SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are center Austyn Masuno from Oxford Academy of Cypress and guard Naseem Gaskin of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd. Photos: Ted Apodaca/ & Sam Stringer.

Setting a school record with 44 points is one thing, but doing it at a school like Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (which won the CIF Open Division title just three years ago) with its rich history of great players is something else. That’s why we couldn’t let Naseem Gaskin’s huge outing from last week go unnoticed. This week’s other SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are from Barstow, Cypress and Kerman.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email This is our third set of honorees for the 2017-18 season for basketball.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Player of the Week

Evander Burns
(Barstow) Sr.

It can get burning hot in Barstow and the surrounding desert but nobody in town has been hotter than Burns was this season and, particularly two weeks ago when Burns burned Victor Valley of Victorville for a school record 53 points in a 97-77 victory.

Last week, the 6-foot-2 senior wing went for 28 points in a 83-56 win against Woodcrest Christian of Riverside, and then he registered 35 points when the Aztecs topped Shalhevet of Los Angeles 87-80 in the second round of the CIF Southern Section 4AA playoffs.

Unfortunately for the Barstow faithful, Burns and the Aztecs’ flame was extinguished in a heartbreaking quarterfinal 86-82 loss on Tuesday to Santa Ana Segerstrom, but not before one final flamethrower by Burns, who burned the visiting Jaguars for 34 points and 16 rebounds.

Burns finishes his senior year with per game averages of 25.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.8 steals per game. He also ends up with 1,147 career points.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Player of the Week

Austyn Masuno
(Oxford Academy, Cypress) Soph.

The 6-foot-2 junior center who has been on the Cal-Hi Sports radar screen watch list for small school big girls, finally receives a regional honor as our SoCal honoree.

Last week, in what was really just another day at the office, Austyn went for a double-double 25 points and 11 rebounds as the CIF Southern Section Division 3A top-seeded Patriots won their opener 59-38 over Simi Valley after drawing a first round bye.

Masuno has been a model of consistency for the 26-1 Patriots, whose only loss is to highly-regarded Brea-Olinda of Brea in a game in which Austyn still had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. She’s been over 20-points 18 times but her high-water mark is 28 points.

Miss consistency Masuno also has also has 19 double doubles and is averaging 20.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.1 blocks per game for an Oxford Academy team that very well may be on the road to not only a CIFSS title but a potential state championship once the seedings shake out and depending on which division they are placed in.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Player of the Week

Naseem Gaskin
(Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) Sr.

As we’ve said before we don’t always go for the high profile players since they get a ton of ink, but after what Gaskin did last week in an 84-56 win on the road at Berkeley, he was just too hard to overlook.

The Dragons have had a lot of great players over the years who have gone on to tremendous careers after leaving O’Dowd, but when Naseem went to bed last Thursday he probably didn’t dream he would set the school record for points in a game, but that’s exactly what the Utah-bound senior did on Friday night against the host Yellowjackets.

Gaskin dropped in the first 10 Dragons’ points and finished with 44 for the game, breaking the old record of 42 set by 2015 graduate and current Cal guard Paris Austin, who by chance was there to congratulate Gaskin.

On the season, Gaskin, who shares the backcourt with Washington-bound Elijah Hardy, is averaging 15 points, six rebounds and two assists in about 25 minutes of work each game.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Player of the Week

Breanna Hurt
(Kerman) Soph.

As long as Central Section historian and Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett keeps nominating players from The Valley, we’re going to keep honoring them, and in our way of dividing up the geography we count the Central Section as part of Northern California. That’s why this week we go 15 miles west of Fresno on State Route 180 to the town of Kerman for our girls NorCal honoree.

We realize it’s a little corny but the reality is Hurt really has been putting the hurt on anyone trying to guard the 5-foot-11 sophomore wing.

Despite being just a sophomore, Hurt has already reached the 1,000 point career mark and did it with a 50-point performance in a 67-36 victory over Liberty of Madera Ranchos last week that gets her to 1,032 points in her career.

So far this season, Hurt has gone over the 30-point mark five times and is averaging 22.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

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

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