Stocked with talented juniors and sophomores,
Rainier Beach (Seattle)
captured Washington's Class 3A state title last March by beating Metro League rival Seattle Prep in the final.
The attention immediately turned to 2012-13, where state tournament MVP MarQuis Davis
– who poured in 30 points in the championship game – would headline Beach's bid for a seventh state title since 1988.
But the expectations were really raised in the fall when 6-foot-7 shooting guard Shaqquan Aaron
– formerly of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) – showed up at Rainier Beach on the first day of school. Aaron is regarded as the No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 player rankings
The Vikings went from being a state power with hopes of breaking into the national rankings to a team with a huge target on its back.
"The guys have really welcomed him with open arms," coach Mike Bethea said of his team's reception of the former Southern California kid. "Just the way he gets along with everybody, you would think he grew up with these guys. They have been inseperable."
Aaron will join 6-6 senior Djuan Piper
to give the Vikings perhaps the longest pair of wings in America.
Bethea shouldn't have any problems motivating his team. The basketball fraternity at Rainier Beach is a special one and many of the former players have been in the ear of the current Vikings. Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart (twin brothers who keyed Beach's back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003), C.J. Giles and even Mr. Olympia bodybuilder Phil Heath check in regularly.
"They got the message through to them that the target on their back is going to be real big," Bethea said. "We have a saying about bleeding orange and blue and all those guys personify that. They call two or three times a week."
Beach's quest to repeat begins Dec. 4 with a home game against Metro League foe Ingraham.Rainier Beach's last five years
2011-12 – 27-3 (Mike Bethea), Class 3A state champions
2010-11 – 17-7 (Mike Bethea)
2009-10 – 23-5 (Mike Bethea)
2008-09 – 18-11 (Mike Bethea)
2007-08 – 29-1 (Mike Bethea), Class 3A state champions