Boys basketball All-Star Player of the Year: Darrin Person Jr.
Player of the Year
DARRIN PERSON JR.
He’s qualified because: His four-year career is defined by durability, consistency and success at a level approached by few in Central Section history. He played in all of the Eagles’ 126 games, averaging 18.3 points and 10.6 rebounds. His 2,305 career points and 1,341 rebounds rank fifth and sixth in section history, and they were delivered for teams that went 101-25 with four section titles – the first in Division V; the past three in D-IV, setting up the program for a promotion to D-III next season.
Doubling the fun: Growing from 6-4 to 6-6 in his career, Person missed by two rebounds of having double-doubles in all four of his section championship games at Selland Arena. He had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kern Valley (64-34) as a freshman, 22 and eight against Granite Hills (70-50) as a sophomore, 10 and 12 against Taft (60-44) as a junior and 20 and 11 against Madera South (58-51) in March.
Questionable? Not really: Person, who has signed with Cal State Bakersfield, had 29 points and 16 rebounds before injuring an ankle badly in a 73-59 win at fourth-seeded Twentynine Palms in the quarterfinals of the Southern California D-IV Regional. The injury was discomforting enough that Person didn’t participate in his fifth-seeded team’s pregame shootaround at top-seeded Burbank three days later. He not only played, he scored 34 points and had six rebounds in the 58-57 upset. He closed his career with a 20-point, nine-rebound effort in an 80-69 loss to No. 2 Helix-La Mesa in the regional final. He also played all season with a hip labrum tear that will require surgery. “Unless I was throwing up or near death, I was not really worried about it; I was going to play,” he says.
From the CEO: “Darrin came in as a big strong kid who could jump a little bit, but couldn’t dribble and couldn’t shoot. Now you watch him play and he’s finishing with both hands, can hit a jumper and some 3’s. The growth he showed in his career was phenomenal. He figured out early he was not going to be 6-10, got in the gym, put the work in and is leaving as a basketball player.” – Eagles coach Nate McClurg
OUTSTANDING LARGE DIVISION PLAYER
Position: Point guard
He’s qualified because: The section’s most entertaining player, a bow-legged runaway stallion with tumbleweed doo bouncing, the left-hander averaged 20.1 points while leading the Grizzlies to the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and a second straight Central Section Division I crown for a program that gone 90 years without a top-division championship. The TRAC Most Valuable Player played all 32 minutes, scoring 16 points with six assists, in Central’s 69-58 win over Bakersfield in the section final at Selland Arena.
OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE PLAYER
School: Clovis West
He’s qualified because: Averaged 22.8 points this season while closing a four-year career with 1,648 points – third in school history for the Central Section’s most accomplished program of the past 40 years. His 661 points this year are second best in school annals. He’ll play next at Fresno Pacific.
OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
School: Clovis North
He’s qualified because: Three-year varsity player leaves as the school’s leading career shot blocker with 231. This season, he averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.3 steals.
From the CEO: “Elijah is the best rim protector that I have ever coached. He has an uncanny ability to block and change shots without fouling.” – Broncos coach Tony Amundsen
Outstanding Mid-Division player
He’s qualified because: As good a guard as there is in the section, according to Immanuel coach Nate McClurg, he averaged 21.2 points while powering the Bears to a 10-0 Central Sequoia League title, their first Central Section championship (Division III) in 103 years and a school-record 30-5 mark. It appeared his biggest shot of the season – a 3-pointer with 49 seconds remaining at home – was going to beat Orange Glen-Escondido in a Southern California D-III Regional, but the Patriots scored with 1.2 remaining to escape, 64-61. Most flattering to Pallesi was his CSL Most Valuable Player honor in a league that also featured Immanuel’s Darrin Person Jr., The Bee’s Player of the Year.
Outstanding Small-Division Player
Position: Point guard
He’s qualified because: A nephew of NFL linebackers Mychal and Eric, Kendricks took over the point for Colin Slater II (now at Tulane) and exploded while helping lead the 23-9 Eagles to a fourth straight Central Section title (Division IV) and into the finals of the Southern California D-IV Regional. At 6 feet and extraordinarily fast, he averaged 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals. Kendricks averaged 28.5 points in four regional games, closing with 32 in an 80-69 loss at Helix-La Mesa for the regional title. He made 80 3-pointers for the season.
