All-State boys basketball teams from Cal-Hi Sports have now been extended back to the 1954-55 season with new teams added from the 1978-79 season going backward based on research. Some of the players are well-known such as longtime NBA referee Leon Wood, former Laker Byron Scott, an MLB Hall of Famer, a recently retired longtime Bay Area sportscaster, several UCLA all-time greats and all of the top guys from all-time great teams at Compton and McClymonds (Oakland).
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To View The Retroactive All-State Teams, CLICK HERE
The first season for the Cal-Hi Sports all-state teams was for the 1979-80 school year. The following notes and numbers include the recently published retroactive all-state boys basketball teams, from the 1978-79 season back to the 1954-55 season, the same season we have all-time lists and national selections in boys basketball. The retroactive teams are overall all-state teams, which is regardless of CIF Division and/or class, and based on groups of five down to a fifth team. The current all-state teams are done in a first team overall, second team overall, third team overall (10 each) format. There are some seasons in which the current all-state teams were done in groups of five down to a sixth team. The max player limit we have for the annual all-state team is 30 players and always will be to honor the best. The all-state teams by CIF Division or all-state underclass have had plenty of variables and number limits over the years. The overall elite teams are for the best of the best in California.
Top 5 Schools
With Most All-State Selections (1955-2023)
1. MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 42 players, 60 selections
Matt Beeuwsaert 1983/1984, Tom Lewis 1983/1984/1985, Mike Mitchell 1985, Stuart Thomas 1986, LeRon Ellis 1986/1987, Kevin Rembert 1987, Mike Hopkins 1988, Dylan Rigdon 1989, Andy Karich 1990, Reggie Geary 1992, Miles Simon 1993/1994, Schea Cotton 1994/1995, Shaun Jackson 1995, Clay McKnight 1995, Kevin Augustine 1996/1997, Mike Vukovich 1997, Steve Scoggin 1999, Cedric Bozeman 2000/2001, Jamal Sampson 2001, Mike Strawberry 2002, Wesley Washington 2002/2003, D.J. Strawberry 2003, Marcel Jones 2004, Mike Gerrity 2005, Taylor King 2006/2007, David Wear 2008/2009, Travis Wear 2008/2009, Gary Franklin 2009/2010, Keala King 2010, Tyler Lamb 2010, Xavier Johnson 2011/2012, Kaitin Reinhardt 2011/2012, Stanley Johnson 2012/2013/2014, Elijah Brown 2013, Michael Cage Jr. 2014/2015, Rex Pflueger 2015, Justice Sueing 2017, Spencer Freedman 2017/2018, Devin Askew 2019/2020, Wilhelm Breidenbach 2021, Harry Hornery 2021, Zach Davidson 2022/2023.
Notes: Amazingly, the Monarchs never had an all-state selection prior to Gary McKnight taking over in 1982-83. The only seasons in which the Monarchs have not had an all-state overall selection since then are 1991, 1998 and 2016.
2. POLY (LONG BEACH)
34 players, 39 selections
Jim Hanna 1956, Aaron Carmichael 1959, Tom Sisk 1960, Mel Reed 1964, Billy Richard 1964, Trent Gaines 1965/1966, Chuck Moore 1965/1966, Michael Wiley 1976, Johnny Nash 1976, Tony Gwynn 1977, James McDonald 1979, Ray Whiting 1979, Ben McDonald 1980, Troy Carmon 1981, Kent Seymour 1981, Chris Sandle 1983/1984, Terry Stallworth 1984, Vincent Camper 1985, Willie McGinest 1990, Tyus Edney 1991, Zerrick Campbell 1994, Damion Dawson 1995, Ricky Anderson 1998, Wesley Stokes 2000, Reggie Butler 2002, Bobby Jones 2002, Chris Fields 2004, Ryan Anderson 2011, Alexis Moore 2011, Jordan Bell 2012/2013, Roschon Prince 2012/2013, K.J. Feagin 2015, Zafir Williams 2017, Peyton Watson 2020.
Notes: As we expected, if you count the retroactive selections, the Jackrabbits come in at No. 2 behind Mater Dei and in front of L.A. Westchester, which would be No. 2 if you count from 1979-80. Poly was real strong in the late 1970s under Ron Palmer and in the mid 1960s under Bill Mulligan. In fact, there have only been a few lulls in which Poly wasn’t strong in a Moore League that has been overall arguably the state’s best public school league going back to when it was formed in the 1950s. One of those short lulls came in the late 1980s when Palmer went to coach at Long Beach State then came back for the 1989-90 season.
