs. AZ Compass Prep (City of Palms)

Last ranking: No. 14

AJ Smith finished with 16 points and five boards in a City of Palms Classic win over Crestwood Prep 92-68, setting the table for a Tuesday showdown with Arizona prep power AZ Compass.

14. Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) (1-1)

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Union Catholic (N.J.)

Last ranking: No. 15

UNC-bound Simeon Wilcher dropped 21 points and seven boards and Akil Watson pitched in 17 and seven, but it wasn’t enough to overcome No. 7 Camden in a thrilling in-state showdown to open the season. Rebounded with a 99-83 win over South Shore (N.J.) behind sophomore Tarik Watson’s 18.

15. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (5-0) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Milton (Ga.) (City of Palms)

Last ranking: No. 20

Beat No. 11 Greensboro Day School handily — 62-43 — and turned heads along the way in the first round of the City of Palms Classic behind Michigan pledge Gregg Glenn’s 18 points and 10 boards.

16. Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) (14-1) 

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Gill St. Bernard’s School (N.J.)

Last ranking: No. 11

Took its first loss of the season in the City of Palms opener to No. 20 Calvary Christian, 62-43, then beat St. John’s College High School (D.C.) in overtime behind Michael Zanoni’s 20 points.

17. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) (10-0) 

Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Downers Grove (Ill.)

Last ranking: No. 17

6-foot-4 guard Paxton Warden scored 17 points and the Hilltoppers rolled York (Ill.) 62-36 to move to 10-0. Next action is at the York-hosted Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.

18. Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) (4-2) 

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Charlotte (N.C.)

Last ranking: No. 16

Dropped a thriller to No. 12 North Little Rock despite 24 points from Mississippi State pledge Riley Kugel in a matchup of blue chip bigs (Kansas-bound Ernest Udeh Jr. and Oregon-bound Kel’el Ware).

19. Westtown School (Bellefonte, Penn.) (9-1)

Up next: Dec. 23 vs. St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.)

Last ranking: No. 18

Beat Rock Top Academy (Penn.) 87-82, then eked out a 49-46 win over International Sports Academy (Oh.) behind standout performances from Duke pledge Dereck Lively and Quin Berger.

20. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) (8-5) 

Up next: Jan. 6 vs. La Lumiere (Ind.)

Last ranking: No. 19

After two blowout losses in a loaded NIBC-heavy early season schedule, Oak Hill thrashed two solid programs at the City of Palms Classic: Isadore Newman (La.) 82-48 and Whitney Young (Ill.) 97-67.

21. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) (8-0)

Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Durango (Colo.)

Last ranking: No. 21

Coasted to wins over Evangel Christian School (71-39) and Salesian (67-56) in the first two days at the Gorman-hosted Tarkanian Classic.

22. Corona Centennial (Corona, Calif.) (6-1) 

Up next: Dec. 17 vs. Totino-Grace (Minn.)

Last ranking: No. 25

Posted two comfortable wins at Hoophall Central in South Dakota over Totino-Grace (Minn.) and Bellevue West (Neb.).

23. Gonzaga College (Washington D.C.) (6-0) 

Up next: Dec. 26 vs. Lake Oswego (Ore.)

Last ranking: No. 24

Resumes play in Oregon’s Les Schwab Invitational on Dec. 26.

24. Newton (Covington, Ga.) (9-0)

Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Prolific Prep (Calif.)

Last ranking: 25

Did not play.

25. Cardinal Hayes (N.Y.) (4-0)

Up next: Dec. 21 vs. Knox School (N.Y.)

Last ranking: NR

Impressive 4-0 start with wins over St. Ray’s, Archbishop Stepinac and No. 23 Long Island Lutheran at the PSA Showcase. Tariq Foster had 14 points and nine boards and Tobe Awaka pitched in 12 and 14 in the early upset.

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.

***

— Andy Buhler, SBLive – @AndyBuhler

— Jason Jordan, SI – @JasonJordanSI

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