Prep Zone Power Poll – 2014-15 Boys Basketball Poll #1 (PRESEASON)

PZ - wide(none)Gainesville – Not much has changed in the basketball Prep Zone Power Poll since the end of the 2013-14 season.

Six of the top 10 teams in last year’s final poll are ranked in the top 10 to begin the season, including the top two teams. Additionally, only four teams that were ranked in the final poll last March were left out of the preseason poll’s top 20 (Nature Coast, Santa Fe, The Villages & Hawthorne).

Despite the losses of Grayson Allen (Duke) and Christian Terrell (Florida Gulf Coast), the Stallions of Providence (Jacksonville) begin the season where they left off – on top of the rankings. They ended last season with a loss to unbeaten and eventual state champion Sagemont (Weston) in the 3A state semifinals.

There is plenty of depth in the front court for the Stallions (26-5 last year) to make another run in Class 3A. Providence, last year’s top-ranked team from wire-to-wire, collected five of the seven first-place votes and edged 6A Lake Minneola, 138-135, in total voting points.

The Hawks (28-4) received the other two first-place votes. They were state runners-up last year, falling to Miami Norland in the title game. They will be led by seniors Avery and Anthony Brown and have enough in the arsenal to make another run to Lakeland.

Ed White (Jacksonville), a 6A state semifinalist, much like Ribault (Jacksonville), which finished #3 last year but begins the rankings at No. 18, lost several players from last year. The Commanders, who won 25 games (25-5) but were forced to forfeit 14 games due to an ineligible player, are off to a 6-0 start, including a win over #4 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), and are ranked third. The Crusaders (21-9), a 5A regional finalist, are 5-1 this season.

They are tied with Gainesville at No. 4. The Purple Hurricanes (21-8) have nine players back, including leading scorer Ike Smith, from last year’s team that lost to Pensacola in the second round of the 6A state playoffs. Their up-and-down style is allowing them to score 81 points per game through a 4-0 stretch to begin the season.

Rival Eastside (Gainesville), who split with GHS last season, is ranked sixth. The Rams (24-7) advanced to the 5A state semifinals last year for the first time since 2006 when they won the state title.

Jackson (Jacksonville), which is in a tough district that includes Ribault and Raines, is ranked seventh. The Tigers have already beaten 8A Sandalwood (Jacksonville), ranked ninth in the poll, Ribault and Eastside en route to a 6-1 start.

Bolles (Jacksonville) is ranked eighth. Last year, the Bulldogs were 26-0 heading into the first round of the 4A state playoffs, but Jackson upset them in the regional quarterfinals. However, the return of big man Collin Smith (6’10), who averaged 15 ppg last season, and Austin Williams (6’7), the Bulldogs could be a sleeper in the 4A state playoffs.

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne signee Charles Ruise leads Baker County (Glen St. Mary), which rounds out the top 10. Ruise averaged 20.8 points, six rebounds and three assists per game last year for the 5A regional semifinalist Wildcats (23-5).

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.

PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2014-15 BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON RANKINGS)
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification, 2013-14 final record and current record)

1. Providence (Jacksonville) (5) (3A) (26-5) (6-0) – 138
2. Lake Minneola (2) (6A) (28-4) (4-1) – 135
3. Ed White (Jacksonville) (6A) (25-5) (6-0) – 126
T4 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) (21-9) (6-1) – 105
T4 Gainesville (6A) (21-8) (4-0) – 105
6. Eastside (Gainesville) (5A) (24-7) (3-2) – 103
7. Jackson (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-10) (6-1) – 85
8. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (26-1) (3-0) – 77
9. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (26-3) (3-1) – 68
10. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (23-5) (4-0) – 67
11. Vanguard (Ocala) (6A) (19-10) (5-0) – 55
12. Citrus (Inverness) (5A) (26-3) (4-1) – 54
13. Chiefland (1A) (26-2) (3-1) – 44
14. Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (12-13) (3-0) – 40
15. Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (19-8) (3-1) – 35
T16 Eustis (5A) (22-8) (4-1) – 33
T16 Deltona (6A) (19-8) (7-1) – 33
18. Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (30-4) (2-3) – 32
T19 Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (18-8) (5-1) – 25
T19 Fort White (4A) (26-3) (2-0) – 25

Also receiving votes: Nature Coast (Brooksville) (5A) (22-8) (3-1) – 24; Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (17-8) (2-1) – 20; Wolfson (Jacksonville) (12-14) (6-0) – 18; Hawthorne (1A) (22-6) (4-0) – 16; Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (19-9) (1-1)– 3; Atlantic (Port Orange) (4A) (25-9) (3-1) – 3; DeLand (8A) (21-9) (1-5) – 1.