Dec 9, 2021 - Sports

High school basketball Super League takes flight

Gif of a star going into a basket

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

European soccer's Super League fell apart two days after it was announced. That didn't stop America's top high school basketball programs from forming a Super League of their own.

State of play: The National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) began its first full season this month, with eight of the nation's best teams competing head-to-head at venues across the country.

  • Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida)
  • IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
  • Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia)
  • Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kansas)
  • La Lumiere (La Porte, Indiana)
  • Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)
  • Legacy Early College (Greenville, South Carolina)
  • Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Maryland)

Between the lines: Just how much talent is in this league? The NIBC features 15 of the top 50 seniors in the nation, and the 2021 edition of March Madness featured 44 players from NIBC schools.

  • The eight NIBC schools have won the past eight high school national championships, with Montverde taking home five titles.
  • Montverde produced seven draft picks in the 2021 NBA draft, including four first-rounders: Cade Cunningham (No. 1), Scottie Barnes (No. 4), Moses Moody (No. 14) and Day'Ron Sharpe (No. 29).
  • La Lumiere (3-0) sits atop the standings after Week 1, with Oak Hill (0-3) bringing up the rear. The action continues this weekend (tonight through Saturday) on ESPN+.

The backdrop: When games were canceled last season amid the pandemic, some current NIBC teams organized their own competitions. From there, the idea to form their own league was born.

  • The NIBC arrives during a time of dramatic change, with a growing number of elite prospects skipping college for the G League or opting out of high school to join Overtime Elite.
  • While those leagues provide a paid pathway to the NBA, the NIBC is fully amateur, allowing players to keep their options open with regards to playing in college one day.

The bottom line: As the opportunities available to teenage hoops stars continue to diversify, elite high schools must adjust. Don't be surprised if the NIBC adds more teams, or if competing leagues pop up.

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