All-State Girls BB: Best of Best

Members of the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state team (top 30 overall) include Leoneah Odom from Chaminade of West Hills, Marissa Hing of Los Altos Hills Pinewood, Andee Velsaco of Santa Ana Mater Dei, Destiny Graham of Eastside Prep, Jannon Otto of Hesperia Oak Hills and La'Tecia Smith of Narbonne. Photos: Mark Tennis, Willie Eashman, Harold Abend & courtesy Oak Hills HS.

Members of the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state team (top 30 overall) include Leoneah Odom from Chaminade of West Hills, Marissa Hing of Los Altos Hills Pinewood, Andee Velsaco of Santa Ana Mater Dei, Destiny Graham of Eastside Prep, Jannon Otto of Hesperia Oak Hills and La’Tecia Smith of Narbonne. Photos: Mark Tennis, Willie Eashman, Harold Abend & courtesy Oak Hills HS.

In a week that began with the 37th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state elite boys basketball teams, it is ending with our salute to the 35th annual all-state elite girls squads. These are the teams selected regardless of CIF division or year in school. Every player is written up and profiled. It’s a group with 22 seniors, seven juniors and one sophomore.

For the all-time archive of every Cal-Hi Sports All-State elite/overall team for girls that has been chosen, CLICK HERE.

For this year’s all-state teams by divisions, CLICK HERE.

For this year’s all-state underclass teams, CLICK HERE.

2015 CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-STATE
ELITE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAMS

First Team Elite (10)

F – Jaelyn Brown (Vista Murrieta, Murrieta) 6-1 Jr.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise Player of the Year, Los Angeles Times All-Star and All State Underclass First Team selection adds a first team all-state honor to her resume. The highly regarded junior forward led the Broncos to a Southwestern League title and a nice run in both the CIF Southern Section Open Division and Southern Regional Division I playoffs. The ESPN No. 4 ranked wing and No. 17 overall rated player in the nation reportedly has the eye of Connecticut and several other major college programs. This past season, she averaged a double-double 19.9 points and 11.4 rebounds a game with 4.1 assists and 2.9 steals per contest.
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F – Kennedy Burke (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-3 Sr.
The USA U17 Team Gold Medal winner and UCLA commit who can play any position on the floor was the key in leading the Eagles to three straight state championships — in Division V and IV and again in Division IV this season. In this year’s 69-56 victory over Stockton Brookside Christian, she finished with a double-double 14 points and 14 rebounds with six blocks and three assists, and handled the ball as a point guard but rebounded like a post. Burke was Cal-Hi Sports all-state first team as both a sophomore and a junior, and this year was a Los Angeles Times All-Star and Daily News first team honoree. This past season, she averaged a double-double 18.2 points and 10.4 rebounds with 3.5 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.2 blocks as well. In her performance for the USA Team, Burke started one game and saw action in all seven. She averaged 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and recorded nine steals along with a team third-best six blocked shots.

G – Dijonai Carrington (Horizon Christian, San Diego) 5-11 Jr.
After missing all but five games last season due to a knee injury, this athletic and extremely talented junior served notice last summer when she came back to be ranked as one of the highest rated players in the Girls of Summer rankings. The Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year two years ago and All-State First Team Junior this season is currently the ESPN No. 9 rated guard and No. 34 overall player in the nation. Even though the Panthers’ season was cut short by some questionable CIF San Diego Section rules that prevented Horizon from moving on to the CIF SoCal regionals despite winning the CIFSDS Division I title, Carrington still had stats that were almost off the charts. One of the few players in the 20-20 club, she averaged 27.4 points and 21.1 rebounds per game with 3.6 assists, 3.3 steals and 2.2 blocks. She went over 40 points twice with a 42-point, 32-rebound effort her best of the season. In the CIFSDS D1 semifinals, she had 27 points and 35 rebounds in a 69-49 win over Mater Dei of Chula Vista, and then followed that up with 35 points and 24 rebounds in the 66-59 title-game victory over Mt. Miguel of Spring Valley. Despite really only having two years of high school basketball under her belt, rumor has it almost every major college program has some sort of interest in this excellent student-athlete. According to family sources, the schools that are the hottest on her trail are Notre Dame, Stanford, South Carolina, Cal, Texas A&M, Duke, Louisville, Ohio State, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Kansas, Oregon, TCU and Penn State.

