New Jersey has the two best high school basketball teams in the country, according to most national polls, but does it have the depth to be called America's top hoops state this year?
Texas had the depth, but did its top teams venture outside the state enough to prove it?
California always has several very good teams, but did it have an elite team to push it over the top?
SB Nation asked three national high school basketball experts to name the top five basketball states this season.
Here are their comments on some of the top states:
‘'Obvious choice [as a top-five state] as St. Anthony and St. Patrick are arguably the best two teams in the nation. The runner-up in the [Tournament of Champions] if St. A's beats them is Plainfield, whose best player went to Montrose Christian [Tyrone Johnson] this season. Life Center has lots of talent but is not a member of a state association. St. Benedict's had as much talent as anyone but was very up and down this year.''
-Kellon Hassenstab, Hoopniks.com
‘'Have to put New Jersey somewhere in the top five even though I didn't think this was the deepest year in terms of quality teams in that state. The two at the top were pretty good though, St. Anthony and St. Patrick.''
-Jason Hickman, MaxPreps
‘'Not as much depth in this state but has the top two teams in the nation. St. Patrick proved it by beating five ranked out-of-state opponents, and St. Anthony proved it by beating St. Patrick convincingly. St. Anthony could win its fourth National Prep Poll title. That's second only to Oak Hill (Va.). Some of the NYC's top players have migrated to New Jersey in recent years. Eight-loss Linden beat national title contender Montrose Christian (Md.) this season. ‘'
- Jamie DeMoney, PrepNation.com
‘'Texas is on another level than every other state right now. [Depth is] what makes it so incredible. I think there are 15-20 teams in the state that you could put in a City of Palms Classic or Beach Ball Classic and they wouldn't look out of place. That's a big statement. They have the elite teams too in Marcus, Lakeview Centennial, Kimball. The Fort Bend district outside of Houston might have more talent than any school district in the country.''
‘'Flower Mound Marcus could very likely be the preseason No. 1 team nationally next year. Lincoln and Kimball both can compete with anybody in the nation, as can Lakeview Centennial. The private schools also produced some strong teams this season like Grace Prep, Westbury Christian and others.''
‘'Harder to quantify how these teams would do against out-of-state competition because they usually don't travel out of state. But the 4A champ, Kimball, did have five wins against very good out-of-state opponents. Two National Prep Poll champions from this state since 2002 -- and both were 4A teams.''
‘'The state lacks a national title contender this year, but as usual there are a lot of good teams in both Southern and Northern Cal this year. State No. 1 Mater Dei beat three ranked teams and finished third at this year's City of Palms Classic. The Monarchs also beat Long Beach Poly when the Jackrabbits were ranked No. 4 in the nation.''
‘'California is next [No. 2 behind Texas]. They have had three or four teams in my top 25 all year and several others knocking on the door. Mater Dei will be in the conversation for preseason national No. 1 next year barring any unforeseen departures.''
Note: Hassenstab did not rate California among his top five.
‘'Currently has three teams in the National Prep Poll Top 25 [Milton, Norcross, Miller Grove] and another team [Columbia] that's regionally ranked. The preseason No. 1 team in the nation couldn't even win the state title in this state.''
(Note: Milton was the No. 1-ranked team in preseason but lost to Norcross in Georgia's Class AAAAA final.)
‘'I would put Georgia next [No. 3 behind Texas and California], especially by the criteria you are asking about (4-6 teams). Milton was special over the last three years and it speaks to the talent in the state this year that they didn't win a state title. Miller Grove is one of the most underappreciated programs in the country. Even dipping into the lower classifications, not many states have small-school champs like Columbia and Greater Atlanta Christian.''
‘'Lots of talent this season. Milton and Miller Grove were top-five teams for much of the season. Norcross [AAAAA champion] is loaded too, and was playing as well as anybody at the end of the season. SW Dekalb was another team with a loaded roster. The same praise could be given to Columbia [Georgia AAA champion] as well.''
‘'Lots of great teams in Florida this season, not including
Dr. Krop, which was disqualified due to eligibility issues. Dwyer is
probably the most underrated team in the country. Everyone knows about
Winter Park, which could have been an undefeated state champion had
they not taken on a take-on-all-comers philosophy. Montverde Academy
and Arlington Country Day both are among the better private schools in
Three different teams have been in National Prep Poll Top 25 this season. All three teams played and won games against other nationally ranked teams this year.''
Note: Hickman said he would include Florida if independent schools were included.
While DeMoney provided a neat top five, Hickman and Hassenstab listed two or three schools that might make the lower end.
Hickman's No. 5 state was a tie: ‘'I'd probably have to go with Illinois, Indiana or Ohio in the final spot. I think these are all great high school basketball states. Illinois has had the more prominent nationally-ranked teams this year with Simeon and Benet Academy and if there was any truth to Chicago falling off as a top talent producer, that's over now. Kids are coming out of that city to play college basketball by the bushel. Ohio and Indiana probably only have two-three elite teams this year but a lot of solid programs with great coaching, support and all that. Some of Florida's top teams don't play in Florida's high school association.
Hickman also included North Carolina in that group. ''Florida and North Carolina [are perhaps top-five states] if you include the independent schools,'' he said.
Hassenstab rated Virginia as a top-five state: ‘'Unusually loaded this year. Norcom was outstanding, and Oak Hill was very good with an unusually underclassmen based team. Norfolk Christian and Benedictine were both national caliber teams as well."
Hassenstab also had some comments on Indiana, North Carolina and New York: "Indiana is hard to gauge because they have restrictive state rules that prevent their schools from playing in out of state tournaments within some guidelines of distance. North Carolina could potentially be a top 5 state, but I'm unclear as to their eligibility requirements. I know of some players that can be considered fifth year players that played for "high school" teams there this year. New York would easily be in the top 5, but too many talented players leave the state to play primarily for prep school.''