Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the CalHiSports.com staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

Bill Russell & the Greatest of All-Time in every CIF sport

With the death on Sunday at age 88 of NBA icon Bill Russell, the tributes to him include being called perhaps the greatest team sports champion of all-time since he was part of 11 NBA titles for the Boston Celtics. Russell played as a high schooler at McClymonds of Oakland (where one of his teammates was baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson). There’s no doubt that Russell would still go down as the greatest basketball player ever who is from a California high school. Here’s a sport-by-sport list of those we would rank No. 1 for each one:

FOR A LOOK AT OUR ALL-TIME 100 GREATEST ATHLETES (MEN) FROM CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOLS, CLICK HERE.

Baseball: Jackie Robinson (Muir, Pasadena)
His number of course is retired throughout every team in Major League Baseball. At the All-Star Game in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, his widow, Rachel Robinson, was celebrated for her 100th birthday.

Bill Russell is shown showing off many of his NBA championship rings. Photo: SteinerSports.com.


Basketball: Bill Russell (McClymonds, Oakland)
In the announcement by his family upon his death, a reference was made to Bill having won two state championships in high school. It’s a tough time, but we don’t know where that comes from. McClymonds did not win state titles in those early 1950s seasons (the playoffs didn’t exist) and other teams in the state were ranked higher.

Diving: Greg Louganis (Valhalla, El Cajon)
An Olympic champion from 1984 and 1988, Louganis is still generally No. 1 on lists of the greatest divers in U.S. history.

Football: Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo)
Winner of seven Super Bowls, Brady is beginning his 23rd season in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Most of his career, of course, was with the New England Patriots.

Golf: Tiger Woods (Western, Anaheim)
He probably won’t set the record for most major tourney wins, but is easily the most prominent golfer ever from the Golden State.

Soccer: Landon Donovan (Redlands East Valley)
The Major League Soccer MVP Award is named for him (similar to the NBA naming its Finals MVP after Bill Russell).

Swimming: Mark Spitz (Santa Clara)
People forget how good he was in the 1968 Olympics because in 1972 he won seven gold medals.

Tennis: Pete Sampras (Palos Verdes, PV Estates)
He was once in the discussion for greatest ever in his sport, but has been surpassed in recent years by players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Track & Field: Bob Mathias (Tulare)
After winning the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon a couple of months after graduating from high school in 1948, Mathias returned in 1952 to the Olympics and won the gold again.

Volleyball: Karch Kiraly (Santa Barbara)
This statement would be the same for beach volleyball as well as indoors for USA national teams. That’s how great Karch was.

Water Polo: Tony Azevedo (Wilson, Long Beach)
He went to Olympics five times from 2000 to 2016 and ranks top five in the sport at the Games for all-time goals scored.

Wrestling: Dave Schultz (Palo Alto)
Unfortunately, he’s known for being murdered by an eccentric millionaire in 1996, but Schultz won seven world championships is still regarded as one of the best wrestlers in USA history.


All-State Baseball: Patch List 2

All-State baseball patches for any player named to any of our annual all-state teams can order a souvenir patch with certificate of recognition through our partner at BillyTees.com.


For those just interested in seeing the names of players who are on the Gold Club post for this year’s All-State second and third teams for baseball 2022 without having to sign up as a subscriber, here is a simple alphabetical list. If you want the full presentation and are not Gold Club, please check out getting a membership today.
Read more…


All-State Baseball Patch List 1

All-State baseball patches for any player named to any of our annual all-state teams can order a souvenir patch with certificate of recognition through our partner at BillyTees.com.


For those just interested in seeing the names of players who are on the Gold Club post for this year’s All-State Underclass teams for baseball 2022 without having to sign up as a subscriber, here is a simple alphabetical list. If you want the full presentation and are not Gold Club, please check out getting a membership today.
Read more…


All-State Softball Patch List 2

All-State softball patches for any player named to any of our annual all-state teams can order a souvenir patch with certificate of recognition through our partner at BillyTees.com.


