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MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Brethren Christian's Mamadou Ndiaye signed to play at UC Irvine.

Boys basketball: O.C. big man still improving

OCVARSITY.COM

He is the biggest development in Orange County basketball. Well, that's mostly because Mamadou Ndiaye is the biggest player in county basketball.

Ndiaye is 7-foot-5, reportedly the tallest high school player in the nation. Just days before his senior season began at Brethren Christian, Ndiaye signed a letter of intent with UC Irvine, selecting the Anteaters' scholarship offer over the dozens he received.

He averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots a game last year. Brethren coach Jon Bahnsen expects Ndiaye to contribute even more this season.

"Mamadou's off the charts, now," Bahnsen said. "He's improved a ton, and lot of that has to do with conditioning. He's still a load at 285 pounds, but he's down from the 310 pounds he was when he first got here."

Ndiaye transferred to Brethren before his junior year from Stoneridge Prep of Simi Valley. He has had two surgeries to deal with pituitary gland issues but is healthy and good to go for what could be an amazing senior season.

Ndiaye is ranked No. 10 at his position nationally by rivals.com, which has him rated as the No. 84 prospect overall in this year's national senior class. He will be more visible outside of Academy League games this season. Brethren plays Capistrano Valley in the JCTees.com North-South Challege at El Toro on Dec. 21, and plays Servite in the Nike Extravaganza on Feb. 1 at Mater Dei.

Ndiaye does not like media attention, and neither do his guardians with whom he lives just a few blocks from Brethren's Huntington Beach campus. Nidaye's story and life are so under the radar, the identities of his guardians are not divulged by Brethren personnel. Ndiaye chose UC Irvine weeks before he signed with the Anteaters on Nov. 14, but even that was not publicized until signing day.

But there is no hiding the potential Ndiaye has his senior year.

NORTH-SOUTH CHALLENGE

Besides the Brethren-Capistrano Valley game, there are other intriguing matchups in the two-day event that continues to attract good teams since it started 14 years ago.

Tesoro plays Ocean View on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. On the second day, Dec. 22, Woodbridge plays Brea Olinda at 5 p.m., El Toro plays Los Alamitos at 6:30 p.m., and Mission Viejo plays Canyon at 8 p.m.

County and CIF-SS divisional rankings will be impacted by North-South Challege results.

DEFENDING CHAMPS

County teams that won league championships in 2011-12: Brethren Christian (Academy League); Foothill and Esperanza (Century co-champions); Tustin (Empire); Capistrano Valley Christian (Express); Sunny Hills (Freeway); Rancho Alamitos (Garden Grove); Ocean View (Golden West); Savanna (Orange League); Laguna Beach (Orange Coast); Woodbridge (Pacific Coast); Saddleback Valley Christian (San Joaquin); Aliso Niguel (Sea View); Mission Viejo and Capistrano Valley (South Coast co-champions); Los Alamitos (Sunset) and Mater Dei (Trinity).

NIKE EXTRAVAGANZA

The event at Mater Dei is Feb. 1 and 2. Among the matchups: Long Beach Poly, No. 1 in CalHiSports.com''s preseason California rankings, plays No. 5 St. John Bosco of Bellflower; No. 6 Mater Dei plays Westchester; JSerra plays Fairfax; Foothill plays No. 7 De La Salle of Concord; and No. 6 Etiwanda plays No. 12 Loyola of Los Angeles.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS CHANGE

There will be an open division this season, making the CIF State Championships a six-division event for boys and girls basketball.

A selection committee made up of commissioners from the CIF's 10 sections will determine which teams go into the open division. Teams can be eligible for the open division if they have won two consecutive section championships and have played in the regional finals in three of the previous four seasons. Also teams must be in the state top 10 for both of the most recent two seasons.

Last year, for the second consecutive season, all five girls state champions and all five boys state champions were from private schools.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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