Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Boys Hoops: 2017 All-Orange County Team

Kezie Okpala (No. 0) of Esperanza of Anaheim. Photo/Jon Lofdahl

Kezie Okpala (No. 0) of Esperanza of Anaheim. Photo/Jon Lofdahl


2017 SO CAL SIDELINES BOYS BASKETBALL HONORS


ALL-ORANGE COUNTY TEAM


PLAYER OF THE YEAR


Stanford-bound Kezie Okpala of Esperanza of Anaheim. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Stanford-bound Kezie Okpala of Esperanza of Anaheim. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Kezie Okpala, Esperanza of Anaheim, Sr.

There was no contest as to who was the best player in Orange County this season.

Okpala broke so many records at Esperanza that he started to break some of his own records. Thanks to Okpala, Esperanza just completed the greatest season in school history with a 30-3 record, which got them ranked No. 2 in Orange County and No. 12 in So Cal by So Cal Sidelines, and a CIF Division II State title. Okpala is headed to Stanford and many experts believe the Cardinals got a big steal by signing him. Okpala averaged 30.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game with game highs of 47 points against Crossroads of Santa Monica in the semifinals of the CIF So Cal Regionals, 19 rebounds against Yorba Linda in the “Battle of the Boulevard,” nine steals against El Dorado of Placentia and seven blocks against Villa Park and Dorsey of Los Angeles in the first round of the CIF So Cal Regionals.

For the second time in three seasons, the OC Player of the Year hails from Esperanza.


COACH OF THE YEAR


Kevin Reynolds of Villa Park. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

Kevin Reynolds of Villa Park. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

Kevin Reynolds, Villa Park

Standout big man Evan Battey, who is headed to the Pac-12 next season, was declared ineligible for his senior season, but fortunately Reynolds had Myles Franklin ready to step up for the Spartans.

Reynolds added Battey to his coaching staff, which probably made the difference in helping the Spartans reach the CIF-SS Finals and CIF State Finals.

Reynolds coached the Spartans to a 28-6 record that got them ranked No. 4 in Orange County and No. 20 in So Cal with a third-place finish at the Jim Harris Memorial Tournament of Champions, a consolation title in the Silver Division of the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas and a consolation title at the Joe Schram Tournament at St. Francis of Mountain View. The Spartans also took the North Hills title and made a trip to the CIF-SS 2AA Finals, losing to Colony of Ontario 74-70, but they got their revenge and beat Colony to win the CIF So Cal Regional title to make their first trip to the CIF State Finals where they lost in overtime to Mission of San Francisco, which only lost one game the entire year.

Many have wondered how good this team would have been had it had Battey, but Reynolds guidance earned him the OC Coach of the Year.


FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR


Dominick Harris of Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach. Photo/Brandon Petersen.

Dominick Harris of Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach. Photo/Brandon Petersen.

Dominick Harris, Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach, Fr.

It usually takes a few years for a basketball program to get off the ground and more so if it has a freshman leading the way, but Dominick Harris carried the Tritons to the CIF-SS Division 6 finals. Pacifica Christian went 24-5, while finishing No. 15 in the OC thanks to Harris’ big-time numbers. Harris averaged 25.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3 steals per game with game highs of 50 points against Cornerstone Christian of Wildomar, 13 rebounds in a different game with Cornerstone Christian, 10 assists against Avalon and Orange County Christian of Anaheim, eight steals against Eldorado Emerson of Orange and four blocks against Bethel Baptist of Santa Ana.

No other freshman in the OC came close to accomplishing what Harris did this season. If this group stays intact the next three years, the Tritons have the potential to win a CIF-SS title. We may have a new small school powerhouse in So Cal now with Harris leading Pacifica Christian.


FIRST TEAM


Justice Sueing of Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Photo/Mark Bausman.

Justice Sueing of Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Photo/Mark Bausman.

Sebastian Much, JSerra of San Juan Capistrano, Sr.

Much helped the Lions in a season where they were recognized as an Open Division team after a third-place finish in a brutal Trinity League. Much averaged 20.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with game highs of 40 points in an upset victory over Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, 18 rebounds against Cajon of San Bernardino at the CdM Beach Bash and nine assists against Damien of La Verne in the CIF-SS Open Division. Much made second team All-County last season and will head to Princeton next year.

Justice Sueing, Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Sr.

Sueing took the senior leadership role and excelled, helping the Monarchs reach the CIF-SS Open Division final and the CIF So Cal Regional final. Sueing averaged 17 points and 6.6 rebounds per game with game highs of 31 points against Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, 15 rebounds against Bishop Gorman at the Tarkanian Classic and six assists against Knight of Palmdale at the Damien Holiday Classic. Sueing will take his talents to Cal next year.

Trey Smith, Saddleback Valley Christian of San Juan Capistrano, Sr.

Trey set a very high bar at SVC on the court and in the classroom. Smith, who made All-County last season, averaged 27.3 points per game, which was the second highest in the OC. Smith had highs of 35 points in back-to-back games against Bishop Amat of La Puente and Troy of Fullerton at the Orangewood Academy Tournament. Smith is going to be an enormous player to replace.

Dawson Baker (No. 2) of Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. Photo/Mark Bausman.

Dawson Baker (No. 2) of Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. Photo/Mark Bausman.

Dawson Baker, Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo, Jr.

