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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness – 2020-21 Boys Basketball Poll #1 (PRESEASON)

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Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) starts season where it ended last year — on top of the all-classification regional rankings

GAINESVILLE — After one of the longest offseasons in memory, high school boys basketball is back.

The state championships were completed last March just before COVID-19 caused a shutdown of schools throughout the state of Florida, and the spring seasons were cut short.

But school has been back since August, in time for football and other fall sports, and basketball is back as well. And in the first edition of The Prep Zone Power Poll for the 2020-21 season, the Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) Tigers start this year where they ended last year: in the #1 spot.

The Tigers lost to St. Andrew’s (Boca Raton), 57-50, in the 4A state championship game last March and finished as the state runner-up for the second year in a row. That was enough for Jackson, which went 25-4 in 2019-20, to finish in the top spot last season.

And they are right back on top in the preseason poll this season, receiving four of the seven first-place votes in the opening all-classification regional rankings.

Coming in at #2 is Columbia (Lake City), which advanced to their first state semifinal appearance since 1968 last season.

The Tigers finished 28-3 and lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Dillard (Fort Lauderdale) in the 6A Final Four in Lakeland. Columbia lost five seniors but does return plenty of talent, and the Tigers also received a first-place vote.

Right behind at #3 is another state runner-up from last season, 2A’s Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville).

The Lions were 19-9 a year ago and dropped the 2A title game in Lakeland, 58-44, to Orlando Christian Prep. Another trip to the Final Four could be in store for Impact here in 2020-21.

Defending 1A state champion Hawthorne is 4th.

Hawthorne defeated #11 Wildwood in the Region 4-1A final and then edged #19 Hillard, 42-38, in the 1A state championship game in Lakeland for the Hornets’ first boys basketball state title since 1987. The Hornets finished 25-3 and receive the final two first-place votes.

Rounding out the top five is Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville).

The Generals advanced to the region final in 5A last season before being eliminated by eventual state champion Rickards (Tallahassee). Lee will be led by LSU signee Alex Fudge, but Fudge will be leaving after New Year’s to enroll early and play with the Tigers in Baton Rouge.

Tied for sixth is last year’s 4A state semifinalist Paxon (Jacksonville) and Providence (Jacksonville).

Paxon advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight year, only to come up short against eventual 4A state champion Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale), 59-54. The Golden Eagles will have to replace last year’s Mr. Basketball for Florida, Isaiah Adams, who is now at UCF.

Paxon was number one in The Prep Zone Power Poll for most of last season before finishing 2nd in the final poll behind Jackson

The Stallions were knocked out by Andrew Jackson in a Region 1-3A semifinal last February.  For Providence, it’s actually been a bit of a drought since their last trip to Lakeland, which was a loss in the 4A state championship game in 2017.

Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) is 8th. The Crusaders advanced to the Region 1-4A final last season before being eliminated at Paxon.

North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) is #9.

The Eagles (23-5) rolled through the regular season and district tournament before being upset at home in the second round of the 2A playoffs by eventual state runner-up Impact Christian Academy 35-33.

Rounding out the top 10 is Eastside (Gainesville). The Rams lost K.J. Bradley but return the Gainey brothers from a team that advanced to the Region 2-4A final a year ago.

Among the highlights of the second 10 is 17th-ranked West Nassau (Callahan).

The Warriors lost in the district semifinals to Ed White (Jacksonville) last season, but with Georgia Tech signee Deebo Coleman and Stanton (Jacksonville) transfer Simeon Womack leading the way, they should contend in 2020-21. West Nassau has to deal with a loaded District 3-4A that includes Paxon, Fernandina Beach, Raines (Jacksonville), RIbault (Jacksonville), Yulee, and Ed White.

Among the other teams ranked in this preseason poll that were unranked to finish 2019-20 include #19 Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) and #20T Madison County.

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, 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 and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2020-21 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2019-2020 record, and total voting points)
1. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (4) (25-4) – 130
2. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (1) (28-3) – 107
3. Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (19-9) – 105
4. Hawthorne (1A) (2) (25-3) – 94
5. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (5A) (23-5) – 92
6T. Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (25-6) – 91
6T. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-10) – 91
8. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (24-5) – 83
9. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (23-5) – 69
10. Eastside (Gainesville) (4A) (22-8) – 66
11. The Villages (4A) (21-7) – 51
12. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (20-8) – 46
13. Bolles (Jacksonville) (19-9) – 45
14. Wildwood (1A) (21-8) – 44
15. Palatka (4A) (19-8) – 42
16. Hilliard (1A) (23-5) – 39
17. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (14-12) – 38
18. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (19-11) – 37
19. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (13-14) – 36
20T. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (20-9) – 25
20T. Madison County (1A) (20-6) – 25
Also receiving votes: First Coast (Jacksonville) (6A) (15-11) – 16; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (12-14) – 16; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (27-2) – 12; Leesburg (5A) (17-10) – 11; St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (2A) (13-12) – 10; Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (14-13) – 7; Interlachen (3A) (7-19) – 6; P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (3A) (15-13) – 6; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (14-12) – 4; Central (Brooksville) (4A) (20-7) – 4; Orange Park (5A) (15-11) – 4; St. Augustine (5A) (16-9) – 4; Gainesville (6A) (13-13) – 1; Seacoast Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (14-10) – 1; Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (6-19) – 1; University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (13-12) – 1.

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