Here’s the place to go for all of the preseason boys/girls basketball content that has been completed on CalHiSports.com over recent weeks and months. Plus, we’ve added an additional list: the Top 10 Mr. Basketball & Ms. Basketball Player of the Year candidates. Some teams have already begun their seasons this week. Others will be next week.
(Please click on the link to go to each post)
(The articles/lists that are for our Gold Club members only are indicated)
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Preseason TOP 10 Mr. Basketball
State Player of Year Candidates
(With input from lead boys basketball editor Ronnie Flores)
1. Trent Perry (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) Sr.
The State Junior of the Year from last season also was the Mission League Player of the Year. Considered a finalist to graduated Mr. Basketball Jared McCain of Corona Centennial, Trent recently committed to USC. He’s listed as a 6-foot-4 combo guard, but was the point guard and floor leader of the Wolverines last season.
2. Tounde Yessoufou (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) Jr.
Here’s the State Sophomore of the Year from last season as a powerful 6-foot-5 power forward continuing to progress his game toward the perimeter. It’s rare for a sophomore to be first-team all-state, but Tounde did it. He pumped up his game from the previous season to average 27.7 ppg.
3. Brayden Burries (Roosevelt, Eastvale) Jr.
Ranked in the top 15 of his class nationally, Brayden is looking to have a huge season after missing last year with eligibility issue (transferred from Riverside Poly). Burries had 31 points in first game this week vs Birmingham of Lake Balboa. He’s a 6-foot-4 shooting guard.
4. Elzie Harrington
(St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Jr.
Named the Trinity League Player of the Year as a 6-foot-3 sophomore combo guard, he averaged 15.3 ppg on an elite squad. Elzie also was 2nd team overall all-state and All-L.A. Times (just 10 players).
5. Mercy Miller (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) Sr.
With the graduations of ND standouts like Caleb Foster and Dusty Stromer, Miller is likely going to step up into more of a starring role there. He son of rapper Master P (6-4 SG) and has committed to Houston. He can be a flashy scoring guard like Foster or do a lot of what Stromer did on the perimeter for last year’s CIF D1 state champions.
6. Brandon McCoy Jr. (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Soph.
With the huge summer that McCoy had, he could easily end up as the top honors candidate off of the Bosco squad and is the leading candidate for state sophomore of the year honors. He got eligible halfway through last season so that affected his post-season honors, but the talent is undeniable. The 6-foot-3 combo guard also is in the top five nationally as a recruit for his class. McCoy Jr. and teammate Elzie Harrington also could cancel each other out for being the top honors candidate off their team, so to speak, since other top candidates may be more clearly “the guy” for their teams.
7. Eric Freeny (Centennial, Corona) Sr.
He’s the top senior this season who played at Centennial last season. Freeny (6-4 SG) has committed to UCLA. We still don’t yet know about the eligibility of Centennial transfer Carter Bryant, who played last season at Sage Hill (Newport Beach). If Bryant plays, he sure could end up as a major player of the year candidate. Centennial is good without him and could challenge for a second CIF state open crown in three years with him.
8. Jase Butler (Branson, Ross) Sr.
If Branson does put it all together with Jace along with top-ranked junior Semetri Carr, he could get some very high honors at the end of the season. Butler recently signed with Illinois. The 6-foot-4 point guard also was one of the highest risers nationally coming out of the Section 7 summer club tourney held in Arizona.
9. Brandon Banjamin (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Jr.
He was the Orange County Player of the Year as a sophomore 6-foot-5 forward at Canyon of Anaheim. He’s now at Mater Dei where the Monarchs expect to be battling for a top finish in the Trinity League as well as challenge for the CIFSS open crown.
10. Aaron Hunkin-Claytor (Salesian, Richmond) Sr.
He wound up getting the top honors off of last season’s team at Salesian and had a very strong series of summer performances. Since the Pride will have one the top two or three teams in NorCal this season, Aaron would be their guy to start. The 6-foot-4 point guard grew up in Hawaii and will return home to play for the University of Hawaii. He could be a huge steal for the Rainbows.
Others: Alec Blair (De La Salle, Concord) Jr.; Carter Bryant (Centennial, Corona) Sr.; Jason Crowe Jr. (Lynwood) Soph.; Isaiah Elohim (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Sr.; Jake Hall (Carlsbad) Jr.; Tyrone Riley (St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Downey) Sr.
