We choose honorees for seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen and for each CIF division. Among the most difficult picks was for freshmen (which one from Chino Hills?) and for those divisions in which players from Open Division teams were deemed eligible. Brandon McCoy of San Diego Cathedral Catholic also emerges as the State Junior of the Year.
For official writeup on the 2015-16 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.
For a deeper look at this year’s Mr. Basketball, CLICK HERE (Gold Club).
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Congratulations to these boys players for being selected as a Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. Writeups by Mark Tennis & Paul Muyskens. Stay tuned for the release next week of the 38th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of our boys basketball individual honorees for the 2015-16 season:
(Note: Players from teams that competed in open divisions were considered for the CIF divisions their teams would have played in had they not been moved up to the open division.)
Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego)
Not just our top junior in the state but one of the top juniors in the nation, this 7-foot center averaged 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game for the Dons, who reached the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship game.
In the section championship game loss to Foothills Christian of El Cajon, he scored a season-high 28 points in the same game with All-American senior T.J. Leaf.
McCoy followed that performance with 23 points and 14 rebounds during an impressive 83-80 win at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. Last year’s State Sophomore of the Year, and also considered strongly again among juniors, was Sierra Canyon’s Cody Riley.
Yet to commit to a college, the schools that have offered McCoy include Arizona, Kansas and Cal.
McCoy also is just the second from San Diego to be State Junior of the Year. Jeremy Tyler of San Diego High was the first in 2009. T.J. Leaf of Foothills Christian couldn’t be picked last year because he was behind Lonzo Ball while not even Bill Walton (La Mesa Helix) was picked for 1969. He was behind future UCLA teammate Keith Wilkes (Ventura) as a junior before nearly doubling his scoring average as a senior.
Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2015 Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills); 2014 Ivan Rabb (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2013 Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2012 Aaron Gordon (San Jose Archbishop Mitty); 2011 Brandon Ashley (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2010 Josiah Turner (Sacramento); 2009 Jeremy Tyler (San Diego); 2008 Renardo Sidney (Lakewood Artesia); 2007 Jrue Holiday (North Hollywood Campbell Hall); 2006 James Harden (Lakewood Artesia).
Jordan Brown (Woodcreek, Roseville)
Make it 2-for-2 for this 6-foot-10 standout as he followed up being our State Freshman of the Year last season with top sophomore honors this season.
Brown didn’t lead Woodcreek deep into the NorCal D1 playoffs like he did as a freshman, but the Timberwolves were still 20-9 and were still among the top-ranked D1 schools in the North all season.
Brown also still averaged 26.7 points and 15 rebounds per game despite constant double-teams and game plans designed to slow him down. His biggest scoring output on the year came during a 82-65 win over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills when he scored 40 points. Twice this season he also recorded 23 rebounds in a game and he did it in back-to-back games to go with 25 points in a win over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills and 23 points in a loss to Folsom.
Yet to commit, Brown is close to a consensus top five player in the Class of 2018. One of those ranked higher is Marvin Bagley III, who will be eligible next season at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth after he transferred from a school in Arizona.
Brown also is the first-ever State Sophomore of the Year from the Sacramento region. He’s not the first from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. DeMarcus Nelson of Vallejo was the honoree for 2002.
Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2015 Cody Riley (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2014 Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills); 2013 Ivan Rabb (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2012 Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2011 Aaron Gordon (San Jose Archbishop Mitty); 2010 Brandon Ashley (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2009 Angelo Chol (San Diego Hoover); 2008 Jeremy Tyler (San Diego); 2007 Renardo Sidney (Lakewood Artesia); 2006 Drew Gordon (San Jose Archbishop Mitty).
Onyeka Okongwu (Chino Hills)
When there are two freshmen in the starting lineup of one of the best teams in state history and the No. 1 team in the nation, it’s obvious one of those two would be the State Freshman of the Year. But which one?
At this year’s state finals, we didn’t ask the assembled group of media scribes whether they’d vote for Okongwu, the team’s 6-foot-9 freshman center, or La’Melo Ball, the team’s baby-faced freshman guard. But it was still obvious that Okongwu’s emergence as a dominant force in the middle was more of a factor in Chino Hills being so much better than last season than just about any other factor.
