Jack Yates High School in Houston is up to No. 2 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings. In their closest game of the season so far, the Lions defeated Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia by one point (97-96) in the championship game of the Iolani Prep Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Yates 6-foot-2 senior guard Joseph Young scored 25 points in that nip-and-tuck affair and was named tournament MVP. Neumann-Goretti, No. 8 in the FAB 50, hasn't lost another game. Young, bound for Providence and ranked No. 99 in the ESPNU 100, has excelled against other strong teams, including a tournament record and personal best 43 points (along with seven rebounds and five assists) in a 108-77 win over Butler (Huntsville, Ala.) in the title game of the T-Mobile Invitational in Birmingham, Ala.
Despite Young's performances, when it comes to undefeated Yates, most of the attention derives from the style in which the Lions have dispatched opponents, not the fact nobody's been able to beat them in 23 games. The firestorm started Jan. 5 when Yates defeated cross-town Lee, 170-35, to set a Texas state record for single game scoring.
The results of the week three Mr. Basketball USA Tracker showed Young on five ballots with 24 points. In the past three weeks, however, he's not appeared on a single ballot.
"An outsider looking in, I can see how someone can think that (we're intentionally running up the score)," said Yates head coach Greg Wise. "It's funny because in some games we've scored close to that and nobody has said anything. To be honest, I didn't know the score was so out of hand until it was over. The first thing they (the national media) said was there was a fight. Like it was a knockdown, full out brawl. Not one kid hit anyone."
On Jan. 29, Yates beat Lee again, 125-26, and not much hoopla was made of it.
"There is just some people that are going to be negative about any situation no matter what," Wise proclaimed. "We're not going to walk the ball down the floor."
Wise understands both ends of the spectrum and has some supporters, even among teams that have fallen prey to his pack of Lions.
"The folks that are saying positive things, I think they understand what it takes to get a team to play like that," Wise said. "Asking my boys to not play that way in the middle of the fourth quarter is one thing, but to turn it down for half the game? In two tournament games last year, we stayed in the same zone defense for most of the time and in the next game, we were out of sync. It's my fault we lost that game. I'd be doing a disservice to the kids not to have them ready for the playoffs."
"Yates has been beating everybody like that," said Houston Madison coach Craig Maura. "Last year, they beat us by 30 with Tommie (Mason-Griffin). I can give you his number and you can call him, he'll tell you. This is the same style he had at his former school (Houston Lee), it's not anything new."
Lost in the shuffle have been the defensive work of Wise's club and the unselfish attitude of his starters. In a couple of instances, the entire 15-man roster saw action in the first quarter, according to Wise. In the close games, that's when Young has shined the brightest. It's unfortunate Yates' frenetic scoring has overshadowed his excellent play.
"Joe Young can play on that (McDonald's) team," Maura said. "He's known to make 1,500 shots a day. Not take, make. He's a big-time player and works hard."
"Most teams don't work as hard on the defensive end," Wise said. "Even in the fourth quarter we still are going to go hard. "For Young and (the players) to not get recognition is a shame."
Read below to see the voting results of the seventh 2009-10 ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball Tracker. Stay logged into ESPNRISE.com to track the progress of the top individual players -- as well as the top teams -- in the ESPN RISE FAB 50.
Others Receiving Votes:
Quincy Miller (Quality Education, Winston-Salem, N. C.) 18 pts. (2)
Michael Gilchrist (St. Patrick, Elizabeth, N.J.) 16 pts. (3)
Tobias Harris (Half Hollow Hills West, Dix Hills, N.Y.) 15 pts. (3)
DeAndre Daniels (Taft, Woodland Hills, Calif.) 9 pts. (2)
Jayvaughn Pinkston (Bishop Loughlin, Brownsville, N.Y.) 8 pts. (1)
Tristan Thompson (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) 7 pts. (1)
Ian Miller (United Faith Christian Academy, Charlotte, N.C.) 6 pts. (1)
Joe Jackson (White Station, Memphis, Tenn.) 5 pts. (1)
Bradley Beal (Chaminade, St. Louis, Mo.) 4 pts. (1)
Tony Chenault (Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia, Pa.) 4 pts. (1)
Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas) 4 pts. (1)
LeBryan Nash (Lincoln, Dallas, Texas) 4 pts. (1)
Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) 4 pts. (1)