Headlining the first elite group of 10 players are Kawhi Leonard, Renardo Sidney, Brendan Lane, Michael Snaer and Jeremy Tyler. Second team overall topped by Will Cherry, Chase Tapley and Gary Franklin. Third unit includes Jordin Mayes, Luke Evans and Jared Cunningham. All 30 players are written up in this post.
Note: The very first Cal-Hi Sports all-state team for boys basketball was selected after the 1979-80 season by founder Nelson Tennis with assistance from editor Mark Tennis, who was attending college at the time. The CalHiSports.com all-state teams are now recognized as the most comprehensive, most detailed and best researched all-state teams in the nation, according to hobbyist Ron Siegel of Washington, who collects these teams from every state.
By Mark Tennis & Ronnie Flores
(Contributing: Paul Muyskens, Harold Abend, Steve Brand)
First Team Overall
G — Andrew Bock (Eisenhower, Rialto) 6-2 Sr.
While it only made sense to choose Eisenhower’s Steve Johnson as the State Coach of the Year after the CIF Division II state title-winning season enjoyed by his program, there had to be some great players around as well. Bock definitely qualifies in that category. He led the Eagles with 21.3 points per game and also was a playmaker with 6.9 assists, 3.2 steals and 6.3 rebounds per game. The Eagles had plenty of interchangeable players, but Bock was the glue and developed a knack for playing big in the clutch. Bock has been named the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin’s Player of the Year and is headed to Creighton.
C — Brendan Lane (Rocklin) 6-9 Sr.
He was one of the many talented players in the Sacramento area this season while being compared to some of the area’s all-time best like Elk Grove’s Bill Cartwright. Shooting from the outside or attacking the basket, the UCLA-bound senior could do it all, as he averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds and nearly five blocks a game. He had a season-high of 40 points in Rocklin’s first game and led the Thunder to league, section and NorCal championships. Lane showed his dominance with 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks for a triple-double in the state Div. II final loss to Rialto Eisenhower. He was selected for multiple honors once the season came to a close, including Sacramento Bee Player of the Year, our Division II Player of the Year award and Mr. Basketball finalist.
F — Kawhi Leonard (M.L. King, Riverside) 6-7 Sr.
There were a couple of players in California that were better offensively and perhaps just as good defensively, but no player dominated on both ends of the floor quite like the 2009 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year. With long arms and huge hands, Leonard could dominate the boards against players much taller and he also had the ability to defend and shoot a high percentage on the wing. “He was an excellent choice for state player of the year,” remarked Woodland Hills Taft head coach Derrick Taylor, whose last two seasons were ended by Leonard’s Wolves. With a freshman class that includes Leonard, his cousin Eric Lawton of Hemet West Valley, Sacramento’s Chase Tapley, Serrano’s Jamaal Franklin plus transfers Tyrone Shelley and Malcolm Thomas, San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher has the making of his best recruiting class since the Fab Five he recruited to Michigan in 1991.
G — Dominique O’Connor (Westchester, Los Angeles) 5-9 Sr.
In a year when three of the top four ranked teams in the state hailed from the L.A. City Section, it only makes sense O’Connor was a serious Mr. Basketball candidate after earning L.A. City Section Player of the Year honors. The Western League MVP was a two-time all-city choice and a three-year varsity performer for the Comets. He played his best in big games, including a game-high 16 points and five steals in Westchester’s victory over Oakland McClymonds in the Div. I state title game. He averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game, but more importantly provided senior leadership to a young Comets team that exceeded preseason expectations.
C — Renardo Sidney (Fairfax, Los Angeles) 6-10 Sr.
With his selection to the first team, Sidney makes history as the first-ever three-time all-state pick in our current selection format. Only the legendary Jason Kidd was able to accomplish what Sidney did as a top 10 selection the final three years of his prep career. Great things were expected of Sidney after he teamed with James Harden to lead Lakewood Artesia to a Div. III state title as a sophomore. At times he was just as dominant as Harden, and he followed that up by averaging 24.1 points and 13.4 rebounds as a junior and 25.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a senior after transferring to Fairfax. Sidney does have some detractors, but that mainly stems from the natural talent and size that he possesses. We do admit that he’s evaluated on a different threshold than many of the other picks because of those immense expectations. When focused and dedicated, he’s easily the state’s best prospect in this class.
