Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Preseason Teams to Watch: Mater Dei

We are less than a month away from the start of high school basketball season in some parts of the country. That means in less than a month the first National Prep Basketball Poll of the season will be released.

Over the last several weeks, Basketball Contributor Jeremy Plowman and I have been analyzing top teams and players, and collecting information from high school coaches across the country.

Today, we continue giving readers a sneak peak at the preseason rankings (which will be released November 3) with another "Team to Watch" capsule.

Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Coach: Gary McKnight (797-74, 26 years at Mater Dei)
2007-08 record: 35-1, Division II state champion (No. 10 in final National Prep Poll)
Top players: F David Wear (6-10), Sr.; F Travis Wear (6-10), Sr.; PG Gary Franklin (6-3), Jr; G Tyler Lamb (6-5), Sr.; F Andy Brown (6-8), Sr.
Team strength: Size, experience
Question mark: Depth
Outlook: There might not be a better starting five in the country than the one that will take the court for the Monarchs this season. Each starter has committed to or is being courted by major Division I basketball programs, including the Wear twins, who ended their recruitment midway through last season with a pledge to play at North Carolina. The duo are almost identical on the court with each possessing a high level of skill and very good low post moves. David averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds last season while Travis contributed 16 points and 10 boards per game. Brown, who has offers from Stanford and Arizona, is an excellent wing player who can really defend and crash the boards. As a junior, he averaged 14 points and six rebounds. Mater Dei's outlook at guard improved vastly when Lamb, a UCLA pledge, enrolled at the school in September. As a sophomore, he averaged 27 points, nine rebounds, and five assists playing at Colony (Ontario, Calif.). The point guard position is in good hands with emerging junior Franklin running the show. He is a good outside shooter and might actually transition into a 2-guard in college. The Monarchs' schedule is top-notch, including an appearance at the City of Palms Classic (where the outcome could go a long way toward deciding this year's Prep Poll champion) as well as matchups against nationally ranked Whitney Young (Chicago) and St. Benedict's (N.J.).

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