Playing The Nickname Game

Two of those on our lists of the best player nicknames in California football & boys basketball history are Iman “Biggie” Marshall of Long Beach Poly and Rejean “Boogie” Ellis of San Diego Mission Bay. Photos: &

From all-time great football players like “Mean” Joe Greene and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch to all-time great basketball players like LeBron “King” James and George “The Ice Man” Gervin, nicknames are a fun part of both sports. Here’s our lists of the best ones we like in California high school history in both sports.

Note: A lot of the nicknames of players from the early years of California high school football and basketball comes from the files of the late Nelson Tennis, founder of Cal-Hi Sports who compiled five state record books from 1980 to 2004. We didn’t list all of the ones we have in our vast files, just the ones we felt were the best or most memorable. If you have any to add that you think are just as strong, feel free to leave a comment below.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free story on All of the actual state records in football and basketball are now updated on our site through the 2019-20 school year and are for our Gold Club members only. We are currently working on adding baseball and softball. All-time greatest team rankings for boys and girls hoops coming soon also will be Gold Club. To sign up for as little as 6.8 cents per day, CLICK HERE.

Great Football Player
Nicknames Over The Years

2020 – Akil “The Missile” Mahasin (San Mateo Serra) RB (Soph.)

2020 – Deville “The Joker” Dickerson (Lompoc) DB (Jr.)

2019 – Justin “Baby Man” Flowe (Upland) LB

Justin Flowe of Upland was being called “Baby Man” even before he began playing as a varsity player. Photo:

2018 – Kayvon “Diesel” Thibodeaux (Westlake Village Oaks Christian) DE

2017 – Josh “Savage” Brown (Long Beach Poly) LB

2015 – Najee “Baby Huey” Harris (Antioch) RB

2015 – Iman “Biggie” Marshall (Long Beach Poly) DB

2014 – John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach Poly) WR

2009 – “The Black Momba” De’Anthony Thomas (Los Angeles Crenshaw) RB

2004 – Rey “Freka from Eureka” Maualuga (Eureka) LB

1998 – Lawrence “Taco” Wallace (Woodland Hills Taft) WR

1996 – Zimbalist “Slash” Carter (Riverside Poly) WR

1991 – James “Scoody” Woods (San Fernando) DB

1988 – Errol “Quicksilver” Sapp (Carson) RB

1987 – Chris “Yogi” Ybarra (Fontana) OL-DL

1986 – Leonard “8 Ball” Russell (Long Beach Poly) RB

1983 – Elbert “Ickey” Woods (Fresno Edison) RB

1978 – Clemont “Hit Man” Williams (Carson) DB

1977 – Stanley “The Steamer” Wilson (Wilmington Banning) RB

1976 – James “Boots” Davis (San Francisco Balboa) OL

1974 – Myron “Miracle” White (Santa Ana Valley) RB

1970 – Gene “Wheatie” Tavernetti (Gonzales) RB

1967 – Bob “Big Man” Pointer (Santa Barbara) OL (he weighed 447 pounds)

1966 – Stan “Touchdown” Brown (Richmond Salesian) RB

1965 – Gitlun “King” Kong (Santa Ana) RB

1963 – Earl “The Pearl” McCullouch (Long Beach Poly) WR

1962 – Steve “Grady the Great” Grady (Los Angeles Loyola) RB

1958 – Mitch “The Horse” Dimkich (Los Angeles Wilson) RB

1956 – Willie “Suitcase” Simpson (Bakersfield) RB

1955 – John “Go Go” Gomez (Oceanside) RB

1950 – Jim “Triple” Decker (San Pedro) RB

1947 – Buddy “Choo Choo” Traina (Palo Alto) RB

1945 – Merrill “The Magnificent” Peacock (San Francisco Poly) RB

1943 – “Terrible” Ted Tannehill (Oroville) RB

1931 – Joe “El Gato” Aprato (Los Angeles Lincoln) RB

1929 – Frank “Toady” Greene (Coronado) RB

1927 – Frank “Ham” Burger (San Mateo) FB

1926 – Arden “Pile Driver” Post (Los Angeles Poly) QB

Great Boys Basketball Player
Nicknames Over The Years

2019 – Onyeka “Big O” Okongwu (Chino Hills) C

2019 – Rejean “Boogie” Ellis (San Diego Mission Bay) G

2019 – Sedrick “Agent Zero” Altman (Ontario Colony) G

2019 – Edward “Squid” Turner (Bakersfield Foothill) C

Edward Turner led Foothill of Bakersfield to the CIF D5 state title in 2019. Photo:

2018 – Michael “Uber” Wang (Santa Ana Mater Dei) F

2018 – Zekiah “Bumpy” LoVett (Redondo Beach Redondo Union) G

2017 – Zafir “World War Z” Williams (Long Beach Poly) F

2017 – Li’Angelo “Gelo” Ball (Chino Hills) G

2017 – La’Melo “Melo” Ball (Chino Hills) G (Soph.)

2016 – Lonzo “Zo” Ball (Chino Hills) G

2016 – Terrell “Go Go” Gomez (Inglewood) G

2015 – Bennie “Buckets” Boatwright (Sun Valley Village Christian) F

2015 – Rodrick “High Soaring Eagle” Williams (Los Angeles Price) F

2015 – Jeffrey “Mad Dogg” McClendon (Palmdale Eastside) G

2014 – Isaiah “Easy Money” Bailey (Compton) F

2013 – Kris “Turkish Mamba” Yanku (Woodland Hills Taft) G

2009 – Renardo “Suge” Sidney (L.A. Fairfax) C

2003 – Leon “The Show” Powe (Oakland Tech) F/C

2002 – Eugene “Pooh” Jeter (Gardena Serra) G

1999 – James “Mookie” Wright (L.A. Manual Arts) G

1998 – Deon “Popeye” Green (Los Angeles) F

1998 – Jeremiah “Carnival” King (El Cerrito) G

1997 – Kevin “Bean” Bradley (Los Angeles Crenshaw) G

1996 – Olujimi “Magic” Mann (Santa Ana Valley) 1996

1995 – Raymond “Circus” King (El Cerrito) G

1994 – Tommie “Tank” Davis (Los Angeles Crenshaw) G

1993 – Darnell “Tank” Robinson (Emeryville Emery) C

1992 – James “Gumby” Gray (Los Angeles Westchester) G

1991 – Michael “The Exterminator” Tate (Los Angeles Fremont) C

1990 – Brent “Bones” Barry (Concord De La Salle) G

1989 – Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner (Inglewood) G

1986 – Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell (Oakland McClymonds) G

1985 – “Jumpin'” Joey Johnson (Wilmington Banning) F

1982 – Rick “Slick” Blizzard (Carmichael La Sierra) F

1982 – Eldridge “El Hud” Hudson (Carson) F

1982 – Clyde “Scootie” Rivers (Victorville Victor Valley) G

1980 – Ralph “Action” Jackson (Inglewood) G

1979 – Lew “The Glue” Woolridge (Oakland Castlemont) G

1977 – “Marvelous” Marvin Deloatch (Novato) F

1963 – Kevin “The Ox” Hardy (Oakland St. Elizabeth) C

1960 – Tom “Lethal” Dose (Glendale) F/G

1960 – “Jumpin” Joe Caldwell (Los Angeles Fremont) F

1959 – Charles “Cha Cha” McKinney (Oakland McClymonds) G

1958 – Billy “The Hill” McGill (Los Angeles Jefferson) F

1940 – Mushy “Hi-Yo” Silver (San Francisco Washington) G

Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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