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Case for No. 1: Montverde

Florida school faces arguably most grueling schedule in the country, but has the roster to succeed

9:34 AM, Nov. 02, 2012 EDT

Montverde (Fla.) coach Kevin Boyle, who coached Kyrie Irving at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), says center Dakari Johnson is "definitely a future lottery pick."

For two weeks, Jim Halley and Jason Jordan of USA TODAY High School Sports will take a look at the 10 high school boys basketball teams with a shot to be ranked as the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Next up, alphabetically, is Montverde Academy of Florida.

Monday's Case: Chester, Pa.

Tuesday's Case: Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)

Wednesday's Case: Huntington Prep (W.Va.)

Thursday's Case: Long Beach Poly (Calif.)

Today's Case: MONTVERDE (Fla.)

Why it should be No. 1: The Eagles blew an 18-point lead in last year’s National High School Invitational and fell to Findlay Prep in heartbreaking fashion. In that game, point guard Kasey Hill, a Florida commit who is ranked No. 8 in the Rivals150, was virtually unguardable.

The great news for Montverde? Hill is back.

He’ll team with Dakari Johnson, a junior center who is ranked No. 6 in the Rivals150. Johnson had to sit out last season due to transfer rules, and Montverde coach Kevin Boyle expects Johnson to have a major impact right away.

“He’s definitely a future lottery pick,” Boyle said of Johnson. “He’s really talented and really big (6-foot-11). He’ll put up numbers.” Add in D’Angelo Russell, a junior who is ranked No. 12 in the Rivals150, on the perimeter and Devin Williams, a senior forward, in the paint and the Eagles post one of the most talented starting lineups in the country.

Their bench is equally impressive. Miguel Cartagena is a talented senior guard who was a part-time starter last season and made the all-tournament team in the prestigious City of Palms Classic (Fort Myers, Fla.) when Hill went down with an injury. Plus junior guards Justin Bibbs and Brendan Boyle will help in the backcourt and junior forward Jordan Caroline will add depth in the paint.

The Eagles will need all hands on deck with arguably the most grueling schedule in the country.

Player Sound-Off: Kasey Hill, senior, point guard: “We’re definitely No. 1. There’s no other team out there that has a better point guard, shooting guard, power forward and center than us. So that’s the biggest reason and then we’re playing the toughest schedule in the country. We’re not hiding from anybody.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSAToday.



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