The 6-foot-11 center didn’t need to make a game-winning free throw in the CIF Open Division state title game to become the winner of one of the state’s most prestigious honors, but it sure helped. Rabb is the first Mr. Basketball from the CIF North Coast Section and East Bay since Jason Kidd in 1992 and is the second from Bishop O’Dowd.
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It’s certainly going to be a week to remember for Oakland Bishop O’Dowd 6-foot-11 senior Ivan Rabb.
On Monday, Rabb announced at his mother’s restaurant that he would be going to the University of California in nearby Berkeley, thereby becoming one of the most prized recruits the Golden Bears have been able to get in many years.
On Friday, Rabb will be playing at the Jordan Brand All-Star Game in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
One day before hitting the Barclays hardwood on Thursday, Rabb’s week was enhanced further when he was told he was selected as the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year. This is the one honor in California that has the most history attached to it since it’s been awarded 37 times at the end of a season and also has retroactive selections that date back more than 100 years.
“It’s a tremendous honor for him to be player of the year,” said Bishop O’Dowd head coach Lou Ritchie. “When you can say you’re player of the year in your state, it’s a big deal, but this is California and there are really great players here. To be Mr. Basketball in California is absolutely incredible.”
“It’s pretty exciting, (the previous winners) those are all great guys,” Rabb said. “I didn’t think I would be up there with those guys but I’m excited to be. Actually I didn’t think I would be at this level with the nation’s best players. Over time, I got better and started figuring it out, because when I first started playing I didn’t take the game seriously.”
Rabb’s selection marks the second time in three years a player from Northern California has earned the state’s most prestigious individual accolade. Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, now with the Orlando Magic, actually earned the honor in both 2012 and 2013 prior to Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei of Santa Ana for the 2013-14 season. Johnson is expected to be a 2015 NBA Draft lottery pick after one season at Arizona.
Rabb also becomes the first player from a CIF North Coast Section school to earn the Mr. Basketball tag since Jason Kidd of St. Joseph of Alameda did in both 1991 and 1992. Kidd brought a level of excitement to Cal basketball that hadn’t been seen since the Golden Bears were the NCAA champs in 1959 and runner-up in 1960. The buzz stemming from Rabb choosing the Golden Bears is likely to match the Kidd effect, especially if small forward Jaylen Brown of Georgia tags along with the O’Dowd star to Berkeley next fall.
The only other player prior to Rabb from O’Dowd to earn Mr. Basketball honors was 6-foot-4 guard Tony Jackson in 1982. Before going on to play at DePaul, Jackson helped O’Dowd win the first CIF state title in the modern era in 1981 before all the state’s sections began participating the following season in his senior year.
In 1982, Jackson edged forward Eldridge Hudson of Carson, the team that won the CIF Division I state crown. Rabb’s chief competition for this year’s Mr. Basketball honor was also a SoCal player – Chino Hills’ Lonzo Ball.
The dynamic point guard draws comparisons to Kidd as a point guard who can dominate games without necessarily scoring the ball. He’s as unique player as they come and still only a junior, but Rabb was a bit more consistent in his team’s big games from beginning to end and that was the difference.
Analyzing the entire body of work was a key factor in the decision-making process between Rabb, Ball and other SoCal guards such as Stephen Thompson Jr. of Torrance Bishop Montgomery and Tyler Dorsey of Pasadena Maranatha.
Similar to Hudson’s Carson team, Ball’s Chino Hills team didn’t win its league title and he wasn’t considered league MVP. The Huskies were upset, however, by San Ramon Valley of Danville in the CIF Division I state title game after a signature performance by Ball in the SoCal regional final victory over Corona Centennial.
Rabb started his season with a bang, going for 28 points and 20 rebounds in a win over Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, which began the season No. 4 in the Grassroots Hoops FAB 50, at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic and he never let up. He performed well statistically in O’Dowd’s big games and closed with 19 points, 21 rebounds and two blocked shots in the Dragons’ 65-64 overtime win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the CIF State Open Division title game.
Rabb averaged 24.5 points, 16.3 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game for a team that earned Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year honors and finished No. 4 in the Grassroots Hoops FAB 50, the highest ranking ever for a NorCal team since Basketball Weekly began weekly national polls in 1976.
Rabb’s sensational point guard teammate, Paris Austin, wasn’t a finalist for this year’s Mr. Basketball award, but the Boise State bound senior was close and will be a no-brainer choice on the soon-to-be-released All-State teams.
The most important point of Rabb’s season — and career — was the last, as his free throw with 0.8 seconds remaining in overtime snapped O’Dowd’s eight-game losing streak in CIF state finals.