3. WESTCHESTER (LOS ANGELES) 31 players, 35 selections
Donald Saffer 1964, Sam Williams 1977, Donald Mason 1978, Kevin Floyd 1984, Zan Mason 1988/1989, Sam Crawford 1989, Damion Wilson 1990, LeRoi O’Brien 1991, James Gray 1992, Ben Sanders 1995, Billy Knight 1997, Tony Bland 1998, David Bluthenthal 1998, Brandon Grandville 1998, Brandon Heath 2001/2002, Hassan Adams 2002, Trevor Ariza 2003, Scott Cutley 2003, Gabe Pruitt 2004, Marcus Johnson 2004/2005, Amir Johnson 2005, Gerard Moret 2005, Dane Suttle 2006, Dominque O’Connor 2009, Jordin Mayes 2009/2010, Kareem Jamar 2010, Dwayne Polee Jr. 2010, Elijah Stewart 2014, Keith Fisher 2016, Kaelen Allen 2018, Jordan Brinson 2019.
Notes: Westchester had some real good players before long-time coach Ed Azzam took over in the 1979-80 season, but it was hard for the team to get a lot of state-wide recognition because the L.A. City was so tough and deep then. In fact, it took Azzam 10 years into his coaching career to win his first league crown. After the underclass-led 1990-91 team won the L.A. City major division (4A) title with only one senior starter, the Comets started rolling until Azzam retired after the 2020-21 season. The Comets’ best teams in the 2000s were as deep as any we’ve seen and the program doesn’t focus on individual stats or one guy, so some really talented college-bound players never made all-state. No player has made all-state since Azzam retired.
4. CRENSHAW (LOS ANGELES) 29 players, 35 selections
Donald Arron 1971, Reggie Mims 1972, Marques Johnson 1972/1973, Robert Smith 1973, Greg Johns 1974, Michael Johnson 1978, Bruce McCree 1979, Kevin Hamilton 1982, Gary Maloncon 1981, John Williams 1983/1984, Stephen Thompson 1985/1986, Dion Brown 1986, Ronald Caldwell 1986, John Staggers 1987/1988, Cornelius Holden 1988, Doug Meekins 1988, Cornelius Banks 1989, Terry Cannon 1989, Kevin Ollie 1991, Tremaine Fowlkes 1993/1994, Kristaan Johnson 1993/1994, Tommie Davis 1994, Kevin Bradley 1996/1997, Alastair Faux 1997, Anthony Garrison 1998, Tommy Johnson 2000, Marcus Williams 2002, Darnell Gant 2007, Raynaul Baker 2010.
Notes: Despite only having one all-state player (overall top 30) in the past 16 years, the Cougars are still top 5 in producing all-state sections. Time wise, that coincides with the retirement of legendary coach Willie West following the 2006-07 season. When West took over in 1970-71, he produced his first all-state level player right away in his first season and never looked back. The Shaw was competitive right until he retired and lights out in his first 25 seasons in which they only lost five home games and were only swept twice in that time frame.
5 TIE. DOMINGUEZ (COMPTON)
19 players, 24 selections
Curtis Williams 1985, Ronnie Coleman 1987, Dijon Bernard 1989, Jeff Rogers 1990, Jamie Gillen 1994, Thomas Prince 1995, Keith Kincaid 1999, Marcus Moore 1999, Kenny Brunner 1995/1997, Jason Thomas 1996/1997, Tayshaun Prince 1997/1998, Keith Brooks 2000, Tyson Chandler 2000/2001, Bobby Jones 2001, LaMar Roberson 2004, Bryan Harvey 2004/2005, Quinton Watkins 2007, Jordan Hamilton 2008, Wayne Arnold 2018.
Notes:The Dons don’t have any retroactive pics, but were strong for many years in the late 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s. They also had some deep teams were guys could probably have gotten all-state recognition at other schools instead of being the No. 3 or No. 4 option there. Bobby Jones actually appears for both the Dons and Long Beach Poly, as he transferred to play for the Jackrabbits his senior year in 2001-02. Dominguez and NorCal No. 1 O’Dowd have the same number of players, but the Dons have more guys who were named all-state more than once in their careers.
