Mr. Basketball 2023: Husky Repeat

McCain joins a prestigious, historical list of Mr. Basketball State Players of the Year in California that includes Bill Cartwright of Elk Grove (1975), Tyson Chandler of Compton Dominguez (2000 & 2001), Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills (2016) and Jason Kidd of Alameda St. Joseph (1991 & 1992). Graphic: Enrique Velez / EV Four Graphics.

It turned out to be closer than one might have thought with one month to go in the 2023 season, but Jared McCain makes it two in a row for Centennial of Corona having the California Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year. He follows teammate Donovan Dent from last season. He’s just the third all-time honoree who will play at Duke following an outstanding high school career in California.

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The Centennial of Corona boys basketball team had just dispatched Modesto Christian, 78-42, in a showcase game at Sheldon High School in Sacramento last December. For fans around the state, it was a rematch of the 2022 CIF Open Division title game that the Huskies won. For local fans, it was the chance to watch point guard Jared McCain, one of their native sons return home. For young fans in particular, it also was an opportunity to share a selfie or social media moment with a basketball player who had grown in four years from a highly-touted young college prospect to a social media sensation.

McCain raises trophy after team won CIF Open Division state title in 2022 at the Golden 1 Center. Photo: Nick Koza.

After the game, a long line formed inside the Sheldon gym with kids and young adults waiting patiently to get their moment with the Tik-Tok star. Almost lost in the moment was the fact the defending SoCal open champ Huskies just dispatched the defending NorCal open champs and McCain dominated the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Also easily lost in the social media-driven spotlight is how good McCain was this season and the heights he helped the Huskies reach in his final three seasons on the Centennial varsity.

This season the state was home to arguably the three most well-known high school players in the country in McCain, Mikey Williams of San Ysidro and Bronny James of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. McCain not only proved to be the most productive of the trio, but proved to be the best of all of the state’s basketball players and today the Duke-bound point guard has been honored as California Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” the Duke-bound McCain told Cal-Hi Sports from the Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., which will be played on Saturday. “It’s pretty crazy to be considered the best player in the state when there is so much elite talent.”

McCain’s climb to the state’s top individual honor was no accident. In Sacramento, he was a middle school standout and worked hard to improve his game when he and his family moved to the Inland Empire. That work ethic incudes a daily routine of self-care habits that he never breaks regardless of where the game takes him or how many people want to occupy his time. It paid off individually as McCain was selected a McDonald’s All-American and for the U.S. Team in the Nike Hoop Summit. Team-wise, McCain helped take an already successful program to heights never before seen, team-wise, in Inland Empire history. Against stellar competition, McCain helped the Huskies to a 111-12 record over the past four seasons, including that 2022 CIF Open Division state crown.

“I have never seen a freshman as dedicated as he (Jared) was,” said 20-year Centennial head coach Josh Giles. “That commitment to greatness continued throughout his four years. He’s the most self-motivated player I’ve ever been around and has a unique ability to take advantage of opportunities. He understands the moment and always seems to come through when it matters most. When you look at his career, it doesn’t matter if it’s Centennial, Why Not (EYBl Travel club), or USA Basketball…Jared always produces and he always wins.”

McCain followed up on his state title-winning junior season in which he led Centennial in scoring (16.8 ppg) to go along with 4.6 rpg and 2.1 apg by averaging 18.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.0 apg while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the line. The fact Centennial didn’t repeat as CIF open champs (it lost to Harvard-Westlake in the SoCal final) didn’t change the Mr. Basketball pecking order, but it sure made it more interesting. Harvard-Westlake had a terrific unit, and junior guard Trent Perry was considered a finalist for the honor, but individually none of its players would rate higher than McCain. Ironically, it’s a future teammate at Duke that was considered most heavily and can be counted as the official runner-up.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame’s Caleb Foster is a special talent and would have been a fine choice as well. Foster is an explosive guard who led the Knights to the D1 state crown in dominant fashion. Foster was terrific down the stretch of the season, but McCain was a bit more consistent on both ends of the floor from November through March. Foster’s team also lost 10 games and even though Foster outscored McCain, 26-16, McCain made enough plays down the stretch to help his team pull out a 69-60 regular season showcase victory. The two teams played once again in the CIFSS open playoffs and Centennial won going away, 83-63, with each Centennial starter hitting double figures, while Foster had a 17-point fourth quarter to finish with 33 points.

