A group of six boys are in line to be selected as the 2013 honoree by Cal-Hi Sports. The Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year list now goes back almost 100 years and includes numerous NBA superstars.
By Ronnie Flores
Two players who were finalists last season, including eventual winner Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty, a junior from CIF Open Division state champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana plus three other highly-regarded seniors have been chosen by Cal-Hi Sports as finalists for the 2013 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Gordon, a 6-foot-8 forward who led Mitty to the Open Division state title game where it lost to Mater Dei, could become the first repeat winner since center Tyson Chandler in 2001. Chandler, now of the New York Knicks, prepped at Dominguez of Compton.
Six-foot-6 Stanley Johnson led Mater Dei to a 50-45 win over Mitty with a 26-point, 12-rebound, four-steal performance. He’s already been named the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA co-Player of the Year along with another junior, Etiwanda’s Jordan McLaughlin.
Jabari Bird from Salesian of Richmond is the other returning finalist alongside Gordon. The 6-foot-5 Bird will join Gordon and a Southern California finalist, St. John Bosco’s Isaac Hamilton, next week at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago.
Rounding out the finalists are Dakarai Allen from Sheldon of Sacramento, who helped the Huskies defeat Salesian en route to the NorCal Open Division final, and Roschon Prince, Long Beach Poly’s all-time leading scorer and four-year standout.
Here is a closer look at the six players:
Dakarai Allen (Sheldon, Sacramento)
The team MVP on the deepest and arguably most balanced team in the state, Allen is another recruiting gem for Steve Fisher’s program at San Diego State. Allen not only averages 19 ppg to lead the Huskies, he’s also their best defender. Allen can handle the ball like a true point guard at 6-foot-5, or guard defenders in the post with his length. The MVP of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Allen is also a two-time Delta River League MVP.
Jabari Bird (Salesian, Richmond)
A return finalist, Bird averaged nearly 20 ppg as a junior and this season sported averages of 17.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 2.6 apg for a 30-4 team that advanced to the NorCal Open Division semifinals. A smooth operator on the wing, Bird played best in Salesian’s biggest games. According to reporters in attendance, he dominated down the stretch in Salesian’s regular season win over Sheldon and finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. Last year, Bird led Salesian to the Division IV state title, netting 23 points in the state title game win over Price of Los Angeles.
Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose)
It’s a testament to Gordon’s ability that 22 points and 20 rebounds in the first-ever CIF Open Division title game was looked at as an unspectacular performance. That’s how high Gordon has set the bar with his play as a senior. Arguably the top player produced from the San Francisco Bay area in 20 years (since St. Joseph’s Jason Kidd), Gordon averaged 21.6 ppg, 15.6 rpg, 3.4 apg and 2.1 bpg for a team that relied on the ability of one individual player more than any top 10 ranked team in the state did. Gordon plans to announce his college choice at the McDonald’s All-American festivities next week in Chicago.
Isaac Hamilton (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
The state’s top pure scorer, Hamilton makes the game look effortless at times and that leaves fans wanting him to dominate more. Still, when the game was over, Hamilton usually stuffed the stat sheet against some of the state’s toughest competition. Bound for UTEP, Hamilton averaged 22.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, and 2.1 spg for a 24-7 team that lost a heartbreaker to Long Beach Poly in the SoCal Open Division playoffs. Hamilton is the third McDonald’s All-American Derrick Taylor has coached, joining Larry Drew (2008) and Jordan Farmer (2004) during his days at Taft of Woodland Hills.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
He made history when he led Mater Dei to the CIF Open Division title because it was the first time any boys’ team ever won three consecutive major division state titles. The MVP of the Trinity League (which includes Isaac Hamilton’s St. John Bosco team), Johnson averaged 19.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 2.1 spg for the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year. This season, he upped his production and leadership tremendously after Mater Dei graduated three players who went on to play in the Pac-12. Johnson is already being hailed as potentially the best ever player to come from the Orange County powerhouse program. A fourth state title next season would leave no doubt about that.
Roschon Prince (Poly, Long Beach)
A four-year standout for one of the state’s best programs in that time frame, Prince averaged 20.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg for a 28-4 team that spent a majority of the season as the top-ranked team in the state. Prince needs to work on his overall ball-handling and shooting to excel at the next level, but he has a tendency to hit big shots (including a 3-pointer to send the CIFSS Div. I-AA semifinal game against Etiwanda into overtime) and nobody can generate points near the rim like he can. In his four-year career, Prince made 643 free throws, No. 2 on the all-time state list.
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