Stockton St. Mary's point guard Mi'Cole Cayton was the most dynamic player for the Rams in their biggest games of the season. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Stockton St. Mary’s point guard Mi’Cole Cayton was the most dynamic player for the Rams in their biggest games of the season. Photo: Willie Eashman.

G – Mi’Cole Cayton (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 5-9 Jr.
With a team that has eight legitimate big and three non-starters that could be stars on most other teams, this Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist and first team All-State junior didn’t lead the CIF Open Division state champions in any statistical category but was the leader on the court through her savvy, quickness and play-making. Cayton’s averages of 12.0 ppg, 3.0.rpg, 2.5 steals and 2.4 assists also were limited by playing sparingly in the 23 of 35 games played this season in which the Rams won by 25 points or more. Still, in the biggest games, she had 24 points and five rebounds in a win over Long Beach Poly, 16 points and five steals in a win against St. Ignatius, 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in the NorCal semifinal win over Sacred Heart Cathedral, and capped the season by taking charge in the Open Division state title game win against Mater Dei with team-highs of 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Several D1 schools have already offered the lightning quick Cayton, including Nebraska, Arizona State, Pacific, San Francisco, George Mason, plus more.

W – Valerie Higgins (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-1 Jr.
This talented junior wing and her junior teammate, Leaonna “Neah” Odom, are in a similar situation to last year’s Ms. Basketball finalists and All State First Team Elite selections, and current Cal freshmen Gabby Green and Mikayla Cowling of Berkeley St. Mary’s. The similarities are Higgins and Odom had comparable individual numbers on a team that like St. Mary’s had multi-stars, but the differences are this duo are juniors and their team advanced further in the playoffs after making it all the way to the CIF Southern California Open Division title game, where they lost to Mater Dei after beating the Monarchs twice earlier, including once in the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship. This past season, Higgins, the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year and Los Angeles Times All-Star Team selection was second on the team behind Odom in scoring at 14.9 ppg, and led the Eagles with 9.8 rpg, 5.9 assists, 5.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.

G – Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte, Orinda) 6-0 Jr.
Of the four juniors out of six finalists for this year’s Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, Ionescu, the State Junior of the Year, was the legitimate runner-up to Katie Lou Samuelson for the Ms. Basketball honor. The USA U17 Team Gold Medal winning member and 2014 State Sophomore of the Year who was also the D3 Player of the Year last season, had some remarkable numbers this season and set a ton of single-season school records along the way. Her 23.0 ppg (760 points), 8.9 rpg (294 rebounds), 7.3 apg (241 assists), 5.0 spg (165 steals), 144-of-170 free-throws (84.7 percent) and 86-of-220 on 3-pointers (39 percent) were all school records and came against some formidable competition, but did include 20 games of limited action where the Mats won by over 25 points. Of Sabrina’s two years on the U16 and U17 USA Teams, she was a key contributor both years and last summer led the team in steals and was second in assists. The San Francisco Chronicle Girls Metro Player of the Year has over 20 Division I offers and the list starts with Connecticut and Duke, and includes almost every other major program including almost every Pac-12 school.

G – Destiny Littleton (Bishop’s, La Jolla) 5-9, Soph.
It isn’t often that a sophomore makes first team all-state but the State Sophomore and Division V Player of the Year and last year’s State Freshman of the Year was just too dominating statistically, and particularly in the San Diego area where she was named the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year. She averaged 33.8 points per game and 12.0 rebounds and her 1,149 points was the third highest in CIFSDS history behind 1986 and 1987 Ms. Basketball Terri Mann of San Diego Point Loma (1,174 in 1987) and California all-time scoring leader Charde Houston, who had 1,161 points in 2004 at San Diego. With 1,759 points in two seasons so far, Littleton could very well challenge some of the all-time scoring leaders, including the 3,837 high-water mark of Houston. This past season, her top effort was 50 points against large school Rancho Buena Vista (Vista) but she was over 40 points in 11 of 34 games played including two stretches of three-straight games. Littleton, the ESPN No. 5 rated sophomore guard in the nation and who already has an invite to the USA Basketball Under-16 national team tryout, did all of it while being double- and triple-teamed for a squad that only had seven girls and most of them inexperienced, plus she was pulled in several blowout games for the 25-10 Knights.

