The Times' high school boys' basketball rankings and comments by Ben Bolch:
Rk.; Team ('07-08 Rec.); Comment (last week's rank)
1 MATER DEI
(35-1, SS-Div. I-AA) Some things never change: Monarchs open season in top spot with a high-profile transfer.
(28-5, City-Div. I) Coach Ed Azzam, still sporting a key chain on his belt after all these years, is hereby nominated for "What Not to Wear."
(27-6, City-Div. I) Hulking center Renardo Sidney is biggest thing to hit Melrose since Heather Locklear.
(32-3, SS-Div. I-AA) In battle royale, Kawhi Leonard and King could challenge Monarchs for Southland hoops supremacy in Division I-AA.
(31-3, SS-Div. I-AA) With Jordan Finn and Rome Draper leading the way, Eagles should reprise role in "Thirtysomething Victories."
(27-4, City-Div. I) Toreadors suffered two losses before opener with graduation of Larry Drew Jr. and ineligibility of De'Andre Daniels.
(22-6, SS-Div. I-AA) Bulldogs should give Caltech players pointers in exchange for tutoring on finer points of jet propulsion.
(31-3, SS-Div. I-AA) Some things never change, part II: Dons are loaded and Coach Russell Otis is embroiled in controversy.
9 WEST VALLEY
(25-4, SS-Div. I-A) Located on fringe of Southland, Mustangs are front and center on hoops hierarchy thanks to stars Eric Lawton and Joe Burton.
10 CAMPBELL HALL
(31-5, SS-Div. III-AA) Coach Terry Kelly's roster includes a (Keegan) Hornbuckle O'Plenty with nine and eight other returning letter winners.
(24-5, SS-Div. V-A) Wildcats will have star power in lineup (Darrius Darius Morris, Anthony Stover) and in stands (Denzel Washington).
12 RANCHO VERDE
(23-7, SS-Div. I-AA) Guard Michael Snaer makes heretofore dot-on-the-map Moreno Valley a destination point.
13 DIAMOND RANCH
(18-11, SS-Div. III-A)Have hold on Miramonte League MVPs (Chris Cunningham, 2007; Garrett Johnson, '08) like Dodgers once did on rookies.
(21-8, SS-Div. III-A) Could Leonardo DiCaprio come in as an assistant coach to mentor stars Damiene Cain, Erik Swoope and Austin Kelly?
15 BISHOP MONT.
(26-7, SS-Div. IV-AA) Knights' armor should be tougher to pierce than it was during season-ending 28-point loss to Santa Margarita.
16 SANTA MONICA
(20-8, SS-Div. I-A) Glasses-wearing Kunnu Shofu sure looks good going to the basket.
(23-5, SS-Div. IV-AA) Returning All-Del Rey League selections Kevin Johnson, Leon Gibson and Steven Hester are poised for broader recognition.
18 GOLDEN VALLEY
(12-15, SS-Div. III-A) As a (Trevor) Wiseman once said: Be careful because Grizzlies bite.
19 SIMI VALLEY
(25-2, SS-Div. II-A) There's plenty of upside for star big man Jonathan Davis, who is no longer injured or a member of JV team.
20 SANTA MARGARITA
(26-5, SS-Div. III-AA Coach Jerry DeBusk must have gotten tips from Mater Dei counterpart Gary McKnight on how to avoid a rebuilding year.
21 OCEAN VIEW
(20-7, SS-Div. IV-AA) Coach Jim Harris will either get the nine wins he needs for 600 in his career or retire in embarrassment.
(25-7, SS-Div. I-A) Imagine surprise of orthographically challenged opponents who think they're getting a trip abroad and end up in Inland Empire.
23 CORONA CENTENNIAL
(27-5, SS-Div. II-AA) No chance for slumping with sophomores Gelaun Wheelwright, Michael Caffey and Dominique Dunning rated among best in class.
24 LOS ALAMITOS
(20-9, SS-Div. I-AA) Two-sport standouts Clark Evans and Paul Richardson hope to lead Griffins to more satisfactory finish on hardwood than on gridiron.
25 ORANGE LUTHERAN
(14-13, SS-Div. IV-A) Won't have to worry about finishing around .500 with standout freshman Gabe York leading a talented backcourt.