G — Brandon Smith (De La Salle, Concord) 6-2 Sr.
This Spartan guard may have been a surprise to some when he was named a Mr. Basketball finalist, but he’s a solid pick for the first team as arguably the top player in the greater San Francisco Bay Area . The quarterback all season long for the Spartans, Smith averaged 12.1 points, 6.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in a structured low-scoring offense where every possession was highly-valued. In that situation, he took care of the ball, averaging only one turnover per contest. Smith, who is headed to Cal, had signature performances when De La Salle ended Oakland McClymonds’ win streak at 49 games and when the Spartans beat Compton Dominguez in a game shown on ESPNU.
G — Mike Snaer (Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley) 6-5 Sr.
After a spectacular spring and summer elevated Snaer into consideration as one of the nation’s top 25 recruits, some prep evaluators thought his ability might not have matched the preseason hype. Snaer proved otherwise with a spectacular season that saw him lead the Mustangs to a 24-6 record while averaging 28.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.6 steals per game. Combine Snaer’s production with a work ethic and supreme confidence, and it’s easily understandable why Snaer was the unofficial runner-up to Kawhi Leonard for state player of the year honors. It was a close enough evaluation that if Rancho Verde would have beaten Mater Dei in the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoffs, it might have tilted the selection in Snaer’s favor. In a losing effort, Snaer scored 32 points and also had a 13-point performance at the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Game.
C — Jeremy Tyler (San Diego) 6-11 Jr.
At last summer’s Elite 24 in New York’s famed Rucker Park, Tyler was matched up against some of the best seniors in the nation and he more than held his own. The 2008 State Sophomore of the Year then put together a standout 2009 campaign although the Cavers as a team struggled due to turmoil from a coaching change and eligibility case (which didn’t involve Tyler). Already committed to Louisville, Tyler pumped in 28.7 points per game and was charted with several rebounding outputs of more than 20 in one game. Tyler was the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Player of the Year and last week was named the 2009 State Junior Player of the Year.
F — David Wear (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-11 Sr.
In the first two seasons in which David and his twin brother, Travis, started for the Monarchs, it was almost impossible to separate them from an honors standpoint. If you picked one, it was just about a guarantee to pick the other. This year, though, David became a more versatile player and it’s no longer impossible to pick one over the other. David, in fact, was the Orange County Register’s Player of the Year, was CIFSS Div. I-AA tri-Player of the year with Kawhi Leonard and Michael Snaer, and was a finalist for Mr. Basketball. He averaged 16.4 points with 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in a balanced attack and twice hit for his single-game high of 26 points in wins over Gahr of Cerritos and Lutheran of Orange. A McDonald’s All-American, he is headed to the University of North Carolina.
G — Michael Williams (Taft, Woodland Hills) 6-0 Sr.
It was a gut-wrenching decision to leave Sacramento’s Chase Tapley off the first team, but Williams gets the nod for a couple of reasons. First, Williams received more local honors than Tapley, as he was the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year over second teamer Tyler Honeycutt of Sylmar whereas Rocklin’s Brendan Lane received more local honors than Tapley. Second, Taft beat Sacramento by four points in a head-to-head match up and lastly, Williams was the most consistent performer on a team that was clearly better than the one Tapley led. “He brought it every single game,” remarked Taft head coach Derrick Taylor. The West Valley League MVP and University of San Francisco commit shot a shade under 46 percent from three-point range and averaged 18.7 points and 4.1 assists.
F — Stephon Carter (Garces, Bakersfield) 6-4 Sr.
The Bakersfield Californian has named Carter its Player of the Year for the third straight season as he became only the second player to earn the award three straight times, following Alfred Williams of Bakersfield from 1998-2000. He led the Rams’ offense with a 22.7 points per game average while also grabbing 8.0 rebounds, dishing off 4.1 assists, and collecting 2.9 steals per game. He scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the Division II section title game while playing with a broken hand, leading the Rams to a 91-78 win over Liberty of Bakersfield. Carter is a four-year starter at Garces and broke the Kern County all-time career scoring record. He also moved to No. 2 all-time in the annals of CIF Central Section boys basketball. Despite offers from some impressive Division I teams, he decided to stay local and attend Cal State Bakersfield.
G — Will Cherry (McClymonds, Oakland) 6-1 Sr.
He led McClymonds to its third straight NorCal Division I championship with averages of 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.3 steals, and 4.0 assists per game. Although the Warriors were unable to defend their Div. I state title after losing to L.A. Westchester in the championship game, Cherry was named the San Francisco Chronicle’s Player of the Year. He had a season high of 26 points in a win over Fairfield and recorded a triple-double against Oakland Skyline as he scored 22 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He was named the Oakland Athletic League Most Valuable Player and is heading to Montana.
G — Justin Cobbs (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 6-2 Sr.
Outside of Michael Snaer and perhaps Andrew Bock, there are a plethora of guards on the all-state team with similar ability, but what elevates Cobbs to the second team is his selection as the South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year. Considering he was chosen over the players on Div. I state champion Westchester should tell you something about the kind of 2008-2009 season he had. The four-year standout clearly had the best season of his prep career in leading the Knights to the CIF Div. IV state title game. The Div. IV State Player of the Year and Minnesota recruit averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds for a team that finished 28-5.
G — Gary Franklin (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-2 Jr.
The highlight of the season for Franklin came when he led Mater Dei to the championship of the prestigious City of Palms tourney in Florida against an elite field that included eventual Div. I state champ Westchester and St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J. Franklin was not named the MVP of that event, but Mater Dei head coach Gary McKnight sure thought his point guard should have gotten it. Franklin averaged 14.2 points with 4.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game and was the quarterback for a club that was the nation’s best before all-state forward Andy Brown was lost to injury. Regarded as one of the nation’s top junior guards, this first team all-CIFSS Div. I-AA choice has already committed to USC.
F — Jamaal Franklin (Serrano, Phelan) 6-5 Sr.
After averaging 22.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 steals and two blocks per game as a junior, Franklin turned heads with his play during the summer with the California Supreme AAU team. A couple of things worked against him in the all-state deliberations, the first being a school decision that forced him to miss the second round of league games and, second, not playing against the quality of competition that most of the state’s other top players did. Franklin’s talent, however, is just too great to overlook and to his credit, he dominated the competition in the High Desert. He upped his numbers to 31.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, 4.9 blocks, 3.5 steals and 3.0 assists per game while earning first team All-CIFSS Div. II-AA honors. “He’s clearly been the best player in the region the past two years…he’s had some incredible games,” said Victor Valley Daily Press staff writer C.J. Daft. “He’s very similar to Mike Snaer,” remarked Serrano coach Mike Browning, who rates Franklin the most talented player he’s had in his 20-year coaching career. “He not quite as strong (as Snaer) and needs to improve his jumper, but that’s mainly because he has to play inside for us so much. He was our tallest player.”
F — Tyler Honeycutt (Sylmar) 6-8 Sr.
Similar to Arizona State’s James Harden in 2006, Honeycutt’s play for the Pump N Run Elite AAU team last summer elevated his standing as one of the best prospects on the West Coast. He followed up his spectacular summer with an outstanding season for the 19-8 Spartans. His play helped Sylmar win a share of the Valley Mission League title with Reseda, as he scored a season-high 40 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a five-point loss to the Regents in the first round of league play. In the rematch, Honeycutt scored 26 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, blocked seven shots and dished off five assists in a 105-101 Sylmar victory. For the season, the all-L.A. City pick and UCLA recruit averaged 18.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
F — Reeves Nelson (Modesto Christian) 6-8 Sr.
He has been chosen as the Modesto Bee Player of the Year for the second year in a row after averaging 24.7 points and 14 rebounds a game for the Crusaders. It was a slow start for Nelson after recovering from an injury he sustained during football season, but he definitely had more ups than downs this season. In his four years at the school, MC won four Sac-Joaquin Section championships and made the NorCal championship game three times before losing in the semifinals this season. In his final campaign before heading to UCLA, Nelson had a season-high 39 points in his first game against Merced and scored at least 32 points six other times. One of the best all-around frontcourt players in the state the past two seasons, Nelson spent a lot of time in the post, but will be a wing forward on the next level because of his tremendous passing skills and feel for the game.
G — Chase Tapley (Sacramento) 6-3 Sr.
He was the leader on a Dragons’ squad that reached their second straight Northern California Division III championship game as he averaged 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, and four steals per game contest. One of the best pure athletes of this group, Tapley scored a season-high 34 points in a 73-66 win over Inglewood and scored at least 30 points in a game seven times. If not for Rocklin’s Brendan Lane, he may have earned even more honors this season but his all-around game was so good he was still honored as Div. III State Player of the Year. Tapley just missed making the first team but next season he’ll join first teamer, and Mr. Basketball winner, Kawhi Leonard at San Diego State next season.
C — Travis Wear (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-11 Sr.
He proved to be more than just the other Wear twin on many occasions and arguably is the more powerful of the two brothers. Travis was particularly dominant in a win against Orange Lutheran when he racked up a season-high 34 points. Despite missing some time due to injury, Travis averaged 14.9 points with 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while earning second team all-CIFSS Div. I-AA and first team all-Orange County honors. Similar to his brother David, he also was a McDonald’s All-American and will join his brother in Chapel Hill next fall.
C — Derrick Williams (La Mirada) 6-8 Sr.
Williams was a first team all-state underclass pick a year ago and followed up his junior season with a spectacular senior campaign. He scored 30 or more points 11 times and recorded 18 double-doubles, including nine straight to close out his prep career. The USC recruit was at his best in the postseason, with 39 points, 19 rebounds and six blocks in a win over Yucaipa, 29 points and 14 rebounds against Chino Hills Ayala and 30 points and 18 rebounds in a season-ending loss to Los Angeles Loyola. The Long Beach area player of the year averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds for the season and shared CIF Southern Section Div. II-A Player of the Year honors with Eisenhower’s Andrew Bock.
F — Jerry Brown (Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Francisco) 6-6 Sr.
After nearly leaving the Fightin’ Irish program after his sophomore season, Brown is probably thrilled he stuck around as he led the Irish to their first league title since 2002. Even bigger, Brown’s play helped SHC capture the CIF Div. III state title, the program’s first ever in any division. During the regular season, he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds and was named co-WCAL Player of the Year. In the state title win over Huntington Beach Ocean View, he had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. A four-year starter, Brown’s blend of outside shooting ability and inside power nicely complimented fellow forward Kevin Greene. Brown will play next season at Fresno State.
C — Joe Burton (West Valley, Hemet) 6-8 Sr.
He’s been one of the state’s best players in his class the past four years and caps his prep career with a selection on the elite all-state team. Burton was a rebounding force for the Mustangs and when his final career numbers are tallied, he could end up high on the state’s all-time list. He averaged a whopping 16.4 per game as a senior, including 10 games with 20 or more. His teammate Eric Lawton was also considered for the third team, but he missed some time with a broken wrist and was named second team all-area pick by the Riverside Press-Enterprise while “Big Joe” was a first team selection. Burton has shown an improved scoring ability (14.8 ppg) to compliment nicely his unique passing ability (4.5 apg). If he works to be in top physical shape on the next level, the Oregon State Beavers could have a fine post player in their program.
G — Jared Cunningham (San Leandro) 6-4 Sr.
Creating shots for others and himself was the key ingredient in San Leandro’s success this season, as Cunningham averaged 20 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He tallied a season-high 35 points in a 97-59 win over San Lorenzo late in the season and he scored at least 25 points in a game on sven different occasions. The Pirates finished the season one win shy of qualifying for the state tournament, as they lost in the North Coast Section Div. I semifinals to Monte Vista of Danville when Cunningham was held to single digit scoring for the first time all season. Before the season, Jared committed to Arizona State, but he decommitted and has since given his commitment to Oregon State.
C — Luke Evans (El Camino, Oceanside) 6-8 Sr.
Luke was picked as the San Diego Hall of Champions Player of the Year. And while we’d go with San Diego High’s Jeremy Tyler in that choice, Evans still did plenty damage for an El Camino team that won the CIF San Diego Section Div. I title. He had an average of 23.6 points per game with a high of 32 in a 20-point win over Montclair Prep of Van Nuys. Evans is headed to Cal Baptist of Riverside.
G — Jordan Finn (Etiwanda, Rancho Cucamonga) 6-4 Sr.
He didn’t receive as many local honors as some of the other third teamers, but he was the most consistent performer on an Eagles team that was ranked in the state top 10 for a majority of the season. Over the last 14 games of the season, Finn led Etiwanda with a 15.2 ppg average while always assigned to the opposing team’s top offensive threat. For the season, he averaged 12.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 3.3 apg per game. Etiwanda’s top outside shooter, this Air Force commit also had the ability to play the point guard spot and was a 82 percent free throw shooter for a 25-6 club.
G — Justin Hawkins (Taft, Woodland Hills) 6-2 Sr.
When researching the merits of Taft’s Michael Williams and Sacramento’s Chase Tapley, we saw that neither player shot particularly well from the field when the two team’s went head-to-head. In a head-to-head comparison, Tapley’s shooting night probably was affected by the defense of Hawkins. One of the luxuries Taft coach Derrick Taylor enjoyed was putting “Hawk” on the opposing team’s top perimeter threat, which usually was an advantage for the Toreadors. Hawkins used his good instincts and long wingspan to develop into arguably the state’s top perimeter defender and when his final career numbers are tallied, he’ll likely rank high on the all-time state list for steals. Hawkins, who averaged 15 points and three steals per game while earning all-city honors as a senior, helped Taft compile a 98-20 on-court record against tough competition in his four years on the varsity.
F — Solomon Hill (Fairfax, Los Angeles) 6-6 Sr.
We’re going with two players each from the “big three” L.A. City schools as Hill was one of the most underappreciated talents in Southern California the past two seasons. Playing in the big shadow of three-time all-state selection Renardo Sidney, Hill posted fine averages of 16.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists as a senior and was a two-time all-L.A. City choice. He closed out his senior season with 19 points and 11 rebounds in Fairfax’s big win over Santa Ana Mater Dei and added another 19 in the one-point season-ending loss to league rival Westchester. Hill still has not yet decided on his college destination, but when he does some lucky school with be getting a solid rebounding wing with an improved handle who doesn’t always need the ball to make an impact on the game.
G — Jordin Mayes (Westchester, Los Angeles) 6-2 Sr.
The CIF Div. I state champs had a balanced team, but Mayes definitely stepped to the forefront as the Comets’ No. 2 player in the all-state deliberations. One a team with a solid group of perimeter defenders who nearly all play at or above the rim, Mayes was the team’s best perimeter shooter and at times carried Westchester offensively. He finished the season averaging just a shade under 20 ppg and joined point guard Dominique O’Connor on the 12-man All-City first team. Mayes’ improvement from his sophomore year is just one of the reasons Ed Azzam and his coaching staff received kudos statewide for the development of a young Westchester team that was undoubtedly one of the nation’s best by the end of the season.
G — Darius Morris (Windward, Los Angeles) 6-4 Sr.
Morris compares favorably to any of the all-state guards from larger enrollment schools and played quite well against many of them during Windward’s tough pre-league schedule. He helped the Wildcats clinch the Div. V state title with a game-high 25 points against Alameda St. Joseph’s and was named the CIFSS Div. V-A player of the year. Morris actually saw his scoring average dip this season to 18 ppg, but the Div. V State Player of the Year was a better playmaker and showed more defensive prowess for a team that clearly played tougher competition than last season. It not only paid off for the team, but for Morris individually as he’ll continue his career at the University of Michigan.
G — Roberto Nelson (Santa Barbara) 6-4 Sr.
Nelson was a four-year standout for the Dons and will go down as one of the best players in school history alongside names such as Mike Garrett and 1975 NBA Rookie of the Year Jamaal Wilkes. A four-time all-County selection, Nelson concludes his career as his school’s all-time leading scorer with well over 2,000 career points. Once we verify his numbers, his point total might be high enough for inclusion into our state record book. A repeat third team selection, Nelson is just as talented as any of the guards on the second team, but his team’s 13-11 won-loss record and lack of games against other teams with all-state players hurt his all-state evaluation. Still, Nelson finished his career in fine fashion with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in a playoff victory over Westlake and 22 points in a season-ending loss against eventual Div. II state champ Rialto Eisenhower.
Special Mention: Forward Andy Brown from Mater Dei of Santa Ana would have been chosen perhaps as high as second team, but he missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. If Andy had not gotten hurt, the Monarchs might have finished unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the nation and that also would have warranted four or perhaps all five starters making the elite all-state team. Good luck to Andy as he heads off to Stanford.
Several players that didn’t quite make it up onto one of these elite teams will be honored when our all-state teams by CIF divisions and our all-state underclass teams (juniors, sophomores, freshmen) are announced later this week.