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10 high school basketball teams to watch

Mater Dei, Loyola, La Verne Lutheran and Long Beach Poly are among the Southland's elite squads.

November 24, 2011|By Eric Sondheimer
  • Longtime Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight figures to have the Monarchs among the elite teams in Southern California once again this season.
Longtime Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight figures to have the Monarchs among… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Santa Ana Mater Dei: A year ago, the Monarchs were a big surprise in winning the state Division I championship. They got hot in the Southern California regionals and celebrated Coach Gary McKnight's eighth state title in Sacramento. With Katin Reinhardt (committed to UNLV), Xavier Johnson (Colorado) and rising sophomore Stanley Johnson back, Mater Dei starts out as everyone's No. 1 team.

Los Angeles Loyola: Four starters are back from a Southern Section Division 1A championship team. No program has the quality and depth at the guard position. The Cubs' big challenge will be developing enough rebounding skills to win games against top opponents who are bigger and more physical inside.

La Verne Lutheran: Arizona commit Grant Jerrett is 6 feet 10 and a much better rebounder and offensive player than a year ago. His development will create more opportunities for junior guard Eric Cooper, also committed to Arizona, who can shoot from outside.

Long Beach Poly: The defending Division 1AA champs lost some key players from a 31-2 team, but beware of 6-7 junior Jordan Bell and 6-5 junior Roschon Prince. Both are future college players and a great duo to build around.

Los Angeles Windward: Guards Nick Stover (Loyola Marymount) and Jordan Wilson will lead the way while talented 6-6 freshmen Roy Hemsley and Mason Shepherd get acclimated.

Los Angeles Price. Does this team ever rebuild? Junior Chance Murray is known for his shooting skills, and 6-8 senior Skylar Spencer (San Diego State) is one of the most dominant shot blockers in SoCal. The arrival of point guard Trey Dickerson from Van Nuys Montclair Prep will be very helpful.

St. John Bosco. Those who think it will take a year or two for former Woodland Hills Taft Coach Derrick Taylor to get the Braves rolling don't understand how Taylor works. The arrival of brothers Isaac and Daniel Hamilton from Crenshaw, plus four other transfers, gives Taylor immediate weapons to build around. St. John Bosco was already competing with and beating top teams during summer and fall ball.

Orange Lutheran. The player who developed the most over the summer was Gabe York, an Arizona commit who displayed great ability to score. If York can produce and serve as a decoy at the same time, the Lancers will be tough to beat.

Mission Hills Alemany. There's quickness, depth and a good blend of experience and youth. Guard Marqueze Coleman is committed to Nevada. Senior Max Guercy is an underrated point guard.

Harvard-Westlake. Josh Hearlihy, a 6-7 Utah commit, 6-8 senior Zena Edosomwan and 6-5 sophomore Derick Newton give the Wolverines an imposing trio of big men. The challenge will be coming up with a couple of guards who can handle the speed and quickness of the guard-talented Mission League.

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