It’s time to launch our winter basketball content on CalHiSports.com and we are doing it with a preseason Top 40 of the best boys teams from all across the state. This group is led by No. 16 Corona Centennial and includes the rest of teams down to No. 40 Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, plus a list of 30 more teams that just missed.
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To check out the teams we ranked from No. 1 to No. 15, CLICK HERE.
16. (34) Centennial (Corona) 20-11
Head coach Josh Giles has another excellent team and this year begins right in the range expected of them in the preseason last year (No. 13). The Huskies were competitive against Top 20 clubs last season, but were inconsistent. This perimeter-oriented club plays fast and loves to get out and run, but doesn’t really have a post presence for the elite teams it could face in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The consistency begins with Jaylen Clarke (6-5, Jr.), who is one of the more talented players in Giles’ tenure as coach. Clarke is spectacular in the open court, but must continue to develop and mature in half court situations and when the game slows down. The backcourt is in excellent hands with deep scoring threat D.J. Davis (5-11, Jr.) and Paris Dawson (5-11, Jr.), a natural leader and excellent defensive player. Without the major size of some of the other elite California teams, the contributions of players such as Allan McBride (6-4, Sr.) and Dennis Cash (6-7, Jr.) will be paramount as this successful program looks to make a deep post-season run.
17. (NR) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 22-6
We’ll pencil in the Wolverines as the early favorites in the Mission League race, with No. 25 and much improved Notre Dame right on their tails. Last season, coach Dave Rebibo’s club came in second place in league to senior-oriented Crespi of Encino before losing to No. 14 Rancho Verde in the second round of the CIFSS D1 playoffs. This club has what it takes to earn a berth in the SoCal regionals and it begins with Johnny Juzang (6-7, Jr.). He’s one of the best scorers in the state and continues to improve his overall game and effort off the ball. The Wolverines also have a rock inside with Mason Hooks (6-9, Jr.), as this true post presence can make a difference with his physical play. Brase Dottin (6-6, Jr.) is another player who will go D1 in two years, while Truman Gettings (6-7, Soph.) could have a breakout campaign. This team has balance and capable players at each position, but there is some concern about their perimeter foot speed against elite clubs. With that in mind, the backcourt play of Spencer Hubbard (5-9, Jr.) and Adam Hinton (6-3, Soph.) will be paramount.
18. (NR) St. Augustine (San Diego) 18-8
Our No. 2 team from the CIF San Diego Section is similar to the two clubs right in front of them (Harvard-Westlake, Corona Centennial) in regards to their positive outlook for the season and potential to be dynamite in 2019-20. Last season, the Saints recorded quality wins over foes such as Torrey Pines, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, but lost twice in Western League play to No. 9 Mission Bay before losing in the first round of the section open division playoffs. Coach Mike Haupt’s squad will challenge Mission Bay for league and section supremacy behind the play of Chibuzo Agbo (6-6, Jr.). Newcomer Nakial Cross (6-7, Jr.) has been a highly touted player since middle school and if he has a breakout season this team could move up. Additional depth is provided by talents such as Luke Haupt (6-4, Jr.) and Tyson McWilliams (5-11, Jr.).
19. (NR) Poly (Riverside) 24-9
The Bears are the fourth team in the bottom fourth of our preseason Top 20 that were not in last season’s final ratings, but should make a big splash this year. Coach Yancy Dodson’s club had a bad outing in the CIFSS 2A final versus San Marcos of Santa Barbara and the players are eager to prove they belong among the state’s elite. Dodson has five of his top eight players back and two impact transfers in Evan Oliver (5-11, Jr.), who went for 22.3 ppg at Citrus Valley of Redlands, and Jamal Briscoe (6-3, Sr.), who was all-league at Serra of Gardena. The catalyst for this club is Briscoe’s cousin, Lamont Butler (6-1, Jr.), one of the state’s best underclass point guards who draws rave reviews for his fundamental approach to the game. “Our strengths have always been our chemistry, ability to defend and offensive execution,” Dodson said. If Poly can win an Ivy League crown over No. 14 Rancho Verde and No. 25 Notre Dame and close strong in the playoffs, this could be the program’s best season since NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller led the Bears to the CIFSS 3-A crown in 1982-83.
20. (7) Salesian (Richmond) 30-2
Don’t cry for The Pride as life without 2018 Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Player of the Year James Akinjo (Georgetown) begins. Salesian began at No. 14 last year and rose to a nationally ranked unit not only because of Akinjo, but because of the emergence of Tejon Sawyer (6-6, Jr.) and the defensive ability of Jovon McClanahan (5-11, Sr.). His twin brother Jaden McClanahan (5-11, Sr.) is another defensive ball-hawk that makes winning plays. Tyler Brinkman (6-5, Jr.) is emerging as one of the best NorCal players in his class as well and Shane Bell (6-4 Jr.) could have a breakout campaign. Coach Bill Mellis has plenty of experienced guards, some good size and depth provided by the likes of Demarshay Johnson (6-8, Soph.), a terrific prospect, transfer Noah Simmons (6-3, Soph.) and Austin Johnson (6-3, Fr.). Don’t be surprised if this team is clicking on all cylinders in 2019 because it has some tough holiday tournament games to open the season.
