With the CIF State Championships wrapping up over the past weekend, the Bay Area said goodbye to a tremendous senior class of basketball players. There will be big shoes to fill next year, but San Francisco teams will be bringing back a mix of experience and talent that should have them among the region’s best.
With all five starters set to return next year, defending NorCal champion Stuart Hall should be among the favorites in the BCL West, North Coast Section and perhaps to return to a state title game. Miles Amos capped off his fabulous junior season with a 21-point performance in Friday’s CIF Division IV Championship.
While league rival University loses Spencer Spivy and Julian Manyika, the Red Devils bring back both Max Fried and Charley Moore. Lick-Wilmerding should be back with a vengeance next year as center Zach Johnson will be back from a knee injury, while Allen Wilson made a great impression this season as a sophomore.
Most teams that depart a trio of three-year starters would be expected to take a significant step back, but St. Ignatius might be just as strong next year. Dynamic guard Wrenn Robinson will be in his third year on varsity, and if the rest of the senior class gets healthy, it could be a banner year for the Wildcats. Neal Begovich was severely limited by a knee injury, but showed some of his potential as a rare big man with an outside game. The 6-foot-8 Begovich isn’t alone there, as Sam Nangle offers similar abilities. Shot-blocker extraordinaire Garrett Cason missed the year with an ACL injury, but should be a force to be reckoned with as a senior in the ultra-physical WCAL.
Sacred Heart Cathedral’s two-year absence from the state tournament may also be coming to an end, with E.J. Neal and Elijah Flowers entering their senior years and point guard Bryce Monroe expected to dominate as a junior.
The battles between Monroe and Riordan’s Je’Lani Clark this year were brilliant, and in the next two seasons, it should only get better. Clark will be surrounded by tons of talent next year, with Mack Yates impressing as a sophomore and the Crusaders adding tons of talent from the JV squad. Zachary Quanico impressed after being added to the postseason roster, and if a pair of 6-foot-8 transfers from South Sudan are cleared to play, it could be one of Riordan’s best years in a long time.
Mission just keeps churning out great teams, and the combination of Ben Knight and Kamiri Smith will be a big reason why the Bears will be favored to win a fifth consecutive AAA title. However, there will be competition. Lincoln has been an afterthought the last few years, but teams would be foolish to overlook the Mustangs, who will have a group of experienced seniors led by Pajri Samhi and a stellar junior in Rafiq “Badu” Griffin. The last time Lincoln had this much returning talent was in the 2013-14 season, when the Mustangs cruised to an AAA championship and picked up their biggest win in program history, a state tournament victory over De La
There will be similar talent returning on the girls’ side as well. SHC departs a boatload of talent, but Milan Tuttle will star at the point in her sophomore season. St. Ignatius returns Maddie Ennis, Rachel Harvey and Diary Khin will only be juniors, and Emily Jones and Tatiana Newsome will be just sophomores. Rain Sheh led Urban to a BCL West title as a sophomore, Lick-Wilmerding gets one more year of Samantha Foong, plus Ava Grey was only a freshman for the Tigers. University’s girls had just two seniors on their entire roster, and Lincoln returns Lily Donovan.
Yes, the state championships may have just ended, but with all the talent returning in San Francisco next year, it’s easy to be excited about what’s to come.
Prep Focus writer Ethan Kassel covers high school sports throughout the Bay Area. If you have a story tip, game to watch or player to track, email him at email@example.com.