Video: High school basketball Top 25Find out where things stand heading into the biggest weekend of the season.
Today's basketball is all about guard skills. Handles plus stretch shooting plus quickness and vertical play equals elite player.
The 21st annual MaxPreps Martin Luther King Jr. Classic presented by De La Salle basketball tournament will feature plenty of that and also some big, long and skilled lads. The six premier games take place Jan. 15 at McKeon Pavilion on the campus of St. Mary's College. Live stream of all the 2018 games
Here's a look at 20 of the best players in order:
1. James Akinjo, Salesian College Preparatory (Richmond, Calif.)
The 6-foot-1 senior point guard made strong, steady strides throughout his four-year career, but really leaped to the national scene over the spring and summer in the AAU circuit. Akinjo is now ranked the 10th best senior in the state by 247Sports and last month he signed a letter of intent to Connecticut. He's a big-time, three-point threat, but an even better slasher to the cup. Akinjo thrives on the big stage in the big moment. 2. Riley Battin, Oak Park (Calif.)
The 6-10 senior averaged 25.1 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.6 assist in Oak Park's first 11 games this season. The Utah-bound standout hit the floor running and scoring right as he entered high school. He averaged 21.8 points as a freshman, and gradually raised those marks to 24.3 and 24.7 over the next two seasons. During his career, he's pulled down 12.6 rebounds per game. He's been a model of consistency. 3. Matt Van Komen, Pleasant Grove (Utah)
The 7-3, 200-pound junior isn't just a big body. He's agile and a tremendous shot-blocker. He changes the game at the defensive end. He was a second-team All-State performer last season and he already has offers from Gonzaga and Utah. He averaged 19.3 points and 5.5 blocks as a sophomore.
4. Elijah Hardy, Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland)
The 6-2 senior point guard is a Washington-signee and fourth-year player for the Dragons. Considered one of the best passers in school history — that's a mouthful considering the long line of great O'Dowd guards — Hardy also is capable of dropping 20 points or more in any contest. He fills up a stat sheet. 5. Naseem Gaskin, Bishop O'Dowd
The Utah-signee is a 6-3 shooting guard and scoring machine. He can light it up from the perimeter or get to the rim. A fourth-year player for the Dragons, Gaskin also had offers from Boise State, Montana, Nevada and USF.6. Cameron Shelton, Damien (La Verne)
6-2 senior guard averaged nearly 25 points per game in the team's first
16 games (14 wins). The Northern Arizona commit had 31 points in an
early 76-55 win over Bishop Amat and 23 in its first loss of the season,
81-76 to nationally-ranked Sierra Canyon. Senior guard Elijah McCullough
(Sacramento State commit) and Austin Cook
, a 6-4 sophomore wing, are two other high prospects for the Spartans. 7. Junior Ballard, Modesto Christian (Modesto)
The 6-3 guard was a three-year starter at Lathrop (Calif.), where he averaged more than 20 points per game the last two seasons, including 24.9 as a sophomore. He sat out all of the Crusaders' games until Jan. 4, when he broke out with a 34-point explosion in a 102-88 win over Clovis North. He has signed to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. 8. Wes Slajchert, Oak Park
The 6-4 senior point guard fills up a stat sheet with a complete game. Through the team's first 11 games, he averaged 9.7 points, 8.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. He's the consummate floor general. He's already signed to Dartmouth. He had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists during a 72-57 win over Marantha. 9. Jay Allen-Tovar, Valley Christian (San Jose)
The 6-9 post is ranked the fourth-best junior in Northern California by NorCalPreps.com. He averaged better than 15 points and 12 rebounds during a 9-0 nonleague season for the Warriors.
10. Justin Pratt, De La Salle (Concord)
The 6-3 senior guard, considered a defensive stopper last year, has turned into a 20-point-per-game scorer for the young Spartans. Signed to the University of San Diego, Pratt is still an elite defender, but he's also a knock down shooter, excellent passer and all-around threat. He's DLS's only senior starter.
11. Chris Cagle, Woodcreek (Roseville)
The 6-6 senior moved from key sidekick of Top 5 national recruit Jordan Brown during last season's Northern California championship season, to prime threat this season. Ranked the 27th best senior in Northern California, Cagle moved to the No. 1 threat when Brown transferred to Prolific Prep. Cagle has more than doubled last season's 7.9 scoring average. 12. Dathan Satchell, Modesto Christian
Ranked the sixth-best junior in Northern California by NorCalPreps, the 6-3 guard averaged a team-best 14.2 points per game in the team's first 10 games. He's also a rugged rebounder and defender. 13. Cameron Fini, Valley Christian
The 6-7, 205-pound senior is part of the Warriors' very potent front-line. He's ranked the 28th top senior in Northern California.
14. Nathan Robinson, Las Lomas (Walnut Creek)
The Knights figured to have one of their best teams in years even before the 6-4 guard transferred from Sacred Heart Cathedral. But Robinson has been a key reason Las Lomas opened the season with 13 straight wins. He's ranked the 30th top senior in Northern California.
15. Robert Prince, Las Lomas
The 6-1 senior guard does it all for the Knights. A superb ball-handler and distributor, Prince is also a double-digit scorer and solid three-point shooter.
16. JoVon McClanahan, Salesian
The 5-10 point guard is lightning quick, a superb defender and tremendous in transition. He's ranked the fifth best junior in Northern California. He and his twin Jaden are almost inseparable on and off the court. They are big reasons why the Pride is ranked among the top five teams in the state.
17. Dishon Jackson, St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo)
The 6-8, 220 power forward is ranked the fifth best sophomore in Northern California. His playing time was limited last season when the Bruins won a state Division IV championship. The talent and skills were obvious. This season they are in full force, as proven by All-Tournament honors at the St. Hope Elite Hoop Classic last month. He averaged 17.5 points in four games.
18. Aaron Murphy, Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.)
The 6-6 forward is ranked the 21st top junior in Northern California. In the team's first 11 games, Murphy averaged 12.3 points with a team-best 8.7 rebounds. He's a highly efficient shooter at 69 percent (53 of 77) on 2s, and 5-for-12 on 3s (42 percent).
19. Clark Slajchert, Oak Park
If the name sounds familiar it's because his brother is ranked No. 8 on the list. The 6-1 sophomore is second on the team with a 16.4 scoring average. A lights-out shooter, through the team's first 11 games, the younger Slajchert made 18 3-pointers and made 91 percent from the line.20. Casey Brown, Pleasant Grove (Utah)
The 6-2 junior guard was an All-State honorable mention selection last season when the Vikings went 22-4 and reached the Utah 5A state semifinals, losing to eventual champion Bingham.