She didn’t get that CIF state title, but hard to argue that anybody but “Lou” should step up in line with some of the other recent great players from Mater Dei of Santa Ana and assume her spot on the all-time state list.
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Last year as a junior, Katie Lou Samuelson from Mater Dei of Santa Ana was edged out for the state’s top honor in girls basketball.
Instead, it went to current UCLA star Jordin Canada in her senior year at Windward of Los Angeles, who herself had been nosed out in 2013 by current Washington All Pac-12 honoree Kelsey Plum during Plum’s senior season at La Jolla Country Day.
When the just completed season began last fall, Samuelson was the favorite from day one, and as the season progressed “Lou” as she’s known in the California girls basketball community, continued to impress and distanced herself from what ended up as a very formidable field of finalists.
In the end, there really was no question that Lou was the girl for the award. Her dominance, athleticism and ability to play any position on the floor speaks for itself.
As a result, Samuelson has been named the Cal-Hi Sports 2015 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
While the last two year’s races have been close according the statewide experts and coaches canvassed prior to selecting the winner, this year the consensus was unanimous.
Lou now becomes the third girl from Mater Dei to win the award, all in the last five years. Connecticut senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the current WNBA No. 3 draft choice, won in 2011, and UCLA guard Nirra Fields followed in 2012.
While several schools have had two Ms. Basketball winners, Mater Dei now joins St. Mary’s of Stockton as the only school to have three players win in the history of the Ms. Basketball award, which dates back to 1972.
The St. Mary’s winners were Dominique Banks in 2003, Jackie Gemelos in 2006, and Chelsea Gray in 2010.
Samuelson is also the sixth girl from Orange County to be named Ms. Basketball. Besides the two previous Mater Dei honorees, Lou joins the legendary three-time winner and inaugural honoree Ann Meyers (La Habra Sonora 1972, Anaheim Connolly 1973 and La Habra 1974), Nicole Erickson of Brea Olinda (Brea), who was the 1994 award winner, as well as another Brea honoree, Jeanette Pohlen, the 2007 winner.
“Thank you so much. I appreciate being honored by Cal-Hi Sports,” Lou said from New York City where she is playing in the Friday afternoon Jordan Brand Classic.
“To be honored with the top award in my home state of California is very humbling, and it’s especially cool to now be on a list with so many of the greatest players from the past, and players I’ve watched and looked up to my whole career.”
One of those players Samuelson has looked up to is Mosqueda-Lewis, who she now follows to Connecticut.
“Like Kaleena, Lou played a national schedule against the best players in the country. She proved herself on the biggest stages,” said Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan, who is also in New York to coach Lou and the rest of the players on the West team in the Jordan Brand Classic.
“It’s hard to compare the two but both are great shooters, great players, and just great individuals. Both were incredible kids,” continued Kiernan. “The difference is Lou had to carry more of a burden. Kaleena had a lot more help. Because of that, defenses were stacked against Lou and she still averaged almost 30 points a game, and she played the last five weeks of the season with a damaged left elbow that made it hard to catch, rebound or play through contact. She’s a pretty tough kid.”
While Lou has some pretty impressive numbers both this season and for her career, she won’t be real high up on any of the traditional lists in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book. However, for a girl 6-foot-3, no one has ever shot the ball better, and no girl of any height has a quicker release from outside the three-point arc or anywhere on the court. Also, the really impressive thing about her stats is they came not only against top national competition, but there really are no pushovers in the Trinity League Mater Dei competes in, either.
This past season, Samuelson had per game averages of 29.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.5 blocks, and also shot 50.3 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from outside the three-point arc, and 84 percent from the free-throw line.
For her career, and including her freshman season at Huntington Beach Edison, Samuelson finishes with 2,733 points (24.8 ppg), 922 rebounds (8.4 rpg), 335 three-pointers on 42.4 percent shooting, 324 steals, 268 assists, 191 blocks, and 85.5 percent on free-throw shooting. In 110 career games, Lou also only committed 123 turnovers.
The one thing missing from Lou’s resume is a state championship. The Monarchs finally made it to the state title game this year in the Open Division and in Samuelson’s third year at Mater Dei after transferring from Edison. However, despite taking a lead into the fourth quarter, the Monarchs were unable to hold off Stockton St. Mary’s in a 76-69 defeat.
“That is definitely a little disappointing,” Samuelson remarked about not snagging a state title in her high school career.
Lou’s anointment has actually been a while in coming. Back in February of 2010, when oldest sister Bonnie Samuelson was named the ESPN RISE & CalHiSports.com Girls State Athlete of the Week, not only was middle sister and Edison freshman at the time Karlie Samuelson mentioned in the story, it was disclosed in the story that the buzz around Orange County at the time was that Katie Lou, then a 5-foot-11 seventh-grader, was likely going to be the best player in the Samuelson family. Obviously, it was a correct analysis.
Of the three Samuelson sisters Lou will always be the little sister, and she’s the only one not to play at Stanford like both her older sisters, but she’s the only one of the three to achieve the ultimate honor in California girls basketball, and that’s being named Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
MS. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2015 Katie Lou Samuelson, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-3
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend