To kick off our end-of-school year content of honoring the best multi-sport and overall athletes of the year, we begin with a look at the state’s best football-basketball combo athletes on our 31st annual Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop All-State team. We have even more listed as Grid-Hoop athletes of distinction and some of these players are sure to be on our state athlete of the year lists that are coming up soon. Congrats to Niamey Harris, our 2016-17 Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year.
Note: We’ve been selecting grid-hoop all-state teams since the 1986-1987 school year when the San Diego Section Player of the Year in both sports, Junior Seau, was named Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year. Since the immortal Seau was selected, other combo athletes we’ve honored as Grid-Hoop POY include Willie McGinest, Tony Gonzalez, Marcedes Lewis and Matt Barnes. To go with this year’s teams, we have archived all of our previous Grid-Hoop all-state teams. To access those, you need to be a member of our Gold Club. It’s a great deal and it’s a great time to join our team by CLICKING HERE.
To go straight to our archive of all previous 15-member Grid-Hoop All-State Teams, CLICK HERE.
For about five years, we have commented on how hard it is to compile our annual honor squad of the best basketball-football combo athletes from across the state. Compared to a generation ago when we started compiling this info, California simply has less elite two-sport athletes — or so it seems.
Ironically, we found plenty of viable candidates for the 2016-17 school year, but now a new dilemma has emerged: Athletes skipping their senior season of basketball to prepare for the rigors or being a college football freshman or leaving high school altogether to enroll in college and get a head start of earning playing time or making the travel squad.
In fact, there were a couple of potential athletes who might have been in the running for 2016-17 Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year honors on our 31st annual Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop All-State Team that did not play basketball this past season.
Jaylon Johnson from Central of Fresno made the Fresno Bee’s all-star team in hoops and was second five Grid-Hoop All-State as a junior, but did not play basketball in 2016-17. He’s headed to Utah to play football. Another strong candidate who was a Grid-Hooper of Distinction last season, big man Aaron Banks of El Cerrito, was overall first team all-state in football, but left the basketball team early to enroll at Notre Dame. Yet another strong POY candidate, Hanford quarterback Ryan Johnson, was injured as a senior.
The good news is we came up with 15 deserving athletes and although there may not be a Stais Boseman or Tony Gonzalez in the bunch, we actually have more depth on this team than perhaps we’ve had in many school years. So much, a few deserving honorees did not make the cut of 15 that may have in recent years.
There is something special about football-basketball combo athletes because the seasons overlap and it takes an incredible amount of discipline, coordination and natural athletic ability to excel in both sports in the same school year. The annual Grid-Hoop all-state team traditionally leads off end-of-school year honors for Cal-Hi Sports and has been done in this format since the 1986-87 school year with a player of the year named since 1979-80.
The athlete who put together the most spectacular season in both sports this year, San Francisco Mission’s Niamey Harris, today has been named 2016-17 Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year:
Harris, an athletic wing guard who probably is best suited to play wide receiver in college even though he played an array of positions for the Bears, was a two-time AAA Player of the Year in football. As a junior, he was forced to play QB for Mission after Frank Hall went down with injury and as a senior was named to the San Francisco Chronicle’s All-Metro team as a multi-purpose player.
A four-year starter in basketball, Harris averaged 13.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg as a junior, but stepped up his game in every facet as a senor and it paid off for the team. He was named AAA Player of the Year for the second time in basketball as well (he’s the first ever to earn honors in both sports in the same year even once) and what the team accomplished helped push Harris’ candidacy over the top.
Harris not only led Mission to its third AAA title in four years, but also to the CIF D3 state crown. It was the first ever CIF state title for a San Francisco public school. In the state final versus Villa Park, Mission exploded for 15 points in overtime to record a 82-75 victory to complete a 35-1 season. Harris finished his final high school game with 31 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and six steals.
For the season, Harris averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.6 steals, but his stats don’t tell the full story. He was also Mission’s emotional leader and the calming influence in tough spots. Over the years, we’ve learned Grid-Hoopers tend to be team leaders and clutch players and nobody exemplified that in 2016-17 more than Harris.
Below is the complete Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop All-State Team for the 2016-17 school year:
Jaylen Arnold (Helix, La Mesa) 6-4 Sr. TE/F
There were a bunch of Grid-Hoopers in the CIF D4 hoops state title game and the Highlanders’ top honoree is this powerful high-flyer. A big-time tight end prospect, Arnold played at an all-section level in both sports but his honors in hoops is what gives him the nod over teammate Carson Baker. Arnold was a two-time all-leaguer and averaged nearly 14 ppg for the SoCal champs. He was named to the D4 all-state team and was actually chosen Grossmont-Hills Player of the Year over teammate and heralded recruit Miles Norris.
Niamey Harris (Mission, San Francisco) 6-3 Sr. QB/DB/F
Our player of the year is the first selection from San Francisco since Riordan’s Rob Jones in 2006-07. Jones went on to play basketball at the University of San Diego. Harris is also the first ever choice from a San Francisco Section program dating back to 1979-80 when we first named a Grid-Hoop Player of the Year. Harris is enrolled at San Francisco City College and because he didn’t always have it easy as a child growing up in Hunter’s Point, we’d love to see him one day excel at a four-year school.
Marquel Johnson (St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Vallejo) 5-10 Sr. WR/DB/G
The Bruins captured a rare football-basketball double CIF state title and there were five athletes on both clubs. The biggest contributor to both was Johnson and that earns him first five acclaim. On the gridiron, the two-way performer (who also plays baseball) helped St. Pat’s win the Division 6-A crown with 70 receptions for 1,180 yards and 10 scores with 12 interceptions at safety. The small schools all-stater was arguably the Bruins’ second best performer on the hardwood and scored 12 points in the CIF D4 state title game win. For the season, he averaged 13.9 ppg, 3.7 apg and 2.2 spg.
Jeremiah Martin (Cajon, San Bernardino) 6-5 Jr. DE/F
Grid-Hoopers tend to be skill position guard types or powerful forwards who play tight end/linebacker or on the interior and Martin fits the mold of the latter perfectly. In football, Martin was third team all-state underclass and is a monster recruit for his combination of size, speed and physicality. He’s already been offered by schools such as Michigan, UCLA, and Texas A & M and is quite productive in basketball, too. He averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds and was named Citrus Belt League MVP. With the addition of Grid-Hooper Darren Jones, Cajon will be one of the Southern Section’s strongest basketball teams in 2017-18 – if Martin doesn’t leave for football spring practice.
Adrian Martinez (Clovis West, Fresno) 6-2 Jr. QB/G
Last year it was Hanford’s Ju’Wuane Hughes who earned top acclaim among CIF Central Section athletes and this year it’s the talented Martinez. He was one of The Valley’s top guards for a 25-4 team that spent time in the state Top 20 rankings. It’s in football, however, where Martinez really makes his mark. An elusive quarterback who can run, Martinez accounted for 3,896 yards and 41 touchdowns while helping the Golden Eagles advance to the Central Section D1 semifinals. We are a bit bummed this D1 grid recruit and overall second team all-stater won’t be on the all-state grid-hoop team next season, as the Fresno Bee’s Player of the Year will sit out his senior season in football to recover from a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
D’Shaun Barrett (Twentynine Palms) 5-11 Jr. WR/QB/G
Along with Martin, this high-scoring guard is one of the best combo athletes in San Bernardino County. He doesn’t quite rate as high on the gridiron, but helped the Wildcats to a 9-4 mark by contributing on both sides of the ball. He caught 17 passes for 264 yards with four touchdowns and accounted for 16 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards as a quarterback. It’s in hoops where Barrett really shines, as he led the Wildcats to the CIFSS Division 3A crown. He scored 29 points in the title game win over St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs, scored 27 and hit the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime in the semis and averaged 24 points and five assists per game. He was named the division’s co-player of the year along with UNLV bound Louis Bangai, a center from St. Paul.
He’s very comparable to St. Pat’s Marquel Johnson in terms of what he brought to the Mariners’ hoop team as a football all-stater. Although he didn’t have eye-popping stats for the NorCal D2 champs (5.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 spg), Ison provided excellent perimeter defense, intensity and senior leadership for coach Frank Knight. He received all-BVAL acclaim and makes up for what he lacks in hoop stats with eye-popping gridiron numbers. Arguably the premier runner amongst this year’s Grid-Hoopers, Ison scampered for 2,308 yards rushing with 23 touchdowns. For his career, Ison rushed for 6,616 yards and scored 88 total touchdowns.
Tariq Thompson (St. Augustine, San Diego) 6-1 Sr. DB/WR/G
Recently named as the CIF San Diego Section Boys Athlete of the Year, Thompson’s exploits in the two sports are well known locally. In football, he was one of the top DBs in the section and has a scholarship to San Diego State. He also caught 39 passes for 626 yards and eight TDs. In basketball, he was a three-year lettermen and was known mostly for defensive intensity. He helped St. Augustine upset nationally ranked Sierra Canyon in the CIF SoCal Open Division playoffs.
Jaxen Turner (Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley) 6-0 Soph. DB/G
If he sticks with both sports, Turner is a future Grid-Hoop Player of the Year candidate, perhaps as early as next season. On the hardwood, he’s ranked the No. 36 prospect in the state and helped his team to a 26-4 mark. He was named to the all-CIFSS Division 1AA team and was even more dynamic in football. Turner had 48 tackles and a whopping 10 interceptions and was named to the all-state sophomore team.
Damian Wallace (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 5-9 Sr. DB/WR/G
A terrific ending to Wallace’s high school hoops career in the NorCals solidified his All-State Grid-Hoop status. Wallace helped No. 15 seed Newman reach the NorCal D2 semifinals, where it fell to eventual NorCal champ Moreau Catholic. He had 18 points in the loss, a career-high 29 in a quarterfinal win over Serra of San Mateo and 15 in a 57-55 win over No. 2 seed Whitney of Rocklin. The quick guard was dynamic in the open field in football as one of NorCal’s top return men, and was first team all-North Bay League at both receiver and defensive back.
Jahari Kay (San Leandro) 6-1 Sr. DL/F
A physical and rugged player on the hardwood with good scoring ability, Kay projects as an outside linebacker on the next level if he continues to improve his speed. He played on the line and did what he had to help the Pirates make the NCS playoffs. One of NorCal’s best pass rushers finished with 80 tackles and a whopping 23 sacks and was named All-Metro by the San Francisco Chronicle and all-East Bay by the Mercury News. He was the second-leading scorer (11.7 ppg) for a 19-11 hoops team.
Kyle Lindquist (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 6-5 Sr. QB/F
The top combo athlete from the CIF Northern Section, Lindquist had a monster senior year that ended in championship campaigns. He led the Vikings to the CIF football Division 4A state crown over St. Anthony of Long Beach by passing for 2,871 yards and 35 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He was named second team medium schools all-state and didn’t waste any time on the hardwood. He averaged 9.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.0 apg for a 23-7 team that won the section D3 crown.
Junior Ramirez (Selma) 5-11 Jr. QB/G
He had a fantastic junior campaign in leading both Bears’ programs to Central Section crowns. Ramirez led a 13-1 D4 title team with 1,732 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. He was named Medium Schools co-Player of the Year by the Fresno Bee after accounting for 2,462 yards and 20 scores. In hoops, “Henry” led Selma to its first section crown in 103 years with 30-point, eight-rebound, three-steal performance in a victory over Sanger and made the Bee’s all-star squad.
Lucas Triplett (Fort Bragg) 6-2 Sr. QB/F Sr.
There’s always a soft spot for the small-town, small-school multi-sport athlete for this team. One of them in 2010, even though baseball was his No. 1 sport, was Linden’s Aaron Judge. Triplett perhaps best fits that bill this year. He passed for 2,652 yards and 25 TDs and rushed for 1,104 yards and 10 scores in earning Small Schools Player of the Year honors from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. In hoops, Triplett dominated with 20.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
Cyrus Wallace (Dos Pueblos, Goleta) 6-3 Jr. WR/G
It can be difficult to find all-state candidates in all sports from Santa Barbara County, but we didn’t miss on Wallace for this team. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound wide receiver had a monster season last fall on the gridiron, ending with 91 catches for 1,192 yards and 12 TDs. On the court, Wallace netted 14 points and three assists per game and was named Co-Player of the Year in the Channel League.
