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High School Spotlight: Mater Dei Monarchs (CA)

Posted by adam_sp on Nov 21, 2008 11:00:48 AM



Hometown: Santa Ana, California

Group: Class Southern Section


By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


Mater Dei Monarchs head coach Gary McKnight has a lot to be

excited about for the 2008-2009 basketball season. The Monarchs return

four starters from an electrifying CIF state championship team, which

is a huge reason why BasketballPower has ranked them as the No. 1 team

in the nation in its preseason rankings.


Many former and current Mater Dei athletes are now household names and

hold impressive resumes and, coincidently, have turned the program into

a national powerhouse for sports. In ‘08, Sports Illustrated

ranked Mater Dei second for “Best High School Athletic Program,” and

the institution has the athletes and championships to prove it.


For football, the illustrious program has produced the likes of Matt Leinert, John Huarte, and Colt Brennan. They currently have the nation’s number one recruit in QB Matt Barkley, who is following Leinert’s footsteps to USC.


And although it's still football season, everyone around the Santa Ana

community is already talking about the highly anticipated start to the

basketball campaign.


It’s easy to see why. McKnight’s squad went 35-1 a year ago and returns

four starters after winning back-to-back CIF state championships.


Meanwhile, McKnight’s resume could be thicker than a phonebook and is

right up there with the nation’s best high school coaches. Furthermore,

since he started coaching the Monarchs in ‘81, he has tallied a record

of 797-74 along with 24 league championships, 19 Southern Section

championships and seven CIF state championships (‘87, ‘90, ‘95, ‘01,

‘03, ’07-‘08). He is also the winningest coach in Orange County boy's

basketball history. Some of his most notable alumni include Leron Ellis ‘87, Reggie Geary ‘92, Miles Simon ‘94, D.J. Strawberry ‘03 and Taylor King ‘07.


The Monarchs will certainly have a target on their back considering

they are two-time defending state champions and a perennial powerhouse.

But the cupboard at Mater Dei is still full with Div. I recruits.

Spearheading the attack this season are twins David (6-10, 220 lbs.) and Travis Wear (6-10, 220), forward Andy Brown (6-8, 215 and a Stanford recruit), junior transfer guard Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190, UCLA) and junior point guard Gary Franklin (6-3, 180, USC).


The Wear twins, whose father David is an assistant coach with the team,

are the center of attention and for a good reason. Behind big frames,

both players provide almost identical production. Last season, David

averaged 16.8 ppg and 8.9 rebounds and was a member of the USA Men’s

Under-18 team, in addition to league MVP, all-county and all state. All

the while, Travis averaged 16.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg and was also selected to

the USA under-18 team in addition to all-league, all county and



Additionally, Brown averaged 14.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in addition to

providing a solid inside game to compliment the Wear twins. Running the

show is Franklin (12.9 ppg and 4.9 apg), a true sparkplug for the team,

and he often pushes the ball in transition and distributes well to his

big men.


Lamb will fill the missing piece of the puzzle after transferring from Ontario High,

where he averaged 27 points and over five steals a game. Lamb can be a

streaky shooter, but has great anticipation on defense and is another

scorer in the already potent Monarch attack.


Said Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times about Lamb, “His arrival at Mater Dei would give the Monarchs the best starting five in California."


When football season eventually ends, Mater Dei fans will not miss a

beat. With a solid core of seniors and two big-time juniors, the

Monarchs will continue to dominate California from the valleys to the

mountains. Much like the signature warm weather and sunny skies in the

state, the Monarch program will hopefully be looking for their

signature success to continue '09.



To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to



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