So just how stacked is the field in this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Basketball Classic?
Well, check out these numbers.
Four defending state champions.
Five teams ranked in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10.
And one player considered to be the nation’s top senior: LSU signee Ben Simmons, who stars at Montverde (Fla.), the two-time national champions.
And that’s just on the boys side.
The girls bracket features seven of the 10 teams ranked in The New Orleans Advocate’s Super 10.
The Sugar Bowl Classic begins Wednesday and concludes Saturday at the Alario Center in Westwego.
Riverside Academy, the top-ranked team in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10, is going for its third straight Sugar Bowl title.
“The last two years, we started playing really well around this time of the year,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd. “It’s going to be tough for anybody to win. The overwhelming favorite is obviously is Montverde and you could make an argument for any of the next nine teams to get to the finals. It’s whoever gets hot. It’s going to be a difficult tournament to win.”
Riverside (8-3) is coming off Monday’s convincing 101-77 victory over No. 5 East St. John. The Rebels are undefeated against in-state opponents, dating to 2013.
Jordan Andrews, who was named tournament MVP last year, injured his knee in Monday’s game, and Byrd lists him as “day-to-day.”
Byrd calls it Louisiana’s toughest tournament since the annual tournament held in Lake Charles in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Riverside, which won the Class 2A title last season, is one of four reigning Louisiana state champions in the boys field.
The Rebels are joined by 5A champion Natchitoches Central, 4A champion Landry-Walker and 1A champion Country Day.
“The field is loaded,” Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. “The talent level is without a doubt the best they have ever had.”
McGuire should know.
His Cajuns, ranked No. 8 in the Super 10, get a stiff test right out the gate when they play No. 4-ranked Helen Cox at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
The winner of that one faces Montverde, led by Simmons, a 6-foot-9 forward rated the No. 1 player in the country by ESPN.
“I knew when we got in it that there wasn’t going to be an easy game,” McGuire said. “You look at the seedings, and they did a good job. Anybody you play in this thing; you can’t take a night off. You just have so many Division I players.”
McGuire said this tournament will prepare his team for postseason play.
“Our kids get really excited about this,” McGuire said. “They know that moving forward if we lose here, we are getting prepared down the road. It only leads to good basketball later.”
Other boys teams in the field ranked in the Super 10 are: Karr (No. 3) and Landry-Walker (No. 6).
Perennial Georgia powerhouse Tift County, last year’s 6A state champion, also is in the field.
On the girls side, Louisiana’s reigning champions in Class 5A (Mount Carmel) and 4A (Salmen) are in the field. Mount Carmel is ranked No. 6 and Salmen fifth in The New Orleans Advocate’s rankings.
The runner-up in those two classes are also in the field: 5A Destrehan (ranked No. 4) and 4A Warren Easton.
Easton (16-0) is ranked No. 1 in The Super 10.
Other girls teams in the field that are ranked in the Super 10 in the field are: Karr (2); Cabrini (3); and West St. John (8).
Salmen, led by Baylor signee Kalani Brown, won the girls tournament last season.