1. Montverde Academy bidding for three-peat
Ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps, Montverde Academy could become the first team in City of Palms Classic history to win the event three years in a row. 247 Sports’ top-ranked senior prospect Ben Simmons and the Eagles 7-0 own a 41-game win streak.
2. Mater Dei looks to extend 45-game winning streak
Head coach Gary McKnight won the 1,000th game of his illustrious career Friday night. Under McKnight, the Monarchs have been regulars in Fort Myers and captured the first place trophy in 2006 and 2008. Four-time defending California state champion and MaxPreps national champ in 2013-14, Mater Dei is riding an even longer overall win streak than Montverde at 45 games.
3. Wesleyan Christian Academy out to make a statement
USA Today has Wesleyan Christian Academy ranked No. 2 nationally No. 14 this week by MaxPreps and the Trojans certainly have the talent to make a run. But with juniors Harry Giles, Brandon Childress and Kwe’Shaun Parker leading the way, the North Carolina powerhouse might be a year away from a tournament win this big. Wesleyan opens against a COP veteran in defending Illinois Class 4A champion Whitney Young Chicago.
4. Wheeler needs Brown to put on Superman cape
Georgia juggernaut Wheeler came to Fort Myers last December and went home with humbling losses to Paul VI and Lincoln Brooklyn, N.Y.. Outside of Montverde’s Simmons, Wheeler senior Jaylen Brown is the best player in the field. The Wildcats will need a heroic performance from him in order to make a run. If Wheeler can get by Malik Monk and Bentonville in the opening round, it gets another shot at Paul VI.
5. Will Sierra Canyon break out or flame out?
Sierra Canyon is the youngest team in this year’s City of Palms field and perhaps the most intriguing. The Trailblazers will be led by standout forward Ira Lee, but junior Devearl Ramsey and sophomores Remy Martin, Terrance McBride, Cody Riley and Adam Seiko will be a handful.