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January 21, 2009

Wear brothers lead Mater Dei's team game

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. During his recent trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame, David Wear got a chance to play Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a game of one-on-one.

How did the 6-foot-11, North Carolina-bound senior forward do against the Hall of Famer?

"I lost because the game wasn't very accurate, but that's OK," Wear said with a smile in reference to the video game experience.

Wear may not be able to top Kareem, but he and his teammates have beaten everyone else they've faced this season.

Mater Dei (18-0), No. 2 in the RivalsHigh 100, remained undefeated after dismantling No. 81 Chicago Whitney Young 86-61 Monday in the Spalding Hoophall Classic behind 18 points from David and 24 from his twin brother, Travis Wear.

All five Mater Dei starters are signed to play Division I basketball, and all five are averaging double figures. They scored 35 baskets on 25 assists against Whitney Young.

The Wear twins are headed to North Carolina and are part of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, a class that also includes power forward John Henson of Tampa (Fla.) Sickles, shooting guard Leslie McDonald of Memphis (Tenn.) Briarcrest Christian and combo guard Dexter Strickland of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick.

"I'm really excited," David Wear said. "We're friends with all those guys and we had an opportunity to go to "Late Night With Roy" with all those guys, and we're really excited to be able to wear that 'North Carolina' on the front of our jerseys and go out there play in the Dean Dome and be able to represent a school with so much legacy and so much history."

North Carolina coach Roy Williams was in attendance last month at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., to watch all five recruits.

"We were able to play St. Patrick in the final, which is a great team," said David Wear, whose team prevailed 52-45 in the championship game. "Playing against Dexter was a lot of fun because I'll be playing with him next year. There was a little competition. It was all in fun, but that was a great experience."

Wear said he has received tips from North Carolina center Tyler Hansbrough, the reigning National Player of the Year, on what to expect at the next level.

"It's a big adjustment, be ready for it," Wear said Hansbrough told him. "It's like 10 times faster than high school, so it's going to take a little while to adjust to it."

Monarchs coach Gary McKnight said the twins have put on 30 pounds each over the past two years, rebutting criticisms that they can't play in the post.

"They're 230, 235 [pounds] and they can still run," he said. "And they're very athletic. They shoot the ball inside and out. They can run the floor and they're extremely coordinated and they can play defense. They're not big men that are slow moving. They're so perfect for North Carolina. I think they'd be perfect for any college, for that matter."

The Wears spent the summer playing on the USA Under-18 National Team that reached the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship in Argentina. McKnight said it was an experience that benefited them tremendously.

"I think that made a big difference in their play," the coach said. "They came back a little more seasoned. They played against a lot of good players. The coaches were very demanding and I think it really helped."

The Wears are also preparing for college by playing alongside other Division I talent.

USC-bound point guard Gary Franklin Jr. tallied 18 points and six assists against Whitney Young, and Stanford commit Andy Brown added 11 points and six assists.

"You never see anybody down because they didn't score some points," McKnight said of his players. "They've bought into playing as a team, and our goal's always to try to get five guys in double figures. And we've been very fortunate and the kids have really bought into being a team."

Having already defeated No. 46 Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler and St. Patrick during the City of Palms, Mater Dei's lone remaining obstacle to an undefeated regular season appears to be a Feb. 7 date with Dan Hurley's No. 3 Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's team, which is also unbeaten at 17-0. That game will air on ESPNU.

The Monarchs' run through the Division I-AA playoffs could be particularly difficult because it will probably include Riverside King, Compton Dominguez and Etiwanda. In the Division I state playoffs, Mater Dei could face City Section powers Westchester and Fairfax.

"We know that we've got to have winning seasons at Mater Dei," Travis Wear said. "That's why we all came here. We wanted to play for a winning program and continue the winning tradition."

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