Mater Dei enjoyed another successful season in 2017-18, finishing the season with a 23-7 record while winning the CIF Southern Open Division. Head coach Gary McKnight welcomes back a talented albeit very young rotation, but they proved in the fall league that there shouldn't be any drop off from year's past. Sophomore guard Devin Askew is blossoming into one of the premier guards in the country, and he'll operate alongside a rotation that has plenty of size. This program has earned the right to start high in the rankings, and time will tell if they'll be able to maintain their status as a national contender in 2018-19.
Askew will be the go-to-guy offensively for the Monarchs, and the 6-foot-4 sophomore has been sensational of late. Askew is being recruited by a bevy of powerhouse schools after a standout spring and summer with the Las Vegas Prospects of the NIKE E16. Askew was one of the best players at the Pangos All-West Freshman/Sophomore camp in September after having an impressive showing at June's Nike Elite 100. He was operating a step ahead of everyone else, and he looks poised to be a lethal playmaker for McKnight. Askew is oozing with potential, and his presence on the court keeps the Monarchs as a major threat in their league and the CIF Open Division.
6-foot-6 senior forward Clay Donohue will play massive minutes in the frontcourt, as will 6-foot-9 sophomore Wilhelm Breidenbach. The No. 18 recruit by ESPN in the 2021 class, Breidenbach brings an evolving two-way player with size to the Monarchs rotation. Breidenbach has shown the ability to finish down low and impact shots at a high rate. Junior guard Ryan Evans will see big minutes alongside Askew in the backcourt, as will 6-foot-4 junior guard Aidan Prukop. Senior guard Daniel Williams rounds out the backcourt, while sophomore Harrison Hornery (6-foot-7) and junior Logan Cremonesi (6-foot-6) will contribute to the frontcourt production.
The Monarchs play a brand of 'team' basketball that allows them to be highly successful regardless of the talent that's on their roster. McKnight's teams are always disciplined, cohesive and hard-working, and we have no reason to believe they won't cook that same recipe in 2018-19. They face an extremely difficult schedule from the outset, so it will take a near-perfect showing in order to maintain their status in our rankings. The Monarchs may be young, but they will bring it and will look to hold off fringe-ranked foe St. John Bosco as they attempt to win their 35th Trinity League Crown in 36 years under McKnight.