There's a chance ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 1 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) will be without star swingman Michael Gilchrist when it faces No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) on Monday.
Just days after Gilchrist strained his knee Jan. 5, his mom said he'd only miss a week or two. That won't change Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck's preparation.
"We will be preparing as if he's going to play," said Peck. "I actually think that he will play. Either way, we're preparing as if the injury never happened."
Gilchrist was averaging 16.2 points per game before the injury.
Major ESPN RISE FAB 50 Title Implications
The Saturday game on ESPN (4 p.m. EST) will match FAB 50 No. 2 Northland (Columbus, Ohio) against No. 9 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.). If Oak Hill beats Northland, it would set up an even bigger game Monday when No. 1 St. Patrick plays No. 3 Findlay Prep on ESPNU (3 p.m. EST).
The winner would be in line for the top spot in the FAB 50 rankings.
The last time Findlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph went heads-up against a highly rated point guard was at the NBAPA Camp in the summer. There he held Pine Crest (Boca Raton, Fla.) star Brandon Knight to just five points.
"It was one of the first times people started looking at me as one of the top point guards," Joseph said. "I get up to play everyone, but I definitely am aware of when I'm playing another top-flight point guard."
Now Joseph will do battle against St. Patrick point Kyrie Irving, a Duke signee who some believe is the best all-around point guard in the senior class.
"He's obviously a great player, so the key is to limit his touches," Joseph said. "When great players have the ball in their hands, they're going to do great things. It doesn't matter who's guarding them."
The Pilots will be without Super 60 deep-threat Jabari Brown, who transferred back home to Oakland (Oakland, Calif.) earlier this month. He averaged 16.4 points per game for Findlay Prep.
Knight Darkest Before the Dawn
Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) point guard Kendall Marshall, a North Carolina signee, understands why a lot is being made of his matchup against St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) point guard Myck Kabongo, a Texas commit. But before he can concentrate on slowing Kabongo's productivity, Marshall has to make sure his team is mentally ready for the test.
Since the beginning of December, the Knights have been hit by severe roster depletion. In all, four players left the team for a variety of different reasons, contributing to O'Connell's five-game skid.
"We went to our Christmas tournament with four JV players," Marshall said. "We've got one player back, but we're getting our chemistry together. It's hard to compete on a national level with that type of change. But we're getting to the point where we're gelling now. It's getting better."
Good News, Bad News for St. Anthony.
FAB 50 No. 46 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) will get a major boost when it squares off against FAB 50 No. 8 Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) Monday with 6-8 forward Devon Collier making his debut. Collier had been sidelined after being declared academically ineligible before the season.
"He's been working out religiously with the AAU program that he plays with," St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley said. "He got caught up in the whole recruiting process and he got himself jammed up. But he's learned a lesson and he'll give us a huge lift, because when something's taken away from you like that, it makes you appreciate it more."
Collier will likely start against the Westchester, but St. Anthony remains without Ashton Pankey, a 6-8 forward who is committed to Maryland. Pankey suffered a stress fracture in his left leg before the season.
"It looks like the doctor is going to shut him down for the whole year," Hurley said. "It's bad news. It just hasn't been healing as quickly as they thought."
Special Place in Hall
Enshrinement to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is about as special as any individual honor in the game.
So what's the next best thing? Visiting the Hall, of course.
"I was born and raised in Boston, so for me that's special," Northland assistant coach Mike Clouse says. "As a team, it gives our young men a chance to matchup against another national opponent (FAB 50 No. 9 Oak Hill Academy, Saturday, 4 p.m. EST, ESPN). It's all about the kids, and it certainly gives our kids further down in the rotation a chance to shine on a national stage."
Added Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) junior guard Max Hooper: "Obviously, playing at the Hall of Fame is so exciting … there is so much history there. It means so much to so many people on a number of levels. The game means a lot for me because it is my first game on national TV.
"We definitely respect our opponent. We need to rebound and play defense and, since DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) is favored to beat us, we'll need to execute."
Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Patrick Stanwood and Mark Tennis contributed to this story.