Jack Williams of Chaminade is headed to Long Beach State. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles…)
Dan Monson, the basketball coach at Long Beach State, will feel like a proud father this weekend in Sacramento as he watches not one, not two, not three, but four high school players he signed to letters of intent last November play for state championships.
"I can cheer for every one of them because they're in four different games," he said.
Shooting guard Deontae North of Corona Centennial, forward Jack Williams of West Hills Chaminade, point guard Justin Bibbins of Torrance Bishop Montgomery and power forward Temidayo Yussuf of Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame form a recruiting class like few others in 49ers history.
"It's pretty exciting," Monson said. "When you recruit kids, you're recruiting on ability and character, and to have four in state championship games is cool. I was able to win a state championship game my senior year in high school, and I know it's something they'll remember the rest of their lives."
Said Williams: "It's an honor for all of us to be playing. It shows what a great job they did recruiting."
North is playing in the Division I final, Williams in Division III, Bibbins in Division IV and Yussuf in Division V.
"It's no coincidence when you know those four kids," Monson said. "You feel they're all winners, but this validates it."
Johnson vs. Rabb
A year ago, the big individual matchup at Sleep Train Arena was Stanley Johnson of Santa Ana Mater Dei against Aaron Gordon of San Jose Mitty.
Gordon now plays for Arizona and has been one of the stars of the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-7 Johnson is returning on Saturday trying to win his fourth consecutive state title in the Open Division final, and this time he'll be taking on the No. 1 junior big man prospect in California, 6-10 Ivan Rabb of Oakland Bishop O'Dowd.
"He's a very quick jumper," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said of Rabb, whose team lost in double overtime to Mater Dei in December in Las Vegas.
Confidence for Oguine
Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena is not known as a shooter's paradise. There have been some miserable shooting games for teams in state finals history.
But junior guard Michael Oguine of Chaminade, who will be playing in Friday's Division III final, has received a boost of confidence after scoring all 18 of his team's fourth-quarter points and finishing with 32 points in Saturday's regional final against Santa Margarita
"It definitely helped with my confidence," he said. "The coaches always believed in me, telling me to go to the rim. I felt I had to be real aggressive."
The question is can Oguine duplicate his performance?¿
"They've known I can score, but it's about me being consistent and do the things I can do all the time," he said. "They say once I can do that, the sky is the limit."