With Aaron Gordon from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose off to a strong start in his freshman season this week at the University of Arizona and with Mater Dei’s Stanley Johnson announcing on Friday he’ll be playing next in Tucson as well, we thought it would be a good time to write up the 10 best California players who have played so far for the Wildcats.
Can Gordon or Johnson eventually crack this list, even if they only play at the college level for one season? We’ll see.
1. Steve Kerr (Palisades, Pacific Palisades)
One of the great 3-point shooters ever and leader of an Arizona team that played in the Final Four.
2. Gilbert Arenas (Grant, Van Nuys)
A state scoring champion for the Lancers and an All-Star in the NBA.
3. Miles Simon (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Didn’t have the NBA career as some others, but led Arizona to NCAA title in 1997 and was MOP. Stanley Johnson will have to do a lot to be the best former Monarch for the Wildcats.
4. Derrick Williams (La Mirada)
He was the No. 2 pick overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
5. Bison Dele (St. Monica, Santa Monica)
After reading the great article by Chris Ballard of SI about him and his death, it probably moves up the former Brian Williams on many lists.
6. Chris Mills (Fairfax, Los Angeles)
He’s the one who got Kentucky in some recruiting trouble before playing for Arizona.
7. Chase Budinger (La Costa Canyon, Canyon)
He’s had a solid NBA career, but we always wonder if he went to volleyball if he’d have become another Karch Kiraly.
8. Luke Walton (University, San Diego)
When we watched Luke play for the Dons (now Cathedral Catholic), he was on the same team as future MLB pitcher Mark Prior.
9. Sean Rooks (Fontana)
He had a 10-year NBA career and is the father of Kameron Rooks, who was an all-state player last season at Mission Hills of San Marcos and is now playing at Cal.
10. Tom Tolbert (Artesia, Lakewood)
He was the second-leading scorer in the state as a senior in high school behind Kevin Johnson of Sacramento and had a seven-year NBA career.
Others: Hassan Adams (Westchester); Jud Buechler (Poway); Anthony Cook (Van Nuys); Reggie Geary (Mater Dei).