January 26, 2012

Mareno is one to watch

Kevin McCarthy

For years and maybe forever, the rule for college recruiters is not to bother looking in Marin County for high school basketball talent. If it's followed this year that means some teams are going to miss out on pursuing 6-foot-6 Matt Mareno of Redwood High and Lakeshow, a talent who jumps out at onlookers.

photo of Matt Mareno player

Coming off an All Marin County Athletic League selection based on his production -- 16.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a contest -- Mareno is doing even better so far this senior season.at 19.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.5 shot blocks each time out.

That's what traditional recruiters will be missing out on, plus what Mareno perceives as his best skills: "my athleticism and ability to attack the rim."

The senior actually plays different positions, depending of what is needed from him due to team makeup. "I'm a post in high school and with Lakeshow I'm more of a wing." He perceives college coaches looking at him as a three but "I want to improve my ballhandling to become a two."

Here's Lakeshow's Joe Fuca offering his take: "Matt truly loves the game of basketball, he craves it, he plays it everyday, no matter the location. He showed up last spring at our Lakeshow workouts and was simply a highlight show on the court. After establishing that above-the-rim style of play was clearly his forte, we went to work on his overall game. Matt can shoot the three with precision, he can rebound with the best of them, he finishes on the fast break as good as anyone I have seen, and he loves an up tempo style of offense. This past club team season was his first season at the high level of circuit play and he responded with greatness on the court in clutch situations all spring and summer long. In the championship game of the Adidas Three Stripes tourney against a strong Arizona Magic team, Matt scored the first 14 points of the game and he started on a very talent rich team. Matt is being recruited by UC Santa Barbara and Northern Colorado as well as Hawaii Pacific and Chico State. He is very interested in attending prep school and possibly playing one more full year on the circuit with a strong east coast prep school."

Redwood High Coach Steve Compagno offered: "Matt plays with a lot of energy and he's displaying more discipline this season. There's a lot of pressure on him and he's dealt with it fairly well, having progressed in making his teammates better. He's a very good rebounder who can run the floor. I'm pleased with his progress and he can get a lot better. His upside is to be determined."

Mareno's father played baseball and football at Massachusetts but the gridiron was not to be for ther son. "The injuries my Dad still has eliminated football and baseball was not for me," Mareno explained. "My interest in basketball started with my CYO team. I was last man off the bench on my CYO team in eighth grade and I couldn't make my eighth grade middle school team."

But he quickly progressed, soon becoming the leading scorer for the [Redwood High] freshman team.

It was just a year after that when Mareno enjoyed his best basketball moment -- "In my sophomore year we went 29-3 (14-0 in the MCAL) and won the championship."

Academics were not always a priority for him. "As a freshman and halfway through sophomore year, school wasn't a priority for me. But I have a 3.4 grade point average now and overall it's 3.0."

He is looking to major in the areas of economics and business come college.

As for where that will take place, Mareno isn't picky. He said, "Location doesn't matter, it will depend on how it feels for me."

Location for him right now is the middle of the cylinder with periodic eye level visits to the backboard.