Basketball: Bears lose Verhoeven to Stanford

The Bears lost a recruiting battle to their biggest rival Wednesday when power forward/center Grant Verhoeven of Visalia’s Central Valley Christian HS chose Stanford over Cal and Saint Mary’s College.

Rated the nation’s No. 78 prospect by scout.com and No. 132 by rivals.com, the 6-foot-8 Verhoeven visited Stanford last weekend following trips to Cal and Saint Mary’s.

“After that I knew that Stanford was the place I wanted to go to college and play basketball,” he said. “I loved the family aspect the team had. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Verhoeven, whose father played in the NBA, said Cal coach Mike Montgomery was gracious when given the word.

“He congratulated me and said he still supported me,” Verhoeven said. “He said, I coached there for 18 years. It’s hard to pass up a place like that.’ ”

Don’t misinterpret that last remark as a guy who’s got one foot stuck in his old job. Part of recruiting is being told no by an 18-year-old, and coaches must be able to handle rejection graciously because otherwise it quickly gets around.

Jeff Faraudo