National Player of the Year candidate Stanley Johnson of Santa Ana Mater Dei has been getting tons of attention for having an opportunity to lead the Monarchs to their fourth consecutive state title at the 2014 CIF state championships. That feat would be unprecedented at the major division level, but meet the man who was the first in state history to four-peat — Oscar Edwards from Price of Los Angeles.
Whenever a significant high school milestone record is being approached, the record-breaker gets plenty of attention. It’s also natural that the individual whose achievements are matched or surpassed gets some time in the spotlight.
Winning four state titles in a row in the most populous state in the country is no simple task. For McDonald’s All-American and leading Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year candidate Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei of Santa Ana the goal is one game away. His Monarchs’ team will play Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in Saturday night’s Open Division title game in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the state showdown.
Is Mater Dei wins, Johnson will have played in a role on four consecutive state title-winning teams. His accomplishment would be unprecedented in the highest CIF classification, but a player has contributed to four consecutive state championship before.
In the fall of 1999, Michael Lynch, the boys coach at small school power Price of Los Angeles, met a 6-foot-4, 220 young man who he figured was a football player. Lynch, a former detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, was introduced to Oscar Edwards and he quickly found out Edwards’ sport of choice was basketball, even though his father played on the gridiron for UCLA.
“I had never met Oscar, so immediately I thought he was a football player,” Lynch said. “Due to Oscar’s size and athleticism, he was able to not only be a part of our varsity team but was in the playing rotation immediately. Oscar was a part of the school’s first ever state championship team.”
At the end of the 1999-00 season, Price defeated St. Elizabeth of Oakland 68-53 in the Division V title game. Price went on to become the first school in state history to win four consecutive state championships and the powerfully built forward played a big role in all of them. Edwards set an individual mark for winning that can never be surpassed when Price defeated Modesto Christian 80-72 in the 2003 Division V final.
Edwards developed into a two-time Division V all-state pick and earned a scholarship to San Francisco State University.
“Oscar only grew another inch in high school but ended up weighing in at somewhere around 240 pounds upon graduation,” Lynch said. “Oscar’s athletic gifts were all natural as he was not big on lifting weights yet he was our strongest player on his last team.”
Edwards is part of California high school basketball history, but Lynch is even more proud of something else Edwards has accomplished other than collecting the hardware that Johnson hopes to match.
“Oscar came to Price as a true student athlete with academics being his first focus,” Lynch said. “Oscar Edwards was a really great young man who has matured into a very fine adult.”