Feb. 1, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford men's water polo head coach John Vargas announced the signing of prep standout Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, Calif./Mater Dei HS) to a National Letter of Intent Wednesday.
Bonanni, considered the top prep recruit in the nation, joins a Cardinal team that went 19-7 in 2011 and finished the season ranked fourth in the nation.
"We are thrilled to sign the best recruit in the country this year. Bret's skills will be added to our varsity team immediately upon his arrival," Vargas said. "Our current varsity players are as excited as I am to announce the arrival of an impact player such as Bret, and one of the significant reasons is because he is unselfish, a team player and a future leader on the team.
"I have to compliment his parents, Kim and Ed, high school teachers and Bret's coach, Chris Segesman, for turning out a student-athlete that will be ready to embrace the Stanford experience immediately," Vargas continued. "Ask anyone in United States Water Polo and they will tell you that Bret is a highly motivated and organized young man with an eye on excelling in every aspect of college."
Bonanni, out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., captured his second straight Orange County Register Player of the Year award this past fall, becoming the paper's first back-to-back CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year since Stanford alum Tony Azevedo took the honor three times from 1997-99. In fact, Vargas sees similarities to the U.S. Senior National Team captain and scoring leader's play in Bonanni.
"Bonanni has the best throwing motion since Tony Azevedo," Vargas explained. "I actually witnessed high school fans laughing after some of Bret's goals where he threw the ball into the back of the goal before the goalie had a chance to bring his arms out of the water. We just don't witness situations like that very often. Above all, he's a proven winner, just like Tony."
The Monarchs won four straight CIF Southern Section titles during Bonanni's time on campus as he finished his prep career with 435 goals scored. Lauded for his improved all-around game, Bonanni scored 124 goals this past fall as Mater Dei capped a perfect 31-0 season with a CIF Southern Section Division I crown. He was named to the NISCA/Speedo Boys All-America First Team as a junior in 2010-11.
Bonanni has played internationally with USA Water Polo, spending time with the U.S. Junior National Team in 2010. At that time, he helped lead the U.S. to victories over Montenegro, Australia, Hungary, France and Germany in a training tournament held in Italy.