All-State Boys BB 2024: First Team

Aaron Hunkin-Claytor (30) was the best player on the best team in Northern California. Tounde Yessoufou (24) had the best overall season among all players in the CIF Central Section and is one of the top juniors in the nation. Photos: Willie Eashman.

Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Trent Perry from CIF Open Champ Harvard-Westlake of Studio City, finalist Mercy Miller of nearby Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and NorCal Player of the Year Aaron Hunkin-Claytor of NorCal open champ Salesian of Richmond are among those near the top of the 45th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state boys basketball teams. Go inside to see why these 10 have finished their careers as First Team Overall honorees out of the thousands who played across the state in 2023-24.

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Alec Blair (De La Salle, Concord) 6-7 Jr.
Last year we mentioned Blair took the 30th and final spot on our elite teams as a sophomore, but this year it’s a completely different story. He was a finalist for NorCal Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to a 25-6 mark and the East Bay Athletic League title. Teams game-planned for Blair all season long, but with his size, ball-handling and relentlessness to get to his spots and finish plays, he was hardly ever slowed down on a team that made the NorCal open playoffs. Blair was also unselfish, a hellacious rebounder and always took the challenge of guarding the opposition’s best offensive threat. He finished his junior campaign averaging 19 ppg while shooting 54 percent from the field, to go along with 6 rpg and 4 apg. A three-time all-East Bay Athletic League choice, he was named the league’s co-Player of the Year with Sam Ramon Valley’s Seamus Deely, who was terrific is his own right but not quite the unique player that Blair has turned into. He was named by the 49ers Cal-Hi Sports TV Show as its North Coast Section Player of the Year and is one of the best baseball-basketball combo athletes we’ve seen come down the pike in quite some time.

Alec Blair of De La Salle gets off a shot against Crean Lutheran on MLK Monday. Photo: Willie Eashman / Cal-Hi Sports.

G – Brayden Burries
(Roosevelt, Eastvale) 6-5 Jr.

Already named State Junior Player of the Year, this powerfully built guard was also a Mr. Basketball finalist. Burries was also all-CIFSS Open Division, named to the 10-man L.A. Times All-Star Team and Player of the Year by the Riverside Press-Enterprise. More than his honors, however, Burries put his stamp on high-level games with his tremendous all-around skill level combined with his powerful frame that made him basically unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball. Not only did he improve his outside range after sitting out his sophomore campaign following a transfer from Riverside Poly, he’s one of the most hellacious rebounders we’ve seen from the two-guard position in many years. He more than made up for the lost 2022-23 season after the CIF ruled him ineligible by averaging 24.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.7 rpg for the state’s No. 2 team that finished 31-4. He scored 24 points in the season-ending loss to eventual state open champ Harvard-Westlake in the SoCal open final.

G – Eric Freeny (Centennial, Corona) 6-4 Sr.
This strong-bodied wing guard had a terrific junior campaign for the Huskies and in reality was good enough to be an elite team selection. The only issue was that he was third in the 2022-23 team’s pecking order behind Mr. Basketball Jared McCain (Duke) and forward Aaron McBride (LMU) and Centennial was not going to have three players that high. Although the Huskies didn’t quite have the season they wanted to against a hellacious schedule, the 2023-24 Huskies deserve two players once again and Freeny lands on first team. He was a model of consistency for the Huskies the past three seasons and even contributed to the 21-2 team that was the state’s best during the 2021 CIF spring season. Freeny added a new wrinkle every year to his game and always made an impact, even in the games in which he didn’t score big. He wound up averaging a team-high 19 ppg while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range while shooting 52 percent from the field, while adding 8.5 rpg and 3.0 apg for the state’s No. 20 ranked team. Bound for UCLA, Freeny also made the L.A. Times All-Star Team and was all-CIFSS open division.

