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  • Devin Ugland

HoopsByUgland SoCal preseason Top 20: No.'s 6-10

Part three of the Southern California preseason Top 20 - No.'s 6-10:

6. Corona Centennial 2014-15 record; results: 25-6 overall; lost to Orange Lutheran, 78-73, in CIF-SS Open Division quarterfinals; lost to Chino Hills, 62-51, in CIF State Southern Regional finals Key returning players: SG Jordan Griffin (6-2, 162, Sr., Long Beach State-signee); C Ike Anigbogu (6-8, 230, Sr., UCLA-signee); F Jalen Hill (6-9, 215, Jr., verbally committed to UCLA); F Paris Lubin (6-6, 210, Sr.); G Giovonni Nelson (6-3, 180, Jr.); SG Jaylen Wiltz (6-1, 160, Sr.) Key newcomers: PG Isom Butler (6-2, 165, Jr., transfer from Etiwanda) Key departures: PG Sedrick Barefield; SG Kahlil Ahmad; G Chris Famous; G Kyle Hamilton Where you can see them in SoCal: The BattleZone at Corona Centennial, Nov. 30-Dec. 5; Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Jordan Take Flight Challenge, Jan. 2; Westchester Shootout, Jan. 9; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6

Corona Centennial F Jalen Hill (above) is primed for a big junior campaign. Photo Credit: Devin Ugland

Outlook: Corona Centennial lost two of its top three scorers from last season to graduation in Sedrick Barefield (SMU) and Kahlil Ahmad (Cal State Fullerton). The loss of Barefield has already begun to show as Huskies coach Josh Giles used multiple looks at the point guard position throughout the fall. Isom Butler looks to be guy who will see the most time at the PG spot and his calling card will be on the defensive side of the ball along with finding Jordan Griffin for open looks from three and getting the ball into the hands of the Cen10 big men, Jalen Hill and Ike Anigbogu. Hill and Anigbogu both had strong summers on the travel ball circuit and Hill was the beneficiary of a great experience with USA Basketball. The duo is going to be a force defensively because they both possess exceptional size and athleticism, but they also began to work well together in high-low situations on offense toward the end of the fall. Centennial will also need Gio Nelson and Jaylen Wiltz to step-up on both sides of the ball. 7. Redondo Union 2014-15 record; results: 25-8 overall; lost to LA Cathedral, 61-56, in the first round of CIF-SS Open Division playoffs; lost to Long Beach Poly, 48-40, in CIF-SS Open Division consolation finals; lost to Corona Centennial in CIF State Division I Southern Regional semifinals Key returning players: G Leland Green (6-2, 180, Sr.); G Morgan Means (6-3, 160, Sr.); Ryse Williams (6-3, 180, Jr.); F Cameron Williams (6-4, 170, Sr.); PG Elijah Nesbit (5-3, 140, Sr.) Key newcomers: SG Jailen Moore (6-1, 150, Jr. transfer from Lake Elsinore Lakeside); G Tyler Murrell (6-0, 160, Jr., transfer from Long Beach St. Anthony); C Quinn Collins (6-7, 175, Soph., lower level Redondo player last season) Key departures: G Cameron High; F Jeremiah Headley Where you can see them in SoCal: Pacific Shores Tournament at Redondo Union, Nov. 23-28; MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Jordan Take Flight Challenge, Jan. 2; Westchester Shootout, Jan. 9 Outlook: Redondo is composed of a guard-heavy lineup, but luckily for the Sea Hawks, those guards are all very good basketball players. Redondo returns its top three scorers from last season in Leland Green (14.3 points per game), Ryse Williams (10.7 ppg) and Morgan Means (10.2 ppg). Green is one of the more laterally gifted athlete you’ll find and can get the basket at-will in transition. Williams is a very good 3-point and mid-range shooter who has added a couple of dribble-drive moves to his arsenal. Means could be the most improved of the trio. He’s sprouted up a couple of inches and is starting to add strength to his wiry frame. Means is a solid all-around guard who can shoot it and drive it offensively and is a good perimeter defender thanks to his length. The questions surrounding Redondo are about its size and depth. Transfers Jailen Moore and Tyler Murrell will be scoring threats off the bench and 6-7 sophomore Quinn Collins saw some action at center throughout the fall. 8. Foothills Christian 2014-15 record; results: 24-8 overall; won CIF San Diego Section Division II championship, 83-4, over Mira Mesa; lost to Etiwanda, 56-55, in first round of CIF State Open Division playoffs Key returning players: PF T.J. Leaf (6-9, 215, Sr., UCLA-signee); G Omajae Smith (6-4, 180, Sr.); SG Luis Salgado (6-4, 175, Sr.); G Jordan Starr (6-5, 160, Soph.); Nikko Paranada (5-10, 160, Sr.); F T.J. Lowery (6-4, 155, Soph.); G Kale Baldado (6-4, 180, Jr.) Key newcomers: PG Jaren Nafarette (5-7, 145, Fr.) Key departures: None Where you can see them in SoCal: BattleZone at Corona Centennial, Nov. 30-Dec. 5; Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Sierra Canyon Super Showcase, Jan. 9; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6 Outlook: UCLA-bound senior T.J. Leaf is the first player that comes to mind when it comes to Foothills Christian and rightfully so. The 6-foot-9 forward is, in my opinion, the second best player in California behind Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills. Leaf can do it all — shoot from deep and mid-range, play some point-forward, play with his back to the basket, rebound and pass, boy can he pass. Now the question begs: Who the heck is Leaf passing to? Well, Omajae Smith has made major strides in his game. Smith is a super-athletic combo guard who gets to the rim as he pleases. Luis Salgado is another solid option. The 6-foot-4 guard has a sweet stroke from 3-point range. To round things out, Jordan Starr is an up-and-coming sophomore who has the skill set most all Division I college programs are looking for in a point guard. This is the first San Diego team to appear in the Top 20 rankings, and it’s easy to see why Foothills is the best team in SD. 9. Crespi 2014-15 record; results: 29-7 overall; won CIF-SS Division 4AA championship, 61-52, over Mission Prep; won CIF State Division IV championship, 47-44, over Sacramento Capital Christian Key returning players: G De’Anthony Melton (6-3, 185, Sr., USC-signee); G Brandon Williams (6-0, 150, Soph.); PG Taj Regans (5-7, 145, Soph.); F Mitchell Mykhaylov (6-5, 190, Sr.); F Anthony Booker (6-3, 210, Soph.) Key newcomers: None Key departures: G Mike Krkeyan; G Ethan Moss (transfer) Where you can see them in SoCal: Pacific Shores Tournament at Redondo Union, Nov. 23-28; San Fernando Valley Invitational, Dec. 18-19

Crespi sophomore Brandon Williams (above) is one of the top scoring guards in Southern California. Photo Credit: Devin Ugland Outlook: Crespi is going to be another team dominated by guard-play this season with the talented group of De’Anthony Melton, Brandon Williams and Taj Regans, who were all major contributors to the Celts Division IV State Championship last season. Melton, who signed a National Letter of Intent with USC earlier this week, is one of the most versatile guards in the state. He can play both on and off the ball, he can score from all three levels and he can defend four positions on the high school level. Williams is a premier scoring guard in the class of 2018. The athletic 6-footer is best when pulling up off the dribble and shooting his jump shot, but he can also get to the rim and finish. The two players that Crespi needs to have big seasons are Taj Regans and Mitchell Mykhaylov. Regans is a quick point guard who defends and Mykhaylov is a solid all-around big man. 10. Westchester 2014-15 record; results: 21-13 overall; lost to Fairfax, 56-47, in Los Angeles City Section Open Division finals; lost to Mater Dei, 67-44, in first round of CIF State Open Division playoffs Key returning players: PF Keith Fisher (6-7, 215, Sr., San Jose State-signee); F L’Kielynn Taylor (6-6, 195, Sr.); SF Evan Council (6-5, 200, Sr.); G Terrell Waiters (5-10, 165, Sr.); Key newcomers: G Jordan Brinson (6-0, 160, Fr.) Key departures: G Akil Hall Reese; G Ellis Sallahudin; G Jordan Terrell Where you can see them in SoCal: Pacific Shores Tournament at Redondo Union, Nov. 23-28; Westchester Tip-Off Classic, Dec. 1-5; Southern California Classic, Dec. 26-30; Westchester Shootout, Jan. 9; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6

Outlook: Will this Westchester team be like the ones of old filled with star power and big names? No, but the Comets have a strong core of returners with a ton of experience. The leader of Westchester’s charge this season will be Keith Fisher, a 6-foot-7 forward who signed with San Jose State earlier this week. Fisher is one of the most improved big men in the area—he’s a high motor guy who is tough on the interior when it comes to rebounding and defense. Fisher also has nice touch and footwork around the rim—and SJSU got a steal in the luring of him to NorCal. L’Kielynn Taylor is another Comet forward poised for a big season. Taylor is a mobile, inside-out big who plays with energy. Evan Council and Terell Waiters will be two of the perimeter guys that coach Ed Azzam will look to to initiate offense, but look for freshman guard Jordan Brinson to see some time on the floor. Azzam is not one to play freshmen very often, but Brinson is talented enough to break into the rotation. Brinson is the first freshman on the Westchester opening day varsity roster since Dwayne Polee in 2006-07.

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