Montrose Christian Coach Stu Vetter can rattle off an impressive list of players he has coached during stops at St. John's/Prospect Hall, Flint Hill and Harker Prep: Dennis Scott and Randolph Childress and George Lynch and Nate James, to name a few. He says Linas Kleiza, a Mustangs forward this season, belongs with that group.
The 6-foot-8 Lithuanian-born standout is averaging 20.3 points and 10.5 rebounds for a team that has a bench that would rival most school's first team. Montrose Christian (7-1) has taken over the top spot in The Post's top 20 from O'Connell for the first time in school history, and Vetter says Kleiza's play has a lot to do with the team's success.
"He is a powerful player, what you might call a true power forward, but he is the type of player that can go inside and power it, and can also go out and shoot the three," Vetter said.
A third-team All-Met selection last season after averaging 18 points, Kleiza spent part of the summer recuperating from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, an injury that kept him from attending several summer camps. However, he was able to work on his outside shot, increasing his range to 18 feet, a strong complement to his ability to score in the lane.
Kleiza has narrowed his college choices to Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina State, Virginia, Florida State and St. John's.
"The only thing I could do was shoot that whole time I was hurt," Kleiza said. "It just has given me versatility because I am not going to be able to post up every time in college basketball."
The Heights Dismisses Morin
The Heights fired basketball coach Matt Morin yesterday, less than a week after he went public with his decision to leave the Potomac private school at season's end to begin the boys' basketball program at the Avalon School, a private school that will open in Montgomery County next year.
Morin, 33, was in his sixth season with The Heights. He compiled a 96-72 record at the school, including 9-5 this season.
"I'm stunned," Morin said. "I feel extremely bad for these young men who have worked so hard."
According to Morin, he informed his team on Dec. 18 of his decision to leave at the end of the season, and he told The Heights Headmaster Alvaro deVicente on Dec. 19. Morin said some school officials were upset that his resignation was reported in The Post last Tuesday, and he was given a choice between resignation and termination at a meeting with deVicente and assistant headmaster Tom Royals.
"In terms of Matt, he is a good man, but his loyalties are clearly elsewhere," deVicente said.
Marco Basso-Luca, a former junior varsity coach at The Heights, will take over for Morin, deVicente said.
-- Todd Jacobson and Jake Schaller