From the CEO: “After last year’s (final) game against Chino Hills, I literally handed Nate the keys and said, ‘OK, it’s your time.’ He figured it out and turned into the guy we knew he was. He was dominant, and no matter against who we played.” – Eagles coach Nate McClurg
Rookie of the Year
He’s qualified because: Second-team MaxPreps Freshman All-American averaged 18.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists, shot 55 percent from the field and scored 20 or more points 12 times, including a 36-point game, as the Panthers went 26-7 and reached the Northern California Regional Division II quarterfinals.
COACH OF THE YEAR
He’s qualified because: A program that went 90 years without a Central Section top division boys basketball title is 2 for 2 under Streets after defeating Bakersfield 69-58 for the Division I crown in March at Selland Arena. That came a year after the Grizzlies conquered Clovis North 77-64 for the coveted plaque. Central lost Bee All-Star players from that team in center Chris Seeley, who graduated, and point guard Jaylon Johnson, who chose to concentrate on football, where he has signed with Utah as a defensive back. But former Edison standout Streets shuffled his new deck efficiently, moving off-guard Cash Williams to the point and developing Kobe Foster at the post while winning the Tri-River Athletic Conference at 9-1 and finishing 20-7 overall.
Mid-division coach of the year
He’s qualified because: A year after being denied their first section boys basketball title in 102 years, 60-36, by Roosevelt at Selland Arena, the Bears wouldn’t be denied this time, winning 56-42 over Sanger for the Division III crown in the Fresno downtown venue. They reached the Southern California Regional D-III quarterfinals in a school-record 30-5 season, including a 10-0 mark in the Central Sequoia League, with four sophomores and a junior as starters. Pallesi is 341-274 in 22 years at Fowler, Sierra, Sanger and Selma. His son, William, is The Bee’s Outstanding Mid-Division Player as a junior, and the coach hints strongly that he’ll go out with him as a senior.
From the CEO: “I want to watch Will in college and, if we’re fortunate that he plays locally, I will want to watch as many of his games as I can. And that means a good possibility that next year (at Selma) will be it for me.”
Small-division coach of the year
He’s qualified because: Not only took the baton from hugely successful Eagles coach C.J. Haydock and ran two years ago, McClurg nearly pulled off a Southern Regional Division IV title as a No. 5 seed this season. After extending the program’s Central Section title string to four with a D-IV 58-51 win over Madera South at Selland Arena, the Eagles won three regional games, including road upsets of fourth-seeded Twentynine Palms (73-59) and No. 1 Burbank (58-57). They then closed a 23-9 season in an 80-69 loss at No. 2 Helix-Las Mesa. McClurg has since accepted an assistant position with Fresno Pacific’s men’s program under Haydock.
THE BEE’S All-star team
Spencer Heimerdinger, Buchanan
Uriah Carter, Bullard
Ishaan Rahal, Caruthers
Cam’Ron Wilson, Central
Kobe Foster, Central
Jaylen Johnson, Clovis East
Domenic Reyes, Clovis North
Ben Avera, Clovis North
Anthony Martinez, Clovis West
Walter Graves III, Clovis West
Josh Cruz, Coalinga
Manny Harper, Dos Palos
Asrin Hackett, Edison
Teyjohn Herrington, Edison
Johnny Nalbandian, Fowler
Lee Majors, Fresno
Jonah Ruckman, Granite Hills
Dameane Douglas, Hanford West
David Rico, Kerman
Niko Cummings, Kingsburg
Hassan Bolden, Madera South
Lunden Taylor, Memorial
Deon Stroud, Memorial
Treager Wallace, Porterville
Kobe Garner, Redwood
Arron Mosby, Sanger
Junior Ramirez, Selma
Tiveon Stroud, Selma
Karan Singh, Selma
Amari Stroud, Sunnyside
Dominic Sanquintin, Tulare Western