Top 10 high school basketball teams in New York since 2000

New York is an undisputed hotbed of high school basketball, home to 33 players who played on the court in NBA games during the 2021-22 season, including Carmelo Anthony, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker, among others.

Empire State produced the No. 7 high school basketball team in the MaxPreps Top 25 this year in Cardinal Hayes (Bronx), which went 28-1 en route to the Federation State title from New York.
That got us wondering where the Cardinals stack up against the best teams in the state since the turn of the century. By evaluating resumes, national rankings and roster talent, we’ve put together a list of New York’s top teams since 2000. See the full breakdown below.

File photo by Catalina Fragoso

Andre Curbelo playing for Long Island Lutheran in his senior year in 2020.

Top 10 teams in New York since 2000

Registration: 28-1

National Ranking: #3

Notable players: Johnny Flynn, Greg Gamble, Rob Garrison, Paul Harris, Tyrell Lynch
Tiredness: Empire State’s most talented team of the 2000s was led by first-time All-State selection Harris, who averaged 19.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists while overcoming a broken thumb on his shooting hand. Alongside Harris, sophomore point guard Flynn led a strong supporting cast. Wolverines won the City of Palms Classic title before impressing all season.

Registration: 27-1

National ranking: No. 2

Notable players: Jack Leasure, Marty O’Sullivan, Ryan Pettinella, Tyler Relph, Andrew Struble
Tiredness: Given the nickname “Second Best to LeBron” after spending much of the year ranked second in the nation behind LeBron James led St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio). The Knights drew crowds of more than 10,000 fans for three straight days at the Blue Cross Arena for sections with lines forming in the streets. An experienced group was led by New York Mr. Basketball Relph.

3. Rice 2001-02

Registration: 29-2

National ranking: Number 6

Notable players: Shagari Alleyne, Christian Brown, Keydren Clark, Russell Robinson, Jason Wingate
Tiredness: Despite playing without 7-foot-2 center Alleyne and two key reserves for academic or disciplinary reasons and starters Robinson and Brown fouling with over two minutes to go, the Raiders beat Henninger ( Syracuse) 61-53 in the Class A title game. Rice was paced with 16 points, four assists and four steals from Clark, while Wingate scored six straight points in the streak to secure the win.

Registration: 29-4

National ranking: No. 11

Notable players: Darwin Ellis, Justin Greene, Khalif Staten, Lance Stephenson
Tiredness: Won the Federation’s second straight Class AA state title 86-67 over Holy Cross behind a balanced effort that saw a team-high 20 points from Ellis while Stephenson had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Staten had 14 points on 6 of 6 shooting. Stephenson was later named New York Mr. Basketball as a senior and set a new state record for scoring with 2,946 career points. His record beaten by Joe Girard III in 2018.

Registration: 22-3

National ranking: No. 10

Notable players: Hugo Bergström, André Curbelo, Zed Key, Drisssa Traoré, Kacper Klaczek
Tiredness: An experienced squad was led by an elite punch as third-team MaxPreps All-America Curbelo averaged 16.7 points, 8.1 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals , while fifth-team MaxPreps All-America Key averaged 18.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. The Crusaders were 95-10 in an impressive four-year run for their senior core.

6. Rice 2008-09

Registration: 24-3

National ranking: No. 7

Notable players: Kadeem Jack, Jermaine Sanders, Durand Scott, James Stukes
Tiredness: After dismantling Lincoln 77-50 in the semi-finals, Rice was pushed into overtime in a 70-68 win over Newburgh Free Academy in the Class AA title game. Senior guard Scott knocked down a 3-point clutch to even things up with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, while Stukes had eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter before Scott’s exploits. Scott finished with a team-high 23 points.

Registration: 26-3

National ranking: No. 7

Notable players: Tobe Awaka, Elijah Moore, DJ Victory, Ian Jackson, Tarique Foster
Tiredness: The Cardinals have faced a busy schedule that has seen them split the season series with Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains) and St. Frances Prep (Fresh Meadows). Cardinal Hayes was led by senior forward Awaka who averaged 17.6 points and 14 rebounds to earn an honorable mention MaxPreps All-America and MaxPreps National Sophomore Player of the Year Jackson who averaged 19.8 points , five rebounds and four assists.

Registration: 27-3

National ranking: No. 7

Notable players: Keith Benjamin, Dexter Gray, Shanty Robinson
Tiredness: This group forced Sebastian Telfair’s illustrious career to end in frustration by forcing the highly rated playmaker to 10 turnovers to defeat Lincoln 66-52 in the Class AA State Federation Championship game. Mount Vernon was paced by Robinson (19) and Gray (16) in the title match triumph.

9.Lincoln 2002-03

Registration: 31-4

National Ranking: No. 13

Notable players: Jamal Dart, Tone Pena, Deshawn Summers, Sebastian Telfair
Tiredness: Although junior star Telfair was fouled with 5:12 left in the fourth quarter and the Royals immediately took a 65-57 lead with 4:23 left in the contest, the Railsplitters showed resilience to push the contest into overtime and escape with a 75-73 victory over Christ the King (Middle Village) in the Class A Federation title match. Pena, a 6-7 sophomore, got proved to be the hero, scoring eight of his team’s 10 points in overtime.

10. Rice 2007-08

Registration: 24-4

National ranking: No. 17

Notable players: Dorvell Carter, Chris Fouch, Jeff Harris, Durand Scott, Kemba Walker

Tiredness: Although this group lost 64-62 to Holy Cross (Flushing) in the Class AA City Championship game, the talent was undeniable led by future NBA All-Star Walker and junior guard Scott. Walker was selected for the McDonald’s All American Game after averaging 18.2 points and 5.3 assists as a senior. Rice went 51-8 with a pair of top 25 nationals in his junior and senior seasons.