SF Preps Basketball: Maddie Ennis, Oisin McCormack make their college commitments

St. Ignatius girls’ basketball player Maddie Ennis drives up the court against Sacred Heart Cathedrail in a game on Jan. 8, 2019 in Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Oisin McCormack boxes out Mitty’s Joseph Vaughn in a Central Coast Section playoff game at Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose on Feb. 16, 2019. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

After averaging a double-double as a senior and leading her team to three consecutive CCS Open Division appearances, St. Ignatius girls’ basketball star Maddie Ennis has chosen to continue her career at the University of the Pacific, where she’ll join a program that reached the women’s NIT this year after posting a 19-13 record. The Tigers finished tied for fifth in the West Coast Conference and beat Fresno State in the first round of the WNIT before bowing out at Arizona.

Though Ennis never got an offer from her father’s alma mater, Saint Mary’s, or nearby USF, even after the Dons posted a 7-24 record and finished last in the WCC, she immediately found herself at home upon visiting Pacific.

“When I visited, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the overall vibe of the school,” she said. “I was also drawn to its amazing academics.”

Ennis hasn’t yet declared a major, but will have her share of options while balancing her academic life with her time on the court, joining a team that graduates three seniors. A 5-foot-11 forward, she’ll be adjusting to playing against larger opponents instead of just towering over the competition.

With her experience on the Golden City AAU team and in the rugged West Catholic Athletic League, having played against the likes of top national recruit Haley Jones, the adjustment shouldn’t be too difficult for Ennis.

Her senior year in the Sunset District saw her average 16 points and 12 rebounds per game, the highest rebounding totals in the entire league, even with the remarkable size and talent that Mitty had, led by Haley Jones. Ennis also shot a remarkable 50% from the field despite battling physical defenses at every turn.

Boys Basketball Recruiting

Sacred Heart Cathedral’s remarkable season, in which the Fightin’ Irish went from 3-11 in the WCAL to an improbable run to the CCS Open Division title, featured an unexpected star on a remarkable journey that will now continue at the next level.

In his one year of high school basketball, Oisin McCormack became the poster child for a resilient team that had lost four starters to graduation and transfer, and that team handed together to win the top division in the CCS despite entering as the lowest seed in the eight-team field.

McCormack played soccer his freshman year, and was cut after trying out for the JV team as a sophomore and turned to basketball. With hip injuries throughout his sophomore year, and a junior year in which he didn’t even try out for the team, his hopes of of ever returning to the court looked incredibly bleak.

“I didn’t think I’d be playing in college,” the 6-foot-4 wing said, “but I continued to play AAU. Thanks to my Bay City team and coach Matt Durell (also a Stuart Hall assistant), my dream came true.”

As the top rebounder and a tenacious defender for the Fightin’ Irish, McCormack caught the eyes of the coaches at Lake Forest College, a Division III school in the Chicago area. He’ll be playing against the likes of Beloit College and Grinnell College, a school in Iowa that made national headlines in recent years for its ultra-fast play and tendencies to fire up 3-pointers.

“I have no idea what position they’ll have me play, but they’ve told me that I’ll come in and help them instantly,” McCormack said. “They like my versatility and will use me wherever they see fit.”

Wherever McCormack is positioned, he’ll almost certainly find his way to the glass. In Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Open Division Championship victory over Bellarmine, the first in program history, he pulled down 11 rebounds.

When he heads to Illinois, McCormack plans to major in either criminology or engineering.

“Engineering makes sense because my father works on the pipelines and I work with him on some Saturdays,” he said. “I also find criminology very interesting.”

He’ll be doing it at a school that currently enrolls 1,528 students, only a slightly larger body than he’s been surrounded by at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“It seemed like a perfect fit for me,” McCormack said of Lake Forest. “The coaching staff is amazing and the campus is beautiful.”

This year, the Foresters went 18-10, pulling off a surprising postseason run in the same spirit that McCormack’s Irish did. After finishing third in the conference in the regular season, they won the Midwest Conference Tournament before falling to eventual national Division III champion Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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