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Congratulations to the following five players who have been chosen as finalists for the 2020 selection as Mr. Basketball in California. This is also the Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year, which dates back to 1905 and includes Lonzo Ball, Tyson Chandler, Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd, Bill Walton, Paul Silas, Jim Pollard and Hank Luisetti as previous winners.
(All listed in alphabetical order)
(Sheldon, Sacramento) 6-8 Sr.
This talented forward, who will play next at Arizona State, is in a unique situation because he’s by far one of the most talented players in the state and Sheldon was a different level club when he was on the floor. The problem is he turned his ankle in a double overtime win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana and missed some time with injury or simply sitting out. He did play in just enough games to qualify for our overall elite All-State team and that makes him a Mr. Basketball finalist as well.
After averaging 19.9 ppg and 7.9 rebounds per game as a junior for the NorCal open champs, Bagley hit a game-winning shot in a 59-58 win over Dublin to put the nationally-ranked Huskies back in the NorCal open title game. The season then was cancelled thereafter by Covid-19 and the Huskies were unable to defend their NorCal title. The younger brother of the Sacramento Kings’ Marvin Bagley (a 2017 Mr. Basketball finalist at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth), Marcus was named MVP of the Battlezone Tournament, had 35 of Sheldon’s 48 points in a win over eventual L.A. City Section champ Westchester and averaged 22.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg. He also had 27 in that win over Dublin.
Brandon Boston Jr. (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-7 Sr.
This smooth and talented forward burst onto the scene in his only season in California (similar to Marvin Bagley at the same school) and led Sierra Canyon to the state’s No. 1 ranking for the third consecutive season. Boston was a highly-regarded transfer from Norcross, Ga., first making made noise in the Golden State when he was one of the top performers at the 2018 Pangos All-American Camp as a rising junior.
For the 2018-19 season, Brandon was named an underclass All-American by ballislife.com and came up big for the nationally-ranked Trailblazers as a senior. Before fellow Mr. Basketball finalist Ziaire Williams became eligible on December 30, Boston carried the load offensively for a team that did not lose a game in that time. When a deep and talented team added a talent like Williams, it changed the rotation and allotted minutes, but Boston was the one constant in the lineup with his ability to change ends and hit big shots. On the year, Boston led Sierra Canyon with 20.8 ppg while adding 7.0 rpg, 2.6 apg and 2.1 spg for a 30-4 team. He’s headed for Kentucky.
Josh Christopher (Mayfair, Lakewood) 6-4 Sr.
As a Mr. Basketball finalist, it’s already certain this powerful and agile shooting guard will move up from the second 10 as a junior to the first 10 on the Elite All-State team.
Christopher has been a well-known commodity in SoCal basketball circles since middle school, and lived up to his advanced billing and improved his game each season. This season, Christopher was more dominant on the boards and could overpower teams defensively by jumping passing lanes, outmuscling smaller guards or coming up with key blocked shots.
Mayfair played a national schedule, and despite an overall won-loss record that Monsoons’ fans wish had a few less “L’s”, Christopher did all he could in an attempt to win games with big shots or plays. For the season, the McDonald’s All-American averaged 29.4 ppg while shooting 49 percent from the field, grabbed 11.2 rpg to go along with 4.4 apg, 3.5 spg, and 1.7 bpg. Christopher is still undecided about college and his eventual choice will be huge nationally.
(Rancho Christian, Temecula) 7-0 Sr.
Last year’s Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year had another monster campaign for the Eagles and is truly one of the elite players in the country. In fact, nobody who’s followed his career closely expects him to be at USC for more than one season. His older brother Isaiah Mobley (now a USC freshman) was a two-time all-stater and Evan be a repeat first 10 selection when our annual all-state team is released in April.
Against a schedule that was clearly one of the nation’s best, the agile 7-foot center led Rancho Christian to a FAB 50 ranking for a majority of the season and to a 22-8 record. Against defenses designed to slow him down, Mobley averaged 19 ppg, 12 rpg, 4 apg, 4 bpg, and led the Eagles in all four of those statistical categories. While he’s not the consensus No. 1 prospect in the nation and some evaluators would love to see him become more physically aggressive, he still did some things athletically we haven’t seen from a 7-footer in California since two-time Mr. Basketball Tyson Chandler of Compton Dominguez 20 years ago. He was selected to both the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American Games, although neither will be played this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ziaire Williams (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-8 Sr.
Last season, when Williams was at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, he was named third 10 all-state but we stated then he’d be a serious Mr. Basketball candidate as a senior. That’s exactly what happened although the circumstances surrounding his candidacy changed.
After missing time due to injury as a sophomore, Williams once again missed a chunk of the season after his transfer over to the two-time defending CF open champs, but with his talent level and production we couldn’t ignore him as a finalist and he joins teammate Brandon Boston Jr. as one of them.
Williams’ first game for Sierra Canyon came in a state No. 1 vs. No. 2 affair versus Rancho Christian. He made up for lost time by scoring 28 points in the close loss. Williams did have some moments where he appeared rushed offensively trying to make up for lost time on a loaded team, but the undecided Top 10 national recruit saved his best moment for last, hitting a left elbow jumper at the buzzer to down state No. 2 Etiwanda, 63-61, in the SoCal open final in what turned out to be the final game of the season. Williams ended up appearing in 21 games for the top-ranked Trailblazers and averaged 15 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, and 2.4 spg.