The Dick's Sporting Goods High School Nationals invitational tournament presents opportunities for the top boys and girls basketball teams to showcase their skills on the ESPN family of networks.
This time in the spotlight is a lot for teenagers to handle, but the amount of transcendent talent on these select squads ensure the top stars will be up to the task.
Headlining the eight-team boys bracket is No. 1 seed Oak Hill Academy (Virginia). The girls' edition features four teams, with Florida's Dillard High School as the top overall seed.
Complete brackets can be found on the tournament's official website, along with a bio blast for each team. Read on for further information and the top recruits to watch in this three-day event that runs from Thursday through Saturday.
Christ the King High School in Middle Village, New York, plays host to the first two days, while the championships will be played Saturday in Madison Square Garden.
|2015 High School Nationals Basketball Schedule|
|Thursday, April 2 — Boys Quarterfinals||Time (ET)||Watch|
|No. 3 Blanche Ely (Florida) vs. No. 6 Findlay Prep (Nevada)||12 p.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|No. 4 Wheeler High School (Georgia) vs. No. 5 Huntington Prep (Virginia)||2 p.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|No. 2 Montverde Academy (Florida) vs. No. 7 Greensboro Day (North Carolina)||4 p.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) vs. No. 8 Wings Academy (New York)||6 p.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|Friday, April 3 — Boys & Girls Semifinals||Time (ET)||Watch|
|No. 2 Miami Country Day (Florida) vs. No. 3 Gonzaga Prep (Washington)||11 a.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|No. 1 Dillard High School (Florida) vs. No. 4 South Shore High School (New York)||1 p.m.||ESPNU/ESPN3|
|Boys Game 7||3 p.m.||ESPN 2|
|Boys Game 8||5 p.m.||ESPN 2|
|Saturday, April 4 — Boys & Girls Championships||Time (ET)||Watch|
|Matchups TBD||Girls: 10 a.m.; Boys: 12 p.m.||ESPN 2; ESPN|
Top Recruits to Watch
Ben Simmons, SF, Montverde Academy
The most logical place to start is with Simmons, who is 247Sports' No. 1-ranked recruit in the country.
Simmons is seeking to spearhead what would be a third consecutive tournament win for Montverde Academy. He's already committed to LSU, and at this point it's all about closing out his high school career in style.
CBSSports.com's Jon Rothstein gave Simmons quite a lofty college-player comparison in his analysis:
Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein
Going to be tough to guard LSU next season. Could see a lot of 4 around Ben Simmons. Tigers may play like Iowa State did with Royce White.2015-3-31 17:38:04
According to Frank Jolley of the Daily Commercial, Simmons boasts averages of 28 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest this season. That should give the Eagles plenty of firepower to contend with anyone they encounter—even if it's top-seeded Oak Hill Academy.
Standing at 6'8" and 220 pounds, defenders have nightmares trying to match up with Simmons' blend of size, quickness and athleticism. For someone his size, his ball-handling skills are ridiculous, and he can finish with authority at the rim.
With such a dynamic arsenal that includes legitimate three-point range, it's almost impossible to guard Simmons—especially when he's in the open court with a full head of steam. There's a reason he's considered the top prospect in the country.
Brianna Fraser, PF, South Shore High School
Fraser, who's committed to play college hoops at Maryland, is the highest-rated girls player in action, placed No. 15 overall in the espnW 100 rankings.
If there's any solace South Shore (New York) can take in being the lowest-seeded team, the Vikings at least have the most respected player in Fraser. The 6'3" star from Brooklyn can establish position extremely well down low but has the athleticism to create mismatches with her face-up prowess.
From the brief highlight package below, one can see the type of finesse Fraser has to her offensive game:
With the ability to take her opponents off the dribble and also play with her back to the basket, Fraser has a rare skill set that includes exceptional shooting range. She's only going to get better, and could elevate her game with her team needing a strong individual performance to advance to the championship.
Considering South Shore will be underdogs to No. 1 seed Dillard (Florida), the circumstances are ripe for Fraser to take center stage and dominate.
In the past two trips Dillard has made to this tournament, it has been bounced in the opening round. Fraser is the type of player who can take over a game and send the top seed packing early yet again this year.
Jaylen Brown, SF, Wheeler High School
The only 5-star stud among this trio yet to have made his college decision, Brown has a similar, wiry frame to that of Simmons.
Brown's Wheeler (Georgia) squad defeated Simmons' Montverde Academy en route to Georgia's 6A state title, per the tournament's official website. One can bet that Brown and his teammates will be playing with a collective chip on their shoulders since they're seeded fourth behind Simmons and Co.
As is the case with many players at this level, developing a more reliable jump shot is a priority for Brown, per ESPN.com's scouting report. If he can put in the work to do that leading up to his first college season, his game will be that much better.
And that's saying something, because Brown is already improving in that regard and is 247Sports' No. 2 overall recruit.
Even with the likes of Kentucky coveting him, the youngster has great perspective, via the Lexington Herald-Reader's Ben Roberts:
Ben Roberts @BenRobertsHL
Jaylen Brown said it again today: "Kentucky's the best basketball program in the country." Also: "It's more than just basketball with me."2015-3-31 17:53:44
It would be great to see the two consensus top boys prospects in Simmons and Brown get another shot at each other head-to-head. Unfortunately, such a scenario will only play out if both their teams make the championship.
This potential showdown should provide incentive for both stars, but this field of teams is extremely deep. Any one of the eight teams could take home the title, though Simmons' Eagles will have a target on their backs as the two-time reigning champions.