G – Aaron Hunkin-Claytor (Salesian, Richmond) 6-4 Sr.
The Pride really had a great pack of players who on any given night could be the leading player on NorCal’s best team. Amazingly, six players averaged between 6.3 and 9.0 ppg and it’s not often we have a first team selection with the run-of-the-mill stats Hunkin-Claytor finished with, but if you watched Salesian you know stats don’t come close to telling the story. As Salesian took on the best teams in the state, losing only to the CIF open and D1 champs, it was clear this Hawaii-bound point guard was its most indispensable piece with his team-oriented skill, ball-handling, and clutch play-making. For the season, Hunkin-Claytor averaged 8.4 ppg (tied for second on the team with third teamer De’Undrae Perteete), 3.9 rpg and 3.8 apg. The entire team was honored by the Bay Area News Group, but Salesian’s point guard was honored solo as a first team selection by the San Francisco Chronicle and was chosen Tri-County Rock League Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. We’re also using this platform to break the news that he’ll be listed as the Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Player of the Year, joining former Salesian standout James Akinjo (2018) and current Salesian assistant Desmond Simmons (2010). There are no ties or co-players of the year or teams getting some kind of convoluted honor in our history and that isn’t happening now. Aaron was the guy for the Pride and he’s the guy on first team, too.

Mercy Miller got out to a hot start for Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and continued to put up huge totals throughout the season. Photo:

G – Mercy Miller
(Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 6-3 Sr.

One rival coach noted that even against other all-star level players, Miller made the game look easy and was a man amongst boys. From the offensive side of the ball, it certainly appeared that way and he is the first ever Notre Dame player to score 1,000 points or more in a season. Miller was more than just a scorer (29.8 ppg), as he was an instinctual rebounder (9.3 rpg) and unselfish in knowing when to get teammates involved or take over a game. He was at his best in big games, and as his coach Matt Sargeant pointed out in making his Mr. Basketball case, you could pick any five-game sample from Notre Dame’s 31-4 season and Miller’s averages would be nearly identical to his season averages, including the eight teams the Knights played that finished ranked in the Cal-Hi Sports Top 40. Miller had 29 points in the win over state No. 1 Harvard-Westlake and 33 in the loss in the Mission League final to the same team and was considered the runner-up for Mr. Basketball to Harvard-Westlake’s Trent Perry. After leading Notre Dame to the CIFSS D1 title, the son of Rap Mogul Master P (who first made a name for himself by opening up a record store in Richmond in the early 1990s) was named all-CIFSS D1 Player of the Year and was also chosen to the L.A. Times All-Star Team. For the next level, he gives the tough, defensive-oriented Houston Cougars a terrific outside scoring threat.

G – Brandon McCoy Jr. (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-3 Soph.
It’s hard to leave off the league MVP of NorCal’s EBAL (Alec Blair), SoCal’s Mission League (Trent Perry) and SoCal’s Trinity League. The player for the latter happens to be Bosco’s talented 10th-grader. He actually shared the honor with third-teamer Brannon Martinsen of Mater Dei, but what he did in the post-season helped elevate McCoy to first team. In the regional playoffs, the explosive shooting guard averaged 19.7 ppg and 11 rpg and scored 18 points in Bosco’s CIF D1 title game victory. For the season, McCoy averaged 18.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.5 spg and 1.5 bpg against stellar competition and as much as anyone in the state, could turn the tide in a game with an athletic play only a few other players in the country can make. Not only did McCoy make the L.A. Times All-Star team, he was chosen State Sophomore of the Year and is in line for national underclass All-American honors as well. To give you an idea of the level he played at, he is just the 10th sophomore to make the overall first team (top 10) dating back to our first retroactive all-state team for the 1954-55 season. The other nine are 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 fellow first teamer Tounde Yessoufou last season.

G – Justin Pippen (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-3 Sr.
It’s not often a player seemingly comes out of nowhere to earn first team all-state status, but that’s exactly what happened to the son of NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. In fact, the last time a player had a productive enough senior season to elevate this high after playing a supporting role the prior season was Dale Currie of Sheldon in 2018. Before that, the last D1 prospect to do it was Chandler Hutchinson of Mission Viejo in 2014. Even Hutchinson averaged just under 10 ppg as a junior, while Pippen went for 4.5 ppg in 2022-23. In fall leagues, however, Pippen was sensational and we had some college coaches ask about his ability. We went from telling them “yes, he’s that good” to “he’s going to go higher than your level” in a matter of weeks. It was evident Pippen was going to lead Sierra Canyon to the CIFSS open playoffs and he was going to be impactful at the statewide level. In the end that’s exactly what happened, as Pippen used his terrific court savvy, unflappable pace and shot making ability to average 16.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.9 apg with a 21.0 +/- when he was on the court for a 26-4 team from the only program to qualify for every CIFSS open playoff each season going back to Hutchinson’s senior year. Pippen recently chose Michigan over Cal, Florida, Stanford and Texas A&M and one ups older brother Scotty Pippen Jr. on the all-state totem pole after he earned second team honors back in 2019 with two others from the same squad named on first team.

G – Trent Perry (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) 6-4 Sr.
The resume of our 2024 Mr. Basketball has been well chronicled on our website in the past month, but in that time Perry de-committed from USC after the school’s coaching staff left for SMU and the lure of the ACC. Perry visited Virginia last weekend and Tony Bennett is hoping the Harvard-Westlake standout commits. The last time Virginia recruited a player out of the San Fernando Valley, it was a good omen as Kihei Clark (Taft, Woodland Hills) helped the Cavs win the 2019 NCAA title as a freshman. Perry is the first player ever from Harvard-Westlake to earn Mr. Basketball honors and the latest choice from the San Fernando Valley, following Brandon Boston of Sierra Canyon in 2020. The CIFSS Open Division Player of the Year, two-time Mission League Player of the Year and L.A. Times Player of the Year in the Southland is also a repeat first team selection.

Tyrone Riley has helped push the program at St. Pius X-St. Matthias from the small school levels all the way to the CIF Southern Section Open Division. Photo: @pmabbasketball /

F – Tyrone Riley
(St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Downey) 6-6 Sr.

It’s a major move up for Riley from the third team last year after a sensational senior campaign. He led the Warriors to the program’s first-ever appearance in the CIF Southern Section open playoffs. It should be no surprise, as Riley has been a terrific post-season performer during his four-year career. As a junior, he averaged 34.2 ppg in the CIFSS 3AA playoffs and had 22 points and seven rebounds in a win over JSerra that essentially cliched St. Pius’ spot in the 2024 SoCal open playoffs. Riley then went for 26 points and 12 rebounds in his final high school game, a one-point loss to Carlsbad in the regional playoffs. Even though his individual numbers went down from last season, Riley was more impressive against better competition as the lefty gained some muscle and explosiveness. He was the Camino Real League MVP as a junior and the top player in the Del Rey League this season after averaging 22.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 3.2 apg for a 24-7 team that finished ranked No. 12 in the state. The USF-bound wing was named all-Southland by the L.A. Times and finished with 2,351 career points despite playing only 12 games as a freshman during the 2021 CIF Spring Season.

F – Tounde Yessoufou (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) 6-6 Jr.
Mr. Basketball Trent Perry isn’t the only repeater this year as first team all-state. Tounde just has to be that high again. It wasn’t too difficult to pencil in this powerful wing to the first team after leading the Knights to the open regional playoffs for the third consecutive season. The only difficulty was potentially naming him as NorCal Player of the Year while his team played in the SoCal open regional for the second time in three years. As a sophomore, Yessoufou led St. Joe’s to the NorCal open title and a competitive game vs. state champ Harvard-Westlake and this year he was a tad better individually although his team lacked depth from the season before. Salesian’s Aaron Hunkin-Claytor is a deserving choice, and it would have been odd for Yessoufou to be the honoree while his team played in the SoCal regional. He hit a big shot at the buzzer, his 25th and 26th points, to knock off Sierra Canyon in the SoCal open regionals and finished the season averaging 32.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 apg and 2.6 spg. A three-time Mountain League MVP, the Benin native has a chance to join all-time California greats Raymond Lewis, Jason Kidd, Renardo Sidney, Aaron Gordon and Lonzo Ball as a three-time first team all-state choice in 2024-25.

Note: Co-founder Mark Tennis contributed to this report.

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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