The Windward of Los Angeles standout edges runner-up and NorCal’s top candidate, Mariya Moore, to gain state’s highest girls basketball honor. Canada joins all-time state list that goes back to 1972 and includes others such as Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie and Diana Taurasi.
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Last year as a junior, Jordin Canada from Windward of Los Angeles was barely nosed out for the state’s top honor in girls basketball.
Instead, it went to Washington Huskies’ reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kelsey Plum for her senior season at La Jolla Country Day.
Coming into the 2013-2014 season, the UCLA-bound Canada was a definite favorite. This despite a knee injury ending an exceptional summer that saw the ESPNW No. 1 rated point guard atop the Cal-Hi Sports Girls of Summer player rankings.
Even so, it was still considered a two-girl race with Katie Lou Samuelson of Santa Ana Mater Dei when the first games tipped off.
As the season progressed, Canada slightly distanced herself from Samuelson, but at the end of the season she faced a severe challenge from Mariya Moore from Salesian of Richmond, who arguably was just as or more capable of taking over a game as Canada, albeit in a different fashion.
In the end, Canada had just too many impressive performances against the top teams and top talent in the nation.
As a result, just like Plum edged her out last season, Canada barely beats out Moore to be named the 2014 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year. Samuelson comes in a very close third in one of the toughest decisions ever involving three such talented girls.
It is the fifth time since the Ms. Basketball award was established in 1972, and the first time since Charisse Sampson (Los Angeles Washington) won in 1992 that a girl from the city of Los Angeles has garnered the honor.
Every statewide expert and just about all coaches canvassed had Canada as their top pick, but the way Moore played in the CIF playoffs made it so close that had not Moore fouled out of the final game against Long Beach Poly, and Salesian been closer or won that game, it very well could have gone the other way.
Canada and Windward got knocked out of the CIF Southern Regional Open Division playoffs by an Etiwanda team that had its greatest season in school history, but before and even after that Canada proved no one can really control a game like she can, and against the best.
There have been some great ball-handlers among past winners, but Canada is a new breed, and control of the game, even by the shortest (5-foot-6) and by recollection the smallest Ms. Basketball winner ever, means controlling the ball – and no one is better.
In two games against CIF Open Division champion Long Beach Poly, Canada was in control in two wins. In the CIF Southern Section Open semifinal 62-49 victory over Poly, she had a career-high 27 points and had Poly head coach Carl Buggs calling her “very special.”
The next game, she got some help in a 61-46 title-game victory over Mater Dei, but still finished with 14 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals, continually broke the press, and only committed one turnover.
After that performance, veteran Los Angeles Times prep scribe Eric Sondheimer tweeted that “Canada is the best point guard in the state, girl or boy.”
Only playing three games in five weeks backfired for Windward against Etiwanda in the 49-48 defeat, but Canada still had 23 points and had a chance to win the game in the final moments, but her shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
Awards & Honors
Although it doesn’t really count in the selection criteria, it was hard to overlook Canada’s performance in Chicago at the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Despite not being a starter, and having a horrible scrimmage the day before against the East team, Canada took over that game, and very well could have been the MVP in the 80-78 West victory. Jordin finished with 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals, and despite having a poor shooting night (4-of-12), she took control against the best girls in the world whenever she was in the game, particularly down the stretch when the game was decided.
“Canada was in control in the final minute,” said Cal-Hi Sports Managing Editor Ronnie Flores, who was in attendance in Chicago for the girls and boys doubleheader.
“Not starting wasn’t a big deal, but I played real bad in the scrimmage so my thinking was I needed to get back to my game,” Canada told Cal-Hi Sports. “A couple of the assistant coaches from Windward were there and they told me it would flow if I got back to my game. So that’s what I did.”
“What makes Jordin so special is her elite ball handling, the speed she has and her tremendous leadership abilities. Plus, no one works harder than her. She played her heart out in every game and never missed a practice,” said Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “A lot of kids make their college commitment and that’s it. Not Jordin. She won a million dollars and didn’t quit her job.
“I played with the best players in the world in the WNBA. Lisa Leslie (1989 and 1990 Ms. Basketball winner) was the best and hardest working player I ever played with. Jordin has that in her.”
Canada finished with the season with per game averages of 16.8 points, 6.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game. Her assist to turnover ration was better than three to one.
She finishes her career at Windward, where most of her four years she wasn’t called upon to score except against the top teams, with 1,769 points. Canada also averaged 4.9 assists per game and ends up with 623 career assists.
“It’s just a natural thing for me to want to take over the game and explain to my teammates what needs to be done, especially against the top teams like Mater Dei, Poly and St. Mary’s (Stockton). That’s just how I play. I hate losing so I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
Comparisons and about winning Ms. Basketball
Many felt Canada deserved the award last year over Plum, but not Jordin.
“No. I didn’t feel I should have won. Kelsey Plum is a great player and a great person. She deserved it. I felt then that hopefully the next year we could win state and I could win,” Canada said.
“We didn’t do as well in the state playoffs as I had hoped this year, so I knew it would be a close call,” she continued. “I saw the tweets and the articles but now that I know I won I’m very happy.
“All those players mentioned, like Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011 winner from Mater Dei), Chelsea Gray (2010 winner from Stockton St. Mary’s), Candace Wiggins (2004 winner from La Jolla Country Day) and Diana Taurasi (1999 and 2000 winner from Chino Don Lugo) went on to make great contributions in college and the pros. I’m honored and blessed to be part of that group and hope to make the same impact at UCLA.”
“Jordin has all the talent and the tools, Nygaard said. “She can be one of the greatest. Now it’s up to her.”
MS. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2014 Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Windward, 5-7
2013 Kelsey Plum, La Jolla Country Day, 5-10
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon, 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary’s, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-8
2002 Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 507
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 507
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.
Note: List also extends back with assorted years back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend