50 States in 50 Days: Texas
The high school basketball preview tour rolls on; Day 6 is all about Texas
As the season draws closer, Five-Star is previewing the high school basketball scene in all 50 states. Each day, we will focus on one state, highlighting the top teams, players and games of the upcoming season. Today, we focus on Texas. So, Texans, did we pick the top teams or did we snub your alma matter? Did we find the best players, or is there someone flying under the radar, ready to make noise? Let us know in the comments below.
The second largest state by both area and population, “The Lone Star State’s” synonymous with top-notch high school football. But, don’t discount Texas’ heightened hoops culture. Marcus was a top-10 national program last year and returns Rivals’ No. 3 rated small forward in the country in Marcus Smart. Fort Bend’s pair of programs – Hightower and Travis – are equally equipped to make a splash of Texas-sized proportions.
Five Teams to Watch:
Marcus: The Marauders turned out an incredible season last year going 39-1 overall and finishing an unblemished 13-0 in league play under head coach Danny Henderson. According to MaxPreps, those results were good enough to secure Marcus HS the top spot in national high school rankings. Look for the Marauders to continue their dominance this season with the return of standout guards Marcus Smart and Phil Forte, as well as New Mexico-commit Nick Banyard.
Grace Prep: Despite finishing only 22-6 overall last year, the Lions managed to go undefeated (6-0) in league play. Look for the Lions to improve significantly on their record from last season due to the return of all-star big man and Baylor commit Isaiah Austin, as well as standout freshman shooting guard Emmanuel Mudiay. With another year of development under his belt, Mudiay’s combination of athleticism and skill should complement Austin’s interior play, making Grace Prep a force to be reckoned with.
DeSoto: Any time Matt Jones steps on the floor, opposing defenses panic. Fortunately for Head Coach Chris Dyer, Jones will once again be suiting up for the DeSoto High basketball team. Look for Jones, an athletic shooting guard with a great jump shot to lead DeSoto this season as they try to improve upon their overall record of 34-4, which included only one blemish (8-1) in league play.
Fort Bend Hightower: Although the loss of graduated senior Johnathan Jordan (12 ppg, 4 apg) will sting, Coach David Green’s Fort Bend Hightower squad appears to be in good standing heading into the 2011-2012 season due to the return of the majority of last year’s roster. One such returnee is national standout and University of Houston-commit Danuel House. House and co. will aim to improve on last season’s league record, an unimpressive tally of 8-4.
Fort Bend Travis: Fort Bend Travis fans have a lot to be excited about this season with the return of the Harrison twins. Two of the top prospects in the class of 2013, the Harrison twins provide an absolutely dominant backcourt, perhaps even the best in the nation. Of course it takes more than two players to win games, however the Harrisons will have plenty of help, especially from swingman Christian Crockett.
Five Players to Watch:
Rasheed Sulaimon (6-3, 180 lbs) (Strake Jesuit College Prep- Houston, TX) (2012)
Duke fans everywhere are eagerly awaiting the arrival of talented guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who bears a striking resemblance to former Duke standout Nolan Smith not only in physical dimensions, but in style of play as well. Sulaimon is a high-octane player that can flat out score the rock. He can beat you off the dribble and attack the rim, or make it rain with a great jump shot that extends beyond three-point range. Sulaimon should be a great addition to an already stacked backcourt for coach K and the Blue Devils.
Isaiah Austin (7-0, 215 lbs) (Grace Prep- Arlington, TX) (2012)
After an impressive summer campaign with the AAU program Texas Pro, talented forward, and Baylor-bound big man Isaiah Austin is looking to continue to perform at a high level during his upcoming senior season for Grace Prep (Arlington, TX). The lanky forward has proven over time that he is a force to be reckoned with, utilizing a full arsenal of weapons including solid ball handling skills and a well-developed jump shot. Austin should be a great addition to the already formidable frontcourt of the Baylor Bears by providing an athletic presence that can stretch defenses with his reliable jump shot.
Marcus Smart (6-4, 220 lbs) (Marcus High School- Flower Mound, TX) (2012)
Despite being listed as a guard, Smart possesses the ability to play all three perimeter positions with ease. An explosive athlete, Smart plays with incredible strength and speed, allowing him to beat defenders off the dribble with a quick first-step. Furthermore, Smart is a strong rebounder in traffic for his size, which is a testament to both his overall physical strength and superior athleticism. Oklahoma State fans should keep their eyes on Smart this season as he leads perennial powerhouse Marcus High School through the fire of Texas high school basketball.
Cameron Ridley (6-10, 230 lbs) (Bush High School- Fort Bend, TX) (2012)
Simply put, Cameron Ridley is a beast. The prototypical “old-school” center, Ridley possesses a combination of physical size and strength with improving athleticism, solid skill, and a winner’s mindset. Texas Longhorns fans have a lot to be excited about with this young man, who should provide a dominant physical presence down low. Ridley is truly a joy to watch. He uses his suction cup-like hands and improving footwork in order to establish position deep in the post, which opens up the opportunity for teammates to knock down open perimeter shots.
Danuel House (6-6, 185 lbs) (Fort Bend Hightower High School- Sugar Land, TX) (2012)
House is yet another example of a Texas prospect staying close to home. Danuel will be suiting up for the University of Houston alongside standout PF prospect Danrad “Chicken” Knowles. House is a solid athlete, loves slashing to the basket, and can finish well above the rim, making him an absolute terror in transition. The commitments from House and Knowles are paramount to the future of Houston basketball, and should definitely change the landscape of C-USA basketball.
Shaquille O’Neal (Robert G. Cole)*
Dennis Rodman (South Oak Cliff)
Deron Williams (The Colony)
Clyde Drexler (Sterling)
Stephen Jackson (Lincoln)
Chris Bosh (Lincoln)
LaMarcus Aldridge (Seagoville)
Larry Johnson (Skyline)
Rashard Lewis (Alief Elsik)
Emeka Okafor (Bellaire)
Kendrick Perkins (Clifton J. Ozen)
Kurt Thomas (Hillcrest)
Tony Battie (South Oak Cliff)
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Jesuit)
Chris Andersen (Iola)
T.J. Ford (Willowridge)
Daniel Gibson (Jesse H. Jones)
Ronnie Price (Clear Brook HS)
Spud Webb (Wilmer-Hutchins)
* O'Neal was born in Newark, N.J., but played two years of high school basketball in San Antonio, TX, at Cole H.S. when his father was stationed there in the military.