Contending Trinity League basketball teams return with skyscraping talent

By Dan Arritt     11/20/2015

As the days get shorter, the air begins to chill and holiday decorations spring up, something else becomes perfectly clear:

It’s time for high school basketball.

And this winter is shaping up to be one of the all-time best in the Trinity League.

Not only are a number of talented players returning to their respective teams, but the league has been boosted by an influx of equally skilled—and exceptionally tall—transfers from other schools.

Starting at Mater Dei, where the boys’ team came up a victory short of winning a fifth straight Division I state title last season, one of the top sophomores in the nation is now lacing up for the Monarchs.

Spencer Freedman, a dazzling point guard who was considered the fifth-best eighth grader in the country two years ago, enrolled at Mater Dei this fall after playing his freshman year at Santa Monica High School.

Freedman already has scholarship offers from USC, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge, a list that’s sure to expand as he moves through high school.

Freedman should mix well with a Mater Dei group that already features one of the top big men in the nation in M.J. Cage, a 6-foot-9 senior who last month signed a letter of intent with the University of Oregon, as well as 6-8 sophomore Michael Wang and 6-7 junior Justice Sueing, who played his freshman season in Arizona and his sophomore year in Hawaii.

When last season ended, it seemed Cage would be the dominant post player in the Trinity League this winter, but then two more sizable transfers arrived at rival schools.

Over at Santa Margarita, where the Eagles were already returning four starters from a team that went 19-8 last season, Adrease Jackson transferred in from Tesoro, a nearby public school.

Jackson is a 6-8 junior forward who averaged 18 points and eight rebounds last season en route to earning all-Orange County honors by the Orange County Register, one of only two sophomores to gain that distinction.

Jackson should form an intimidating trio down low with 6-8 sophomore Jordan Guest, who was second on the team in scoring last season (12.0) and tops in rebounding (7.3), and 6-8 junior Garrett Thompson.

JSerra doesn’t figure to be as vulnerable against the size of Mater Dei and Santa Margarita now that the Lions have added their own skilled forward. Sebastian Much, a 6-7 junior, transferred in from Archbishop Mitty in San Jose and figures to boost a team that’s already returning its leading scorer from last season, junior point guard Alec Hickman, who committed to UC Berkeley earlier this fall.

As for the other Trinity League schools, at least one doesn’t need to worry about matching up with the league’s new and returning big men.

That’s because Servite has the biggest of them all in junior Jacob Hughes, who is 6-11, 240 pounds and still growing. Scholarship offers began trickling in for Hughes following his sophomore season, most notably from Washington State.

As for the departures from the Trinity League during the off-season, Vance Jackson left not once, but twice.

Jackson, a 6-8 junior who was St. John Bosco’s leading scorer last season, transferred to Mater Dei last summer, then changed his mind about a month later and enrolled at a prep school in Northern California. Jackson signed with the University of Connecticut earlier this month.

The season officially tips off Nov. 23.