MaxPreps: Cage adjusting to new role

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - M.J. Cage's junior season is underway, and the 2016 center is pushing himself to have a bigger role this year.

With Stanley Johnson graduated after an extremely successful four-year run at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, the Monarchs are in need of a replacement in production and leadership.

That’s where 6-foot-9, 225-pound 2016 center M.J. Cage is trying to step in.

Cage is pushing himself to fill that role and it led to a frustrating first weekend at the City of Palms Tournament.

“I was putting pressure on myself and I didn’t play well,” Cage said. “I need to relax and slow down.”

On Friday night at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Cage definitely seemed more like himself. His frame has improved; he has wide shoulders and his long arms have leaned up. He’s always had good hands and a nice feel and showed both rebounding and blocking shots.

Cage made nice passes to teammates from the high post, scored with his hook shot and played hard on both ends.

He’s worked hard to make the next step as a prospect and feels his game coming around.

“I’m working on my offense, trying to get it together,” Cage said. “I’ve been trying to work on my outside game, my left hand, post moves and shooting.

“I just have to do the little things. I don’t want to put more pressure on myself but I just need to do what I did a year ago, taking my time and not rushing anything.”

Recruiting wise, Cage says he still has a ways to go and wants to see some more schools before making a decision.

“I haven’t really checked out many schools,” he said. “I’ve taken an unofficial visit to Arizona but that’s it. I liked it a lot; it was cool out there, but I need to give all the schools on my list a chance.

“I’d like to see Kentucky, Washington, San Diego State, UCLA and USC. There may be other schools in the future I add to that list. “

Cage listed Arizona, UCLA, San Diego State and Washington as the schools recruiting him the hardest and thinks the visits will have a big say in where he goes to college.

“I need to visit the schools,” he said. “You can tell if the school is right for you when you see it. I want a good education, a family environment and a place that will prepare me for the next level.

“I‘ll probably get closer in the summer, I think I’ll cut my list down then.”

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