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 Clovis West and includes the rest of these teams down to No. 40 Rancho Cucamonga, plus a list of 21 more teams that just missed.
Note: Almost all of our new weekly rankings this upcoming season will be posts for our Gold Club members. This subscription is still just pennies per day and signing up in the preseason is a great time to do it. If you like this free post, that’s great. Consider it a sample of what we do every week for Gold Club members. For details how to join our team today, CLICK HERE.
To check out the teams we ranked from No. 1 to No. 15, CLICK HERE.
16. (9) Clovis West (Fresno) 31-2
This team wasn’t ranked in the preseason last year, but with its never-say-die attitude and the famous dribble drive motion offense of head coach Vance Walberg, the Golden Eagles had a terrific season. They ended up capturing the CIF Central Section Open Division crown and only lost to NorCal open champ Modesto Christian at full strength. Clovis West is dinged a bit because it has no size whatsoever in comparison to the state’s elite teams, but will still be competitive with its trademark full-court pressure and could be really dangerous if the outside shooting is consistent. Isaac Martinez (5-11, Sr.) was co-MVP of the TRAC after averaging 15.5 ppg and 3.0 spg with his blood-and-guts attitude and crafty ball-handling. He was a second team all-state underclass choice, as was Jackson Young (6-1, Jr.), who averaged 12.3 ppg and 3.7 apg. Marshel Sanders (6-1, Jr.) is a terrific athlete and quality defender, while big things are expected from D.J. Stickman (6-1, So.). What you see is what you get from this team and it won’t beat itself and also knows how to come from behind to win, erasing deficits of 22, 20, and 17 points vs. playoff teams last season. The Golden Eagles hope to win a division of the Tarkanian Classic once again and will compete at the Modesto Christian Tournament after Christmas.
17. (19) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 23-6
After a 17-1 2021 CIF spring season, Mitty was the favorite to capture the CIF Central Coast Section open and West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) titles in 2021-22. Head coach Tim Kennedy (304-112) had a talented club that played up to preseason expectations by winning the WCAL crown, but it lost to San Francisco Riordan in the CCS open title game after defeating that team twice during the regular season. It then fell in its next game to Modesto Christian in the NorCal open playoffs. This season, Mitty could be a bit better with a terrific combination of size, rebounding and defense. It begins with Princeton-bound Derek Sangster (15.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.0 apg), one of the state’s best forwards and an unselfish talent. Gavin Ripp (6-7, Jr.) has made tremendous strides and Eric Brown (6-7, Sr.) will be playing at the next level as well. Kennedy is looking for some consistent shooting from all-WCAL guard Tyler Jones (6-2, Jr.) and Nathan Noronha (6-1, Jr.), the latter a member of Portugal’s FIBA 16U team who is primed for a big season. If Mitty can replace the sharpshooting of WCAL POY Aidan Burke, it will have a good chance to move up from this spot.
18. (33) Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 20-4
The Eagles played to the level expected of them in the preseason last year and are expected to be a notch better and challenge No. 7 Mater Dei in the Trinity League. Head coach Justin Bell’s team also has an upgraded schedule and will participate at both the Tarkanian Classic and The Classic at Damien before the turn of the New Year. Northern Arizona-bound Rockwell Reynolds could be Trinity League Player of the Year with a big season and he has a terrific cast of veterans and newcomers surrounding him. Cameron Mercadel (6-0, Jr.) is quick and talented in the backcourt and Cameron McNamee (6-7, Jr.) should make an impact up front. Transfers Preston Lee (6-0, Jr.) and Dallas Washington (6-7, So.) also could take this team to the next level after Washington gets eligible following the 30-day sit-out period. Bell also will find a spot for Brayden Kyman (6-6, Fr.), one of the state’s best scorers and shooters in the freshman class and the younger brother of former Santa Margarita all-state standout Jake Kyman (Wyoming). Similar to the teams in the Mission League, there is a fine line from qualifying into the CIFSS open playoffs and facing an uphill battle by finishing third in league play.