Dawson helped lead the Cougars to their first CIF-SS title in 25 years. It was also the first for longtime coach Brian Mulligan. Baker averaged 21.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game with game highs of 43 points against Cypress at the Grizzly Invitational, 14 rebounds against Orange Lutheran at the North OC Championship, seven assists against Dos Pueblos of Goleta and five steals against Laguna Hills. If you weren’t impressed by Baker this past season, you will be next year.

Spencer Freedman, Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Jr.

Even with big names like Bol Bol and Justice Sueing on the roster, everyone knew that Spencer Freedman was the wheel that kept Mater Dei turning. Freedman averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 assists per game this season with game highs of 26 points against Desert Pines of Las Vegas and Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, both at the Tarkanian Classic, and eight rebounds and 11 assists against St. Augustine of San Diego at the Nike Extravaganza. Freedman will keep the wheels turning and hopefully turn them up north for the State Finals next season.

Adrease Jackson, Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, Sr.

Adrease Jackson has been a threat in South Orange County in recent seasons and put up some big numbers this season. Jackson averaged 15.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with game highs of 34 points against Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, 18 rebounds against Orange Lutheran and Redondo Union of Redondo Beach in the CIF-SS Open Division consolation playoffs. Jackson heads to Dartmouth where he hopes to be the same threat he was in the OC.

Northeastern-bound Myles Franklin (No. 13) of Villa Park. Photo/Willie Eashman of Cal-Hi Sports.

Northeastern-bound Myles Franklin (No. 13) of Villa Park. Photo/Willie Eashman of Cal-Hi Sports.

Chris Williams, Orange Lutheran, Sr.

Despite it being a rebuilding year for the Lancers, Williams lit the scoreboard up this season. He averaged 20.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game with game highs of 43 points against Redlands East Valley at the Battle Zone and 16 rebounds and eight assists against Heritage Christian of Northbridge at the Under Armour Holiday Classic. OLu returns many key players next season, but it will be hard to replace Williams.

Myles Franklin, Villa Park, Sr.

Franklin had to step up and take the lead role with his go-to guy out of commission. He succeeded with a trip to the CIF State Finals. Franklin averaged 18.1 points with game highs of 29 points against Sierra Vista of Las Vegas at the Tarkanian Classic and Esperanza of Anaheim and 10 assists against Sierra Vista and El Dorado of Placentia. Franklin will hand the keys to his younger brother, Julien, as he heads to Northeastern.

Randall Walker, Edison of Huntington Beach, Sr.

Despite not going as far as they wanted to in the playoffs this season, Randall Walker put his name in the history books at Edison with two trips to the CIF-SS Finals. Walker averaged 23 points this season with a season high of 45 points against Newport Harbor of Newport Beach. It will be very difficult for the Chargers to replace Walker next season.

Andrease Jackson of Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita throws down a dunk. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

Andrease Jackson of Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita throws down a dunk. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

Michael Bagatourian, Crean Lutheran of Irvine, Sr.

Bagatourian had another big year, leading the Saints to another Academy League title. Bagatourian averaged 17.5 points per game with season highs of 28 points against Santiago of Corona at the MLK Day Challenge, Brethren Christian of Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach in the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs. It will be tough for the Saints to keep the ball rolling with Bagatourian graduating.

Blake Burzell, Laguna Beach, Jr.

It is hard to believe that basketball is not his main sport. He is a baseball guy, but Burzell put up some big numbers. Burzell averaged 23.6 points per game with a season high of 49 points against Cajon of San Bernardino at the Charlie Wilkins Classic. Burzell is committed to Duke for baseball, but it is highly unlikely he will end up there because he will probably get picked up in the MLB Draft. Burzell is a fine young athlete and the Breakers have one more year with him.

Alex Brey, University of Irvine, Jr.

It was supposed to be tough to replace All-County star Kiron Dey at University, but Alex Brey made it look easy as he led the Trojans the same way Dey did. Bray averaged 24.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game with game highs of 41 points against Beckman of Irvine, 15 rebounds and seven assists in another game against Beckman, and five steals against Woodbridge of Irvine and Corona del Mar of Newport Beach. Unlike Dey, Brey still has another year left at UNI, so things are going to get scary for the Pacific Coast League opponents next season, especially for Beckman.

Jake Kyman of Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita with the drive. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

Jake Kyman of Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita with the drive. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

DJ Rodman, Corona del Mar of Newport Beach, So.

When your dad is NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, you have a lot of hype to live up to and DJ certainly did that this season. Rodman averaged 20.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Sea Kings with game highs of 40 points against Dominguez of Compton in the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs. Look for Rodman to get a lot of exposure in So Cal this summer. CdM still has two more years with this kid, which is bad news for Pacific Coast League opponents.

Caleb Banuelos, Villa Park, Sr.

We knew he was good, but Banuelos had a very big year this season and exceeded everyone’s expectations as he helped lead the Spartans to the CIF State Finals. Banuelos averaged 15.3 points per game with a season high of 28 points against Yorba Linda. Villa Park will hope to find someone to step up in big way next season the same way Caleb did this season.

Jake Kyman, Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, So.

Jake Kyman has basketball in his DNA and he showed it this season, helping lead the Eagles to another appearance in the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs. Kyman averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game with game highs of 22 points against Taft of Woodland Hills at the Santa Margarita Christmas Classic and Roosevelt of Eastvale at the Take Flight Challenge and 11 rebounds in the consolation round of the CIF-SS Open Division. With Adrease Jackson and Jordan Guest gone, Kyman will take the lead role in the post for Santa Margarita next season.

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