W – Leaonna “Neah” Odom (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-2, Jr.
The other half of the Chaminade duo was a Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist, an All-State First Team Junior, and a Los Angeles Times All-Star Team and First Team L.A. Daily News selection. She led the team in scoring at 17.5 ppg and was third in rebounds at 6.6 per game. Odom is the ESPN No. 1 rated wing in the nation from the Class of 2016 and No. 7 rated player overall. She was the No. 2 player behind Sabrina Ionescu in the latest Cal-Hi Sports Class of 2016 player rankings. Odom was an all-state freshman two years ago at Los Alamitos, went to Mater Dei last season (but she didn’t play much due to injury and ineligibility) and had a breakout junior season at Chaminade. Odom seemed to play her best against top teams with one of her best efforts a 26-point, 10-rebound performance against Long Beach Poly in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals.

G – Aisia Robertson (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 5-9, Sr.
With her Cal-bound teammate Asha Thomas out most of the season with an injury, the leadership fell on the shoulders of this Kansas-bound guard that in the past was known mostly as a lockdown defender. The San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro First Team pick responded by continuing to lead the team and carry the heavy load even when Thomas returned for the playoff run that led to a CIF Division III state championship. This past season, she averaged 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals per game. In the NorCal Division III title game 72-55 victory over Fairfield Vanden, she frustrated and neutralized All-State First Team Sophomore Julia Blackshell-Fair and was instrumental in fouling her out of the game. In the Division III state championship 55-40 victory over Brea-Olinda of Brea, Robertson took charge on offense and defense and finished with a team-high 16 points with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

W – Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-3, Sr.
To say “Lou” is a slam dunk for First Team Elite is an understatement. The Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, Gatorade State and National Player of the Year, USA Today National Player of the Year, Orange County Player of the Year and Los Angeles Times All-Star Player of the Year didn’t bring home a state championship, but after a runner-up finish it was the only thing she didn’t give the Monarchs this past season. The Connecticut-bound State Junior of the Year and Ms. Basketball runner-up last season made 115 three-pointers and averaged 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 a girl 6-foot-3, no one has ever shot the ball better, and her quick release at that height made her almost impossible to defend, even against a schedule of national level competition, one of the toughest leagues in the state, and the CIF Southern Section and CIF state Open Division playoff teams. What makes what Lou did even more remarkable is when she was unable to play in the Jordan Brand All-Star game last month it was disclosed that she played the last five weeks of the season with a damaged left elbow that made it hard to catch, rebound and play through contact.

Second Team Elite

G – Breanna Calhoun (Bishop Alemany, Mission Hills) 5-9 Sr.
While Chaminade had the two Ms. Basketball Player of the Year finalists (Valerie Higgins and Leaonna Odom), those two did not share player of the year honors for the Mission League as Calhoun muscled her way to that as one of the league’s Co-Players of the Year. The first team All-L.A. Daily News choice led the Warriors to one win over Chaminade and a co-title in the league. She also had per game averages of 14.2 points, 5.a assists and 2.3 steals. Calhoun, who is one of those talents who can dish and drive as a point guard combined with an accurate outside shot, will play next at San Jose State.

It's a jump ball between all-state second team overall players Ma'Ane Mosely of Berkeley St. Mary's and A'shanti Coleman of S.F. Sacred Heart Cathedral. Photo: Willie Eashman.

It’s a jump ball between all-state second team overall players Ma’Ane Mosely of Berkeley St. Mary’s and A’shanti Coleman of S.F. Sacred Heart Cathedral. Photo: Willie Eashman.

F – A’shanti Coleman (Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Francisco) 6-2 Sr.
A first team San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro selection, the Arizona-committed forward who can also handle the ball as a wing averaged a double-double 15.5 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. The ESPN No. 19 rated senior forward and All State Division III honoree had over a dozen major Division I honors before deciding to become a Wildcat. Together with teammate I’imar’i Thomas, the duo was the main reason the Irish girls captured the CIF Central Coast Open Division championship and finished the season by giving state No. 1 CIF Open Division champion and nationally-ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton one of its toughest games before falling 70-65 in the NorCal Open Division semifinals.

