With high school basketball season officially kicking off earlier in the week, HoopsByUgland.com has put together its inaugural Top 20 Southern California preseason Top 20 rankings. The rankings scan Southern California from the Valley to San Diego and will be released in a four-part series.
Here are No.'s 16-20, as well as a handful of teams who just missed the cut:
16. Santa Margarita
2014-15 record; results: 19-8 overall; lost to Los Alamitos, 69-65, in CIF-SS Division IAA quarterfinals
Key returning players: G Kaden Rasheed (6-0, 170, Jr.); PG Noah Rasheed (5-11, 180, Sr.); SG Colin Ferrier (6-2, 185, Sr.); PF Jordan Guest (6-7, 215, Soph.); C Race Parks (6-8, 175, Soph.)
Key newcomers: F Adrease Jackson (6-7, 215, Jr., transfer from Tesoro); F Jake Kyman (6-7, 180, Fr.); C Johnny Wang (6-9, 230, Jr.)
Key departures: F Scott Wesierski
Where you can see them in SoCal: Coaches for a Cause at Ocean View High, Nov. 28; Santa Margarita Christmas Classic, Dec. 17-21; MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Jordan Take Flight Challenge, Jan. 2; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6
Santa Margarita freshman Jake Kyman (above) is a 2019 player to keep an eye on. Photo Credit: Devin Ugland
Outlook: On paper, Santa Margarita has to be considered one of the more loaded offensive teams in the region. The Eagles return their top four scorers from a season ago—each of them posted double-figure scoring averages in 2014-15 and add two solid junior forwards in Adrease Jackson and Johnny Wang. Freshman forward Jake Kyman is going to be another weapon for coach Jeff Reinert. Kyman was impressive throughout the summer where I watched him at various camps and showcases and is ready to contribute on the varsity level right away. What will be interesting to watch with Santa Margarita is how quickly they gel the old with the new. It’s still unclear if Jackson and Wang will have to sit the 30 days under the CIF-mandated transfer rules. Each will need to show proof of change of address.
17. Los Angeles Cathedral
2014-15 record; results: 22-8 overall; lost to Bishop Montgomery, 59-47, in CIF-SS Open Division quarterfinals; lost to Damien, 68-62, in CIF State Division III Southern Regional finals
Key returning players: PG Milan Acquaah (6-2, 185, Sr., committed to Washington State); F Lucas Siewert (6-9, 210, Sr.)
Key newcomers: SF Daron Henson (6-7, 200, Sr., Utah State-signee)
Key departures: SG Kobe Paras (6-6, 190, Sr., UCLA-signee, exhausted eligibility); F Leandro Amador
Where you can see them in SoCal: BattleZone at Corona Centennial, Nov. 30-Dec. 5; Jordan Take Flight Challenge, Jan. 2; Sierra Canyon Super Showcase, Jan. 9;
Outlook: UCLA-bound swingman Kobe Paras will not be suiting up for Cathedral this season as it was ruled he had exhausted his eight semesters high school eligibility after coming to the States from the Philippines. While the loss of Paras and his 15 points per game last season is a significant hit for the Phantoms, Milan Acquaah, Lucas Siewert and Daron Henson, a transfer from Alemany, are more than capable of picking up the slack. Cathedral will need its young players from last season to contribute if its going to challenge Bishop Montgomery for the Del Rey League title.
18. J.W. North
2014-15 record; results: 24-4 overall; lost to Bishop Montgomery, 81-55, in first round of CIF-SS Open Division playoffs; lost to San Marcos, 60-57, in first round of CIF State Division I playoffs
Key returning players: G Dikymbe Martin (6-1, 175, Sr., UC Riverside-signee); G Deshaun Highler (6-1, 150, Sr.); F Cameron Nunley (6-5, 195, Jr.); F Christian Gray (6-5, 215, Sr.); G C.J. Clark (6-0, 155, Sr.); F Ronald McQuay (6-5, 195, Jr.); F Parker Williams (6-4, 165, Jr.)
Key newcomers: None
Key departures: G Maurice Ladd
Where you can see them in SoCal: MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30
Outlook: J.W. North returns five of its top scorers from a season ago in Martin, Gray, Highler, Clark and Nunley. Those five combined to produce 58.9 points per game in 2014-15 which helped the Huskies earn a spot in the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs. Martin is primed for another 20-plus point per game average, while Highler, Gray, Clark and Nunley have all improved over the summer and fall. Junior forward Ronald McQuay could be the x-factor for North. He’s a strong and mobile forward who can defend and rebound.
19. St. Augustine
2014-15 record; results: 25-7 overall; won CIF San Diego Section championship, 46-42, over Torrey Pines; lost to Bishop Montgomery, 75-61, in CIF State Open Division Southern Region first
Key returning players: PG Eric Monroe (6-2, 160, Sr., Yale-signee); G Otto Taylor (6-1, 150, Jr.); F Martin Tombe (6-6, 205, Sr.); SF Taeshon Cherry (6-7, 190, Soph.); F Josue Lara (6-5, 170, Jr.); C Daniel Lara (6-6, 220, Sr.), G Tariq Thomson (6-2, 160, Jr.)
Key newcomers: G Isaac Hall (6-2, 165, Soph., played JV last season for Saints)
Key departures: SF Daniel Caya
Where you can see them in SoCal: Rose City Roundball Classic at Maranatha, Nov. 30-Dec.5; Santa Margarita Christmas Classic, Dec. 17-21; Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Sierra Canyon Shootout, Jan. 9
Outlook: St. Augustine returns a litter of players from its CIF-SDS Open Division championship last season. Eric Monroe, a heady point guard headed to Yale, will be the guy who makes it all happen for the Saints. Monroe can do a little bit of everything on the court and will have plenty of guys to help him out. One of the top sophomores in the west, Taeshon Cherry, has begun to evolve into a high major wing player. Cherry has improved the range on his jump shot and plays with a relentless motor. Otto Taylor is another talented guard who can fill it up in a hurry. Look for Martin Tombe and Josue and Daniel Lara to be big contributors to the Saints cause.
20. Cathedral Catholic
2014-15 record; results: 17-9 overall; lost to Poway, 67-64, in CIF San Diego Section Division I quarterfinals
Key returning players: G Austin Beech (6-5, 180, Sr.); PG Cameron Moore (6-0, 170, Sr.); F Reid Johnson (6-6, 220, Sr.); F Matthew Elliot (6-6, 190, Sr.); PF/C Peter Xue (6-8, 190, Sr.); G Dallas Cunningham (6-6, 185, Jr.)
Key newcomers: C Brandon McCoy (7-0, 230, Jr., transfer from Morse); Je’Von Figaro (6-2, 170, Jr., transfer from Lafayette High in Louisiana)
Key departures: G Jacoby Richmond; G Johnny Harris
Where you can see them in SoCal: MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30
Cathedral Catholic's Brandon McCoy (above) is a consensus five-star prospect in the class of 2017. Photo Credit: Devin Ugland
Outlook: There’s a big reason why Cathedral Catholic made this ranking and it’s a 7-foot, consensus five-star prospect in Brandon McCoy who transferred in from Morse. McCoy is one of the best big men, regardless of class, in the western United States, and his presence in the paint on both sides of the ball make the Dons one of the best teams in San Diego. McCoy will be joined by talented perimeter players in Austin Beech, Cameron Moore and Je’Von Figaro, who made his way to San Diego from Louisiana.
On the bubble: Damien, La Mirada, Los Alamitos, Alemany, Loyola, Compton, Harvard-Westlake, Windward, Rancho Christian