No. 5 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)Head coach:
Gary McKnight2012-13 record:
34-2, Open Division state champions, No. 4 final Xcellent 25 national rankingPlayers to watch: M.J. Cage
(6-9, So., C), Stanley Johnson
(6-6, Sr., G), Lavette Parker (6-0, Jr., G), Rex Pflueger
(6-5, Jr., G), Dwight Ramos
(6-3, So., F), Mario Soto
(6-6, Sr., F), Bailey Stout
(6-1, So., G), Matthew Weyand
(6-4, Fr., F)Breaking down the Monarchs
Entering his 31st year as head coach at the school, McKnight owns an overall record of 960-85 with 10 state titles. By any measure, he's among the most successful coaches in high school basketball history.
Mater Dei has produced an endless line of All-Americans under McKnight's tutelage, but he hasn't had a star quite as bright as Johnson.
The MaxPreps National Junior of the Year last season and a first team All-American pick, Johnson has already started in three state championship game victories. He aims to make it four this year while operating as the team's point guard.
Joining Johnson in the backcourt will be transfer Pflueger, an athletic Top 100 junior who should thrive in Mater Dei's user-friendly offense.
After disappointing upset losses that cost the Monarchs a shot at the national title the last two seasons, McKnight hopes to keep his squad locked in this winter.
"Staying consistent is not an easy thing," McKnight said. "For everybody we play, this is their biggest game."Stepping up
McKnight loves what he is seeing from sophomore big man Cage. The son of 15-year NBA vet Michael Cage, M.J. recently landed a monumental scholarship offer.
"M.J. is extremely talented," McKnight said. "When Kentucky offers you as a sophomore, you are probably pretty good."Key dates
Dec. 14 – vs. Yates (Houston)
at Hoophall West
Dec. 18-21 – Tarkanian Classic
Jan. 15 – vs. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Jan. 20 – vs. Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia)
at Spalding Hoophall Classic
Feb. 1 – vs. Whitney Young (Chicago)
at Nike Extravaganza
Feb. 7 – at St. John Bosco