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Pass Tha Ball Prep Polls in Review

By Bob Corwin, 02/11/18, 7:00PM PST


Nicole Blakes (#21) and Haley Jones of Archbishop Mitty High School (PC: Bob Corwin)

(Week of February 4, 2018): Mitty leads the way

By Bob Corwin

Below is the first Pass Tha Ball Prep Polls in Review for the 2017-2018 season. Last season finished with three different teams winning at least one of the four mythical national high school championship polls. A fourth (St. John’s of DC) won this combined title garnering the most votes amongst the four polls without being first in any!

Current state of affairs

This season currently has no disagreement as Archbishop Mitty of California sits first in each of the four polls. Mitty’s claim is based on winning the Nike Tournament of Champions before Christmas beating three of the current consensus top 10 and remaining unbeaten to date.

The polls seem to agree on who the top eight teams are. After that, opinion diverges significantly. All told 39 high schools were mentioned in at least one of the top twenty-five lists.

A lot of data has now been logged with Christmas tournaments and December/January showcase events completed. However, past years have shown there will be upsets as states get into playoffs with more competitive match-ups than most of league play has to offer. The race is far from over!

The re-classing issue surfaces

Re-classing is the practice of allowing a player to repeat a grade and thus play another year of high school sports thereby giving a student-athlete the opportunity of participating in five years of high school sports. Re-classing is most common in privately run “prep” schools where an incoming sophomore (could be younger) or junior is made to repeat the freshman or sophomore year. In those schools’ opinion, this gives the student-athlete a better chance to be fully prepared for college academically and athletically.

As a general rule, NFHS members (the “state” organizations) and NFHS affiliate members (private school organizations in states where private schools are mostly excluded from the state organization but play for a state title with schools of like kind) do not allow this practice, instead adhering to the “eight-semester” rule as to eligibility upon entering one’s freshman year of high school (no red shirting as in college).

Many NFHS member schools, either individually or collectively, choose not to play “re-classers,” arguing those institutions already recruit players and now want us to play against someone who should already be in college by age or playing experience. They believe that this is not a level playing field, and to extend to here not fair to rank both kinds of schools in the same poll.

In many states, the NFHS member organizations will not allow their members to schedule schools that they know are practicing re-classing. Pennsylvania’s PIAA has taken the issue even further asking its member schools not to play any school that “re-classed” a player as young as grade seven!

As to rankings this year, one private school, whose program has re-classed in the past but has no re-classed players on the current roster, is ranked by two of the four polls and made the list below (no name mentioned here!). The argument is no re-classed players so good to go as to ranking.

The opposing argument (taken by at least one poll) is to not consider schools that are “re-classers” but only rank “non-re- classers.” These include NFHS member schools (of which examples would be any public school or say Mitty which is private but a full CIF member), NFHS affiliate member schools (Paul VI would be one as a VISAA member) or totally independent private schools whose policy is not to re-class (Hamilton Heights is one). The thinking here is to draw a line and let each school decide which side of the line they wish to live on (no going back and forth year to year!).

Perhaps someone will do a national ranking for schools that re-class (most private boarding preps and a number of independents that re-class less frequently). There is nothing wrong about re-classing, just the question if such schools should be eligible in a poll where re-classing is generally not allowed by the grand majority of candidate schools.

How many schools play girls high school basketball?

The MaxPreps computer ranks over 17,500 in the sport. Our guess that the number is close to 18,000. So, realize how great the honor is to be in any poll recognizing only 25 schools!

The ranking approach used here

An approach which has been used in football is the basis for what is done here. The four national polls (links below) were reviewed and 25 points assigned to the team ranked first down to one point for a team ranked 25th. Then the points were added up (maximum score 100) to create the ranking order.

Looking briefly at the four individual polls

MaxPreps tends to be the most result oriented and least forgiving for losses to unranked teams. On the flip side, MaxPreps rewards the quality teams perceived to have the most difficult schedules with the highest rankings to start the season.

ESPN refers to its poll as "Power Rankings". It is the most forgiving of losses, looking at what would be expected of teams if they met in the future (who's better in a theoretical future meeting which may never occur).

USA Today (oldest poll) and Blue Star (run by a former USA Today pollster) use similar methodology, tending to be more record oriented than ESPN, but more willing to forgive losses by perceived "good teams" than MaxPreps. Individuals who run the Blue Star and USA Today polls also simultaneously conduct polls for other sports. Thus, due to more limited time availability, these tend to have less actual personal viewing input of teams than the other two polls include (ESPN probably highest here in its ranked teams seen in person).

Here are the links to the individual polls:

Blue Star Media: PANTHERS STRIKE BACK: No. 6 Paul VI (VA) records key victory to move up Blue Star Media Elite 25 girls' rankings - Bluestar Media

ESPN: espnW 25 Power Rankings - ESPN

MaxPreps: MaxPreps Top 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard - MaxPreps

USA Today: Super 25 Girls Basketball Expert Rankings | USA TODAY High School Sports

Pass Tha Ball Prep Polls in Review (from polls released week of February 4, 2018)

1 Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, California) 100 (4 first place votes)

2 Christ the King High School (Middle Village, New York) 89

3 Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas) 88

4 Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) 87

5 Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, Virginia) 84

6 Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tennessee) 80

7-8 St. John's College High School (Washington, DC) 79

7-8 St. Mary’s High School (Stockton, California) 79

9 Centennial High School (Las Vegas, Nevada) 61

10 Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) 55

11 Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School (Raleigh, North Carolina) 53

12 Princess Anne High School (Virginia Beach, Virginia) 50

13 Edwardsville High School (Edwardsville, Illinois) 35

14 Westridge Academy (Kernersville, North Carolina) 34

15-16 Central Valley High School (Spokane Valley, Washington) 28

15-16 Westlake High School (Atlanta, Georgia) 28

17 Hoover High School (Hoover, Alabama) 26

18-19 Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School (Atlanta, Georgia) 25

18-19 Mercer County High School (Harrodsburg, Kentucky) 25

20 Baldwin High School (Baldwin, New York) 22

21 Mansfield Timberview High School (Arlington, Texas) 21

22 Saint John Vianney High School (Holmdel, New Jersey) 20

23-24 Bradley Central High School (Cleveland, Tennessee) 17

23-24 Winter Haven High School (Winter Haven, Florida) 17

25 Eastview High School (Apple Valley, Minnesota) 14


Teams with location are listed according to total number of points garnered 25 for first down to one for 25th place. Where there are ties, teams are listed alphabetically. Again, for more details on each team, see the four polls individually. Another review will come out in a few weeks with the last one in April if all goes as planned.