The Next 20
21. (NR) Notre Dame (Riverside) 33-4
Head coach Robert Robinson has four returning starters from a team that fell to Pleasant Valley of Chico in the CIF D3 championship. The Titans graded out well in fall league competition and Robinson sees no weak links in the lineup, but it must prove it can get by No. 14 Rancho Verde and No. 19 Poly in Ivy League play in order to move up. The returnees are Anthony Holland (6-5, Sr.), the 2018 CIFSS D3 Wooden Award winner, Anton Mozga (6-3, Sr.), an all-state candidate, Pierce Sterling (6-3, Sr.) and Dondre Bausley (6-3, Sr.).
22. (22) Damien (La Verne) 24-7
Head coach Mike LeDuc’s club begins the season right where it finished last year, ready to compete with anyone but just a shade below the state’s elite. Cam Shelton (Northern Arizona) will be missed, but Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year Malik Thomas (6-3, Soph.) will increase his production and Austin Cooke (6-4, Jr.) is another talented offensive player. The inside play of Ofeanyi Okeke (6-6, Sr.) will be key and transfer Jarred Hyder (6-2, Sr.) is one of the state’s elite players and should off-set much of what Shelton brought to the table in terms of scoring punch.
23. (31) Dublin 26-6
This was a bubble club last preseason that played up to expectations and could be much better in 2018-19. The Gaels lose Conner Jackson, but Robbie Beasley (6-2, Jr.) is quickly emerging as one of the best players in NorCal. The reason Dublin is the early NCS D1 favorites is the emergence of Anthony Roy (6-4, Jr.) and Jalen Pierce (6-6, Jr.). If that duo has a big season to take some of the pressure off Beasley, this team could move into the Top 20.
24. (NR) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 26-9
The Rams started at No. 22 last season and were just a shade below that forecast and expectations are just about the same this season. Bryce Johnson (6-6, Sr.) is a senior and is primed for a monster year after averaging 17.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 2.3 apg for a club that won the CIF Sac Joaquin Section D2 title and advanced to the NorCal D2 regional final. Head doach Ken Green has a solid supporting cast around Johnson, including Carson Simi (6-0, Sr.), who averaged 12.5 ppg, and super athletic Jamar Marshall (6-1, Jr.), who netted 11.1 ppg.
25. (NR) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 16-12
Don’t be fooled by the Knights’ pedestrian record last season, as Ziaire Williams (6-7, Jr.) missed a chunk of the league season with injury. He developed into one of the country’s best juniors over the summer and Julian Rishwain (6-4, Sr.) is one of SoCal’s best shooters who earned a scholarship to Boston College over the summer. Head coach Matt Sargeant (a former all-state player at Huntington Beach Ocean View) loves his team’s speed and unselfishness and if the role players and first-year talents such as Brandon Perez (6-2, Fr.) and Ben Shtolzberg (6-0, Fr.) are ready for prime time, there is no reason why the Knights can’t claim the Mission League title and move up in the rankings.
26. (33) Torrey Pines (San Diego) 28-4
The Falcons moved into the Top 20 last season as a result of being No. 2 in the San Diego Section by local pollsters. We felt they were more a middle of the pack statewide team and it proved true when they fell to Woodland Hills Taft in the first round of the SoCal D1 regional as a No. 2 seed. We rate the Falcons as a solid No. 3 in the section (as we did for most of last season) led by the UC San Diego-bound Bryce Pope (6-2, Sr.). Twin brother Michael Pope (6-3, Sr.) is also back in the fold for veteran coach John Olive and there is plenty of talent on the interior with Victor Novy (6-7, Sr.), Travis Snider (6-6, Sr.) and Brandon Angel (6-7, Jr.).
27. (NR) Clovis West (Fresno) 26-4
This team was a bubble club in the preseason last year and we feel it could move its way towards the Top 20 with more consistent results against top-tier competition. It begins with Cole Anderson (6-4, Soph.), an elite shooter and all-state freshman for the No. 2 team from the CIF Central Section. Coach Vance Walberg also welcomes back Grayson Carper (6-2, Sr.) and Dante Chachere (6-3, Sr.) to a club that carries huge motivation after an upset loss in the first round of the D1 section playoffs.
28. (NR) Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 22-8
There is a lot to like from this team that tied for the Mission Valley League crown with bubble club James Logan of Union City and advanced to the NCS D2 semis. Coach Frank Knight brings more back than Logan, including MVL MVP Maxwell Anderson (6-0, Sr.) plus four others with starting experience, including all-leaguers David Hector (6-4, Sr.) and Leonard Turner (6-5, Sr.). Knight also has plenty of depth and talent from a 25-3 JV squad, talented transfer D.J. Johnson (6-6, Soph.) and a strong freshman class that includes his son Trey Knight (5-11, Fr.).
29. (NR) St. Anthony (Long Beach) 28-4
The Saints had a terrific 2017-18 regular season, only to see it crash and burn in a SoCal D3 second round loss to Knight of Palmdale. Coach Allen Caveness (a standout at Pomona) states this year’s team is longer, more athletic and has better size. It will be needed since the Saints play a tougher schedule and are now classified CIFSS D1 in the Del Rey League with the likes of state No. 2 Bishop Montgomery. Making the transition smoother to the CIFSS D1 ranks is Frank Staine (6-6, Sr.), a talented wing, inside presence Marquise “Baby” Nelloms (6-6, Sr.) and Josh “Juice” Belvin (6-1, Sr.).
30. (NR) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 26-8
This team lost to eventual CIF D2 state champ Crossroads of Santa Monica twice in Gold Coast League play, only to beat the Roadrunners in the CIFSS D2AA title game. The defending section champs are now in D1 and hope to give preseason No. 1 Sierra Canyon all it can handle in league behind the play of Braelee Albert (6-5, Sr.) and Cameron Hilbert-Woods (6-6, Sr.). If Finnley O’Rourke (6-6, Sr.) returns strong after an injury-plagued 2017-18 season and Christian Moore (6-5, Fr.) is as good as advertised, this will be a dangerous post-season team once again.
31. (NR) Mayfair (Lakewood) 21-8
With an elite talent such as Josh Christopher (6-4, Jr.) in the fold, the Monsoons have tons of potential, but must begin behind St. Anthony (head-to-head loss) and have a stronger showing in the CIFSS D2AA playoffs. Coach Tony Davis’ team should advance much further than the second round this year and could battle for a section open berth if there are no letdowns. Michael Ofoegbu (6-6, Sr.) and Dylan Cabs (6-6, Sr.) are underrated forwards, but steady play will be necessary from lead guard Amir Kirkwood (6-0, Sr.), who did not play last season after a mid-season transfer.
32. (3) Etiwanda 30-4
This team lost in the SoCal Open Division final to eventual State Team of the Year Sierra Canyon and played above preseason expectations, but lost a terrific senior class that included all-stater Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine) and Elijah Harkless (Cal-St. Northridge). “Clamp City” will fall below last year’s preseason expectations (No. 21), but we won’t be one bit surprised if the Eagles move towards the Top 20 by mid-season. Camren Pierce (5-11, Jr.) had some big moments last season and Legend Stamps (6-9, Sr.) has plenty of untapped potential, but it’s the production of up-and-comers Brantley Stevenson (6-3, Jr.), Tyree Campbell (6-3, Jr.) and Jahmei Mashack (6-3, Soph.) that determines how much this team improves.
33. (20) Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 26-7
The Knights were last year’s No. 1 team in San Diego after Taeshon Cherry came over late from St. Augustine, but he wasn’t in the lineup at the end of the season and the team finished in the range forecasted in the preseason (No. 18). Coach Brad Leaf doesn’t necessarily have a talent like Cherry, but he’ll have more continuity and more of total team effort as the Knights attempt to move up in the section pecking order. Derrick Carter-Hollinger (6-5, Sr.) is an all-state candidate while younger brother Darrien Carter-Hollinger (6-4, Soph.) could have a breakout season. The backcourt is steady with gamer Yassine Gharram (6-2, Jr.) and press-breaker Jaren Nafarette (5-7, Sr.).
34. (NR) Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 25-4
This bubble club in the 2017-18 preseason had a fine record, but is looking for signature wins during the regular season and a strong finish. The Conquerors play a tough schedule and with third team all-state choice Jarod Lucas back for his senior year, coach Jeff Lucas (his father) likes his team’s chance to move up. Lucas burned defenses to the tune of 26.2 ppg and for his career has 2,157 points while averaging 25.8 ppg with a shot at the magical 3,000-point barrier with a strong year. Ultimately, this team’s fortunes boil down to the production of role players such as Dion Porter (6-3, Jr.), Devin Walker Lewis (6-4, Soph.) and Ozzy Cuellar (5-9, Soph.).
