With the new high school boys basketball season underway, there will probably be some major changes in the Prep Zone Power Poll as the weeks go by.
But the preseason rankings show many teams who hope to continue their success from the 2020-21 season even with some changes.
The team starting this season at the top is Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville). The Tigers, who advanced to the 3A state semifinal last March after losing in the state championship game in 2020, move up to 4A this season. Andrew Jackson, who finished at No. 2 a year ago in the final rankings, receives four of the five first-place votes to start the new season in the top spot.
At No. 2 is defending 1A state champion Wildwood. The Wildcats beat Madison County and Central (Milton) by a combined 41 points to take home their second state title in four years. Wildwood finished third in last year’s final rankings.
Last year’s top-ranked team, 4A state runner-up Santa Fe (Alachua), starts this season ranked at No. 3. The Raiders finished on top of last year’s final rankings after advancing to their first championship appearance in program history, losing a heart-breaker to Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale) in double OT in Lakeland.
Santa Fe will replace its graduated big man Ernest Ross, who’s now playing for North Carolina State. But junior point guard Dontrell Jenkins returns to help lead first-year head coach Glen Banks who is taking over for long-time Raiders coach Elliot Harris.
Bolles (Jacksonville) is at No. 4. The Bulldogs entered the postseason last winter at the top of the rankings but were knocked out in the opening round of the 4A playoffs by No. 5 Paxon (Jacksonville) in overtime. Bolles finds themselves back in the top five to begin the 2021-22 season.
Speaking of Paxon, the Golden Eagles round out the top five. Paxon advanced to the state semifinals in both 2019 and 2020, but were knocked out in the Region 1-4A semifinal by West Nassau (Callahan), who eventually advanced to its first final four in school history.
The second five consists of No. 6 Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville), No. 7 Eastside (Gainesville), Providence (Jacksonville) ranked at No. 8, and Columbia (Lake City) and Ponte Vedra at No. 9 and 10, respectively.
Providence missed the state playoffs after being knocked out by Bishop Snyder in the District 2-3A semifinals despite a 21-5 record. Ponte Vedra, who was eliminated by No. 17 Riverside (Jacksonville) in the second round of the 5A playoffs, received the other first-place vote.
West Nassau starts off the second 10. The 11th-ranked Warriors advanced to Lakeland for the first time where they lost at the buzzer to Santa Fe. West Nassau must replace last year’s Florida Mr. Basketball, Deebo Coleman, who is now at Georgia Tech.
Class 6A state semifinalist Forest (Ocala), who advanced to the final four for the first time since 1973, comes in at No. 14. Right behind the Wildcats is last year’s 2A state runner-up Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville).
The only team starting this season in the poll who was unranked in last year’s final ranking is No. 12 Trinity Catholic (Ocala).
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys 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 – 2021-22 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2020-21 record, and total points)
1. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (4A) (4) (19-7) – 99
2. Wildwood (1A) (22-7) – 79
3. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (20-6) – 66
4. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-5) – 64
5. Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-8) – 58
6. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-9) – 56
7. Eastside (Gainesville) (4A) (20-3) – 54
8. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (21-5) – 53
9. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (19-6) – 52
10. Ponte Vedra (6A) (1) (22-5) – 51
11. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (20-12) – 49
12. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (7-13) – 45
13. Leesburg (5A) (16-5) – 44
14. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (18-7) – 43
15. Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (20-9) – 38
16. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (17-11) – 32
17. Riverside (Jacksonville) (5A) (19-10) – 29
18. The Villages (4A) (19-7) – 26
19. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (19-10) – 25
20. Hawthorne (1A) (13-10) – 21
Also receiving votes: Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-6) – 16; Nease (Ponte Vedra) (7A) (17-6) – 14; Madison County (1A) (13-8) – 10; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (13-11) – 6; Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (15-8) – 5; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (14-14) – 4; Mainland (Daytona Beach) (5A) (8-12) – 2; Gainesville (6A) (10-12) – 1; Palatka (4A) (15-8) – 1.