For those just interested in seeing the names of players who are on the Gold Club post for this year’s All-State second and third teams for softball 2022 without having to sign up as a subscriber, here is a simple alphabetical list. If you want the full presentation and are not Gold Club, please check out getting a membership today.
Read more…


All-State Softball Patch List 1

All-State softball patches for any player named to any of our annual all-state teams can order a souvenir patch with certificate of recognition through our partner at BillyTees.com.


For those just interested in seeing the names of players who are on the Gold Club post for this year’s All-State Underclass Teams for softball 2022 without having to sign up as a subscriber, here is a simple alphabetical list. If you want the full presentation and are not Gold Club, please check out getting a membership today.
Read more…


More State Softball Coaches of the Year

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Mike Centrullo from Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2022 season going to Andy Meza from Alvarez of Salinas (medium schools) and Jeff Day of Caruthers (small schools).
Read more…


More Baseball Coaches of Year

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Benji Medure of Huntington Beach, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2022 season heading out to Tony Nieto from Tesoro of Las Flores (medium schools) and Kurt Takahashi from Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento (small schools).
Read more…


More Baseball State Teams of Year

In addition to overall No. 1 and State Team of the Year Concord De La Salle, others that can say they are mythical state champions for 2022 are McClatchy of Sacramento (D2), Tesoro of Las Flores (D3), Estancia of Costa Mesa (D4) and St. Bernard’s of Eureka (D5). Read more…


More Softball State Teams of the Year

In addition to overall No. 1 and Division 1 No. 1 St. Francis of Mountain View, others that can say they are mythical state champions for 2022 are Otay Ranch of Chula Vista (Division 2), Sutter (D3), Monterey (D4) and Big Valley Christian of Modesto (D5). Read more…


NBA Final Alums 2022

After a year in 2021 in which the Phoenix Suns did not have a player from a California high school, both the Golden State Warriors & Boston Celtics for 2022 each have at least one. The Warriors, of course, have a player who is headed to the Hall of Fame and who was inspirational in his comeback from two devastating injuries. All three of the players for 2022 were seen in high school by Cal-Hi Sports, but not surprising since two were in CIF state finals and the other was in a NorCal final.

FOR AN UPDATED LOOK AT OUR ALL-TIME NBA ALUMNI LIST, CLICK HERE.

Malik Fitts (Damien, La Verne)
When the current NBA season began, Malik may not have envisioned being on a roster for a team in the NBA Finals. However, he got a shot with the Celtics on a 10-day contract in February, signed another 10-day contract after that and got one for two years back on March 15. Malik probably won’t play much during the NBA Finals, but he’s there and he’s made it into the league. At Damien in 2015, he averaged 16 ppg and eight rebounds per game as the Spartans won their first CIF state title with a 70-57 triumph over Campolindo of Moraga in D3. Fitts had nine points in that game. He later went to a prep school and then South Florida for college.

Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM)
Regarded as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Thompson is playing in his sixth NBA Final, which puts him on the all-time list, but is only half of the total of California’s Bill Russell (Oakland McClymonds). The rest of the list includes Michael Cooper of Pasadena with eight, KC Jones of San Francisco Commerce with eight, Dennis Johnson of Compton Dominguez with six and Kurt Rambis of Cupertino with six. That fifth NBA Finals appearance for Thompson is one he’d like to forget as he suffered a torn achilles injury that caused him to miss the 2020 season. He then missed the 2021 season with a torn ACL. At Santa Margarita, Thompson had one of the best CIF state finals performances ever with 37 points and seven three-pointers when the Eagles (30-2) defeated Sacramento, 72-55, in the 2008 D3 championship.

Juan Toscano-Anderson (Castro Valley)
He wasn’t with the Warriors when they last played in the NBA Finals in 2019, but has made many in the Bay Area happy with his rise to be on the roster and a key contributor. Known as Juan Anderson at Castro Valley, he was the team’s second leading scorer in 2011 for a group that seemed poised to get to the 2011 CIF D1 state title, but lost in the NorCal final to a De La Salle (Concord) squad that the Trojans had defeated only a few weeks earlier. Anderson had 17 points in a NorCal playoff win over Bishop O’Dowd. He averaged 17.4 ppg. Teammate Roderick Bobbitt was the team’s leading scorer at more than 19 ppg.


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