(left to right) Justin Bibbins, Temidayo Yussuf, Jack Williams Deontae North
With the madness of March culminating Monday with the crowning of this year’s champion, the focus of every college basketball coach in America left out of or sent home early from this year’s big dance turns to next year and their incoming batch of freshman. And if representation at the CIF State Championships in Sacramento this past weekend is indicative of things to come, Long Beach State’s basketbakk coach Dan Monson has reason to smile.
All four high school seniors who signed letters of intent to be 49ers next fall helped guide their teams to championship games this weekend. Guard Justin Bibbins (Bishop Montgomery) and Temidayo Yussuf (Alameda’s St. Joseph) and forward Jack Williams (West Hills’s Chaminade) all left the capital victorious despite Williams sitting out because of illness. Shooting guard Deontae North (Corona’s Centennial) scored 14 points and had 7 rebounds in a losing effort.
The winning pedigree is something that Coach Monson is eager to infuse into next year’s roster.
“When you sign guys obviously you look for talent, you look for character but winning is something that you just can’t teach,” Monson told the Post. “It’s a characteristic that you want all of your players to have because that’s the ultimate goal of any team.”
Although this class–with all four signees regarded as top 100 players at their positions–is considered one of the most successful in LBSU history, Monson cautioned that hype from class rankings can be misplaced sometimes and that the true value of a recruiting haul can’t be assessed until the players hit the college hardwood for the first time.
“Being a successful in high school or winning in high school doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to translate to college but it certainly can help,” Monson said.
He compares this class to the 2008 group that included current Philadelphia 76er, Casper Ware and All-Conference standout, Larry Anderson. The difference between the two: expectations. The 2008 signees inherited a team that was 6-26 the previous year whereas this year’s class is expected to help erase the memory of the 49ers narrowly missing an NCAA Tournament birth last year.
Monson attributes his staff’s ability to attract high-end talent to many things: an increased national profile provided by televised games, a great student section and the team’s recent run of success on the court. He’s hopeful that the returning players from last year’s team and incoming freshman can continue the upward trend of 49er basketball, sustaining the recruiting momentum for years to come.
“We’re trying to take this program to another level and it starts with good recruiting,” Monson said. “We expect to contend for championships every year.”
For more information on LBSU basketball, visit longbeachstate.com
Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz__LB on Twitter.
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