The teams may not see each other in the Northern California Regional playoffs in March, coming from different divisions, but they’ll see plenty of each other Monday.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at Cal’s Haas Pavilion is a six-game showcase of NorCal powers featuring national recruits. The field includes The Bee’s top-three ranked teams, each hoping to use the event as a launching pad to successful league, Sac-Joaquin Section and NorCal championship runs.
Top-ranked Capital Christian, with losses only to state-ranked Southern California programs, plays preseason NorCal No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland at 3:45 p.m. The Cougars (14-2) are led by 6-foot-8 D.J. Wilson, who has verbally committed to Michigan.
Capital Christian is a Division V school but may end up in the prestigious Open Division in the NorCal playoffs, especially if it coasts through the section playoffs as expected. Again playing a schedule that included nationally ranked teams, Division III O’Dowd (7-4) was an Open team last season. The Dragons are led by 6-10 forward Ivan Rabb, considered one of the nation’s top junior recruits.
At 2 p.m., second-ranked Jesuit (16-0) faces Newark Memorial (7-7), which has won four consecutive games following early-season setbacks to El Cerrito (15-1) and No. 3 Sacramento. Jesuit, which plays in Division I and is enjoying a bounce-back season after missing the playoffs, is led by 6-6 forward Lake Lutes, headed to Air Force.
Division IISacramento (10-3), which lost twice to Capital Christian, plays Salesian of Richmond (9-6) in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap. Sac High starts five sophomores, including 6-7 center Solomon Young and 6-4 guard Christian Terrell, who are both gaining recruiting interest.
Other MLK Classic games are Castro Valley vs. St. Mary’s of Albany at 10:30 a.m., El Cerrito vs. Sacred Heart of San Francisco at 12:15 p.m. and Long Beach Poly vs. host De La Salle at 5:45 p.m.
For tickets and more information, go to https://prepmo.com/events/5.
Chriss bliss – It was a week of mixed emotions for Pleasant Grove center Marquese Chriss.
The mild-mannered junior had 16 points and nine rebounds in a 67-55 nonleague win over Elk Grove on Jan. 7, though he wasn’t around at the end. He was ejected late for reacting to taunting by Elk Grove’s student section by waving off the crowd. The ejection resulted in a mandatory sit-down for Chriss two nights later against No. 15 Franklin. The Wildcats beat Pleasant Grove 69-57.
On Monday night, Chriss gave a verbal commitment to Washington, where 2013 Sheldon graduate and former Franklin player Darin Johnson is playing on scholarship.
“I feel great,” Chriss said. “It was the biggest decision I’ve ever made. And I’m sticking to it, proudly.”
Young vs. young – Tonight’s Delta River League opener between No. 4 Folsom and No. 8 Sheldon will include a matchup of standout sophomore guards. The Bulldogs’ Jordan Ford leads the section in scoring at 22.4 points a game. He scored 39 Friday in an 82-46 rout of Vista del Lago, feeding off Vista students’ chants of “overrated.”
Devin Greene leads four-time defending section D-I champion Sheldon (5-8), which starts no seniors and has suffered all its losses against out-of-area schools that include state- and nationally ranked teams. Folsom (15-2) won D-I section titles in 2008 and 2009 for coach Mike Wall.
Encina on board – Encina, a basketball power in the 1960s and again in the late 1990s, has surged again this season behind fifth-year coach Freddie Bryant, guard Dajon Green and forward Nate Jefferson. The Bulldogs (12-2) are ranked No. 20, with one loss coming against Jesuit, 72-60, in the final of the Cordova Christmas Classic.
Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.