Had Rabb missed that free throw and O’Dowd lost in double overtime, or had Ball not fouled out against San Ramon Valley and won a CIF state title with a 34 or 36 point game, it might have been enough to tilt the race in favor of the junior point guard. It was that close, but in the end Rabb came through — both literally and figuratively — for the Bay Area and the entire NorCal region.
“I haven’t had time to think about winning state, not at all,” Rabb said. “When it’s finally over (the traveling), I will be able to reflect on it and actually talk to my teammates.”
“These last few weeks from winning state, to going to McDonald’s, Hoop Summit, making his announcement, going to New York for Jordan Brand, and now this, it’s been huge for Ivan,” Ritchie said. “We laugh a lot because a lot of bigs don’t look forward to these types of games because they are guard-dominated, but he’s extremely humbled to be a part of it.”
And those of us at Cal-Hi Sports are now equally humbled that Rabb is now part of the all-time Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year list.
MR. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1978 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2015 Ivan Rabb, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 6-11
2014 Stanley Johnson, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-6
2013 Aaron Gordon, San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6-8
2012 Aaron Gordon, San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6-8 Jr.
2011 Ryan Anderson, Long Beach Poly, 6-8
2010 Allen Crabbe, Los Angeles Price, 6-6
2009 Kawhi Leonard, Riverside Martin Luther King, 6-7
2008 Jrue Holiday, North Hollywood Campbell Hall, 6-3
2007 Taylor King, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-8
2006 Chase Budinger, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon, 6-8
2005 Amir Johnson, L.A. Westchester, 6-10
2004 DeMarcus Nelson, Sacramento Sheldon, 6-3
2003 Trevor Ariza, L.A. Westchester, 6-8
2002 Hassan Adams, L.A. Westchester, 6-4
2001 Tyson Chandler, Compton Dominguez, 7-1
2000 Tyson Chandler, Compton Dominguez, 7-0
1999 Casey Jacobsen, Glendora, 6-6
1998 Tayshaun Prince, Compton Dominguez, 6-8
1997 Baron Davis, Santa Monica Crossroads, 6-2
1996 Corey Benjamin, Fontana, 6-6
1995 Paul Pierce, Inglewood, 6-7
1994 Jelani Gardner, Bellflower St. John Bosco, 6-6
1993 Charles O’Bannon, Lakewood Artesia, 6-7
1992 Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph, 6-4
1991 Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph, 6-4 Jr.
1990 Ed O’Bannon, Lakewood Artesia, 6-9
1989 Tracy Murray, Glendora, 6-8
1988 Chris Mills, L.A. Fairfax, 6-7
1987 LeRon Ellis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-11
1986 Scott Williams, Hacienda Heights Wilson, 6-10
1985 Tom Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-7
1984 John Williams, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-8
1983 John Williams, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-7 Jr.
1982 Tony Jackson, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 6-4
1981 Dwayne Polee, L.A. Manual Arts, 6-5
1980 Ralph Jackson, Inglewood, 6-3
1979 Darren Daye, Granada Hills Kennedy, 6-7
1978 Greg Goorjian, Crescenta Valley, 6-2
1977 Cliff Robinson, Oakland Castlemont, 6-7
1976 Rich Branning, Huntington Beach Marina, 6-2
1975 Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove, 7-1
1974 Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove, 7-0 Jr.
1973 Marques Johnson, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-5
1972 Cliff Pondexter, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 6-7 Jr.
1971 Roscoe Pondexter, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 6-6
1970 Bill Walton, La Mesa Helix, 6-10
1969 Keith Wilkes, Ventura, 6-5 Jr.
1968 Paul Westphal, Redondo Beach Aviation, 6-2
1967 Curtis Rowe, L.A. Fremont, 6-6
1966 Dennis Awtrey, San Jose Blackford, 6-9
1965 Bob Portman, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-5
1964 Russ Critchfield, Salinas, 5-10
1963 Edgar Lacey, L.A. Jefferson, 6-6
1962 Joe Ellis, Oakland McClymonds, 6-5
1961 Gail Goodrich, L.A. Poly, 5-11
1960 Paul Silas, Oakland McClymonds, 6-6
1959 Steve Gray, S.F. Washington, 6-4
1958 Billy McGill, L.A. Jefferson, 6-9
1957 Tom Meschery, S.F. Lowell, 6-5
1956 Fred LaCour, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-4
1955 Fred LaCour, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-4 Jr.
1954 Willie Davis, Alameda, 5-11
1953 Bill Bond, Long Beach St. Anthony, 6-1
1952 Willie Naulls, San Pedro, 6-5
1951 Ken Sears, Watsonville, 6-7
1950 Don Bragg, S.F. Galileo, 6-3
List extends back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.