SportStars Magazine

Boys Preseason NorCal Top 20

2016-17 records are included.

1. BISHOP O’DOWD-OAKLAND (19-11)
Last year’s Dragons were a talented team which had some big wins but could never stay consistent. However, the roster was still predominantly young (only five seniors), and returns an array of talent. Leading the way for O’Dowd is arguably the most talented backcourt in all of NorCal with Pac-12 commits, Elijah Hardy (Washington) (pictured above) at point guard and Naseem Gaskin (Utah) at shooting guard. Hardy and Gaskin are both three-year starters and are complemented by juniors Will Chavarin and Inko McNeil. Top-rated 2019 big man, Raymond Hawkins, makes this group truly formidable. However, CalHiSports.com reported in its preseason rankings that Hawkins had not been practicing with the team to start the year.

2. FOLSOM (22-9)
Anyone who watched the Bulldogs over the last month of the 2016-17 season could see this was a team that was starting to really click. Now, that team returns all of its heavy-hitters from a season ago, beginning with Harvard-bound post Mason Forbes who led the team in points, rebounds and blocked shots. The team’s other two top scorers, Martis Johnson (14.6 ppg) and Jayce McCain (13.6), both return as well.

Modesto Christian’s Mike Pearson.

3. MODESTO CHRISTIAN (22-8)
Some preseason rankings have Crusaders as the top team in the Sac-Joaquin Section over Folsom. The impressive list of returnees includes 6-foot-4 point guard Tyler Williams, the post tandem of Gabe Murphy (6-9) and Tsotne Tsartsidze (6-8), and sophomore guard Mike Pearson. The Crusaders returning talent also includes 6-6 junior Aaron Murphy (back from injury) and 6-3 junior guard Dathan Satchel (ineligible last season). Oh, and they picked up talented guard transfer Junior Ballard from Lathrop.

4. SALESIAN-RICHMOND (27-5)
Our Preseason No. 1 a year ago is still very much a threat to finish as the region’s top team. Outgoing transfers change the Pride’s look a little bit, but UConn-bound senior guard James Akinjo remains, as do the McClanahan twins, juniors Jaden and Jovan. Coach Bill Mellis also has a stable of talented sophomores that include 6-5 wing Tyler Brinkman, 6-6 post Te’Jon Sawyer and 6-2 guard Shane Bell.

5. ST. IGNATIUS-S.F. (23-7)
The Wildcats appear to be the consensus preseason favorite in what most consider the toughest league in NorCal, the West Catholic Athletic League. The returning senior guard tandem of Darrion Trammell and Brandon Beckman will power the St. Ignatius engine. Overall, the team lost just four seniors from a 15-man roster that won 23 games.

6. JESUIT-CARMICHAEL (15-13)
The Marauders arguably picked up the biggest transfer of the offseason when 6-8 senior post Elias King came over from bitter rival, Christian Brothers-Sacramento. The double-double machine joins an already strong roster and makes Jesuit serious SJS Div. I contenders.

7. ARCHBISHOP MITTY-SAN JOSE (18-11)
Riley Grigsby, a 6-6 sharp-shooting senior wing, is one of three returning starters for the defending Central Coast Section Open Division champions. There’s also a considerable amount of buzz around 6-2 incoming frosh, Mike Mitchell.

8. SHELDON-SACRAMENTO (30-4)
The Huskies suffered just two NorCal losses a season ago, both to NorCal Open Div. champion Woodcreek-Roseville. While some key talent graduated, new junior transfer Kaito Williams (Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento) should immediately fit into a senior-laden backcourt and keep Sheldon very dangerous.

9. ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (21-12)
Bryce Johnson, a 6-6 wing, is one of the top juniors in the region and returns to lead a sneaky-good team that eliminated Folsom from both the section and regional playoffs last season.

Dublin’s Conner Jackson

10. DUBLIN (29-5)
All-State guard Timmy Falls is now at Montana, but several pieces of the team which set a program record for wins still remain. Among them are seniors Conner Jackson and Jack Nielsen.

11. Capital Christian-Sacramento (23-8)

12. Bellarmine-San Jose (25-3)

13. Palo Alto (26-5)

14. St. Francis-Mountain View (21-10)

15. Heritage-Brentwood (27-5)

16. De La Salle-Concord (28-6)

17. Grant-Sacramento (20-10)

18. St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda (30-2)

19. Las Lomas-Walnut Creek (22-7)

20. Lincoln-Stockton (20-8)

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