If there were ties or co-players of the year, this would be the perfect year for it. But in the history of the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year honor, which goes back to the early 1970s, there are no co-players. And there are none in any other state player of the year selection. So for this year’s very close race between Los Angeles Windward junior Charisma Osborne and San Jose Archbishop Mitty junior Haley Jones, someone had to be first and it has gone to Osborne. She’s the second Ms. Basketball from Windward in five years, following Jordin Canada for 2014. Go inside to see all the hair-splitting details.
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In the last few remaining weeks of the 2018 girls basketball season in California, there was a strong favorite in the race to be the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year. And as the unbeaten Archbishop Mitty of San Jose squad was working its way through the CIF Northern California Open Division playoffs, it looked like there was only one other player out there who could perhaps overcome super 6-foot-2 junior forward Haley Jones of the Monarchs.
If Jones and the Monarchs didn’t falter, that one player who seemed like she had the possibility to run the table with a series of her own mesmerizing CIF state playoff wins was 5-foot-9 junior guard Charisma Osborne from Windward of Los Angeles. It was a sliver of a path, but that’s the path that Osborne completed and because of that she has today been selected as the 2018 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Osborne becomes the second player from Windward in five years to be crowned Ms. Basketball. She follows 2014 honoree Jordin Canada, who then went to UCLA and on Thursday night heard her name called as the fifth pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Canada was chosen by the Seattle Storm. The last non-senior to be State Player of the Year was Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood of Lynwood in 2002, who was a sophomore at the time. The last junior to be State Player of the Year was WNBA all-time great Diana Taurasi from Don Lugo of Chino in 1999.
It’s a legitimate argument to claim that what happened to Jones and her team in the CIF Northern California Open Division championship should not have been enough to allow another player to come up in front of her. Mitty’s hopes for an unbeaten, consensus state and national championship were dashed in a 78-67 triple-overtime loss to Pinewood of Los Altos Hills. Jones battled foul trouble the entire game and there were many on press row, not just Mitty fans, who felt the officiating for a game of that magnitude was sub-par. She fouled out with 1:31 left in regulation, her team lost and the season was over.
Osborne had the opening and she and her team knocked the door off its hinges. She already had had spectacular outings in the final two games of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs — 25 points, 14 rebounds and five assists vs. Mater Dei of Santa Ana and 25 points with 14 rebounds vs. Harvard-Westlake. Then after hitting for 22 points and nine rebounds in a win over defending CIF Open Division state champ Clovis West of Fresno in the SoCal Open final, Osborne led Windward to a 58-47 victory over Pinewood in the Open Division state final. She made more three-pointers in an Open Division, Division I or Division II state final than any other player ever has (six) and she finished with 26 points. Osborne also had six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
If Osborne hadn’t had those kind of individual totals even in games that Windward had won, she probably doesn’t get Ms. Basketball. If Pinewood had won that last game, she doesn’t get it, either. All of the scenarios that had to break in her favor broke in her favor.
For the season, according to stats provided by Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard, Osborne averaged 18.2 points with 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.2 steals. She shot 80 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent on three-pointers. Her scoring was lower than last season when as a sophomore Osborne led the Wildcats to the CIF Division I state title. But Osborne averaged nearly 25 points per game in the last month of the season and this year she knew that a lot of her teammates could shoot the three — especially Sela Kay, India Otto and Selena McLurkin — so a lot of her focus was on setting them up.
“Charisma is an example of John Wooden’s pyramid of greatness, being at your best when your best is needed,” Nygaard told the Los Angeles Times when it named Osborne as its Player of the Year for the second straight season. “She shows up when we need her, but we’ve had a lot more depth and a lot more shooters around her this year.”
Last season, after Windward won its D1 state title and Mitty lost in the CIF Open Division state final to Clovis West, it was Jones who got the nod over Osborne as State Sophomore of the Year. The difference, as explained at the time, was Open Division competition compared to Division I. As freshmen, both again were sliced and diced for the first time and for that pick it went to Osborne. It’s one of those situations where a co-player of the year could be considered, except that all Cal-Hi Sports team rankings and player of the year picks ever made have had no ties. It’s so close (going by the Cal-Hi Sports criteria) and there is so much respect for each girl that it would be great if Jones gets her turn next year as a senior to be put on the all-time list.
For national honors and All-American teams and for the Gatorade State Player of the Year (which isn’t chosen by people based in California), Jones has nonetheless generally been selected higher than Osborne. The line of thinking is that one blip on an otherwise great season (and through no fault of her own due to questionable officiating) isn’t enough. Jones also has recently had home visits with some of the top women’s college coaches in the country, including Geno Auriemma (UConn), Muffet McGraw (national champion Notre Dame) and Tara Van DerVeer (Stanford). Osborne is one of the top 25 recruits in the nation, too, but not top five.
The Ms. Basketball for California selection, however, has for most of its nearly 40 years been more about what happens in California. It’s not a recruiting list, either. Sure, attention is paid to what happened at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona (Mitty won and Jones was MVP while Windward lost twice) and what happens at national camps. But it’s what happens at the end of the season in what should be the most important games of the year that counts the most. It doesn’t matter that some national rankings still put Mitty first despite that technicality of losing in its last game. Windward is hanging the CIF Open Division state championship banner and it took a series of memorable outings from the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year for that to happen.
MS. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
ALL-TIME HONOREES LIST
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2018 Charisma Osborne, Los Angeles Windward
2017 Destiny Littleton, La Jolla Bishop’s
2016 Sabrina Ionescu, Orinda Miramonte, 6-0
2015 Katie Lou Samuelson, S. 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
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, 5-7
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 5-7
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.