All-State Boys BB: Best of the Best 2022

Joseph “JoJo” Hunter of Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (left) will go down as one of the best players ever from the CIF Central Section. At right is St. Mary’s-bound guard and four-year standout Aidan Mahaney of Moraga Campolindo. Yes, he won’t be going very far to college. Photos: theseasonticket.com & Willie Eashman / Cal-Hi Sports.


Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Donovan Dent plus State Junior of the Year Jared McCain of CIF Open Division state champion Corona Centennial and NorCal Player of the Year Aidan Mahaney of Moraga Campolindo headline the 43rd annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state boys basketball teams. Go inside to see why these 10 have finished their careers as First Team Overall honorees out of the thousands who played during 2021-22 season.

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RELATED All-State Boys Basketball All-State Teams:
2nd & 3rd Team Overall/Elite (Gold Club) | Underclass (Gold Club) | All-State by Divisions | All-Time Regional POYs

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Our all-state hoops patch for this year is now available to order at BillyTees.com. Patches also come with a certificate to further recognize the achievement.

To order a commemorative, official All-State Basketball patch for those who’ve been named to one of our all-state teams for the 2022 season, go to THIS LINK at BillyTees.com. The special link has been set up for all-state basketball patches. Billy Tees has been the official merchandiser of the CIF for many years.

2022 CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-STATE
ELITE BOYS BASKETBALL TEAMS

FIRST TEAM OVERALL

G – Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-5 Sr.
Last season’s Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball choice, Bailey had an opportunity to join the likes of John Williams, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Aaron Gordon and Onyeka Okongwu as a two-time honoree in the 40-year era of CIF state championships. He ended up playing a fragmented season, as did many Sierra Canyon players. Coach Andre Chevalier juggled multiple lineups and finished with a 26-5 mark and ranked No. 2 in the state. Bailey missed many games early but closed strong, averaging 18.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.9 apg in 15 games. In the national all-star games, he also looked like one of the better talents in the nation, scoring 15 points in the Jordan Brand Classic and 10 in both the McDonald’s Game and Nike Hoop Summit. A four-year standout, the most incredible statistic associated with Bailey is how many teammates he had at Sierra Canyon who will eventually log minutes in the NBA, which will be by far the highest total in state history when it’s all said and done.

Sierra Canyon’s Amari Bailey has been one of the most watched players in California since a spectacular dunk he had as a freshman during CIF Open Division state final. He will be fun to watch at his next stop: UCLA. Photo: Brandon Johnson/Ballislife.


F – Miles Byrd (Lincoln, Stockton) 6-6 Sr.
The first thing that jumps out about Byrd is how versatile he was for the Trojans the past three seasons and how many different scenarios he excelled in for a competitive team. Whether it was creating his own shot off the dribble in a close game or coming up with a big rebound or defensive play on the interior, the San Diego Sttate recruit had to be accounted for at all times. As a senior, he averaged 17.2 ppg (31 percent 3-point FG, 80 percent FT), 5.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.1 spg and 1.1 bpg for a 26-6 team that finished ranked No. 29 in the state. Byrd led his team to a share of the TCAL title with NorCal Open champ Modesto Christian and he was named league MVP. A three-time all-TCAL choice, Byrd finished his three-year career averaging 15.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.7 spg and 1.4 bpg while Lincoln went 58-11. The son of 1989 D1 State Player of the Year Calvin Byrd (Alameda St. Joseph), the younger Byrd was MVP at the Mark Gallo Tournament and all-tourney at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.

G – Donovan Dent (Centennial, Corona) 6-2 Sr.
Now, Dent is not a ridiculous McDonald’s All-American snub the way Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills was in 2019 or Kawhi Leonard in 2009, but perhaps no player in the country elevated his All-American status as much as the Huskies’ New Mexico-bound point guard. Dent averaged 16.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.7 apg and 1.9 spg for a 33-1 team that only lost to national No. 1 Duncanville (Texas). The two-time CIF Southern Section Open Division co-Player of the Year will appear in the final Top 100 of a national ranking we have influence on and has been around since 1983-84 (Hoop Scoop) and like Leonard 13 years ago, many bigger colleges wished they had pursued Dent harder. Regardless of how his Lobos’ career shakes out, there is no denying his impact on the state’s best team the past two seasons. He closed out his career, which began on lower level teams as a freshman, with clutch plays in the CIF open state title game win over Modesto Christian and is Centennial’s first-ever Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year selection after moving up from the second team overall as a junior.

G – Joseph Hunter (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 6-4 Sr.
This high-scoring guard joins Sierra Canyon’s Amari Bailey as the only returnees off last season’s first team and he was seriously considered for Mr. Basketball honors. Last season, Hunter averaged 24.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.4 apg and 2.2 spg and he was markedly better this season. “JoJo” had multiple 40-point games and broke Memorial’s single game scoring record held by 1971 Mr. Basketball Roscoe Pondexter (52 points) with a 54-point performance vs. Madera South. He finished his senior campaign with averages of 31.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 4.0 apg, including 37 and 49 in two CIF Central Section open playoff games. Hunter was named the County/Metro League MVP for the third consecutive season and in four years led SJM to a 39-1 league mark. As a freshman, he played alongside the Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green and scored 2,335 career points, only 15 shy of Green’s school record accomplished in three seasons. Of course, the spring 2021 CIF campaign cut down on his total games, as he also missed three games this year due to COVID-19 protocols and one in his career due to injury. One of the most accomplished players and best scorers in section history, Hunter made Valley basketball fans happy when he decided to stay home and play at Fresno State.

Koat Keat was a dominant presence for Crean Lutheran during the 2021 spring season and again this season. Photo: OCSportsZone.com.


F – Koat Keat (Crean Lutheran, Irvine) 6-9 Sr.
Capping an honors filled career by earning player of the year honors from the Orange County Register, Keat’s other main feat was leading Crean Lutheran to its first ever berth in the CIFSS open division playoffs. The Saints’ season didn’t close as the team expected, but they still finished ranked No. 8 in the state behind Keat’s terrific all-around play. He could score inside, face up, block shots, rebound and pass well, and had to be accounted for by defenses at all times. Keat finished with averages of 17 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 bpg and 2 spg and even though his individual numbers went down from his junior season (20 ppg, 15 rpg), the team was much better. A first team all-CIFSS open division choice and Empire League co-MVP with sophomore teammate Vyctorius Miller, Keat moves on to UC Santa Barbara as a two-time all-state selection and two-time CIFSS divisional player of the year. The talented forward was the CIFSS D2AA Player of the Year last season when the Saints won the title over Agoura (22 pts, 16 rbs, 6 asts). As a sophomore when he played at Renaissance Academy (which is no longer part of the CIF), Keat was the top player in the CIFSS D4AA ranks.

G – Aidan Mahaney (Campolindo, Moraga) 6-2 Sr.
It seems like many moons ago when Mahaney was leading Campo to the 2019 CIF D2 state title when he averaged 15.8 ppg and earned State Freshman Player of the Year honors. Because of COVID-19, it definitely was a long time ago and during the outbreak in March 2020, Mahaney led the Cougars to the D1 state title game right before the season shut down. During the shutdown, Mahaney had a hard time, but it wasn’t due to the virus but a lingering leg injury that forced him to miss all but six games his junior season. Campo still went unbeaten (15-0) and was even better during his senior campaign. He averaged 19.4 ppg as a sophomore, and even though his scoring average went down as a senior (17.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.9 apg), Mahaney finally got healthy and led the veteran club to a national ranking and all the way to the NorCal open final where it fell in heartbreaking fashion to Modesto Christian. Mahaney ended his season with 27 points, five rebounds and three assists and his career with 1,648 points while averaging 16.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.2 spg in his four-year career. A two-time Bay Area Player of the Year, the St. Mary’s-bound standout is also our Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Player of the Year, the first from the East Bay since James Akinjo of Richmond Salesian in 2018.

G – Jared McCain (Centennial, Corona) 6-2 Jr.
Last season when the Huskies won their first CIFSS open crown, we decided to put two Centennial players on the elite team, with junior Donovan Dent and sophomore Kylan Boswell on second 10. Even though he made all-state underclass, that left the sweet-shooting guard off the elite team and it gave McCain plenty of motivation, especially with Boswell moving on to another program. McCain responded and helped Centennial to an even more dominant season, leading the team in scoring (16.8 ppg) while adding 4.8 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.4 spg as Centennial only lost one game and captured both CIFSS and state open titles. That dominance helped McCain land on the first team, fellow junior Devin Williams on the third team and realistically he wasn’t too far behind Dent for Mr. Basketball honors. McCain was named the state’s top junior and joined Dent on the L.A. Times’ 10-man All-Star squad. McCain has a magnetic personality and a large social media following, but on the court he’s ultra-competitive and in addition to being one of the country’s best shooters, the timing of his big shots also put daggers in Centennial’s opponents. On top of his clutch gene, McCain is also terrific percentage-wise, shooting over 41 percent from 3-point range and just under 90 percent from the foul line for a team that completely dominated in-state foes.

G – Jamari Phillips (Modesto Christian) 6-4 Soph.
The best player on the NorCal open championship club, Phillips was elevated to the first team after being named the Modesto Bee Player of the Year. He wasn’t league player of the year but it could have been him in a selection includes fellow first-teamer Miles Bird of Stockton Lincoln, who was surrounded by less talented teammates and includes career accolades for the senior. There is no question Phillips could have one of the greatest individual careers in Sac Joaquin Section history if he stays the course after draining 115 3-pointers for the state’s No. 3 ranked team. The sophomore state player of the year, Phillips finished the season averaging 41 percent from 3-point range and scoring 23.5 ppg to go along with 5 rpg and 3 apg. A spectacular scorer, he’s one of the nation’s best recruits in the 2024 class and the scary thing is he’s getting better as he continues to compete against other top players on the travel circuit while developing his lead guard skills. Phillips had 22 points in the Sac Joaquin Section D1 title game win over NorCal power Sheldon and was the team’s leading scorer (20 points) in the loss to Corona Centennial in the CIF open title game.

R.J. Smith drives the lane for Damien during CIF D1 state final. He will play next at Colorado. Photo: Samuel Stringer / Cal-Hi Sports.


G – R.J. Smith (Damien, La Verne) 6-3 Sr.
This Colorado-bound guard was a team-first oriented star who could have put up bigger individual accolades, but sacrificed for the betterment of a team that was one of the state’s best. Not flashy or one who relies on athleticism, Smith is solid in every aspect of the game and not sub-par at any aspect of it. On a balanced team that had four players score between 14 and 15 ppg, Smith netted 15 ppg, 7 rpg and 5 apg for a Spartans’ club that captured the CIF D1 state crown after bouncing back from a 1-2 mark in the CIFSS open division playoffs. Smith had 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in the state title game win over Clovis North and leaves for Boulder as the program’s leader in wins (112) while scoring 1,777 points (3rd best), grabbing 824 rebounds (2nd best) and collecting 260 steals (best) in his career. Named to the L.A. Times All-Star team and first team all-CIFSS open division, Smith was also named Player of the Year by the San Gabriel Valley Union-Tribune. His young sister Kennedy is a standout at Etiwanda, the program Damien tied with for the Baseline League title after the Eagles had captured it alone for four consecutive seasons.

F – Dusty Stromer (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 6-7 Jr.
One of the state’s most talented offensive players, Stromer is going to choose between Arizona, Gonzaga, Houston or UCLA for college. One of those lucky schools will be getting a wing who can knock down open shots, get to the basket and commands plenty of defensive attention. On a team that featured Creighton-bound Ben Shtolzberg and advanced to the CIFSS open division playoffs, Stromer was the leading scorer (20.1 ppg) and rebounder (6.4 rpg) and added 1.4 spg and 0.9 bpg. For his efforts, Stromer was named to the L.A. Times All-Star team, the all-CIFSS Open team and named Player of the Year by the L.A. Daily News. Being named Mission League Player of the Year also is another feather in his hat that helped him in earning first team honors statewide.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

Note: Co-founder Mark Tennis contributed to this report.


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