35. (NR) Grant (Sacramento) 23-11
Expectations are high for a Pacers club that lost to No. 24 St. Mary’s in the Sac Joaquin Section D2 title game and advanced to the NorCal D1 semifinals after starting on the preseason bubble. Grant is one of the deepest clubs in NorCal and the ringleader is Steven Richardson (6-4, Sr.), one of the best players in the SJS. A.J. McGee (6-0, Sr.) and Corey Yerger (5-11, Soph.) form a backcourt with tons of talent and potential while Deejuan Pruitt (6-8 Sr.) and David Jones (6-5, Sr.) do the work up front. If Jonathan Schooley-Tyson (6-3, Soph.) and Mike Decaurie (6-8, Soph.) made an impact, the Pacers could quickly move up.
36. (NR) Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 17-12
Yes, it does appear odd not to have a projected top team from the West Catholic Athletic League of the CIF Central Coast Section any higher than here. Defending CCS Open Division champ Bellarmine Prep of San Jose lost tons to graduation. We love Riordan’s backcourt of Jelani Clark (6-2, Jr.) and Bryce Monroe (5-10, Jr.) but we’re putting the Crusaders behind the team they lost to in last year’s NorCal playoffs. Monroe averaged nearly 24 ppg last season at Sacred Heart Cathedral and has moved over to be with his cousin, Clark, who also was among the best players in the WCAL.
37. (NR) St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 14-12
This is one of those teams that would have been even higher in these preseason rankings except for the loss of a key transfer. The Vikings’ loss was 6-foot-5 all-state freshman Tyler Powell. Still, they have six lettermen returning and are not going to drop that far off. Senior center Romelle Mansel (6-9, Sr.) will be hard for anyone to deal with and is headed to Long Beach State. St. Bernard also has a dynamic point guard in Amani “Mook” Harris (6-1, Sr.). Another to watch is guard Nick Bowden (5-11, Jr.).
38. (NR) Washington Prep (Los Angeles) 23-11
The Generals made a splash during fall league and the defending L.A. City D1 champs could offer resistance to the traditional City powers in this year’s L.A. City Open bracket. Wash House might have their most talented unit since the early 1990s (Lamar Smith, Barnabus James, Isaac Burton, etc.) with Noel Scott (6-3, Sr.) as the catalyst. Others to watch for are Bilal Mike (6-2, Sr.) and transfer De’Shawn Johnson (6-5, Jr.) from defending D4 state champ L.A. View Park Prep.
39. (23) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 23-9
Coach Shelton Diggs’ team was a bubble club last year, but this bunch was a tough out for state-ranked teams. With its penchant for playing tough in the post-season, the Jackrabbits deserve to be ranked. They are led by a trio of terrific guards in Giordan Williams (6-2, Sr.), Justin Rene (6-1, Sr.) and Malik Salahuddin (6-0, Sr.).
40. (36) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 13-17
For this last spot, we’ll go with an Archbishop Mitty squad that is always disciplined and plays hard under head coach Tim Kennedy. The Monarchs were up-and-down last season, but reached the CCS Open Division final and their loss in the NorCal D1 playoffs was to eventual state finalist Las Lomas. Leading returnees for Kennedy include Devan Sapp (6-3, Jr.), Mikey Mitchell (6-2, Soph.), Marcus Greene (6-1, Jr.) and Joseph Vaughn (6-3, Sr.).
30 Teams That Just Missed:
(NR) Alemany (Mission Hills) 19-10
(18) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 24-4
(NR) Birmingham (Van Nuys) 15-15
(8) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 27-6
(NR) Bullard (Fresno) 22-10
(NR) Camarillo 15-12
(16) Capital Christian (Sacramento) 22-9
(38) Clayton Valley (Concord) 26-4
(NR) Central (Fresno) 25-8
(NR) Colony (Ontario) 24-6
(15) Crespi (Encino) 27-5
(35) Crossroads (Santa Monica) 25-9
(NR) De La Salle (Concord) 21-9
(NR) Dorsey (Los Angeles) 14-14*
(NR) Fremont (Los Angeles) 22-9
(NR) Heritage Christian (Northridge) 13-16
(NR) James Logan (Union City) 20-7
(NR) Jesuit (Carmichael) 22-8
(NR) JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 18-9
(NR) Leuzinger (Lawndale) 19-9
(37) Menlo School (Atherton) 25-4
(24) Oak Park 21-7
(21) Pasadena 25-8
(NR) Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 20-7*
(NR) Roosevelt (Eastvale) 25-4
(NR) Santa Monica 15-12
(NR) St. Joseph (Alameda) 22-11
(32) Taft (Woodland Hills) 27-10
(NR) Tesoro (Las Flores) 17-10
(NR) Windward (Los Angeles) 17-11
To check out the teams we ranked from No. 1 to No. 15, CLICK HERE.