19. (NR) Dublin 16-8
The East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) is similar to what fans see in the Mission and Trinity Leagues in SoCal and the Gaels rate as the slight league favorite over No. 20 De La Salle and No. 24 Granada. Last season, Dublin won the EBAL regular season crown but saw its season come to an end earlier than expected in the CIF North Coast Section D1 playoffs. The EBAL champ will be the section open favorites and with Courtney Anderson (6-5, Sr.) returning, coach Tom Costello likes his team’s chances. He was a second team all-state underclass choice after averaging 20.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg, while talented Jalen Stokes (6-4, Fr.) was on the all-state freshman team with a 8.0 ppg mark. Anderson can play up front or step outside as a big shooting guard, while Donovan Cooks (6-1, Sr.) and Mehki Thomas (6-3, Sr.) provide valuable leadership and talent to the backcourt. As a duo, they combined to net 21 ppg during their junior campaign. Last season, Dublin had some COVID-19 issues that kept it out of The Classic at Damien, so Costello hopes his team has a nice post-Christmas present this season and peaks entering the post-season.
20. (21) De La Salle (Concord) 22-6
We overlooked head coach Marcus Schroeder’s club in his first season at the helm last year, but won’t make that mistake in his second year as the Spartans have a strong nucleus off a club that advanced to the first ever CIF North Coast Section Open Division title game (where it fell to NorCal open finalist Campolindo). It begins with wing Alec Blair (6-5, So.), the top freshman in the Bay Area last season and one of the best players in his class in the West Region. Bill Haggerty (6-3, Sr.) and Evan Wells (6-5, Sr.) are senior leaders who can play multiple roles, while Arshawn Salkhi (6-2, Jr.) is a terrific knock-down shooter and can put the ball on the floor as well. Schroeder expects big things from Ibrahim Monawar (6-0, Fr.) on a team that enters the season with positive momentum after performing well and capturing a division title at the Section 7 live scholastic period event in Arizona over the summer.
The Next 20
21. (11) Poly (Riverside) 26-3
The Bears were one of the unfortunate CIFSS clubs placed in the 32-team CIFSS D1 bracket, after the top eight teams were picked for open division pool play, and knocked out in the second or quarterfinal round. Poly fell to No. 8 St. Bernard in the quarters and was the best team in the state that didn’t play in the regionals. The Bears have what it takes to go far in the CIFSS postseason this time with three returning starters, led by Brayden Burries (6-4, So.), last year’s Ivy League MVP while averaging 19.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 3.7 apg in his first year of high school ball. First year coach Travis Showalter has another honors candidate in sharpshooter Issac Williamson (5-11, So.) and a glue type in Kory Dodson (6-5, So.), the son of outgoing head coach Yancy Dodson. Big things are also expected in the future of J’Rob Croy (6-1, Fr.).
22. (25) Etiwanda 21-7
The 2021 SoCal open champs during the CIF spring season had high aspirations last season and started out No. 5 in the state. That was simply too high for a team with mostly underclassmen, but this season could be much different if the veterans show improvement. Head coach Dave Kleckner (685-209) has plenty of depth and always has good defensive players. There is also a potential star-in-the-making in Zion Booker (6-6, So.), who moves up from the Clamp City JV club. Alton Hamilton (6-6, Sr.) does the dirty work up front while Amaree Campbell (5-11, Jr.), Jeremy Williams (6-2, Jr.), Channing Cade (6-5, Sr.) and Carrington Pierce (6-1, Jr.) all come with talent and experience. The key to the season will be the improvement of Jimmy Baker (6-1, Sr.) and Curtis Williams (6-7, Sr.), both who are coming off ho-hum summers and want to prove they are still among the SoCal elites in the 2023 class.
23. (24) JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 20-11
It displayed the strength of the Trinity League last year when JSerra went 4-6 in league play only to advance to the CIFSS D1 title game, where it fell to No. 8 St. Bernard. Head coach Keith Wilkinson (82-40) returns three starters and seven lettermen and has two newcomers that could help this team challenge for the league title. Sebastian Rancik (6-9, Jr.) not only has the ability to be the league’s best player, he might be one of the state’s best players, period, with his all-around ability. Aidan Fowler (5-10, Jr.) takes over at the point for the graduated Rob Diaz and is capable of all-league honors, while E.J. Bryson (6-3, Sr.) and Sergio Maggette (6-4, Jr.) are developing off-guards who can shoot and are unselfish. Miles Song (6-3, Sr.) comes over from Servite and is highly-regarded, while Capo Valley Christian transfer Athian Athian (6-7, Sr.) will be eligible after the 30-day sit out period. Athian won’t be available for the CDM Beach Bash or Tarkanian Classic, but will be for the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, where JSerra will do battle with the likes of nationally ranked St. John’s of Washington, D.C., No. 11 St. Augustine, No. 12 San Ysidro and No. 17 Mitty, among others.
