There hasn't been a sophomore honored as the state's best for girls basketball since Jackie White of Fresno San Joaquin Memorial in 1978. White went on to be State Player of the Year for 1979 and 1980, too, and in 1980 denied an up-and-coming soph superstar named Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly.
Wiley-Gatewood now will have the opportunity to match Jackie White's three-peat, but White never had anyone as close to her as Wiggins is to Wiley-Gatewood. In fact, it wouldn't surprise anyone who watched both standout sophomores play this season if Wiggins keeps improving to the point where she surpasses Wiley-Gatewood.
The Lynwood sophomore just had too many outstanding games against top-notch competition to be surpassed this season by Wiggins in the pecking order. Among Wiley-Gatewood's outings against highly-ranked out-of-state oppoents were 24 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds vs. Northside of Fort Smith, Ark. (No. 1 in that state, No. 3 in the nation); 24 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists vs. Cardinal O'Hara of Philadelphia (No. 1 in that state, as high as No. 5 in the nation); 25 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists and 9 steals vs. Jackson County, Tenn. (No. 12 in the nation at the time) and 20 points, 13 assists and 7 steals vs. Campbell County, Wyo. (No. 1 in that state, No. 13 in the nation).
Against highly-ranked California opponents, Wiley-Gatewood was equally strong with efforts such as 29 points, 10 steals, 9 rebounds and 8 assists vs. Artesia of Lakewood; 30 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 9 steals vs. Long Beach Wilson and 20 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 7 steals vs. Long Beach Poly.
Another factor: Lynwood won all of those games. The Knights finished 33-0, won the Div. I state championship and were No. 1 in the final Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings.
Wiley-Gatewood ended the season with a 21.0 per game scoring average with 10.1 assists, 9.1 rebounds and 7.2 steals. Her assist total of 334 is the fifth-best ever on the all-time state list and she's on pace to set state and national records for career assists and career steals. And how about this stat? Wiley-Gatewood also ended the season with a 10-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Wiggins is in the hunt for a few state records herself. With two more seasons like the one she just had, it's possible she could break the all-time state career scoring record of 3,446 set in 1982 by Cheryl Miller. Wiggins had 38 points in the CIF Div. V state finals against Modesto Christian in leading her team to a second straight state crown. She also had state playoff games of 42, 38 and 37 points and finished with averages of 30.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 7.4 steals and 4.5 assists.
Both players were seen by neutral observers at the CIF state finals in Sacramento, who were contacted for their opinions. It can be reported that neither received substantial support over the other. A head-to-head matchup between Lynwood and La Jolla Country Day also took place in January and a slight edge would have to go to Wiley-Gatewood. Her team won and she had close to a quadruple-double with 17 points, 12 assists, 13 rebounds and 9 steals. Wiggins had more points with 22, but only added 7 rebounds, 5 assists and one steal. The flip side of going by those numbers, though, is that Wiley-Gatewood had much better teammates who were more able to finish off assists and were less likely to throw inaccurate passes.
The bad news for Cal-Hi Sports is that we have to go through this process between these two great players for two more years. The good news is that perhaps both of them will push each other to improvement in all areas of their game and if that happens boy won't that be fun to watch.
CAL-HI SPORTS MS. BASKETBALL
STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
(All-time list; winners chosen retroactively before 1980 based on research by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis)
2002 -- Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (Lynwood) 5-9 Soph.
2001 -- Loree Moore (Narbonne, Harbor City) 5-9 Sr.
2000 -- Diana Taurasi (Don Lugo, Chino) 5-9 Sr.
1999 -- Diana Taurasi (Don Lugo, Chino) 5-9 Jr.
1998 -- Michelle Greco (Crescenta Valley, La Crescenta) 5-10 Sr.
1997 -- Erin Buescher (Rincon Valley Christian, Santa Rosa) 6-2 Sr.
1996 -- Maylana Martin (Perris) 6-3 Sr.
1995 -- Renee Robinson (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton) 5-10 Sr.
1994 -- Nicole Erickson (Brea-Olinda, Brea) 5-7 Sr.
1993 -- Danielle Viglione (Del Campo, Fair Oaks) 5-10 Sr.
1992 -- Charisse Sampson (Washington, Los Angeles) 5-11 Sr.
1991 -- Tanda Rucker (Berkeley) 5-7 Sr.
1990 -- Lisa Leslie (Morningside, Inglewood) 6-5 Sr.
1989 -- Lisa Leslie (Morningside, Inglewood) 6-5 Jr.
1988 -- Trise Jackson (Lynwood) 5-7 Sr.
1987 -- Terri Mann (Point Loma, San Diego) 6-2 Sr.
1986 -- Terri Mann (Point Loma, San Diego) 6-2 Jr.
1985 -- Sharon Turner (El Camino, Oceanside) 5-9 Sr.
1984 -- Doretha Conwell (Locke, Los Angeles) 6-3 Sr.
1983 -- Doretha Conwell (Locke, Los Angeles) 6-3 Jr.
1982 -- Cheryl Miller (Poly, Riverside) 6-2 Sr.
1981 -- Cheryl Miller (Poly, Riverside) 6-2 Jr.
1980 -- Jackie White (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 5-8 Sr.
1979 -- Jackie White (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 5-8 Jr.
1978 -- Jackie White (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 5-8 Soph.
1977 -- Denise Curry (Davis) 6-1 Sr.
1976 -- Denise Curry (Davis) 6-1 Jr.
1975 -- Anita Ortega (Los Angeles) 5-9 Sr.
1974 -- Ann Meyers (Sonora, La Habra) 5-9 Sr.
1973 -- Ann Meyers (Connelly, Anaheim) 5-8 Jr.
1972 -- Ann Meyers (Sonora, La Habra) 5-8 Soph.
Note: Other assorted selections from various seasons go back to 1905 in Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and Almanac.
2001-2002 STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR (GIRLS BASKETBALL)
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Div. I: Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (Lynwood)
Sophomore guard is in New York this week to watch first McDonald's All-American Game for girls.
Div. II: Nikki Blue (West, Bakersfield)
State's Junior of the Year in 2001 came up big again with 28.9 points per game and ranks as one of best ever from CIF Central Section. Scored 38 points in playoff loss to Ventura.
Div. III: Noelle Quinn (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance)
Six-foot forward has already earned three CIF state championship rings (all in Div. III) and wrapped up season with averages of 21.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
Div. IV: Brooke Smith (Marin Catholic, Kentfield)
Versatile 6-3 forward-center led the Wildcats with nearly 16 ppg, but was most valuable as a passer and leader.
Div. V: Candice Wiggins (La Jolla Country Day)
Candice's other brother, Alan, plays at nearby Poway and next year should be one of the top seniors in San Diego County.
Seniors: Nikki Blue (West, Bakersfield)
Also named Div. II state player of the year.
Juniors: Noelle Quinn (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance)
Also named Div. III state player of the year.
Sophomores: Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (Lynwood)
Also named Div. I player of the year and Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Freshmen: Erika Arriaran (Norco)
The state's ninth-graders might be turn out to be just as great as the 10th graders. Arriarian was first team All-Riverside County, averaged nearly 22 ppg in the postseason and led strong Div. II team in scoring, steals, rebounds and assists.