Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-5 center for Brethren Christian, signed a letter of intent with UC Irvine on Wednesday, the first day of a one-week early signing period for basketball and many other sports.

Signing Day Notebook: Brethren's 7-5 Ndiaye to UCI


His letter-of-intent signing was typical of Mamadou Ndiaye.

It was low-key, under the radar. And “under the radar” and “low” are interesting descriptions when attached to Ndiaye.

He is a 7-foot-5 senior basketball player at Brethren Christian. The school’s basketball program itself is on the low-key side. The Huntington Beach private school, a member of the Academy League, does not have an on-campus gym, and will play many of its home games at Ocean View.

Ndiaye signed a letter of intent with UC Irvine on Wednesday, the first day of a one-week early signing period for basketball and many other sports. Schools often organize and publicize letter-of-intent signing ceremonies. Brethren did not do so for Ndiaye.

He averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as a junior last season, Ndiaye’s first year at Brethren after transferring from Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley. He lives with his guardians just a few blocks from Brethren, but the identities of his guardians are secrets as closely guarded as was Ndiaye’s recruitment and decision.

“He doesn’t like the attention,” Brethren coach Jon Bahnsen said. “His decision was made a while ago, but he wanted to keep it secret.

“He had close to 50 schools bugging him on a daily basis, and he’s a kid who wants to please. So, doing it this way, Mamadou didn’t have to tell anyone ‘no’ until the day he signed.”

Ndiaye, now at 285 pounds after playing at 310 last season, is ranked as the No. 10 high school center in the nation by He is said to be the tallest high school basketball player in the country.



Mater Dei’s boys basketball team had an unusual number of early-period signees — zero.

The Monarchs’ top boys basketball player is a junior, 6-foot-7 forward Stanley Johnson. Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said Johnson has received scholarship offers from every college program that believes it has a chance at attracting Johnson. McKnight said Johnson plans to make his college decision next summer.

Another Mater Dei junior, forward Mario Soto, has an offer from UNLV.

Some Monarchs seniors are getting recruiting, according to McKnight.

Guard Elijah Brown, son of the former Lakers coach Mike Brown, has offers from several schools including St. Mary’s. Guard Jordan Strawberry, son of former New York Mets and Dodgers outfielder Darryl Strawberry, has been offered by UC Riverside and others. Guard James McGee has an offer from Southern Utah, and another guard, Chris Nealey, could wind up at Loyola Marymount.



Villa Park senior pitcher/shortstop Chris Vargas committed to UC Irvine earlier this week, got his letter of intent paperwork Wednesday and plans to sign with the Anteaters on Thursday, Villa Park coach Scott Zine said via email.

Vargas was All-Century League as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Last season, he batted .312 with 14 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He was 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched. …

Three Cypress baseball players signed — catcher Tyler Alamo with Cal State Fullerton; shortstop David Fletcher with Loyola Marymount; and pitcher Kevin Lillicrop with Point Loma Nazarene. All three were All-Empire League this past season.

Three Mater Dei baseball players signed letters, two of them with USC. All-Orange County first-team catcher Jeremy Martinez and third baseman Ryan McMahon signed with the Trojans. Center fielder Austin Grebeck signed with Oregon, coached by former Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton who attracts many Orange County players to Eugene.

Martinez has been Mater Dei’s starting catcher since his freshman year. McMahon has started several games at quarterback for Mater Dei’s football team, this season and last season.



Mater Dei girls volleyball player Sara Hughes signed her letter of intent with USC for the sand volleyball program. Also, Tucker Pikula from the boys team signed with UC Irvine.

Orange Lutheran’s Reid Dominguez also signed with UC Irvine. Newport Harbor’s Kevin Rakestraw signed with Stanford. Corona del Mar’s trio of Alexis Cage (San Diego State) and Kelsey Humphreys (Stanford) and Grace Kennedy (Stanford) also signed. …

Saddleback Valley Christian senior middle blocker Chelsea Duhs signed with Mississippi State. Duhs is a four-year starter, an all-CIF selection as a freshman, junior and likely again this year.


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