Campolindo basketball star Aidan Mahaney made the headlines amid the drama of a weekend of high school football in the Bay Area.
The senior announced on Saturday that he would stay home for college, playing for Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s College, just 3.2 miles from the Mahaney High School campus.
Mahaney said he has known his future coach since he barely learned to play at the age of 6. At the time, Bennett’s sons, Chase and Cade, were on the opposite side.
In no time, they all became youth basketball teammates and ultimately teammates at Campolindo High.
In Mahaney’s day, Campo only won.
The Cougars won a state championship when he was in freshman, a NorCal championship when he was in his sophomore (the state finals were called off due to the pandemic), and went 15. -0 during a shortened season last spring.
A day after the 6-foot-2 guard announced his choice of college on social media, he spent a few minutes on the phone with the Bay Area News Group, explaining why he picked Saint Mary’s over his other finalists, Cal and Princeton, his ruined junior injury and his goals for the next basketball season.
Here’s a clue: they’re through the roof.
“My goal when I got there was to go four on four in the state championships,” said Mahaney. “As far as I’m concerned, if we get this one, I can say I did.”
Here is our conversation with Mahaney (edited for clarity and brevity):
Darren Sabedra: Why choose college now?
Aidan Mahaney: Something that’s really important to me is that I wanted to do it before the start of the high school season because I really want to focus on trying to win a state championship. I always knew I was going to try to do it early.
DS: Was Saint Mary’s the only school you were considering or were there others?
A M: I dropped the first seven and then it kind of just continued from there. But the last three that it really boiled down to were Saint Mary’s, Cal, and Princeton. These are the three that I think showed me the most love throughout the process.
DS: What is your background with Coach Bennett? Obviously you played with his sons. How far back do you go?
A M: There is a small elementary school called Lafayette Elementary, about five minutes from my house. There were these little playtime games when I was younger, like five, six, seven. I’m pretty sure my dad ended up coaching with my team against Randy with his two kids on their team. And it’s like basketball layups, eight foot hoop, start to start. I’ve known Randy for a long, long, long time. I didn’t really get to know him any better until probably the third year. I started playing in his small Gaels AAU team. … Recruiting has really started for them and Saint Mary’s is my second year. They just wanted to give me time, and they didn’t want to put pressure at the start or anything like that.
DS: Some guys want to get away from home to go to college. You are just down the street. What do you think of being so close to you?
A M: Honestly, I like it a lot. For me, I am very goal oriented. And I knew before I made that college decision and all that my goal was to play basketball for as long as possible after college at the highest level. I realized that in order to do this I don’t necessarily have to go somewhere. If I can get to a place with a ball and a gym, I can make this dream come true with a good weight room. There are obviously other factors, but I just need a ball and the gym and I don’t care whether it’s five minutes from my high school or across the country. I was ready to go where I thought it would give me the best chance, and it happened to be near my home.
DS: What was it like last spring with these injuries? (Mahaney played in six of 15 games, sidelined by an ankle injury, then a hand injury which he cut while trying to catch a lob pass for a dunk).
A M: Yeah absolutely. It was a crazy year last year. I was never really an injured guy and that was kind of my summary of my junior year when it comes to basketball. And that’s how. There is nothing you can do about it. We must move forward, move forward. But when it comes to this year, we have very, very high expectations for this team. I have high expectations for myself, for my teammates, for Campo as a whole. I’m super, super, super excited for what this is going to be like. I mean, my goal is for them to be the best Campo team there has ever been, that’s for sure. Very, very high goals, but we know we’re going to have to work really hard to get there.
DS: What is the goal, to win the open division of the state?
A M: Division 100% open. We definitely have the highest goals in Campo history. But I think we’ve got the guys, the coaching, everything to do. We just need to start locking in now, which we have, and start working early.
DS: How good was the Campo team last spring? (He went 15-0 with wins over several of the region’s top teams).
A M: Honestly, I don’t think this team ever got the respect they deserved just because of COVID, without a lot of fans, as well as I think a lot of people kind of kicked us off right away when I was. absent, not realizing how good we were. were in a team. Honestly, I thought we were really, really good. I think defensively they were probably the best defensive team I’ve been a part of. The guys were ready to go, no egos involved. Play hard every possession. It was huge. It was a great team. They had guys who stepped up when they needed it for sure.
DS: How much do you appreciate what you were able to achieve in high school? (He played with his older brother, Carter, for two seasons and never ended a season at Campo with a loss).
A M: I am more than grateful for how my high school experience went so far in the field. It was great, but I’m definitely coming back this year with a big, big chip on my shoulder. I just have the impression that my teammates, myself, Campo, have been taken a lot for reasons beyond control. And I just feel like these seniors, my brother’s last year, deserved to have this championship game and win it. And I think the seniors from last year deserved to have this state championship and win it. And I think this year it just means it’s more important. My goal is to try to do it for everyone. If we win this year, there will be no debate that we would have won my second year and my first year because we won every year where we could. This is really my most important thing. I think it’s a huge, huge year for a number of reasons. We have high goals and if we could achieve them we should be able to get past all of those boxes. My goal when I arrived was to go four on four in the state championships. As far as I’m concerned, if we get this one, I can say I did.