Ms. Basketball 2024: Kennedy Smith

Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Kennedy Smith is captured in two moments during Etiwanda’s CIF Open Division state title game win vs Archbishop Mitty. Photos: Willie Eashman.

It’s now being called the quad and that’s being a state player of the year for California among freshmen, sophomores and juniors and then finishing it off by being named Ms. Basketball. Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith has now completed the quad and has been selected as the Ms. Basketball for California girls hoops. She’ll now join last year’s quad winner, Juju Watkins, at USC.

For this season’s State Players of the Year in girls basketball among juniors, sophs, frosh and for each CIF division, CLICK HERE.

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Since Cal-Hi Sports has a Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year going back to 1972, there have been nine players that have won more than a single Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year title, and while Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith is not a repeat winner she is still quite unique.

Now, after being named the 2021 State Freshman of the Year, the 2022 State Sophomore of the Year, and the 2023 State Junior of the Year, Smith joins a handful of players to complete what we’re calling the quad after winning the top honor in California girls high school basketball by being named the 2024 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year as a senior.

With Cal-Hi Sports beginning to name a State Freshman of the Year in 1984 when the legendary Terri Mann of San Diego Point Loma was honored, Smith becomes only the seventh player to get a quad by winning all four class honors, and only the sixth honoree from the Inland Empire portion of the CIF Southern Section to be honored as a Ms. Basketball award winner.

Smith’s commitment to team goals was praised throughout her Etiwanda career by head coach Stan Delus. Photo: Courtesy Etiwanda girls basketball.

The other winners of four class honors that won a State Freshman of the Year, State Sophomore of the Year, State Junior of the Year, and Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year as a senior are Mann, who won from 1984 through 1987; Inglewood Morningside legend Lisa Leslie from 1987 through 1990, Michelle Greco of La Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta) from 1995 through 1998; Jasmine Dixon from Long Beach Poly from 2005 through 2008; Katie Lou Samuelson from 2012 to 2015 at Huntington Beach Edison then Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and Destiny Littleton of La Jolla Bishop’s from 2014 through 2017.

To say Smith is in an elite class of players who have won all four class awards could be considered a bit of an understatement, particularly when a couple of the greatest names in California girls basketball history were unable to achieve that mark. Three obvious omissions are legendary Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly, Diana Taurasi of Chino Don Lugo, and recent two-time Ms. Basketball honoree and current USC star Juju Watkins, but there is a reason for Miller.

As previously mentioned, Cal-Hi Sports didn’t start naming a State Freshman of the Year until 1984. Taurasi won three of the four and was twice named Ms. Basketball in 1999 and 2000, but was edged out for 1998 sophomore honors. Watkins didn’t win as a freshman in favor of Breya Cunningham of La Jolla Country Day.

The most recent Inland Empire Ms. Basketball honoree was 2021 winner Jayda Curry of Corona Centennial, and the first was Miller who was the 1981 and 1982 honoree. Miller was followed by 1996 winner Maylana Martin of Perris, next came superstar Taurasi followed by 2009 winner Layshia Clarendon of San Bernardino Cajon.

Smith has been as busy as a bee since the season ended so as we were trying to run her down and tell her she was being honored, we sent her a list of several of the previously mentioned honorees.

“It feels surreal to be listed among the greatest players in history,” responded Smith by text as she was en route to the airport for a flight to Portland for the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday.

“Going into my freshman year I didn’t know what my expectations were for high school because it was COVID,” Smith continued. “I think putting my head down and working throughout all of my four years paid off in the long run. It’s truly a blessing seeing all the hard work coming to light.”

Smith was a clear winner, but there were others that had their opportunities, however in the end the resume of the versatile Smith checked all the boxes. Louisville-bound Mackenly Randolph of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) and McKenna Woliczko of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) drew the most attention after Smith, but after all was said and in the end they were all behind Kennedy.

Smith was the top player on the State Team of the Year and a team that was named No. 1 in the nation by all national rankings this week after Long Island Lutheran (New York) lost last weekend in the Chipotle Nationals to Montverde Academy (Florida). Not only that, but besides Ms. Basketball Kennedy has plenty of other hardware and accolades.

“Kennedy Smith will go down in history for what she’s accomplished at Etiwanda,” remarked Etiwanda head coach and 2023 State Coach of the Year Stan Delus. “Her work ethic, dedication to her craft, and competitive spirit were instrumental in helping this program elevate to a national level.”

“Her ability to galvanize her teammates, whether it’s through tough love and accountability, made all her teammates tougher and want to go harder,” Delus continued. “I will always appreciate her gift of commitment to the team to achieve their goals as one unit.”

Some of the other honors/accomplishments that Kennedy has received so far prior to Ms. Basketball includes Jordan Brand All-American and CIF Southern Section Open Division Player of the Year. She also was HoopHall Classic MVP and scored 15 points last week to lead the West team at the McDonald’s All-American Game.

This past season Smith led Etiwanda in scoring at 21.5 points per game, plus she averaged 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 blocks each contest. In the CIF Open Division state championship 60-48 victory over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Kennedy finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and when she decided to go to the basket Smith was unstoppable.

Kennedy shows off a t-shirt she created during one of the pre-game events at the McDonald’s All-American Game. Photo: Courtesy Etiwanda girls basketball.

While none of Smith’s totals will make the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book her numbers are formidable. For her career, Kennedy finishes as the all-time leading scorer in Etiwanda history with 2,122 points, third in rebounds with 912, plus she ended with 351 steals, 303 blocks and 286 assists. The 6-foot-1 Smith can also shoot the three-pointer and converted on 278 for her career, third most in school history.

With her storied Etiwanda career now behind her, Kennedy will be heading to USC to join former rival Watkins and begin playing for head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who after what the Trojans did this past season looks to be building a top nationally competitive program. How does Kennedy feel she will fit in and has Coach Gottlieb told her about what she envisions for her?

“USC culture was something that stood out to me. It felt like home when I went on my visit,” Smith said. “On top of that Coach Lindsay has a vision that I believe will put LA hoops back on the map and I wanted to be part of that being from California.”

“It started with Juju committing there and I believe with the season they had this year the sky is the limit for us next year,” Smith continued. “Going into USC I’ll be bringing my versatility on both the offensive and defensive ends. My goal for next year is potentially winning a national title so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”

The Olympics and the WNBA as future goals is obvious but Smith also mentioned she will be majoring in business or communications to further her interest in real estate.

Smith may not have been concerned with individual achievements, but she will graduate with a ton of them, and not only will her No. 11 hang in the rafters as one of the greatest Eagles ever, the name Kennedy Smith is now etched into California girls basketball history.


(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.

Juju Watkins puts up a shot during senior season at Sierra Canyon. Photo: @sierracanyongbb /

2024 Kennedy Smith, Etiwanda, 6-1
2023 Juju Watkins, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 6-1
2022 Juju Watkins,
Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 6-1 Jr.
2021 Jayda Curry, Corona Centennial, 5-6
2020 Te-hina Paopao, La Jolla Country Day, 5-10
2019 Haley Jones, San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 6-2
2018 Charisma Osborne,
Los Angeles Windward, 5-9 Jr.
2017 Destiny Littleton, La Jolla Bishop’s, 5-9
2016 Sabrina Ionescu, Orinda Miramonte, 6-0
2015 Katie Lou Samuelson, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-3
2014 Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Windward, 5-7
2013 Kelsey Plum, La Jolla Country Day, 5-10
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis,
Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon, 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary’s, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-8
2002 Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 5-7
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 5-7
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.

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

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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