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Knowing is Half the Battle for Comanche
Comanche's mother – Melissa McGee – was a stand-out forward in the early 1990s for Long Beach State, and played on the last 49ers team to reach the NCAA Tournament in 1991-92. She was an All-Conference selection and scored 1,397 points in her four-year career in Long Beach, recording a career-high 17 rebounds three times.
Recruited by legendary 49ers coach Joan Bonvicini out of Lakewood (Calif.), the then-Melissa Glower saw Bonvicini – owner of a 325-71 mark with the 49ers and 10 straight NCAA Tournament appearances – bolt for Arizona before her freshman season. That lesson stayed with her, and she's passed her knowledge and experience along to her son, who will be visiting California unofficially on Saturday for the Bears' clash with Arizona – the school for which Bonvicini left Long Beach State to coach.
"I was actually recruited by Joan Bonvicini, who was really good, but a few days after I signed, she was offered a job at Arizona for loads of money. I was a little bitter in that aspect, but it taught me," McGee says. "I learned from that. The coach staying at the school will be very important in helping him decide where he's going to go. Coaching is probably one of the most important things, along with academics and all that – if that coach is going to be around and will be who you're going to be playing for, who you're going to be taught by and trained by. That relationship has to be there. If that person isn't there, and that's the person that recruited you, then that's a big problem. That's an experience that I went through, that I can use."
With a recently-signed extension in his back pocket, Cal head coach Mike Montgomery won't be leaving Berkeley any time soon, and that's a very appealing factor for McGee and her son, a 6-foot-11, 190-pounder out of Los Angeles (Calif.) View Park.
"I give him a lot of insight," McGee says. "I was highly recruited, and went through the process and waited toward the latter portion of the season to sign my senior year. It's much bigger and greater, but I give him a lot of advice. I talk to people, get their opinions and what-not, but for the most part, I'm the one that is advising him and telling him what to look for and what not to look for."
Obviously, the process of recruitment has changed much since McGee was working the low post, but one guiding principle remains the same: Know exactly what you want, and find a place that fits it.
"We're going to come up (Saturday) morning, and come back on Sunday morning. We're going to drive up there for the shoot-around and the game. I've already met the coaches, but we'll meet them formally, and hopefully we'll meet with academic people and academic advisors, and the athletic director, possibly, and see the campus a little bit, if they have time, because I know it's a game," says McGee, who saw the Cal staff attend Comanche's last Saturday-night contest during the road trip to Los Angeles.
That, of course, wasn't the first time the Bears had seen Comanche in person. Cal is one of the schools that has been pursuing the 2015 center the hardest, and has been, for the longest, McGee says.
"They've been corresponding with us since last year, or sometime early last year when he was just an early sophomore. It may have even been before that, in ninth grade," McGee says. "They were sending him letters in ninth grade, as well. They've made a lot of diligent effort to come down and see him at practice and at games and calling and mail. They're recruiting him heavily, and I like the school for Chance."
That said, McGee and Comanche also like UCONN, Georgetown and Cal's opponent on Saturday: No. 1 Arizona.
But, even with the Wildcats in town, the mother-son duo will be solely focused on the blue and gold.
"Honestly, I know it's going to be a good game. This is really for me to see Cal," McGee says. "We've been to Arizona, we've been to Arizona State, USC and UCLA, so I'm trying to get where I can – to NC State – this is to see Cal, and of course, they're playing Arizona, which is a good team. That will allow us to be able to see them play good competition, see how (Montgomery) coaches. I look for all that, with (Comanche). I want him to look at the style of play – are they a transitioning-type, run-and-gun team? How do they utilize their posts? – because he's going to be a post player. He knows what position he is. I also want to see if they're a real team-oriented team, or are they more individualized in their playing style? Of course, the academics are great. I've had good conversations with Gottlieb, regarding their academics. They're top-ranked in the country, so that's always important for me and for him."
McGee and Comanche are far from a decision, in part a consequence of his age, but also in part because McGee wants to make sure that her son is armed with every possible piece of information he can acquire that will play a part in his choice.
"He has to fit into the situation. I want him to be able to come in and hopefully be able to go into the pro ranks, be a program-changer, potentially go some place where he can play right away," McGee says. "He potentially wants to go to the League, and whether that's after one year or four years, I don't have a preference on that. I want him to be ready. If it's time after four or time after one, I want to make sure that where he goes, they're going to develop him for that, and when that time comes for him to go, it'll happen. That all goes back to being the best situation for him, as an overall situation. It's going to encompass all those things. That's where we're at, with it."
And, on Saturday, they'll be in Berkeley for the first match-up between Cal against a No. 1 team at Haas Pavilion since the 2002-03 season.
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