McCain is only the third Mr. Basketball honoree from the state who had signed with the Blue Devils. The only others were all-time career scoring leader DeMarcus Nelson from Sheldon, who was the winner in 2004, and Taylor King from Mater Dei of Santa Ana (2007).

The honors for McCain are just too much to ignore, too. The four-year all-leaguer was named Player of the Year on the L.A. Times All-Star team and is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 choice by the Riverside Press-Enterprise. For the second consecutive year, McCain was on the 10-man L.A. Times All-Star team and named both the CIF Southern Section Open Division Player of the Year and Gatorade State Player of the Year. A year ago, McCain shared the CIFSS player of the year honors with teammate Donovan Dent when he was named State Junior of the Year. McCain was a finalist, but it was his teammate Dent (now at New Mexico) who earned the state’s top honor. McCain is now the eighth consecutive honoree from a CIF Southern Section school.

Jared was a standout at Centennial even as a freshman. Photo:

“I love that it has gone to two Centennial players back-to-back,” McCain said. “Donny is for sure one of my favorite teammates ever. As far as what stands out, I think the obvious one is the game-winning dunk by (Aaron) McBride. But another is that first one we got my sophomore year when Drake and LeBron were sitting courtside at Sierra Canyon. That first one felt surreal.”

That kind of star power also has touched Jared. He has a slew of endorsements afforded to CIF athletes because California’s The Fair Pay to Play Act was passed for its college athletes in September 2019. Popular high school athletes in California no longer have to worry about potential NCAA limitations or rules prohibiting Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deals. He is one who has been able to take advantage.

McCain was a catalyst for a program that won three consecutive CIF Southern Section Open Division titles, the first team to ever do so in the CIF’s open era of the last decade. The last and only other program since 1950 to have two different Mr. Basketball selections in back-to-back seasons is L.A. Westchester 20 years ago with Hassan Adams (2002) and Trevor Ariza (2003). Similar to Centennial, Westchester was a deep and talented program that won at the highest level. Ironically, it was Brandon Heath that was the state junior of the year for Westchester in 2001 when Adams was a junior and Ariza a budding sophomore. The core of Centennial’s current team, which includes UCLA-bound Devin Williams and LMU-bound Aaron McBride, has been dominant since its sophomore season, when Kylan Boswell (who transferred out after the 2021 season) was named state sophomore of the year.

We’d be remiss not to mention the contributions of McBride to Centennial’s winning ways. In fact, he’s one of the most under-appreciated players in the state in recent years and should be considered a finalist as well. His numbers are terrific on a 30-4 team that finished No. 2 in the state (13.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 bpg, 61.3 FG, 35.1 3PT, 84.1 FT) and no one will ever forget his steal and buzzer-beating two-hand dunk that sealed Centennial’s third consecutive CIFSS crown.

“Aaron is the most underrated player I’ve ever been around,” Giles said. “He impacts winning in so many ways. Like Jared and Donnie, he played a major role in changing our culture and taking this program to another level. With all the great players we’ve had; he’s by far the most irreplaceable.”

We have a feeling it won’t be easy to replace McCain, either, nor the success his work ethic and talent led to this season and the past three.


Note: All selections by Cal-Hi Sports; All-time list before 1978 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.

Donovan Dent showed he was going to be a prime contender for Mr. Basketball in the first few weeks of the 2022 season. Photo:

