Finalists Named for Top Hoop Honors

Whittling down a massive list of more than 100 boys and 75 girls is never easy, but it's down to just six boys and seven girls who've been picked as finalists to be the first Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball State Players of the Year.

These six boys and seven girls were chosen based on recommendations we received or solicited from coaches, parents and sportswriters. Selections also were based on performance during the 2002 high school season with some consideration for career accomplishment.

We welcome all comments and information from anyone who wishes to help us choose which of these six should be Mr. Basketball 2002. Send to:

Here's the six boys:

Hassan Adams (Westchester, Los Angeles)

Emerged as the top player from extremely deep Comet squad that won CIF Div. I state title. The 6-4 guard, who is headed to Arizona, had 24 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the final game vs. Oakland Tech. You could also make a case for Inglewood's DeAngelo Collins or Gardena Serra's Eugene Jeter to be a finalist, but we felt Adams will most likely be named player of the year in the South Bay region of the L.A. County as well as L.A. City Player of the Year.

Evan Burns (Fairfax, Los Angeles)

Ranked as the top prospect for the next level among this year's seniors before the start of the season, Burns did not disappoint as he led the Lions to a 30-5 record. The 6-7 senior averaged more than 20 points per game.

Nate Carter (Horizon, San Diego)

Led the Panthers to the Div. IV state title. Averaged 21.8 points per game. Already has been named player of the year by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Marquise Kately (Riordan, San Francisco)

Had one of those games for the ages with 24 points, 13 rebounds and big plays on both ends in leading Riordan to the Div. III state title. Kately is a 6-5 senior with flashes of off-guard skills who can score from the baseline, on drives to the hoop or on an occasional three-pointer. He averaged 18 points per game.

Marvin Lea (M.L. King, Riverside)

Led the Wolves to the Div. II state title in their first year with seniors on the team. At 6-5, Lea displayed point guard skills in averaging 25.8 ppg. He had 28 in huge win over nationally-ranked Mater Dei and made all the big plays down the stretch in state title game vs. St. Francis.

Leon Powe (Technical, Oakland)

Considered the best player out of the East Bay since Jason Kidd, Powe wowed everyone with a monster season in which he averaged nearly 25 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. He led the Bulldogs to the Div. I state title game and had 17 of his 19 points in the second half after missing most the first half with three fouls. He's generally been ranked as the nation's No. 2 junior behind Ohio sensation LeBron James.

Here's the seven girls:

Dominique Banks (St. Mary's, Stockton)

Already named Player of the Year by the Stockton Record, Banks was the Rams' go-to player in both the regional final win vs. Pinewood and in the Div. II state final win vs. Redondo. A 5-9 junior, she finished with an average of 18 points per game.

Nikki Blue (West, Bakersfield)

Headed to UCLA, Blue scored 38 points in her last prep game, a Div. II regional playoff loss to Ventura. The high-scoring senior guard, who was the 2001 State Junior Player of the Year, averaged nearly 30 points per game and will go down as one of the greatest players ever from the CIF Central Section.

Courtney LaVere (Buena, Ventura)

The 6-2 senior forward has already been named to six All-American teams, including Parade, McDonald's and Street & Smith's. She finished the season with averages of 26.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

Noelle Quinn (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance)

The 5-10 junior forward scored 25, 25, 21 and 20 points in her last four games to lead the Knights to the Div. III state title. She also was a key member of the school's Div. III state championship teams as a freshman and sophomore. So next year she could make it 4-for-4.

Brooke Smith (Marin Catholic, Kentfield)

It's a tough call between Brooke, Katy Digovich (Pinewood) and perhaps Katie Meinhardt (St. Ignatius) to be the player of the year in the S.F. Bay Area. Since Brooke's team won the Div. IV state title and defeated so many other good teams throughout the year, she's the one we chose to be a finalist. Smith only averaged just over 16 ppg and in many head-to-head matchups with other top post players you'd see her outscored. But once you see her play, you know why a national power like Duke signed her. She can pass, pass, pass and sets the tone for her team. If Luke Walton (Arizona) or Vlade Divac (Kings) were girls, this is who they'd be.

Candice Wiggins (La Jolla Country Day)

She's bigger and better than last year and simply put on a show in the postseason. Wiggins, already named the Player of the Year for the CIF San Diego Section by the San Diego Union-Tribune, scored 38 in the Div. V state final vs. Modesto Christian and had previous playoff games of 42, 38 and 37. She averaged more than 30 ppg for the season and came up with several quadruple-doubles to go with triple-doubles.

Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (Lynwood)

Okay, here we go. Let the debate between Wiggins and Wiley-Gatewood begin. For starters, both are simply fabulous, although one of them and their supporters are probably going to be mad at us for picking the other. And we have to pick one over the other as both are sophomores and we never, ever have ties. Choosing co-players of the year is for wimps. Check our record book. No co's anywhere. Sa'de didn't have the greatest state final against Kennedy, but she battled through a wrist injury and has had shin splints for the past month. Wiley-Gatewood also isn't the prolific scorer that Wiggins is, but she obviously faced a much stronger schedule and even though she did she still almost averaged a triple-double. Her season totals of 21 ppg, 10.1 apg and 9.1 rpg led Lynwood to a 33-0 record and a mythical national title.

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