Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon, Jr.
The San Fernando Valley is rich in high school basketball talent, and the list of NBA talent that has graced local gyms is long and impressive. In recent years, the best basketball players have come from Sierra Canyon to Chatsworth. Former pioneers Marvin Bagley III, Cassius Stanley and KJ Martin have all been drafted into the NBA. Several other former players, including Duane Washington Jr., Brandon Boston, Ziaire Williams and Scotty Pippen Jr., are all expected to play in the NBA next season.
It’s just a matter of time for Amari Bailey.
The UCLA-linked junior goaltender has averaged 29.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 18 games for the Trailblazers (16-2) this season, including three triple doubles. He scored 29 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds against El Camino Real on April 28; totaled 32, 15 and 10 against Crossroads on May 7; and posted 26, 14 and 11 to Heritage Christian on May 22 in the regular season finale.
Bailey is one of the country’s top prospects, regardless of his position, and shows it every time he walks on the floor. If his defender leaves him a gap, he will shoot 3. If he is in too much of a hurry, he will bypass the defender. He’s the deadliest on the outside, which is why his rebound counts are so high. Bailey can fly for a defensive rebound and be on top for a 3-4 dribble layup. It’s almost impossible to defend.
The 2021 Gold Coast League MVP and future McDonald’s All-American currently hovers around 6ft 4in and continues to grow.
This is Amari Bailey’s dunk. LeBron and Drake were impressed.pic.twitter.com/g2gMfGdtdC
– Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) June 12, 2021
Bailey’s play in the playoffs was extraordinary. He scored 38 points, including 28 in the second half, in an open division playoff win over Ribet Academy after trailing 17. He scored 25 in a win over Etiwanda before a performance of 33 points in Sierra Canyon’s first loss of the season in the Open Division final to Corona Centennial.
In the CIF State Regional qualifiers, he scored 28 in the first round victory over Birmingham before scoring 37 points in an attempt to overtake Etiwanda in the regional semi-final, but failed.
Bailey returns next year with his notable junior colleagues Shy Odom (19 points per game) and Ramel Lloyd (16.9 points per game).
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – Isaiah Elohim, Heritage Christian
Elohim led the Warriors (20-8) in scoring this season, averaging 19.6 points per game, while capturing 5.3 rebounds per game. The athletic freshman phenomenon is billed as one of the nation’s top underclassmen, which was bolstered by his invitation to the United States U16 Men’s National Team minicamp this spring.
Elohim’s best performances this season have been a 32-point outing in a 74-72 victory over Culver City on April 16. He set a career-high 35 points in a victory over Redondo Union on May 8.
COACH OF THE YEAR – Bryan Cantwell, Chaminade
Cantwell rallied the Eagles to a CIF Southern Section Division 1 title this spring. Chaminade was led by a trio of senior KJ Simpson bound for Colorado, Lehigh signatory Keith Higgins and sniper Colin Weems. Despite competing against larger opponents, Cantwell used thoughtful tactics to turn the game in his team’s favor by pressing, trapping and speeding up the game to even out the team’s size disparity.
Chaminade finished the season 21-4, including a 53-49 victory over Capistrano Valley in the CIF final to claim the program’s first title since 1999.
TEAM FROM THE WHOLE AREA
Corey Cofield, West Ranch, Sr.
David Elliott, Birmingham, Sr.
Kyle Frelow, Heritage Christian, Sr.
Truman Gettings, Harvard-Westlake
Keith Higgins, Chaminade, Sr.
Ramel Lloyd, Sierra Canyon, Jr.
Jed Miller, Agoura, Sr.
James Nobles, Birmingham, Sr.
Shy Odom, Sierra Canyon, Jr.
Nathan Perez, Saugus, Jr.
Justin Rochelin, Heritage Christian, Sr.
Isaiah Sherrard, Oak Park, So.
KJ Simpson, Chaminade, Sr.
Cameron Thrower, Harvard-Westlake
Noah Veluzat, Valencia, Sr.