Okongwu, only averaged eight points per game for the 35-0 Huskies, but that doesn’t tell the story of his contributions against national-level opponents. Some of his best outings were against the toughest of opponents, particularly when he had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Foothills Christian. He also had season highs of 16 rebounds and 11 blocks in a win vs. Upland.
Two years ago, Okongwu’s older brother, Nnamdi, died after falling and hitting his head in a skateboarding accident. Nnamdi also was playing at Chino Hills and we’re humbled to be honoring his “little” brother.
Between “O” and La’Melo, however, we have a feeling that state player of the year honors may be trading back-and-forth between them more than once.
Last 10 State Freshman Players of the Year: 2015 Jordan Brown (Roseville Woodcreek); 2014 Cody Riley (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2013 Trevor Stanback (West Hills Chaminade); 2012 Marcus LoVett Jr. (Burbank Providence); 2011 Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles Loyola); 2010 Roschon Prince (Long Beach Poly); 2009 Gabe York (Orange Lutheran); 2008 Darius Nelson (Sacramento Sheldon); 2007 Jeremy Tyler (San Diego); 2006 Roberto Nelson (Santa Barbara).
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills) Sr.
This is the second straight year that Lonzo has collected the state honor for D1. He and the Huskies were not in the CIF Open Division last year, but Mr. Basketball POY Ivan Rabb was D3 and last year’s other main finalist, Tyler Dorsey of Sierra Madre Maranatha, was D4. Players from all Open Division teams that also were Open Division teams in sections that have Open Divisions were considered D1 for this year’s player of the year honors.
The only reason we almost didn’t do it that way is because Lonzo’s future UCLA teammate, T.J. Leaf of El Cajon Foothills Christian, would then be in the same division as Lonzo and wouldn’t get a much-deserved player of the year selection. At least we had T.J. as a D2 POY for last year.
Last 10 State D1 Players of the Year: 2015 Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills); 2014 Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2013 Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2012 Katin Reinhardt (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2011 Ryan Anderson (Long Beach Poly); 2010 Dwayne Polee (Los Angeles Westchester); 2009 Kawhi Leonard (Riverside M.L. King); 2008 Larry Drew Jr. (Woodland Hills Taft); 2007 Chase Stanback (Los Angeles Fairfax); 2006 Chase Budinger (Carlsbad La Costa Canyon).
Solomon Young (Sacramento) Sr.
The Sacramento Bee’s Metro Player of the Year in what had to be a close call between himself and Folsom guard Jordan Ford qualifies to be D2 for this honor because the Dragons won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title before moving up into the CIF NorCal Open Division.
Headed to Iowa State and a four-year starter, Young averaged 17.4 points with 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game. He led the Dragons to a 30-2 record, which included an 86-77 overtime win over Folsom in the first round of the NorCal Open Division playoffs. Sacramento then lost to eventual NorCal champ De La Salle of Concord in the semifinals.
Young, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds in that win over Folsom, also had a 33-point, 11-rebound, 7-block outing against Sacramento Burbank. He also is just the second-ever D2 Player of the Year from the Sacramento area. The first was Brendan Lane of Rocklin in 2009.
Last 10 State D2 Players of the Year: 2015 T.J. Leaf (El Cajon Foothills Christian); 2014 Daniel Hamilton (Bellflower St. John Bosco); 2013 Aaron Gordon (San Jose Archbishop Mitty); 2012 Aaron Gordon (San Jose Archbishop Mitty); 2011 Angelo Chol (San Diego Hoover); 2010 Tyler Johnson (Mountain View St. Francis); 2009 Brendan Lane (Rocklin); 2008 DeMar DeRozan (Compton); 2007 Taylor King (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2006 Taylor King (Santa Ana Mater Dei).
Jaelen Ragsdale (Weston Ranch, Stockton) Sr.
At this year’s CIF state finals, one of the most impressive performances of the weekend was turned in by Manteca High jumping jack Kenny Wooten in leading the Buffaloes to the CIF Division III state title. And while Wooten definitely put himself into the all-state conversation, it’s too hard to go against a player from Manteca’s rival school to be considered higher as a player of the year.
Ragsdale not only led Weston Ranch to three wins over Manteca during the season, but was selected as the Valley Oak League Player of the Year and the Stockton Record Player of the Year over anyone from Manteca.
In the first game against Manteca, the 6-foot point guard who has signed with D2 Cal State Stanislaus scored 34 points, including 28 in the second half. He also had a game-high 22 points when Weston Ranch beat Manteca in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 final.
For the season, Ragsdale averaged more than 20 points and five assists per game. He is the first D3 State Player of the Year from San Joaquin County since Rick Paulsen of Stockton St. Mary’s in 1977, who is now a well-known businessman in Stockton and a University of Pacific booster.
Last 10 State D3 Players of the Year: 2015 Ivan Rabb (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2014 Ivan Rabb (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2013 Isaac Hamilton (Bellflower St. John Bosco); 2012 Marqueze Coleman (Mission Hills Alemany); 2011 Brandon Ashley (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2010 Deonta Burton (Compton Centennial); 2009 Chase Tapley (Sacramento); 2008 Klay Thompson (Rancho SM Santa Margarita); 2007 James Harden (Lakewood Artesia); 2006 Alex Stephenson (North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake; 2005 Junior Russell (Santa Cruz).
Colin Slater IV (Immanuel, Reedley) Sr.
Although Immanuel had to go up to the CIF Southern California Open Division to play national No. 1 Chino Hills in a first-round game, the Eagles won the CIF Central Section Division IV title. That is why Slater can be considered D4, but there are a lot of other reasons why he was picked this year’s D4 Player of the Year.
Before heading to Tulane this fall, the 6-foot-1 senior guard averaged 22.3 points per game for the Eagles, who went undefeated in the Central Sequoia League before winning the CIF Central Section Division IV championship.
Slater’s two biggest offensive nights came in back to back games during the section playoffs when he scored 43 points during a 87-53 win over Lindsay before two days later scoring 48 points during a 85-44 win over McFarland. Last season, he was a member of our All-State Junior first team.
Slater, who came to Immanuel after starting as a freshman at Clovis East, is just the fourth D4 State POY from the Central Section. The others have been current NBA player Quincy Pondexter of Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (2006), Demetrius Porter from Washington of Easton (1996) and Ron Robinson of Woodlake (1980).
Last 10 State D4 Players of the Year: 2015 Tyler Dorsey (Sierra Madre Maranatha); 2014 Justin Bibbins (Torrance Bishop Montgomery); 2013 Jabari Bird (Richmond Salesian); 2012 Grant Jerrett (La Verne Lutheran); 2011 Wesley Saunders (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Allen Crabbe (Los Angeles Price); 2009 Justin Cobbs (Torrance Bishop Montgomery); 2008 Jrue Holiday (North Hollywood Campbell Hall); 2007 Jrue Holiday (North Hollywood Campbell Hall); 2006 Quincy Pondexter (Fresno San Joaquin Memorial).
Jade’ Smith (St. Joseph Notre Dame, Alameda) Jr.
When the Pilots captured the CIF Division V state championship with a 55-50 win over St. Bernard of Playa del Rey, it was this this junior guard who scored a game-high 21 points.
With 14 of his 21 points coming in the second half, he also led the team with 11 rebounds. Smith already has been named to the All-East Bay second team.
As for next year, he already has offers from schools such as Cal and Nevada and should be one of the top guards in Northern California regardless of school size.
Smith also had 25 points and 11 rebounds in the Pilots’ 67-58 win in triple-overtime against Stuart Hall of San Francisco in the CIF Division V NorCal championship game. He’s the third D5 State Player of the Year from St. Joe in the last six years. The other two were Bendan Keane in 2011 and Timidayo Yussuf in 2014.
Last 10 State D5 Players of the Year: 2015 Cody Riley (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2014 Temidayo Yussuf (Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame); 2013 Mamadou Ndiaye (Huntington Beach Brethren Christian); 2012 Brandon Randolph (Playa del Rey St. Bernard); 2011 Brendan Keane (Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame); 2010 Troy Leaf (El Cajon Foothills Christian); 2009 Darius Morris (Los Angeles Windward); 2008 Oliver McNally (Ross Branson); 2007 Oliver McNally (Ross Branson); 2006 Adrian Oliver (Modesto Christian); 2005 Adrian Oliver (Modesto Christian).
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports