There is a clear leader at the beginning of the 2013-14 season in the race to be the Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year. But just raving about Mater Dei’s Stanley Johnson is no fun. A top 10 list is certainly in order.
Note: The Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year honor from Cal-Hi Sports dates back to 1905. It is part of the state record book we have published seven times. To get state record updates as they happen, become a member of our Gold Club. For more info, CLICK HERE.
(The Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year tracker will be posted at least two more times. The next one will be released in mid-January including results from all of the major holiday tournaments. The next one after that will be at the end of the regular season. We will list the top 10 players and then others who’ve come onto the radar screen. Remember, local honors and playing for a strong team are factors, which recruiting being much less of a factor than our player rankings.)
1. Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
The returning Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year, Johnson is also a Mr. Basketball USA candidate by our sister site StudentSportsBasketball.com. Johnson’s ability to buy into the team concept and his big-game ability is already legendary in California basketball circles. And this year he’s going to have to dig even deeper because Mater Dei recently lost Jayce Johnson (JSerra) and Mario Soto (Saddleback Valley Christian) to transfer. The loss of Soto really hurts because he was a key cog in Mater Dei’s championship run last season. If Johnson leads Mater Dei to its fourth consecutive state title, he’ll go down as one of the state’s best players ever.
2. Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) Jr.
As he displayed at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic, Rabb has the potential to be dominant even against tough teams such as Bullard of Fresno. Rabb, who like St. John Bosco’s Tyler Dorsey is a top five national junior, is getting stronger and more skilled around the basket. There is no doubt O’Dowd is the top-rated team in Northern California. He’s a worthy successor as the top NorCal player after San Jose Archbishop Mitty’s Aaron Gordon (the Mr. Basketball winner for the last two seasons).
3. Jordan McLaughlin (Etiwanda) Sr.
With Mater Dei weakened in recent months, Etiwanda is the top candidate to emerge as the state’s best team if the Monarchs falter. It’s simple, McLaughlin is the best player on a talented team that is unselfish and will garner the majority of post-season honors. McLaughlin, considered by many to be the No. 1 point guard on the West Coast, signed with USC. He also was offered by Indiana, Kansas and UCLA.
4. Daniel Hamilton (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Sr.
As he displayed as the Chicago Elite Classic, Hamilton will demand the ball in crucial situations — and he usually delivers. A near lock for the McDonald’s All-American Game, Hamilton will have to have big games — and at least garner a split — against Mater Dei in the Trinity League to unseat Stanley Johnson. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has committed to UConn where he’ll play for former Crenshaw star Kevin Ollie.
5. Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Loyola, Los Angeles) Sr.
The 5-foot-8 point guard is off to a strong start and Loyola looks to be a major contender for the CIF Open Division state title. Cartwright will likely be in the line for major honors if Loyola emerges as the best team in the CIF Southern Section, but teammate Tommie Welsh (7-foot center) could emerge as a serious candidate, too. Jackson-Cartwright has signed with Arizona. He was the State Freshman of the Year for the 2010-11 season.
6. Stevie Thompson Jr. (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) Jr.
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard is really coming on, as his team defeated host Westchester to win that schools’ Tip-Off Classic. Thompson will get the most honors for a team that will be a major contender in the new CIFSS Open Division. He teams with Long Beach State-bound Justin Bibbins to form arguably the state’s best backcourt. He has an offer from Arizona State with more Pac-12 schools likely to follow.
7. Tyler Dorsey (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Jr.
Talent-wise, Dorsey is a top-five talent. The nation’s top 2015 recruit according to the Hoop Scoop, Dorsey’s candidacy for Mr. Basketball is hurt a bit because of his teammate Daniel Hamilton. That scenario could easily be switched, however, with Dorsey being the top candidate off of the Bosco team depending on how the season plays out.
8. D.J. Wilson (Capital Christian, Sacramento) Sr.
He plays for the top team in the Sac-Joaquin Section and is headed for Michigan. The 6-foot-8 small forward is a big-time talent and is off to a fast start, according to the Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson. Wilson and his team have already beaten some solid opponents and will face tough competition, including Bishop O’Dowd and Ivan Rabb.
9. Trey Kell (St. Augustine, San Diego) Sr.
A returning first team all-state underclass player, Kell is the top player coming into the season from the CIF San Diego Section. He helped St. Augustine win the CIF Division III state title and will play in college at San Diego State.
10. Shon Briggs (Brentwood, Heritage) Sr.
We’ve seen him already and at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds he is going to put up a ton of points for a team that could surprise in the CIF North Coast Section. Briggs’ candidacy for postseason honors, of course, depends on how his team does going forward.
ON THE RADAR SCREEN:
Isaiah Bailey (Compton) Sr.
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills) Soph.
Sedrick Barefield (Centennial, Corona) Jr.
Ronnie Berwick (Atascadero) Sr.
Justin Bibbins (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) Sr.
Kyron Cartwright (Compton) Sr.
Robert Cartwright (Flintridge Prep, La Canada) Sr.
Chance Comanche (View Park, Los Angeles) Jr.
Joey Covarrubias (Cantwell Sacred Heart, Montebello) Sr.
Tavarion Dawson (Serra, Gardena) Sr.
Trevor Dunbar (St. Ignatius, San Francisco) Sr.
Ian Fox (Redondo Union, Redondo Beach) Sr.
Jeremy Hemsley (Damien, La Verne) Jr.
Tra Holder (Brentwood, Los Angeles) Sr.
Aaron Holiday (Campbell Hall, North Hollywood) Jr.
Braxton Huggins (Mira Monte, Bakersfield) Sr.
Chandler Hutchison (Mission Viejo) Sr.
Marcus Lovett Jr. (San Gabriel Academy, San Gabriel) Jr.
Malik Marquetti (Millikan, Long Beach) Sr.
Cameron Oliver (Grant, Sacramento) Sr.
Malik Pope (Laguna Creek, Elk Grove) Sr.
Kendall Small (Mayfair, Lakewood) Jr.
Elliott Smith (Freedom, Oakley) Sr.
Trevor Stanback (Chaminade, West Hills) Soph.
Elijah Stewart (Westchester, Los Angeles) Sr.
Chris Sullivan (Long Beach Poly) Sr.
Deshon Taylor (J.W. North, Riverside) Sr.
Matthew Thomas (Newark Memorial, Newark) Sr.
Gabe Vincent (St. Mary’s, Stockton) Sr.
Evan Wardlow (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills) Sr.
Devin Watson (El Camino, Oceanside) Sr.
Thomas Welsh (Loyola, Los Angeles) Sr.
Jack Williams (Chaminade, West Hills) Sr.
Namon Wright (Pacific Hills, Los Angeles) Sr.
Calvin Young Jr. (Bullard, Fresno) Sr.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores