The MaxPreps Northern California Top 25 is top-heavy with expected powers as each has endured brutal early scheduling. Defending NorCal champions in Division I (Sheldon), D-II (Mitty) and D-IV (Salesian) clog the top spots, with national recruits leading the charge for title contenders in Deer Valley and Bishop O'Dowd.
A closer look (records through Tuesday):MaxPreps Northern California Boys Basketball Rankings1. Salesian (Richmond) 10-3
The Pride, defending state Division IV champions and having beheaded teams in all divisions, own an early win over Mitty (San Jose). One loss was to Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. Cal-bound star Jabari Bird
leads the way. Game looms later against Sheldon (Sacramento).
2. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 8-3
The defending state Division II champions are led by national recruit Aaron Gordon
. The Monarchs have a 19-point loss to Salesian and a close win over injury-depleted Sheldon. The Monarchs hail from the brutal West Catholic Athletic League where the victors emerge with bruises and grins.3. Sheldon (Sacramento) 9-4
Plenty of argument to have the defending NorCal D-I champion Huskies ranked higher as they won the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic by downing St. Augustine of San Diego in the finals, the same team that beat Salesian in the semifinals. Sheldon played for the championship of another national event — the All-Star Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. The only in-state loss has been to Mitty when the Huskies were without starters Darin Johnson
and D'Erryl Williams
.4. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 9-3
Typical Dragons team is fast and skilled. Own wins over Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) and Deer Valley (Antioch) with a strong showing in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.5. Deer Valley (Antioch) 10-3
Wins over De La Salle (Concord) (55-38), Sacramento (97-96) and Jesuit (Sacramento) (79-59) behind anchor stars Marcus Lee
and Kendall Smith
. Lee is the Kentucky-bound marvel with myriad skills.6. Modesto Christian 12-2
Veteran coach Gary Porter has another terrific team with early wins over St. Joseph (Alameda) (61-48) and Campolindo (68-58). Small-school with big-time talent.7. Sacramento 10-4
The Division III Dragons have a mixture of young and old with veteran forwards Joseph Barnes
and James Hadnot
teaming with 6-6 freshman leaper/defender Devin Young
.8. De La Salle (Concord) 11-2
The Spartans have played better defense over the years than just about anyone, moving their feet, cutting off the lanes and baseline under coach Frank Allocco and senior Elliott Pitts
. Spartans had a nine-game winning streak halted by Monte Vista (Danville) 47-40.
9. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 13-3
The Eagles of the Delta River League that includes rival Sheldon are led by three three-year veterans in guards Matt Hayes
and Malik Thames
and shooter Cole Nordquist
and own a win over Newark Memorial and a close loss to Sacramento.10. St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 11-2
Own West Catholic Athletic League wins over Riordon (San Francisco) 54-49 and Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 56-46 with a WCAL loss to Mitty. Other loss was to one-loss Westmoor (Daly City) 75-74. Against Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Wildcats made seven three-pointers.11. San Leandro 10-3
The Pirates of the West Alameda County League have losses to Sheldon (77-72), Monte Vista (61-60) and Deer Valley (67-62) with wins over Sacred Heart Cathedral (69-66) and Franklin (Elk Grove) 61-43.12. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 10-3
Members of the muscle-bound West Catholic Athletic League are 2-1 in league play after wins over Serra (San Mateo (58-52) and Bellarmine (San Jose) 46-40) and Tuesday's 56-46 loss to rival St. Ignatius (San Francisco). Get used to this sort of meat grinder. This is the best league in Northern California.13. Serra (San Mateo) 11-2
The Padres are 2-1 in the WCAL, losing last week to Sacred Heart Cathedral (58-52) and downing St. Francis (Mountain View) (73-62) and Riordon (59-48). Suffered tough loss to Deer Valley (53-48).
14. Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 10-3
The Crusaders are yet another member of the WCAL, the only team to beat Westmoor (Daly City) with agonizingly tough league setbacks of late to St. Ignatius (54-49) and Serra (59-48).15. Westmoor (Daly City) 11-1
The Rams are off to a sizzling start, losing only Riordan 64-58 and owning a win over St. Ignatius 75-74. They went 8-17 last season.16. Monte Vista (Danville) 11-3
The Mustangs stunned De La Salle 49-40 this week in East Bay League action with defense and poise and the muscle of 6-8 junior Spencer Rust
. Close losses to Freedom (Oakley), Bellarmine (San Jose) and California.17. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 11-2
Never mind the D-V status here. The Cougars are of big-time variety, including a season-opening win over Sacramento at the buzzer, though it officially doesn't count as it was a Foundation game (fundraiser).18. Antelope 10-6
Wins include McClymonds (57-40) with close losses to Sacramento (59-48) and Bullard (Fresno) (65-60). The Titans have had strong showings in national tournaments for coach Rob Richards.19. Newark Memorial 6-6
Two wins over Dublin, a 55-54 loss to Salesian and a 64-57 setback to Pleasant Grove show how competitive this team is. Brutal early schedule is the norm for veteran coach Craig Ashmore.
20. Dublin 9-4
The Gaels of the Diablo Foothill League have wins over Freedom (Oakley) (75-63) and Sacramento (74-61) and tough losses to Serra (71-63) and twice to Newark Memorial.21. McClymonds (Oakland) 9-6
The Warriors — or Mack to you and me — have competitive losses to Antelope, Bellarmine, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Monte Vista and Deer Valley with nice wins over Berkeley (62-45), Jesuit (Sacramento) (64-61) and El Cerrito (72-54).22. El Cerrito 10-5
The small-school Gauchos play big in all sports, with wins this winter over larger-schools including Newark Memorial (53-47).23. Berkeley 7-6
The Yellowjackets of the West Alameda County League have recent wins over Freedom (Oakley) (50-44), San Leandro (51-48) and Heritage (75-72). Early losses include McClymonds, Deer Valley and San Leandro.24. Heritage (Brentwood) 12-3
The Patriots of the Bay Valley League have a test next week at Deer Valley in what is shaping up to be quite a league race.(TIE) 25. Freedom (Oakley) 9-5
Title contenders from the Bay Valley League had competitive losses to power teams in Dublin, Salesian and Sacramento. The BVL has fast emerged in all sports.(TIE) 25. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 12-2
The Cardinals of the North Bay League have a 50-46 win over Campolindo (Moraga), a 59-41 decision over St. Mary's (Albany) and a 57-51 loss to Monte Vista.(TIE) 25. Campolindo (Moraga) 9-4
The Cougars of the Diablo Valley League lost early to Cardinal Newman (50-46) and have since won eight of nine games. League includes Dublin.