24. (NR) Granada (Livermore) 17-9
The Matadors look to challenge No. 19 Dublin and No. 20 De La Salle in the EBAL and have a terrific 1-2 punch to make the league a three-horse race with Dougherty Valley of San Ramon also in the mix. St. Mary’s-bound Andrew McKeever (6-11, Sr.) is a load in the middle and will be even more effective with the arrival of Tyler Harris (6-7, Sr.) from Salesian. Harris wants to develop his perimeter skill level more than play in the interior and if he’s successful and blends well with the veterans, this team could be on the move up. Nate Keaney (6-1, Sr.) also will look to keep defenses honest from the perimeter for head coach Quaran Johnson. He’s also high on NaVaughn Long (6-5, Jr.)
25. (NR) Salesian (Richmond) 13-9
Last season, the Pride had a near month-long COVID-19 pause after participating in the Tarkanian Classic and were a bit inconsistent because of it. Salesian rebounded to capture the North Coast Section D2 title, but this season it hopes to show more continuity and qualify for the NCS open division playoffs. The Pride certainly has the talent to make the open with veterans such as the underrated Emerson Jones (6-7, Sr.), Amani Johnson (6-3, Jr.), Eric Watson Jr. (6-3, Sr.) and Alvin Loving IV (6-3, So.). Johnson was named second team all-state underclass and Loving is highly-regarded in his class as well. Veteran head coach Bill Mellis also received a nice off-season gift when talented guard Aaron Claytor (6-3, Jr.) transferred in from Iolani in Hawaii.
26. (18) Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 21-9
The Crusaders are the defending CIF Central Coast Section open champs and if we knew for 100 percent certain all-state performer King Jhsanni-Wilhite (6-1, Sr.) was back in the fold, they’d be in the range they finished last season or higher. The San Francisco Chronicle Metro POY is that much of a difference-maker who averaged 23.3 ppg in WCAL and post-season play. King has played with an out-of-state prep school program in recent days. Head coach Joey Curtin does have other talent at his disposal in veteran Christian Wise (6-6, Sr.) and talented Jasir Rencher (6-5, So.). The Crusaders’ faithful also will love the talent of Alex Kuminga (6-7, Fr.), the younger brother of the Golden State Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga, and Nathan Tshamala (6-5, Jr.), Kuminga’s cousin, not to mention Lolo Taaga (6-9, Jr.) and Kai Beeridge (6-3, Jr.).
27. (NR) Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 11-16
It’s a similar situation for the Mustangs as it stands with No. 26 Riordan with regards to a key player. As of press time, there is still no official word if top-notch scorer Ben Roseborough (6-4, Jr.) will be eligible in 2022-23 after transferring over from Prolific Prep. If it was certain he was eligible, this team would begin No. 19 or No. 20. There also won’t be a sit out period according to head coach Robert Fields. Either the CIF Sac Joaquin Section will grant Roseborough eligibility or he’ll be moving on and would leave for a situation in which he can play this season. Sitting out just will not be an option for him. Even if the prolific scorer doesn’t play, Monterey Trail will still be a challenger to No. 3 Modesto Christian for the Sac Joaquin Section D1 crown. Long Beach St.-bound Verrick Lewis (6-3, Sr.) is one of the best combo guards in NorCal and Kentrell Kelly (6-6, Jr.) is a hard-working inside player. Brandon Gibson Jr. (6-4, Jr.) also gives a shot in the arm to a team looking to drastically improve last year’s overall won-loss record.
28. (NR) Narbonne (Harbor City) 22-5
For the second consecutive season, the L.A. City Section (which is 18-1 when one of its units participates in the top division state title game) doesn’t field a team in the preseason Top 25. The Gauchos are the section’s best bet to win the City open crown and move up because of the arrival of Marcus Adams (6-8, Sr.) from a local prep school. Adams is a load inside and can handle the ball in a style similar to Eldridge Hudson, who led Carson to the first CIF state title 40 years ago. He brings along his brother Maximo Adams (6-7, Fr.), still only 14 years old and oozing with potential. Head coach Anthony Hilliard’s club, which opens with No. 23 Etiwanda, also welcomes L.A. Windward transfer Troy Jones (6-0, Sr.) to go along with veteran guards E.J. Andrews (5-9, So.) and Christian Gill (6-0, Sr.).
29. (NR) Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 22-8
Jacob McFarland (6-11, Sr.) is the fastest-rising player in the state and as his fortunes rise, he’s hoping to lead the Mustangs to new heights as well. It’s no surprise to us that it’s finally all come together for this University of Houston-bound shot blocker, but head coach Johnny Dukes has other weapons at his disposal to challenge No. 21 Poly in the Ivy League race. Point guard Jermaine Washington (6-0, Jr.) is one of SoCal’s best in the 2024 class and Anthony Smith Jr. (6-2, Sr.) is a team captain and a highly-regarded athlete.
30. (NR) Oakland 27-4
It’s money time in the proud Oakland Athletic League (OAL) and that means buckets for Montana-bound Money Williams (6-4 Sr.), one of the best scorers in the state (20.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg). He looks to lead the Wildcats on another deep run in the NorCal regionals. Head coach Orlando Watkins has more than just a one-man team, too, as Anthony Lacy (6-5, Jr.) is a three-year veteran and should improve upon his sophomore averages (7.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg). What really gets Watkins excited for this season is the arrivals of transfers James Fitzgerald (6-7, Jr.), Dillian Cooper (6-0, Jr.) and Jimon Campbell (5-5, Sr.).
31. (NR) Pacifica Christian (Newport Beach) 17-13
The Tritons have an impressive roster and should improve their won-loss record greatly. Northwestern-bound Parker Strauss (6-4, Sr.) was an all-CIFSS D2A choice last season. E.J. Spillman (6-2, So.) also is a load at point guard with nifty feet and the physicality of a high school fullback. Head coach Jeff Berokoff has six other lettermen returning, including talented Alex Stewart (6-6, Jr.) and Tanner “Sarge” Deal (6-3, Sr.). A.J. Johnson (6-2, Fr.) is one to watch down the line.
32. (32) Heritage Christian (Northridge) 22-5
The Warriors had an extremely talented team in 2021-22 (starting at No. 11 in these rankings), but didn’t play up to expectations, losing in the CIFSS D1 second round. We’ll start head coach Paul Tait’s club right where it left off last season. A pair of talented sophomores lead the way up front in smooth Dillan Shaw (6-5, So.) and powerful Tae Simmons (6-6, So.), the latter who really came on in fall events. There is a new backcourt led by Gio Goree (5-10. Sr.), last year’s Cal-Hi Sports D3 State Player of the Year at Viewpoint of Calabasas, and Josiah Johnson (5-9, Sr.), an all-League level player from Sheldon of Sacramento. Seven Bahati (6-5, Jr.) also comes over from Donda Academy and can score inside and slash from the perimeter.
33. (40) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 21-8
Ranking as the consensus No. 3 team from the San Diego Section behind St. Augustine and the Border Boyz would be the Mavericks. In fact, they are a dangerous club considering they downed No. 10 St. John Bosco in the SoCal D1 playoffs and lost in overtime to St. Augustine in the San Diego open semifinals. Leading the way is Christian Brown (6-5, Sr.), a good all-around talent who just knows how to win. Ty Hendler (6-4, Sr.) is another honors candidate for head coach David Cassaw.
34. (38) Long Beach Poly
(Long Beach) 22-7
The proud Jackrabbits will look to make noise in the CIFSS D1 ranks after losing in the D2AA final last season and in the semifinals in 2020-21. Jovani Ruff (6-5, So.) is one of the four best 10th-graders in the state, but he’ll need others to step up to keep defenses honest. Young players such as Ryder Maddox (6-4, Jr.), the son of former Compton High standout and NBA draftee Tito Maddox, and Cameron Pitre (6-2, So.) are just two of the underclassmen head coach Shelton Diggs is looking for to make significant strides in order for his club to move up in the rankings.
35. (23) Sheldon (Sacramento) 22-11
The Huskies lost some key cogs, but they are young and hungry to re-join the ranks of NorCal’s best after reaching the top division regional final six times between 2012-2020. Ty Virgil (6-4, Jr.) is a big scorer with a tremendous reputation who is looking to put together a consistent and healthy season. The Huskies’ coaching staff is also extremely high on Jaden Spears (6-4, So.), an athlete with a tremendous wingspan, and Mohammad Singleton (5-11, So.).
36. (NR) Oakland Tech (Oakland) 23-5
Head coach Karega Hart has the top three scorers returning from a team that ousted San Joaquin Memorial from the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs last season before falling to senior-laden Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton. The Bulldogs also won two-of-three games in the OAL over Oakland High. Ahmaree Muhammad (5-10, Sr.) will run show for Tech once again after knocking down 16.7 ppg and gaining third team All-Bay Area honors. There’s also one of the state’s top grid-hoopers in Omar Staples (6-4, Sr.) along with smooth and steady guard Mahlik Smith (6-0, Sr.). Staples is getting numerous D1 college offers in football as a pass rush end, but he’s also a force inside the paint in hoops. He averaged 12.8 ppg last season. Smith wasn’t far behind at 12.1 ppg.
37. (NR) Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 13-12
After Reggie Morris Jr. led L.A. Fairfax to the 2022 L.A. City open title (joining is father as a title-winning coach at the section and state level), he’s back at the program he led to the 2013 CIF D2 state title and a 106-29 record between 2012-16. The Seahawks might start slow, but when Fairfax transfers Hudson Mayes (6-3, So.) and sharpshooter Devin Ringer (6-2, Jr.) get settled in, this team could be dangerous. The best of the veterans are Aidan Kwan (6-4, Sr.) and Vaitai Tuione (6-4, Sr.).
38. (NR) Vanden (Travis AFB) 21-13
The Vikings once again rate as the favorites to capture the CIF Sac Joaquin Section D3 crown after winning it last season. Vanden lost by only one point to eventual D2 state champ Elk Grove and head coach Michael Holloway once again has the roster to make a regional playoff push. Tyler Thompson (6-5, Jr.) was first team all-state underclass and Sterling McClanahan (6-3, Sr.) is a senior leader and honors candidate. Doing the work inside will be Ashan Huff (6-6, Jr.) and Edric Dennis (6-7, Jr.).
39. (NR) San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 23-8
Despite the graduation loss of one of the top players in school history, Joseph Hunter (now at Fresno State), we are starting the Panthers No. 3 in the CIF Central Section after St. Joseph and Clovis West. Part of the reason for that also is the Clovis North standout guard Connor Amundsen already has been lost for the season due to shoulder surgery. All-State Underclass selection Mike Davis (6-6, Sr.) is back and ready to step up into a No. 1 player role. Another solid returnee is guard Scooter Carraway (6-0, Sr.). The real excitement, though, may be the arrival of transfer Julius Olanrewaju (6-5, So.). He was an all-state freshman last season at Coalinga where he dominated the small school competition he faced with 31.2 ppg and 12.9 rebounds.
40. (NR) Rancho Cucamonga 29-7
Point guard Shadale Knight (5-11, Sr.) is one of the most unsung players in the state. He also comes through down-the-stretch, such as with his game-winning points in the Cougars’ win in the closing seconds in last year’s CIFSS D3AA final against Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley). He had 33 points in the team’s CIF SoCal D2 loss to Foothill of Tustin (mostly seniors) and was aided by 18 points from freshman Aaron Glass. Glass (6-3, So.) returns this season as one of the better shooters in the CIFSS. This team will look to challenge No. 22 Etiwanda in the Baseline League.
21 Teams That Just Missed:
(NR) Birmingham (Lake Balboa) 18-9
(NR) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 18-7
(5) Campolindo (Moraga) 28-2
(NR) Canyon (Anaheim) 25-5
(22) Clovis North (Clovis) 22-12
(37) Colony (Ontario) 25-3
(NR) Crossroads (Santa Monica) 13-11
(NR) Fairfax (Los Angeles) 16-7
(NR) Folsom 24-7
(NR) Jesuit (Carmichael) 14-14
(NR) Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 24-5
(NR) Oak Hills (Hesperia) 23-8
(34) Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 21-2
(NR) Roosevelt (Eastvale) 20-8
(20) St. Anthony (Long Beach) 18-9
(31) St. Francis (La Canada) 25-6
(NR) St. Pius X-St. Matthias (Downey) 19-8
(NR) St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 22-11
(16) Village Christian (Sun Valley) 28-5
(NR) Weston Ranch (Stockton) 19-11
(NR) Whitney (Rocklin) 24-9
To check out the teams we ranked from No. 1 to No. 15, CLICK HERE.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores