Basketball season is well underway, holiday tournaments are here, and league-play is around the corner. I’ve been in numerous gyms since the season started, and evaluated the area’s best talent.
The following list ranks high school boys basketball’s top 15 guards and 10 big men in the L.A. Daily News coverage area, which includes the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Palmdale, Conejo Valley, and parts of La Canada and Burbank.
Weigh in on the rankings by sharing the story with your comments and hashtagging #DNHoops.
Top 15 Guards
1. Brandon Williams, Sr., Crespi (Arizona)
Elite scorer – can do it off the bounce or from distance. Williams’ game is smooth and explosive. His ability to score in bunches is what makes Crespi a serious contender to win the Mission League.
2. Duane Washington Jr., Sr., Sierra Canyon (Ohio State)
Next-level size, speed and strength with unlimited shooting range. Regardless of where he is on the floor, his shot looks the same – a true mark of a great shooter.
3. Cassius Stanley, Jr., Sierra Canyon
The human highlight reel. Stanley is one of the best guards in the country for the 2019 class. When his shot is falling, he’s very hard to guard. The 6-foot-5 guard loves to play above the rim.
4. Johnny Juzang, So., Harvard-Westlake
Juzang is a great off-the-dribble shooter. Whether it be posting up at 14 feet or pulling up from the elbow, Juzang’s smooth jump shot is impressively polished. Underrated athletic ability, too.
5. Devonaire Doutrive, Sr., Birmingham
High-volume scorer that can dazzle with flashy dunks. Doutrive has the ability to score 50 points any given night.
6. Kihei Clark, Sr., Taft (Virginia)
Speedy and savvy guard that can get to any spot on the court. His ability to go by defenders makes him one of the City’s best playmakers.
7. D.J. McDonald, Sr., Alemany (UC Riverside)
The epitome of a floor general. Small in stature but plays big. McDonald is great at pushing the ball up the floor and can make opponents pay from the 3-point line.
8. Wes Slajchert, Sr., Oak Park (Dartmouth)
Like the L.A. Daily News version of the NBA’s Ricky Rubio. Tall, long point guard that is a pass-first player. Can hit the open shot, but his basketball I.Q. is what makes him so good.
9. Dexter Akanno, Sr., Valencia
Akanno may be the most physically gifted guard in the area. He plays with power, which makes him almost unstoppable when attacking the baske. Akanno could be the area’s biggest sleeper.
10. Jonathan Daniels, Jr., Paraclete
High-motor point guard that can score and playmake for his team. As a sophomore at Heritage Christian last season, he scored 28 points in the opening round of the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs against Sierra Canyon.
11. Austin Galuppo, Sr. West Ranch
Athletic shooter. Galuppo is capable for big scoring nights due to his ability to attack the basket and shoot from anywhere on the court. Opponents’ scouting reports read: ‘guard from parking lot’.
12. Ryan Turell, Sr., Valley Torah
Turell is a wiry-long guard that can do it all. The 6-foot-5 guard is capable of tallying a triple-double on any given night.
13. Dillon Depina, So., Heritage Christian
Depina is a strong guard that loves the pull-up jumper. A hog defensively, and one of the best physical and rebounding guards in the area.
14. Tyree Winborn, Sr., Van Nuys
Winborn is the ultimate competitor. If the Wolves need 50 points to win, he’ll do it. A pest defensively that turns pressure into easy points.
15. Whitten Dominguez, Sr., Hart (Biola)
A high-character kid that brings leadership and smart play to the basketball court. An all-around player that can score, defend and lead his Hart team to another league title.
Other guards to watch: Max Cheylov, Calabasas; Taj Regans, Crespi; Jordan Jones, Oaks Christian; Eddy Egun, El Camino Real; Mike Meadows, Campbell Hall; Richard Kawakami, Valencia; Patric Panoosi, La Canada; Bryce Howard, Westlake; Luke Alviar, Granada Hills; Clark Slajchert, Oak Park; Scotty Pippen Jr., Sierra Canyon; Andre Henry, St. Francis; KJ Simpson, Chaminade; Brandon Whitney, Alemany; Julian Rishwain, Notre Dame (SO); Deon Francois, Westlake;
Top 10 Forwards/Centers
1. Riley Battin, Sr., Oak Park (Utah)
A true big man that can post up, but can also hit the jumper from just about anywhere if his feet are set. He can also put the ball on the floor and exploit a slower-footed defender, and he won’t just lay it in, he’ll dunk it. Pending on how far he takes Oak Park, Battin could be a candidate for Player of the Year.
2. Fred Odhiambo, Sr., Alemany
An absolute problem at the rim defensively. Odhiambo is long and athletic, which disrupts any attack at or above the rim. A shot blocking, rim-to-rim running big man that will benefit from penetrating teammates like DJ McDonald and Brandon Whitney.
3. KJ Martin, Jr., Sierra Canyon
Martin is the most impressive combination of size and athleticism in the area – but his best attribute is his motor. The 6-foot-7 leaper blocks shots into the stands and tries to dunk everything. His activity is a monumental effect on the game.
4. Drake London, Jr., Moorpark
The combination of his 6-foot-6 frame and skill makes him one of the best talents in the area. London has scholarship offers for football and basketball, including an offer from Virginia, a top-level DI men’s basketball program.
5. Kyle Owens, Jr., Crespi
Owens is a matchup nightmare for smaller forwards with his ability to score at the rim, and can be an issue for slow-footed bigs when he puts the ball on the floor.
6. Ziaire Williams, So., Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks
Already 6-foot-8, and as long as the day, he’s already drawing high-major interest. What’s most impressive about Williams’ young game is his confidence to rise up and score over opponents.
7. Mike Feinberg, Sr., Viewpoint (Yale)
The most cerebral player in the area, and that’s not just because he’s an IVY league player. The Yale-bound senior can play multiple positions, which is why he’s on the ‘forwards’ list. Feinberg will be a guard at the next level, but for Viewpoint, he plays everything, including the three and four spots.
8. Terren Frank, So., Sierra Canyon
Frank is already 6-foot-7 with a soft touch from 18 feet, and will get quicker and more agile as he gets older. For now, Frank’s savvy play, shooting stroke and big body are pivotal assets to the Trailblazers.
9. Mason Hooks, So., Harvard-Westlake
Physically, Hooks can probably help some Big West Conference teams right now. Not only is Hooks 6-foot-10, but he’s also 240 pounds. Opponents can’t duplicate or prepare for someone like Hooks in practice. He dominates the glass.
10. Albert Zhang, Sr., Westlake
Zhang is 6-foot-9, but his build makes him look seven feet. Although he’s very thin in stature, Zhang has a soft touch and defends the rim for the Warriors. He can also catch well, which is an underrated skill for a center.
Other forwards/centers to watch: Max Edwards, Sr. Simi Valley; Elijah Scranton, Paraclete; Truman Gettings, Harvard-Westlake; Luke Webb, Chaminade; Jayden Trower, Valencia; Ezekiel Richards, Oak Park; Carson Weiss, Hart; Jonathan Reese, Granada Hills; Noah Fernando, Heritage Christian