2023 – Jared McCain, Corona Centennial, 6-3 Sr.
2022 – Donovan Dent, Corona Centennial, 6-3 Sr.
2021 – Amari Bailey, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 6-5 Jr.
2020 – Brandon Boston Jr.,
Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 6-8
2019 – Onyeka Okongwu, Chino Hills, 6-9
2018 – Onyeka Okongwu, Chino Hills, 6-9 Jr.
2017 – Ethan Thompson,
Torrance Bishop Montgomery, 6-4
2016 – Lonzo Ball, Chino Hills, 6-6
2015 – Ivan Rabb, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 6-10
2014 – Stanley Johnson, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-6
2013 – Aaron Gordon, San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6-8
2012 – Aaron Gordon,
San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6-8 Jr.
2011 – Ryan Anderson, Long Beach Poly, 6-8
2010 – Allen Crabbe, Los Angeles Price, 6-6
2009 – Kawhi Leonard,
Riverside Martin Luther King, 6-7
2008 – Jrue Holiday,
North Hollywood Campbell Hall, 6-3
2007 – Taylor King, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-8
2006 – Chase Budinger, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon, 6-8
2005 – Amir Johnson, L.A. Westchester, 6-10
2004 – DeMarcus Nelson, Sacramento Sheldon, 6-3
2003 – Trevor Ariza, L.A. Westchester, 6-8
2002 – Hassan Adams, L.A. Westchester, 6-4
2001 – Tyson Chandler, Compton Dominguez, 7-1
2000 – Tyson Chandler, Compton Dominguez, 7-0 Jr.
1999 – Casey Jacobsen, Glendora, 6-6
1998 – Tayshaun Prince, Compton Dominguez, 6-8
1997 – Baron Davis, Santa Monica Crossroads, 6-2
1996 – Corey Benjamin, Fontana, 6-6
1995 – Paul Pierce, Inglewood, 6-7
1994 – Jelani Gardner, Bellflower St. John Bosco, 6-6
1993 – Charles O’Bannon, Lakewood Artesia, 6-7
1992 – Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph, 6-4
1991 – Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph, 6-4 Jr.
1990 – Ed O’Bannon, Lakewood Artesia, 6-9
1989 – Tracy Murray, Glendora, 6-8
1988 – Chris Mills, L.A. Fairfax, 6-7
1987 – LeRon Ellis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-11
1986 – Scott Williams, Hacienda Heights Wilson, 6-10
1985 – Tom Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-7
1984 – John Williams, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-8
1983 – John Williams, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-7 Jr.
1982 – Tony Jackson, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 6-4
1981 – Dwayne Polee, L.A. Manual Arts, 6-5
1980 – Ralph Jackson, Inglewood, 6-3
1979 – Darren Daye, Granada Hills Kennedy, 6-7
1978 – Greg Goorjian, Crescenta Valley, 6-2
1977 – Cliff Robinson, Oakland Castlemont, 6-7
1976 – Rich Branning, Huntington Beach Marina, 6-2
1975 – Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove, 7-1
1974 – Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove, 7-0 Jr.
1973 – Marques Johnson, L.A. Crenshaw, 6-5
1972 – Cliff Pondexter, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 6-7 Jr.
1971 – Roscoe Pondexter, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 6-6
1970 – Bill Walton, La Mesa Helix, 6-10
1969 – Keith Wilkes, Ventura, 6-5 Jr.
1968 – Paul Westphal, Redondo Beach Aviation, 6-2
1967 – Curtis Rowe, L.A. Fremont, 6-6
1966 – Dennis Awtrey, San Jose Blackford, 6-9
1965 – Bob Portman, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-5
1964 – Russ Critchfield, Salinas, 5-10
1963 – Edgar Lacey, L.A. Jefferson, 6-6
1962 – Joe Ellis, Oakland McClymonds, 6-5
1961 – Gail Goodrich, L.A. Poly, 5-11
1960 – Paul Silas, Oakland McClymonds, 6-6
1959 – Steve Gray, S.F. Washington, 6-4
1958 – Billy McGill, L.A. Jefferson, 6-9
1957 – Tom Meschery, S.F. Lowell, 6-5
1956 – Fred LaCour, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-4
1955 – Fred LaCour, S.F. St. Ignatius, 6-4 Jr.
1954 – Willie Davis, Alameda, 5-11
1953 – Bill Bond, Long Beach St. Anthony, 6-1
1952 – Willie Naulls, San Pedro, 6-5
1951 – Ken Sears, Watsonville, 6-7
1950 – Don Bragg, S.F. Galileo, 6-3

Note: List extends back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.

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

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