For the next 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.
Today's Case: PRESTONWOOD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (Plano, Texas)
Why they should be No. 1: The Lions have a good mix of veterans and underclassmen with high basketball IQs, but staking their claim as the top team in the Super 25 starts with senior forward Julius Randle, who is ranked No. 2 in the Rivals150.
Randle had been the top player in the country for the last four months until Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) wing Andrew Wiggins reclassified from 2014 to 2013 and took over the top spot.
Still, Randle is the most physically imposing player in the country and can hurt you with his mid-range game, in the paint or driving the lane.
“He’s our centerpiece,” Prestonwood Christian coach Chris Mayberry said. “He’s what makes us go.”
Randle has the perfect complement on the perimeter in forward Mickey Mitchell, a consensus top five sophomore in the country. Mitchell, who doubles as Prestonwood's star quarterback during the fall, injured his knee on Nov. 2 and the Lions are awaiting the results of an MRI, which Mitchell received Monday.
Those results are critical since Mitchell helped the Lions win big games last season including the prestigious City of Palms Classic (Fort Myers, Fla.), scoring 19 points in the title game. Mitchell’s ability to play three or four different positions efficiently loosens the opposition’s defensive focus on Randle, and speedy point guard Marquan Botley, a senior, is an able leader who knocks down shots and gets into the lane at will.
The Lions’ 3-point snipers will be ready to fire when the defense packs it in on Randle, who is exceptional at passing out of double and triple teams. Senior guard Chas Taylor may be the Lions' best perimeter threat.
“We should be pretty tough,” Mayberry said. “We’ll just have to learn how to defend teams that are bigger than us, but I like the makeup of our team.”
Player Sound-Off: Julius Randle, senior, forward: “I think we should be No. 1 because we’ve had another year under our new coach’s system and our team chemistry is great. We’ve got some young guys, but they’re getting better every day. We play as a team and that’s what makes us No. 1.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSAToday.