More State Boys BB Players of the Year

We choose honorees for juniors, sophomores and freshmen and for each CIF division. The toughest picks were for Division V and freshmen. Check back later this week for the Cal-Hi Sports state coaches of the year.

By Ronnie Flores

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Congratulations to the following players for being selected as a Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. This group of players will all make one of the various honor squads of the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Team. Here is a complete list of our boys basketball individual honorees for the 2012-13 season:

Juniors – Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
As a freshman, Parker Jackson-Cartwright of Loyola edged out the Mater Dei forward and last year it was Johnson who edged the Loyola point guard mainly because of the improvement in Johnson’s outside game and Mater Dei’s success against Loyola. This season, Jackson-Cartwright missed time with injury and the SoCal junior point guard who actually challenged Stanley for this honor was Etiwanda’s Jordan McLaughlin. They were co-CIFSS Division I-AA Players of the Year. Johnson, however, had a big game, including 16 in the third quarter, to help Mater Dei win the SoCal Open Division title 60-37 and avenge a loss to Etiwanda in the CIFSS Div. I-AA title game.

Sophomores – Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland)
After a standout summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, Rabb had a breakout season for the Dragons. The 6-foot-9 power forward had multiple double-double games against strong competition and even had a couple games with double-digit blocked shots. For the season, he averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds for a 26-4 squad that finished ranked No. 26 in the state. Last year’s freshman of the year choice, Marcus Lovett Jr. of Providence of Burbank, missed games for a team that finished 9-18 after scoring a ninth-grade record 1,036 points last season. Two point guards strongly considered for this honor were Tyler Dorsey of St. John Bosco of Bellflower and Sedrick Barefield of Centennial of Corona. Rabb is the second sophomore choice from O’Dowd in the last four years. Brandon Ashley, who finished his prep career at Findlay Prep of Las Vegas and is now at Arizona, was the 2010 choice.

Freshmen – Trevor Stanback (Chaminade, West Hills)
For the second consecutive season, this was one of the tougher choices and centered around first year players from the San Fernando Valley (and a special wing from San Diego). In the end, the 6-foot-10, 200-pound center edged point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. of Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and high-scoring wing T.J. Leaf of Foothills Christian of El Cajon. The deciding factor was Stanback’s rebounding ability and shot-blocking contributions for a team that played in a regional final, compared to teams that went 17-11 (Sierra Canyon) and 20-15 (Foothills Christian), respectively. Thornton Jr. (who’s now headed for Nevada’s Findlay Prep) also played with another freshman guard (Devearl Ramsey) who was at times just as spectacular. While Leaf scored at a 22.4 clip, it was at the D5 level and his team probably needed to do better. Stanback, who averaged 9.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 5.0 bpg, is the younger brother of UNLV standout Chase Stanback. He also is the second consecutive choice from the San Fernando Valley, following Providence’s Marcus Lovett Jr., who won’t be at that school next season.

CIF Division I – Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Although he was edged out by Mitty’s Aaron Gordon for Mr. Basketball honors, Johnson becomes the first junior to earn this honor since Glendora’s Casey Jacobsen in 1998. Johnson, whom Gary McKnight compares to former UNLV star Larry Johnson because of his strength and versatility, also is lauded by the veteran Mater Dei coach for his intelligence. “He always has the scouting report on the other team whenever we ask him. He told me Aaron Gordon sometimes dribbles high and that he was going to knock the ball out, and sure enough he did it a couple of times. He has the utmost respect for Aaron’s game.” The 6-foot-7 Johnson is the second consecutive Mater Dei player to earn this honor, following Katin Reinhardt (UNLV).

CIF Division II – Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose)
As a sophomore, Gordon was edged out by San Diego Hoover senior Angelo Chol for this honor. Chol and Gordon will be teammates at the University of Arizona next season as well, but won’t be competing for playing time at the same position. The two-time Mr. Basketball honoree is the second player from a West Coast Athletic League program to earn this honor in the past four years. Tyler Johnson of St. Francis of Mountain View was the winner in 2010 and obviously Gordon is a two-time winner.

CIF Division III – Isaac Hamilton (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
The most highly-honored player for the Braves since point guard Jelani Gardner earned Mr. Basketball and Division II player of the year honors in 1994, Hamilton was named CIF Southern Section Division III-A player of the year and won the John Wooden Award as player of the year among all CIFSS Division III schools. Hamilton, a UTEP signee, is known as a volume scorer, but is an underrated passer and ball-handler (4.5 apg). “What going to St. John Bosco did for him (coming over from Crenshaw) was cause him to go deep into thought to try and excel in a half court game. The Trinity League has so many good coaches and all of them drew up good schemes to slow him down,” said father Gregory Hamilton. His son, the third honoree from a CIF Southern Section school in the past four years, still averaged 22.1 ppg and shot 60 percent (202-of-335) on his 2-point field goal attempts.

CIF Division IV – Jabari Bird (Salesian, Richmond)
Last season Bird was edged for this honor by Grant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran (Arizona), but this season The Bird Man flies away with it after leading Salesian to a 30-4 record and No. 6 ranking in the state. Bird led The Pride to a Division IV state title as a junior. Including his freshman season at Benicia, Bird scored 2,019 career points, including 1,696 at Salesian. According to head coach Bill Mellis, that makes the McDonald’s All-American the fourth-leading scorer in school history even though he wasn’t part of the program in the ninth grade. Bird is the first player from a CIF North Coast Section program to earn this honor since Alex Harris of St. Joseph of Alameda in 2004. He will be play next (like so many previous Salesian athletes have in recent years) at nearby Cal.

CIF Division V – Mamadou Ndiaye (Brethren Christian, Huntington Beach)
This was a difficult decision after last year’s winner, Xavier-bound Brandon Randolph of St. Bernard of Playa del Rey, spent his senior season at Inglewood (a Division I school) and Village Christian, which won the Division V state title and returned its top two players, was knocked out before the regional final. After debating the top players on all four regional finalists and other division players of the year from various sections, Ndiaye is the winner because of his ability to dominate for stretches at a time. The 7-foot-5, 320-pound Senagalese-born center averaged 27.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks shots for a 24-4 team considered one of the state’s 15 best teams in the division. Two outings against D5 state-ranked teams stood out: 24 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks vs. San Gabriel Academy in a win and 34 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks in the team’s CIFSS playoff loss to Buckley of Sherman Oaks. At times, Ndiaye could be downright dominant and other times he struggled with his stamina. There is no question he is one of the state’s most intriguing players and prospects of all-time because there is no telling how good he can become. He was a second team All-County selection by the Orange Country Register, but 247 Sports has him listed as the nation’s No. 14 prospect. Signed to UC-Irvine, it’s just very difficult to project how good he’ll be at the next level but you can bet a ton of NBA scouts and general managers will be watching his every move. Ndiaye is the first ever player from an Orange County school to earn this honor.

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