Boys BB: 6th Annual NorCal Clash

Bishop O’Dowd highly regarded point guard Paris Austin takes charge at Contra Costa College in battle between top NorCal players from 2015 and 2016 classes

With the Class of 2015 down 11-2 and without top five national recruit Ivan Rabb in the lineup (ankle), it looked like the boys from 2016 might draw away and steal the Sixth Annual NorCal Clash at Contra Costa College in San Pablo on Sunday afternoon.

Not so fast. As public address announcer Olaf Pollard (my 1971 San Francisco Washington classmate) would later say, it was “PA” time, and he wasn’t talking about himself.

He was talking about Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) star Paris Austin, a flashy incoming senior respected analyst Frank Burlison says is the most heavily recruited point guard in Northern California.

Austin showed why. Within moments he took control and the older boys had a 25-21 lead after one 10 minute quarter and opened it to 54-41 after a 20 minute first half.

The 2016 boys closed to 83-75 after three quarters and even got to within six points with 5:00 left, but “PA” took charge down the stretch to close out a 114-100 victory for the 2015 class. Austin finished with a near triple-double after registering 18 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds with four steals. Despite his aggressive style, Austin only committed two turnovers.

When event director Gerry Freitas queried the media panel of Burlison, ESPN High School Basketball Scout Joel Francisco and yours truly about who should be MVP, it was simultaneously unanimous for selection of Austin.

Two other players stood out for the 2015 boys. Washington-commit Marquese Chriss (Pleasant Grove, Elk Grove) showed great elevation and cashed in on several of Austin’s assists to register 23 points with eight rebounds. Four of Austin’s assists were lobs that Chriss jammed home. Modesto Christian (Modesto) power forward Anthony Townes was dominant in the paint and finished with a double-double 22 points and a game-high 11 rebounds with three blocked shots.

A player that blasted onto the scene was El Cerrito transfer Carlos Johnson, the star of the 2016 team. He finished with a game-high 31 points and was relentlessness at attacking the basket.

He may be new to El Cerrito but this 2013 state champion from Arizona turned some heads despite a propensity to eschew passing the rock. Some tweaks and adjustments to his game will make him an even higher recruit, but at this point the performance by Johnson pretty much shows he’s the top overall Northern California recruit from the 2016 class.

“My mom got a job up here,” Johnson told Cal-Hi Sports as the reason the family moved to the East Bay.

“My little sister is the only one I know at El Cerrito because I’m new to the school. But the one thing I do know is Drew Gooden went there,” continued a smiling Johnson.

Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Johnson was a member of the Shadow Mountain (Phoenix) team that won the 2013 Arizona Division II state championship. As a sophomore he led the team in scoring (20.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) on a 29.3 Matadors squad that included Mike Bibby Jr.

Carlos Johnson

Carlos Johnson will be a huge addition to El Cerrito this season

Look for more players from the NorCal Clash to be ranked in an upcoming blog.

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