As much as the Stuart Hall Knights and University Red Devils were intertwined over the last few years, it would only be fair for the teams’ respective stars to share the All-City Player of the Year honors.
Miles Amos and Max Fried each won league championships and led their teams to NorCal titles, with Amos’ Knights winning a regional title in 2018 and Fried’s Devils doing so this year. When they met on the court, the action was befitting of all the accolades the pair have received and as closely contested as it could get. Over the past three years, the teams battled 10 times, with each side winning five of those matchups. This year, Stuart Hall had the upper hand in the early going, winning the first three meetings in tight affairs, all within six points. The Knights even came back from down 17 to win the BCL West Tournament in front of a raucous crowd at Kezar Pavilion, briefly taking the edge in the head-to-head matchups. The Devils would get the last laugh with a convincing 63-46 victory in yet another Kezar matchup to decide the NCS Division V Championship.
Naming the two of them as co-players of the year is a testament not only to their overall bodies of work, but the remarkable games that ensued every time they met on the floor. The head-to-head matchups were so exhilarating that it would be easy to forget the overall excellence that the young men had put together. In three years as a starter, Amos’ teams went 73-27, while Fried’s University squads won 108 games over his four years of varsity basketball. The two teams always seemed to be on a collision course to meet when the stakes were highest, meaning each team spent countless hours scouting and preparing for the other, building respect and appreciation for their foes in the process.
“As tough as the Stuart Hall-University rivalry is, I think we both realize that the competition between us is making us both better and propelling us to greater heights,” University head coach Randy Bessolo said. “It’s why we have to work so hard and be so smart, and the end result is that both teams are great. Similarly, Max and Miles have pushed each other to be the great high school players they became.”
The teams split the BCL West regular season title in 2017, while University took it in 2018 and Stuart Hall won this year’s, also claiming the league tournaments in those years. In the Knights’ 2018 Northern California Division IV run, Amos put up 23 points in an overtime win over Albany-St. Mary’s in the championship game, including a game-tying layup in the final moments of regulation, after a technical foul call had erased the momentum of Stuart Hall’s 17-point comeback. Though they lost the championship game to Los Angeles-View Park, Amos scored another 21 at the Golden 1 Center.
“Miles is a special talent,” said his head coach, Charley Johnson. “The bigger the game, the bigger his impact. He has the ability to guard everyone on the court. Offensively, teams have schemed to take him out of his game, but no one has been successful in shutting him down.”
His ability on the court goes hand-in-hand with his overall love of the game. On any evening where his team wasn’t playing, Amos would be found watching his friends play, whether it was at St. Ignatius, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Riordan or even out in the East Bay. He saw as many games as any coach, referee or reporter, even as he was committed to not only his own team but his academics.
Fried was also quite the student of the game and in the classroom as well, as evidenced by his commitment to attend Emory University in Atlanta. As a senior, he averaged 14 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists, making the transition over the course of his career from playing on the perimeter to driving through the lane and relentlessly attacking the hoop, all while managing to stay out of foul trouble and play almost the entire game.
“Max is a freight train,” Johnson said, after devising gameplans against Fried for four years. “No matter the situation, he does all the little things to help his team win.”
Both stars headlined senior classes that will go down among the best in their schools’ histories, and while replacing their production will be a tall order, both were recognized by their coaches and teammates as tremendous leaders. Fried had a huge role in influencing Raki Cabrera-Scarlata, Maddox Davis, Ren Zanze and the rest of University’s up-and-comers, while standout sophomore Nigel Burris was always talking with Amos before, during and after games with the Knights.
Considering the instincts both showed on the court and the tendency of local prep stars to come back as coaches, San Francisco may not have seen the last of the two outstanding hoopsters just yet.
Knight wins scoring title: With an average of 20.5 points per game, Mission’s Ben Knight was by far and away the top scorer among San Francisco prep basketball players for the 2018-19 season, putting up performances of 36, 37 and 38 points in the regular season, then capping off his career with 42 in a double-overtime loss to eventual NorCal champion Reedley-Immanuel.