Commentary

Winter Park vs. Mater Dei

Originally Published: December 22, 2010
By Paul Biancardi | ESPN Recruiting

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After coming up short in the City of Palms Classic semifinals, No. 15 Winter Park (Fla.) will face No. 41 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei for third place in the tournament on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Winter Park lost by one point to No. 24 Milton (Ga.), despite Duke signee Austin Rivers, the No. 1 player in the country, dropping 23 points. This is the third year in a row Winter Park made it to at least the semifinals of the tournament. In 2008, it came in third place and last year it came in second.

[+] EnlargeXavier Johnson
Courtesy Jerald HawkinsXavier Johnson is the No. 7 overall player in the 2012 class from California.

Rivers has dominated the tournament, averaging 31 points per game, including 11 3-pointers through three games. He has been given solid support from Florida Atlantic signee Brett Comer, junior Billy Dee Williams, who must continue to flex his muscle inside, and Austin Keel, who is the team's most consistent 3-point shooter other than Rivers.

Mater Dei is a young, scrappy, perimeter-based team that is coached by Gary McKnight, the all-time winningest high school coach in California history. It came up short of the championship game after falling to Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick and its big frontcourt of Michael Gilchrist, Austin Colbert and Dakari Johnson.

Despite not having a true post player, Mater Dei has three perimeter players who can put the ball in the hoop. Junior Katin Reinhardt is a three-point shooter and driver who plays with tremendous confidence. Super 60 SF Xavier Johnson is a versatile, super athletic left-hander who can score inside and outside. Freshman Shaqquan Aaron scored 24 in the semifinals, including 6 of 8 from 3.

The hardest thing for Mater Dei will be containing Rivers, while Winter Park must figure out how to get its mind in the game after a disappointing loss.

The mindset for both teams is that Wednesday's contest is their championship. If you can walk away from this loaded tournament with three wins, you did very well

Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

Paul Biancardi

Basketball Recruiting