Preseason TOP 10 Ms. Basketball
State Player of Year Candidates
(With input from girls basketball lead editor Harold Abend)
1. Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda) Jr.
The State Frosh of the Year for 2021, State Soph of Year for 2022 and last season’s State Junior of the Year is on track to move up. Etiwanda is going for second straight CIF Open Division state title. Kennedy (6-1 F) has signed with USC where she will join Juju Watkins, the Ms. Basketball honoree for the last two seasons.
2. Morgan Cheli (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Sr.
She missed too many games with an injury to get the high honors last season, but assuming the 6-foot-1 combo guard gets in a full season this time would probably be the No. 1 option at the end for the Monarchs. The UConn recruit is looking to lead Mitty to its first-ever CIF Open Division state title. It came within a tipin at the buzzer from happening last March.
3. Mackenly Randolph (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Sr.
The daughter (6-0 F) of longtime NBA player Zach Randolph is the top returnee for the powerful Trailblazers and deserves to be the team’s No. 1 honors candidate until it has to change. She’s done too much in her three years in the program so far to start out any lower on this list than third.
4. Jerzy Robinson (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Soph.
Ranked as the top sophomore in the nation as a 6-foot guard, Robinson is joining the Trailblazers after starring as a freshman at Desert Vista of Phoenix, Ariz. She also led a USA U16 national team to the FIBA America’s Cup championship last summer.
5. Jordan Lee (St. Mary’s, Stockton) Sr.
Signed by the University of Texas, Lee (6-0 PG) got votes to be the NorCal Player of the Year if one didn’t want to give it to a freshman (see below). She had high-scoring games in some tough St. Mary’s losses, like 47 points in a NorCal playoff game vs Oakland Tech. If those games become wins this season with a stronger supporting cast and the Rams are close to their preseason ranking (No. 5), Jordan becomes a much stronger postseason honors candidate.
6. McKenna Woliczko (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Soph.
No, we don’t expect McKenna to take a drop this season as a player but the consensus Bay Area Player of the Year as a 6-foot-3 freshman and first team all-state center could definitely become Mitty’s No. 2 honors candidate this season behind a more healthy Morgan Cheli. Woliczko averaged 20.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg last season and was a teammate of Jerzy Robinson’s on that USA U16 national team last summer.
7. Avary Cain (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) Sr.
She’s been a favorite of our lead girls basketball analyst and state team rankings compiler Harold Abend since her freshman season. Avary (6-1 PG) now starts her senior year as a 5-star recruit by ESPN and has gained a scholarship with UCLA. Cain had averages of 21.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.8 assists per game last season.
8. Kamryn Mafua (Folsom) Sr.
The 6-foot-2 forward was the leader of Folsom’s team last season that got past Jordan Lee and her team at St. Mary’s of the Stockton in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final. Mafua did have a lot more help around her but she definitely deserves to be on this list. Kamryn was the Sacramento Bee All-Metro Player of the Year and averaged 17 ppg and 7 rpg for the Bulldogs.
9. Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (Etiwanda) Jr.
The State Sophomore of the Year for last season and the State Freshman of the Year for 2022 is the floor leader of the defending CIF Open Division state champions. The 5-foot-9 point guard has all of the attributes of a great point guard but it’s her mid-range jumper that is usually on the mark that really sets her apart.
10. Addie Deal (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Jr.
The returning Orange County Player of the Year as a sophomore has to start out just behind fellow junior Puff Morris of Etiwanda on this list since Puff was the State Sophomore of the Year. Addie (6-foot small forward & shooting guard) was considered the runner-up but at the end of this season may simply have to be higher since she’ll be MD’s No. 1 player and Morris will likely be Etiwanda’s No. 2. She led the Monarchs with 15.0 ppg last season plus 5.3 rebounds. Her three-point shooting could push that scoring average well above 20 ppg.
Others: Bailey Barnhard (Del Norte, San Diego) Sr.; Jordin Blackmon (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) Jr.; Devin Cosgriff (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) Soph.; Harper Peterson (Whitney, Rocklin) Sr.; Taissa Queiroz (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) Sr.*; Athena Tomlinson (Clovis West, Fresno) Sr.; Mahliya Wilson (Bonita Vista, Chula Vista) Sr.
*Queiroz is not yet eligible to play at Cardinal Newman.