5T. BISHOP O’DOWD (OAKLAND) 19 players, 22 selections
Dick Fagliano 1960, Mike Gervasoni 1963, Dave Pouliot 1965, Mike Caruso 1967, Jeff Pete 1969, Mike Moynihan 1972, Guy Williams 1978, Tony Jackson 1981/1982, Eric Holloway 1983, Mark McCathrion 1985, Matt Muehlebach 1986, Kason Jackson 1988, Johnny Bryant 2003, Shawn Lewis 2007, Brandon Ashley 2010/2011, Ivan Rabb 2014/2015, Paris Austin 2015, Elijah Hardy 2018, Marsalis Roberson 2020.
Notes: If you only count our picks done at the end of the season since 1979-80, it’s pretty close at the top of NorCal with O’Dowd and De La Salle of Concord. When you factor in the retractive picks that’s when things change, as the Dragons were strong in both the 1970s and 1960s and tie Dominguez for fifth place with 19 players chosen. It’s pretty incredible to think O’Dowd didn’t have one single overall pick in the 1990s because the Dragons were pretty competitive in many years in that decade. The Dragons would also have tied or perhaps surpassed Dominguez in total selections if Matt Muehlebach didn’t move out of state for his senior season in 1986-87, if Brandon Ashley didn’t transfer to a now defunct prep school for his senior season in 2011-12 and if Jalen Lewis didn’t leave for Overtime Elite. In fact, had Muehlebach stayed, the Dragons would have been our first preseason No. 1 ranked team in the state from NorCal. That didn’t happen until Jason Kidd was at St. Joseph of Alameda. Next in line at No. 6 would be Fairfax of Los Angeles with 18 players and none in our retroactive files.
All-Time All-State Sophomores
It takes a special player to make any all-state team as a sophomore, but especially in California because of the vast population, because we don’t over-hype young players and because we meticulously pick the 30-man team. That usually favors players off winning or great teams and not players that just put up a bunch of points on also-rans. California had three terrific sophomores chosen for the 2022-23 overall all-state team in Alec Blair (De La Salle, Concord), Elzie Harrington (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) and Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year Tounde Yessoufou (St. Joseph, Santa Maria). Including our retroactive years now going back all the way to the 1954-55 season, with those three chosen that brings the overall total of sophomores who have made all-state to 45. CLICK HERE to go back and look at the retroactive all-state picks and you’ll see eight sophomores chosen, including the great Paul Silas on the 1957-58 Oakland McClymonds team that is arguably the state’s greatest ever and includes three all-state choices.
Further breaking down the all-state sophomores, the selections dwindle to nine overall when you only count the 10th-graders that made the first 10 or either the first or second five: Those would be Raymond Lewis (Verbum Dei, Los Angeles) in 1969, Jason Kidd (St. Joseph, Alameda) in 1990, Schea Cotton (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) in 1995, Jason Thomas (Dominguez, Compton) in 1996, Renardo Sidney (Artesia, Lakewood) in 2007, Aaron Gordon (Mitty, San Jose) in 2011, Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills) in 2016, Jamari Phillips (Modesto Christian) in 2022 and Yessoufou in 2023. There were eight sophomores chosen retroactively, but only Lewis was considered good enough and had enough accolades to make the second five. Kidd also made the second five and looking back there was no point guard on the first five in 1989-90, so it’s not hard to figure out he was the state’s best at the position for three straight years.
In the format chosen by fives, only Cotton and Thomas (physical specimens who were also travel ball teammates) were first five selections. So who has been the closest to being Mr. Basketball as a sophomore? Thomas was the D2 State Player of the Year on a Dominguez team named Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year, and so was Cotton in the previous season, when the Monarchs were considered the team of the year as well and he was the individual choice in D1. It’s close, but Cotton was seriously considered for Mr. Basketball, which went to Inglewood’s Paul Pierce, while Thomas didn’t have as strong a resume to be considered over Fontana’s Corey Bejamin the following season. We feel we got those picks right, regardless, as Pierce and Benjamin went on to the NBA. Even though Pierce was better than Benjamin in high school, Cotton was that good as a sophomore when he was considered a generational type phenom and the runner-up to Pierce for Mr. Basketball.