More Grid-Hoopers of Distinction (listed alphabetically):
L.J. Anderson (Moreau Catholic, Hayward) 6-0 Jr. WR/G
David Atencio (Edison, Huntington Beach) 6-2 Soph. WR/G
Kale Aukai (Santa Rosa) 6-2 Sr. WR/G
Carson Baker (Helix, La Mesa) 6-2 Jr. QB/SF
Aaron Banks (El Cerrito) 6-8 Sr. OL/C
Franklin Banks (El Cerrito) 6-2 Soph. OL/F
DaRon Bland (Central Catholic, Modesto) 6-2 Sr. WR/F
Isaiah Cozzolino (Hillsdale, San Mateo) 6-5 Sr. WR/C
Baylei Coston (Freedom, Oakley) 5-11 Jr. WR/G
Cedric Dashiell II (Buena Park) 6-1 Sr. LB/G
Isaac Drake (St. Bernard’s, Eureka) 6-1 Sr. WR/G
Ja’lani Ellison (Reseda) 6-0 Jr. DB/G
Nate Gordon (Terra Nova, Pacifica) 5-10 Jr. QB/PG
Casey Granfors (University City, San Diego) 6-4 Soph. QB/PF
Sean Harlston (Dominguez, Compton) 6-2 Jr. QB/G
Domonique Guevara (Grossmont, La Mesa) 6-0 Sr. WR/ SG
Teyjohn Herrington (Edison, Fresno) 6-2 Jr. WR/G
Jack Hogeboom (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) 6-3 Sr. WR/F
Jonah Johnson (Madera South) 6-3 Sr. QB/F
Donovan Laie (Oceanside) 6-6 Jr. DL/F
Terrance Lang (Maranatha, Pasadena) 6-7 Sr. DL/F
Derrick Langford (Salesian, Richmond) 6-2 Jr. CB/G
Thomas Marcus (Horizon, San Diego) 6-3 Jr. WR/SG
Marshel Martin (St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Vallejo) 6-2 Jr. RB/F
Jaden McClanahan (Salesian, Richmond) 5-9 Soph. DB/G
Jovon McClanahan (Salesian, Richmond) 5-9 Soph. RB/G
Aaron Mosby (Sanger) 6-3 Sr. DB/F
Tanner Murray (San Lorenzo Valley, Felton) 6-2 Sr. QB/G
Miles Owens (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-7 Jr. OL/F
Isaiah Ramos (Carlsbad) 6-5 Jr. QB/SF
Carter Smith (Foothill, Palo Cedro) 6-0 Sr. WR/G
Kobe Smith (Serra, Gardena) 6-3 Jr. WR/G
Tiveon Stroud (Selma) 6-8 Jr. WR/F
Isaiah Steele (Santa Rosa) 6-4 Sr. QB/F
Christian Swint (Compton) 6-1 Jr. RB/G
Noah Tumblin (Mira Mesa, San Diego) 6-1 Soph. WR/PG
Payton Williams (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 6-5 Sr. WR/F
Dawit Wilson (Cantwell Sacred Heart, Montebello) 6-2 Sr. QB/G
D.J. Wilson (Horizon, San Diego) 6-0 Sr. DB/ PG
Tahj Wright (Bakersfield) 6-1 Soph. WR/F
Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop
State Players of the Year
2016-17 – Niamey Harris, San Francisco Mission
2015-16 – Jamal Hicks, Harbor City Narbonne
2014-15 – Justice Shelton-Mosley, Sacramento Capital Christian
2013-14 – Alex Van Dyke, Elk Grove Cosumnes Oaks
2012-13 – Max Redfield, Mission Viejo
2011-12 – William Stallworth, Tulare
2010-11 – William Stallworth, Tulare (Jr.)
2009-10 – Victor Dean, San Diego Lincoln
2008-09 – James Boyd, Los Angeles Jordan
2007-08 – Nelson Rosario, Oceanside El Camino
2006-07 – Rob Jones, San Francisco Riordan
2005-06 – David Ausberry, Lemoore
2004-05 – Danny Williams, Los Angeles Fremont
2003-04 – Marcus Everett, West Hills Chaminade
2002-03 – Steve Smith, Woodland Hills Taft
2001-02 – Marcedes Lewis, Long Beach Poly
2000-01 – Antwon Guidry, San Jose Leigh
1999-00 – Teyo Johnson, San Diego Mira Mesa
1998-99 – Josh Shavies, Oakland Fremont
1997-98 – Matt Barnes, Fair Oaks Del Campo
1996-97 – Jason Thomas, Compton Dominguez (Jr.)
1995-96 – Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North
1994-95 – Johnnie Sanders, Los Angeles Franklin
1993-94 – Tony Gonzalez, Huntington Beach
1992-93 – Stais Boseman, Inglewood Morningside
1991-92 – Stais Boseman, Inglewood Morningside (Jr.)
1990-91 – Rob Johnson, El Toro
1989-90 – Willie McGinest, Long Beach Poly
1988-89 – Shante Carver, Stockton Lincoln
1987-88 – Eric Bamberger, Concord Ygnacio Valley
1986-87 – Junior Seau, Oceanside
1985-86 – Dan McGwire, Claremont
1984-85 – Michael Johnson, Baldwin Park
1983-84 – Jerald Jones, Vallejo
1982-83 – John Paye, Atherton Menlo School
1981-82 – Reggie Rogers, Sacramento Norte Del Rio
1980-81 – Jack Del Rio, Hayward
1979-80 – Don Rogers, Sacramento Norte Del Rio
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores