MONTVERDE — Montverde Academy’s quest for a fourth national championship in five years in boys basketball is underway.

The Eagles are undefeated in their first five games this season, winning each game by an average of 29 points.

Montverde Academy was expected to be a player in the national title chase after being ranked No. 3 in the MaxPreps preseason Independent Top 10. And the Eagles’ start has been impressive enough to maintain that ranking when MaxPreps released its first regular-season poll Tuesday.

The Eagles trail only top-ranked LaPorte (Ind.) La Lumiere — winning by an average of more than 40 points — and traditional powerhouse Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy at No. 2. Both teams were 8-0 when the rankings were released.

Longtime national powerhouse Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep and Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep round out the top five in the polls. The only other Florida program in the poll is Bradenton IMG Academy at No. 6.

R.J. Barrett, a 6-foot-7 sophomore guard, has been the early season star for Montverde Academy. Barrett is averaging more than 25 points per game and many believe he will be the next superstar for the Eagles, following in the footsteps of Kasey Hill, D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons. Barrett led Montverde Academy in scoring last season and is considered among the top prospects in the Class of 2019 by multiple recruiting websites.

Montverde Academy is 134-10 since Kevin Boyle arrived in 2011. Under Boyle, the Eagles won national titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Last season, Montverde Academy finished 26-2 and was No. 7 in the final MaxPreps poll. The Eagles' quest for a fourth-straight national title came up short when they were stunned by La Lumiere 55-47 in last year's semifinals at the Dick's Sporting Goods High School Nationals at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, New York.

The Eagles are expected to get a challenge today when they travel to Jacksonville to play the Providence School.

Montverde Academy has games against Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian on Friday and St. Petersburg Lakewood on Saturday. Both of those games will be played at Montverde Academy's Center for Sportsmanship and Wellness, aka The Nest.

Tip time for both games is 7:30 p.m.

MaxPreps’ Independent Top 10 is a new ranking format provided by the organization. It is comprised of programs which play largely national schedules and do not compete for state championships. 

Montverde Academy is an independent member in the Florida High School Athletic Association, meaning it does not belong to a classification or district in boys basketball. It does play for state championships in a variety of sports, including volleyball, swimming, and softball.

"We are members in good standing in the FHSAA," Kesselring said. "If we chose to do so, we would be eligible to play for a state championship in boys basketball."

This year, MaxPreps also is producing the High School Top 25, which ranks the nation’s top schools who are eligible to play for state championships.

In previous seasons, all schools, regardless of their status within state athletic associations, were ranked in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25.