Cotton and Thomas never played in the NBA which brings us to our next point: Things happen over a course of a career and not all players follow a trajectory where they get better each season. Of the 45 who were all-state as a sophomore, 26 went on to be three-time all-state selections. Here’s what happened to the other 16 since Blair, Harrington and Tounde Yessoufou still have two years to go.
Three moved out of the area: Phillips left Modesto Christian three games into his junior year for Arizona, and Kylan Boswell (Centennial, Corona) also left for the same prep school (AZ Compass Prep) that Phillips did. Vyctorius Miller (Crean Lutheran, Irvine) also went to AZ Compass Prep, but is now back at Crean Lutheran for this senior season. Three went to prep schools for their senior season: Brandon Ashley (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) in 2012, Jordan Brown (Woodcreek, Roseville) in 2018 and Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) in 2020. Devin Askew (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) re-classed and left one year early for Kentucky and Jeremy Tyler (San Diego) made national headlines when he skipped his senior season of high school to sign a pro contract in 2009.
Eight were simply not chosen three times: Olujimi Mann (Valley, Santa Ana), Kenny Brunner (Dominguez, Compton), Cotton, Thomas, Tre’Von Willis (Washington, Easton), Drew Gordon (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose), Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Loyola, Los Angeles) and Michael Cage Jr. (Mater Dei, Santa Ana). Of those, Brunner probably has the best justification to be a three-time choice as he simply wasn’t chosen as a junior in 1995-96. He certainly was good enough to be as the point guard on the state’s best team, one that was balanced and had plenty of weapons. Gordon and Thomas had injuries as a senior or they would have been cinch picks. Jackson-Cartwright and Mann were never chosen after their sophomore season, as Jackson-Cartwright was thrown off the team and out of Loyola on the eve of the playoffs his senior season. That had to be one of the most shocking incidents we recall in the last 30 years regarding an off-court situation. Mann just didn’t get the local honors to be chosen again, although he was a terrific talent. Unfortunately, he’s probably the most talented player we’ve covered over the years that never played a minute of college basketball.
What About The Freshmen?
It’s almost impossible for ninth-graders to make all-state. They are simply not strong enough or talented enough to lead good high school teams. There are many good enough to play varsity, and even star, but it’s more than rare for a freshman to be considered that high in the all-state deliberations. In over 40 years of choosing the all-state team in real time, only one has been good enough to make the 30-man overall team. He was a slam dunk choice and it shouldn’t be surprising it’s Cotton for 1993-94. Teammate Miles Simon was a two-time CIFSS D1 Player of the Year, but Cotton was an even more impressive physical specimen than the senior at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds and at times he looked like Mater Dei’s most talented player. We remember being at Pauley Pavilion watching L.A. Loyola and the Monarchs in a section playoff game and we’ll never forget when another senior, whose season was already done and was an all-state candidate himself, said, “Schea is better than everyone in the state now other than Jelani Gardner (the eventual Mr. Basketball winner).” Mater Dei suffered its first loss in the SoCal D1 regional final to Crenshaw of Los Angeles, which had three all-state picks that season.
Cotton didn’t make all-state as a junior at St. John Bosco of Bellflower after he missed half the season and sat out his entire senior season because of shoulder surgery. We sometimes wonder what would have happened had he stayed at Mater Dei, but as we said earlier making all-state as a sophomore (or as Cotton’s case as a freshman) doesn’t guarantee anything.
So who was closest to making it besides Cotton? That might be freshman Jason Crowe Jr. of Lynwood last season, after he led the Knights to the CIF D5 state title and scored the third most points in a single-season in state history. The difference is in the competitive equity model of today, D5 teams are no where near the level of the state’s best, and even though Crowe was terrific his team was far from the level of Cotton’s then. Cotton’s team was nationally-ranked and only lost one game all-season. Crowe wasn’t the physical specimen in the range of Cotton or some of the best seniors last season, either. After all, he was a mere 14 years old. Kidd was the only four-time all-NorCal choice when those teams were picked in the 1970s through the 1990s by the Helms Board and is probably in the range of Crowe on the all-state board for that particular season. St. Joseph was led by D1 State Player of the Year Calvin Byrd, but it was evident Kidd was going to be something special. The 1988-89 senior class was pretty strong and until Cotton came along, it didn’t seem like a freshman would ever get picked. Perhaps another one never will.
Considering the retroactive picks, the only other player who was a physical specimen like Cotton was Clifton Pondexter (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) in 1969-70. As a 6-foot-7, 210-pound freshman in 1969-70, he averaged just a bit under 20 ppg while his 6-foot-5, 215-pound brother Roscoe Pondexter (a junior) averaged 26.4 ppg for a 23-4 team that lost one of its games to a great Berkeley team, but went on to win the Central Section title. Clifton was a deserving all-state choice and ended up starring all four years in high school before being chosen for the NBA Draft after only one season at Long Beach State. Going into his senior season after he was named Mr. Basketball for his junior season 1971-72, Clifton was considered one of the nation’s five best players.
The second freshman that stands out is Billy “The Hill” McGill (Jefferson, Los Angeles) in 1954-55 on our first all-state team. The 6-foot-8, 200-pound big man led the Democrats to the L.A. City Section title by averaging 15.4 ppg in what was then considered the state’s best league (Southern) and back when winning the L.A. City crown was a big thing in SoCal basketball circles. McGill is truly one of the state’s all-time greats and the first No. 1 overall NBA Draft choice from the West Coast. He’s a bit of a forgotten basketball legend, but now he and Pondexter are considered the only four-time all-state selections.
Teams With Three All-Staters
It’s not often that a team has three overall all-state picks and it’s usually only the overall state team of the year. Here are the 16 teams that have produced three over the years, including the retroactive picks:
2021-22 Corona Centennial – Donovan Dent, Jared McCain, Devin Williams.
2015-16 Chino Hills – Lonzo Ball, Li’Angelo Ball, Elizjah Scott.
2011-12 Santa Ana Mater Dei – Xavier Johnson, Katin Reinhardt, Stanley Johnson.
2009–10 L.A. Westchester – Jordin Mayes, Dwayne Polee Jr., Kareem Jamar
2009-10 Santa Ana Mater Dei – Gary Franklin Jr., Tyler Lamb, Keala King.
2008-09 Santa Ana Mater Dei – Gary Franklin Jr., David Wear, Travis Wear.
2004-05 L.A. Westchester – Amir Johnson, Gerard Moret, Marcus Johnson.
1997-98 L.A. Westchester – Tony Bland, David Bluthenthal, Brandon Granville.
1994-95 Santa Ana Mater Dei – Schea Cotton, Shaun Jackson, Clay McKnight.
1993-94 L.A. Crenshaw – Tremaine Fowlkes, Kristaan Johnson, Tommie Davis.
1987-88 L.A. Crenshaw – John Staggers, Doug Meekins, Cornelius Holden.
1986-87 L.A. Fairfax – Sean Higgins, Chris Mills, J.D. Green.
1985-86 L.A. Crenshaw – Stephen Thompson, Ronald Caldwell, Dion Brown.
1969-1970 Berkeley – Glenn Burke, John Lambert, Marvin Buckley.
1967-1968 Compton – Larry Morris, Mike Hopwood, Larry Hollyfield.
1957-1958 Oakland McClymonds – Jim Hadnot, Ed Thomas, Paul Silas.
The only teams of those 16 that weren’t the CIF major division state champ or considered the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year was Mater Dei in both 2010 and 2009, Crenshaw in 1988 and Fairfax in 1987. Crenshaw was riding along as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team until it was upset in the SoCal D1 final, in overtime, by an L.A. Manual Arts team it had beaten three times earlier. Westchester was the state’s best team in both those Mater Dei years, as the Comets soundly beat the Monarchs in the 2010 SoCal D1 final in the only matchup in state history with three eventual all-staters on each club. In 2009, Mater Dei had a stroke of bad luck when Andy Brown was injured late in the season or else it might have won the CIF D1 state crown. Mater Dei has also been on the other end of the spectrum, too. The Monarchs used a terrific second half run in the 1987 SoCal D1 final to take down an unbeaten Fairfax team that was considered even better than the Fairfax teams that won D1 state titles in 2004 and 2007 under Harvey Kintani. Mater Dei won its second D1 state crown over San Francisco Riordan in 1989-90 when only one player, Andy Karich, made the all-state team.
To View The Retroactive All-State Teams, CLICK HERE