C/F – Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 6-2 Fr.
We pretty much knew from the start of the all-state process that St. Mary’s and its CIF Open Division title team was going to have three players among the top 30. It was just a matter of where those three – juniors Mi’Cole Cayton and Kat Tudor and this freshman – were going to land. In the end, Cayton went to first team while Tudor and DeCosta have been tabbed for second team. DeCosta, already named as the State Freshman Player of the Year, could be the top ninth-grade prospect in the nation and recently shined for the Cal Stars club team at the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in Virginia. She knocked down 12.9 points per game for the Rams (second-best on team) and had 7.6 rebounds (led the team). Without DeCosta’s interior presence, St. Mary’s clearly would not have been as strong a team and probably would not have won the state title.

G – Marissa Hing (Pinewood, Los Altos Hills) 5-1 Sr.
Ask 2014 State Coach of the Year and Pinewood head coach Doc Scheppler who was the heart and soul of his Panthers and he unhesitatingly responds by naming Hing and calling her one of the most “selfless and coachable” players he’s ever had. The three-sport star (softball and soccer) played every game and almost every minute for Pinewood and finished with averages of 10.8 points and 3.2 assists per game while averaging only 1.6 turnovers. The shortest of any of the selections for the three all-state elite teams, Hing was the team’s lockdown defender and came up huge in big games. She had a season high 29 points against Oregon’s top team South Medford and 23 points and five steals in the first of three wins over arch-rival Eastside Prep of East Palo Alto. When the Girls of Summer caravan was at UC San Diego for the San Diego Classic the Tritons coaches were ecstatic about the prospects of having landed this 4.2 GPA student-athlete. Hing also was named the San Jose Mercury-News Player of the Year over a solid group of CCS standouts.

G – Tania Lamb (Long Beach Poly) 5-7 Sr.
This Lamb played like a lion for the Jackrabbits, helping them to a 26-4 record and deep runs in the CIFSS Open Division plus the CIF Open Division state bracket. And after an early-season win over Chaminade, the team was considered No. 1 in Southern California. Lamb had to be huge for Poly to stay near the top of the state since almost everyone else in head coach Carl Buggs’ top rotation was inexperienced. She averaged 16 points per game and had 3.7 steals. Prior to this honor, Lamb has been chosen as the Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year. She will play next at the University of Pittsburgh.

G – Aarion McDonald (Brookside Christian, Stockton) 5-6 Jr.
With the Stockton Record’s Player of the Year honor in her pocket, it only makes sense that McDonald also snags one of the spots on one of the top three all-state teams. After all, three others from Stockton St. Mary’s (Mi’Cole Cayton, Kat Tudor & Aquira DeCosta) are that high as well. McDonald blew up in her first year at Brookside after she had to sit out as a sophomore due to eligibility issues relating to her transfer from Bullard of Fresno. At Bullard as a ninth grader, she was an all-state freshman. McDonald flashed her overall game to the tune of 26 points, six assists and six steals per outing. She led the Knights to a spot in the CIF Division IV state final where they lost to Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. McDonald, who has committed to the University of Washington, also had six triple-doubles with a season-high of 46 points. Perhaps her most impressive stat is that at 5-foot-6 she still led Brookside in rebounding with more than nine per game.

W – Ma’Ane Mosley (St. Mary’s, Berkeley) 6-0 Sr.
With last year’s big-time duo of Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green (both first team all-state overall) headed off to Cal and with Taylor Berry gone to Santa Clara, Mosley needed to become a prime-time player for the Panthers to stay among NorCal’s elite teams and she did. The All-East Bay first team pick led the team to its third straight appearance in the CIF NorCal Open Division. She posted averages of nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. She also got the attention of major colleges last summer and eventually signed with Cal where she’ll re-join Cowling and Green. Mosley may even be a better all-around athlete than her Panther predecessors, judging by her ability to jump nearly 19 feet in the long jump for the St. Mary’s track team.

F – Sydney Raggio (St. Ignatius, San Francisco) 6-2, Sr.
The West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year, Division II State Player of the Year and St. Mary’s-bound forward was a huge reason for St. Ignatius having its greatest season in school history. On a team where all five starters and two reserves earned college scholarships and the stats were spread around, Raggio led the team in scoring and rebounding with a double-double 13.1 points and 11.6 rebounds a game. She had 17 points and 14 rebounds when the Wildcats upset then state No. 1 Chaminade (West Hills) in the semifinals of the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree. Near the end of the season she was injured but still played like a trooper and finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds in a season ending loss to Miramonte (Orinda) in the Northern Regional Open Division semifinals.

G – Kat Tudor (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 6-0 Jr.
Coming into the season, the knock on Tudor by some was that she was only a shooter. The reality is that Kat already had been working hard on other aspects of her game throughout the summer and steadily improved all season to where Cal-Hi Sports college coaching sources at the recent Nike Boo Williams spring NCAA viewing event said she was not only the best shooter in the nation in the Class of 2016 but has now developed into one of the best wings with the way she’s improved her ability to put the ball on the floor and slash to the basket to finish with either hand. This past season, Tudor led the eight-deep Rams in scoring with 13.8 points per game despite getting yanked in many of the team’s over 25 blowout wins. She also proved herself as a solid defender in the Rams’ maniacal full-court press. Had her time not been limited she probably would have made more than the 105 three-pointers she converted last season which gives her 299 for her career with a chance to finish among the all-time leaders on that list in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book. She shot 50.5 percent overall and 46 percent from beyond the arc. Her stock continues to rise but Tudor already has several Pac-12 offers and over a dozen major Division I offers overall.

G – Andee Velasco (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 5-8 Sr.
With a player even as prolific as Katie Lou Samuelson, for the Mater Dei team to have come within a few minutes in the fourth quarter of being the Open Division state champ and also close to being No. 1 in the nation says a lot about the value of its point guard and floor leader. Velasco even had moments in the first half in the loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton when she was the best player on the floor. A four-year letterwinner and three-year starter for head coach Kevin Kiernan, Velesco averaged nearly 13 points per game and approximately six assists. She will play next at Loyola Marymount along with sister Bianca and fellow all-state choice Cheyenne Wallace of Sierra Canyon.

All-State third team elite player Gigi Garcia from Sacramento McClatchy makes post move in CIF NorCal title game vs. Oak Ridge. Photo: Willie Eashman.

All-State third team elite player Gigi Garcia from Sacramento McClatchy makes post move in CIF NorCal title game vs. Oak Ridge. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Third Team Elite

F – Gigi Garcia (McClatchy, Sacramento) 6-2 Jr.
The daughter of Arena League football quarterback Aaron Garcia (who was an all-state football performer at Grant of Sacramento) played her way onto the elite 30-player roster with a late season surge, including 19 points and 20 rebounds when McClatchy outlasted Serra of Gardena in overtime to win the first CIF state title for any girls team from the Sacramento City Unified School District. Garcia hit for averages of 17.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game and earned Sacramento Bee Player of the Year honors. She’s also a big girl who does play like a quarterback on the court, anticipating moves and getting the ball to open shooters. Garcia also is one of the highest-rising Class of 2016 prospects nationally with reported recent offers from UCLA, USC, Nebraska, Oregon State and Washington.

C – Destiny Graham (Eastside Prep, East Palo Alto) 6-3 Sr.
The San Francisco Chronicle First Team All-Metro selection and Prep2Prep All Central Coast Section First Team honoree was the heart and soul of a six-girl squad that despite its lack of depth got all the way to the CIF Division V state championship before falling in a heartbreaker, 40-36, to La Jolla Country Day. The Arizona-commit and ESPN No. 18 ranked senior at her position had nine points, 11 rebounds and three assists against Country Day. On the season, the long, athletic versatile defender with a big wingspan and quickness around the basket finished the season averaging 16 points and 14 rebounds per game.

F– Mai-Loni Henson (La Jolla Country Day) 6-0 Jr.
Yes, winning a state title, even in Division V, can help a great deal in landing one of these coveted first 30 all-state positions. Henson didn’t even score in her state final with two points, but provided major defense, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out seven assists when the Torreys topped Eastside College Prep 40-36 in the title game. Henson also was the clear leader of this year’s LJCD squad and had per game totals of 16.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. She was selected to the All-CIF San Diego Section first team, narrowly missed out on being the D5 State Player of the Year and has gained a commitment to the University of Washington (which is the Pac-12 team led by LJCD grad Kelsey Plum).

C – Charnea Johnson-Chapman (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley) 6-3 Sr.
The Canyon Springs program is getting a reputation for post players who can really get after it on the defensive end. Johnson-Chapman follows Sophia Ederaine with that role and was one of the top players in the Inland Empire. She averaged 16.9 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game for a Canyon Springs team that went far in the CIFSS Division I-AA playoffs. She also was a standout for the school’s 2014 squad that won the CIF Division I state title. Johnson-Chapman, who had a 32-point night in a win over La Jolla Bishop’s, will play next at Arizona State.

Cheyenne Wallace of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was smiling after her last game for the last three seasons. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Cheyenne Wallace of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was smiling after her last game for the last three seasons. Photo: Mark Tennis.

F – Amber Melgoza (Santa Barbara) 5-10 Jr.
After hitting for 22.3 points per game in leading Santa Barbara to a berth in the 2014 CIF Division III state final, Melgoza stepped up her game significantly as a junior to become one of the state’s elite prospects and players. She averaged 33.5 points per game and already is her school’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 points. And that’s still with her senior season to go. In the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA quarterfinals against more than decent Fontana Summit, Melgoza scored 50 points to break her own school record of 48. The school record before that: 47 also by Melgoza and also from this season.

F – Jannon Otto (Oak Hills, Hesperia) 6-2 Sr.
It can be more difficult for a player from the high desert like Otto to break through the sometimes dizzying talent from around the state, but she certainly has. The four-year starter first got onto our radar screen as a freshman and has followed up all-state sophomore honors, all-state junior honors by grabbing a position on the all-state overall third team as a senior. She accomplished the 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound milestone late in the season and ended with averages of 26.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Otto, who is playing next at the University of New Mexico and is the daughter of Oak Hills head coach Kelly Hennessy, also is a favorite of ours the way she has handled being a Type 1 diabetic.

G – La’Tecia Smith (Narbonne, Harbor City) 5-7 Sr.
All the silliness about pink jerseys in one game that almost got the Gauchos booted from the L.A. City Section playoffs seemed to distract from the outstanding season that Smith enjoyed. Headed to Seton Hall for college, she anchored a team that was in the State Top 25 for most of the season with averages of 18.3 points and nearly eight rebounds. She was one of the best players we saw at the St. Mary’s of Stockton MLK event and also helped herself in getting a spot on this team by scoring 30 points in a playoff loss to Chaminade of West Hills. Smith also was the CIF L.A. City Section Player of the Year.

G – Asha Thomas (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 5-7 Sr.
When the Dragons’ floor general went down with a knee injury prior to the season, many doubted she would be able to return to action at all last season. In fact, rumors swirled in the girls basketball community that despite a desire to return she had been advised against coming back and jeopardizing her future career as a Cal Bear. Early on at the West Coast Jamboree in December the O’Dowd point guard and defensive specialist was firm in stating her desire to get back into action and help her team. Thomas returned for the February 11 game versus Berkeley and the 25-9 overall Dragons went 10-2 from that point on, including 55-40 victory over Brea Olinda (Brea) in the Division III state title game. The only losses in that stretch were to St. Mary’s of Stockton and to Miramonte of Orinda in the CIF North Coast Section D3 championship. The San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro selection had 12 points and five assists against Brea Olinda and averaged 12.3 points, 7.8 assists and 2.4 steals in the 12 games she played. That low number of games often is not enough for all-state recognition, but since she’s a senior, since others including the Contra Costa Times also had her on their honor teams and since O’Dowd probably would not have won a state title without her, we’re more than okay with Thomas on this roster.

F – Cheyanne Wallace (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-0 Sr.
First team overall all-state member Kennedy Burke and Wallace have been joined at the hip as standouts for the Trailblazers since they were freshmen. And while Burke has always been ranked higher as player, Wallace has never been far behind and just had to be on one of our first three teams. The senior who is bound for Loyola Marymount contributed 17.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for a team that won its third straight CIF state title (two in Division V, one in Division IV). Wallace, who had 24 points and nine rebounds in the state final win over Brookside Christian, also was MVP at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

G – Candice White (Modesto Christian) 5-8 Sr.
The Fresno State-bound guard was the Modesto Bee Player of the Year after returning from an injury that had her out almost all last year and leading the Crusaders to another undefeated Modesto Metro League championship season, a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship, and a spot in the Northern Regional Open Division where the Crusaders had the misfortune of drawing Stockton St. Mary’s in the opening round. White led the team in scoring at 18.2 points a game and despite her lack of height led the team in rebounding at 7.5 a game, plus she was the team leader in assists and steals at 4.2 and 3.2 a game, respectively.

Note: To see which players may have come the closest to making one of our all-state elite overall teams, check out the all-state teams by division.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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