Syracuse Basketball: 5-star targets’ team ascends to No. 1 national ranking

Syracuse basketball (Syndication: Naples Daily News)
Syracuse basketball (Syndication: Naples Daily News) /

The 2021-22 campaign for prep-school squads and public high schools is just getting underway, and there is a new team at the top of new national top-20 rankings with connections to Syracuse basketball.

Jordan Divens, the national basketball editor for MaxPreps, has unveiled a new set of ratings for elite teams across the country. These rankings do not include more traditional prep schools and public high schools, which Divens features in a different set of ratings.

But in Divens’ new top 20, the No. 1 squad is the powerhouse Montverde Academy out of Montverde, Fla. Two of the stand-outs for the Montverde Academy in this current stanza are 2023 five-star forward Kwame Evans Jr. and 2024 five-star power forward Derik Queen.

Both the 6-foot-8 Queen and the 6-foot-9 Evans are Orange recruiting prospects, with the ‘Cuse coaching staff having offered each top-flight player in October, according to media reports.

Syracuse basketball five-star targets suit up for a stellar prep-school group.

Queen and Evans each hail from Baltimore. Last season, Queen played for the Saint Frances Academy in Baltimore, while Evans competed for the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Both prospects have a ton of scholarship offers. Evans, who recently landed a big-time offer from Kentucky, was rated No. 2 overall by the industry-generated 247Sports Composite at the time of this writing.

Queen, meanwhile, is a consensus top-five player in the 2024 class, according to recruiting services that have ranked prospects in his cycle.

According to analysts and journalists who cover high-school hoops, the Montverde Academy is expected to seriously contend for a national title in 2021-22. This team, a season ago, captured its fifth GEICO Nationals championship, defeating Sunrise Christian Academy from Bel Aire, Kan., in the final game.

The Montverde Academy is part of the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference, a super league of sorts, and the Eagles will play a ton of excellent foes in 2021-22, as we noted in another recent column.

In Divens’ top-20 rankings, the Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, checks in at No. 11. The Wasatch Academy line-up includes Syracuse basketball 2022 commit Chris Bunch, a four-star wing and a top-60 prospect who in October picked the ‘Cuse over other finalists Rutgers and Washington.

Also, Hillcrest Prep in Gilbert, Ariz., is No. 6, the La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., is No. 7, the AZ Compass Prep School in Chandler, Ariz., is No. 9, and Prolific Prep in Napa Valley, Calif., is No. 12.

Former Orange 2022 four-star commit Kamari Lands attends Hillcrest Prep, former ‘Cuse 2022 four-star target J.J. Starling, who picked Notre Dame, is out of the La Lumiere School, former Syracuse basketball 2022 four-star target and Auburn commit Chance Westry goes to the AZ Compass Prep School, and former Orange 2022 five-star commit Dior Johnson is from Prolific Prep.

Next. For Syracuse basketball, recruiting battle looms with blue-blood for 5-stars. dark