VIDEO: Top 10 High School Basketball Players of the Decade
With the month of January nearly halfway gone, the 2019-20 boys basketball season is officially entering its second half.
Eleven teams are still unbeaten, and every classification boasts at least one undefeated squad. Class 3A alone has four unbeatens, headlined by top-ranked Resurrection Christian (Loveland)
, which opened 2020 with a thrilling 66-65 victory over Lutheran (Parker)
Points have come in bunches from individuals – 11 players across the state currently average at least 25 points a game – and teams. St. Mary's (Colorado Springs)
leads the way at 86.4 points a game, and Denver East
is averaging nearly 86 points through its 10 victories.
With league play already underway and the heart of it getting started this week, here is a quick look at a handful of each classification's top players at this point, along with some upstart teams looking to continue making an impact:Class 5A
Mid-season standouts• Luke O'Brien, Sr., Columbine (Littleton):
The Rebels are off to a 9-1 start, and the play of the 6-foot-8 O'Brien is a big reason why. O'Brien has scored at least 21 points in all 10 games, and his 11.9 rebounds are highlighted by back-to-back 16-rebound performances this month. He ranks first in the classification in points per game and third in rebounds.
• Boston Stanton lll, Jr./Langston Reynolds, So., Denver East:
The Angels opened the season with 10 consecutive victories, with the play of this duo serving as the catalyst. Stanton III is averaging 22.3 points, and Reynolds goes for 21.3 points. They both average right around seven rebounds a game, and Reynolds also averages three assists and steals. • Julian Hammond III, Sr., Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village):
After quarterbacking the Bruins to the 5A state football title in early December, Hammond joined the basketball team Dec. 12. The team is 6-2 since that time, and both losses came by only two points each. Hammond averages 22.3 points a game, is shooting 88 percent from the free-throw line and has averaged nearly eight rebounds a game in the team's three games this month.• Trevor Baskin, Sr., Pomona (Arvada):
The Panthers are only 4-5, but Baskin is on this list because he leads the Panthers (and in some cases ranks high in the state) in just about every statistical category. Baskin is one of the state's top scorers at 25.4 points a game, but the 6-8 standout also leads Pomona in rebounding (11.8 per game), assists (5.6), steals (2.6) and blocks (4.5). He's shooting 72 percent from the field, and recorded a triple-double Dec. 17 against Prairie View (Henderson) with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks.Surprise teams:
Columbine won 17 games a year ago, but the team's 9-1 start has still been very impressive. The Rebels' only loss came to undefeated and defending state champion Rangeview (Aurora)
. … Eaglecrest (Centennial)
was a Sweet 16 team last winter, but the Raptors only won 15 games and graduated six seniors. The Raptors are 10-1 headed into Centennial League play this week, with the only loss coming out of state. … Arapahoe (Centennial)
won a combined 10 games over the previous two seasons, but the Warriors have gone 9-2 thus far under new coach Troy Pachner. Seniors Bryson Stephens
and Korey Hess
put together a strong first half of the season. … Pine Creek (Colorado Springs)
hasn't won more than 13 games in a season since 2006-07, but the Eagles are off to an 8-1 start behind a good senior class.
• Javonte Johnson, Sr., Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs):
Johnson is the state's second-leading scorer and is currently tops in 4A. His 27.2 points per game took a dip after scoring only 12 points in a victory over Vista Ridge (Colorado Springs) on Saturday, but the senior has helped the Indians to a perfect 10-0 start. He has scored 36 points twice, and is averaging 11.2 rebounds and more than three assists a game.
• Donta Dawson, Jr., Harrison (Colorado Springs):
The 6-4 junior helped the Panthers win eight of their first nine games. In the team's only loss, a 65-62 setback to current 4A No. 4 Pueblo West, Dawson went for 25 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. After scoring a combined 25 points in the team's first two games, Dawson has at least 23 points in six of the last seven games. • Tijani Bamba, Jr., Lincoln (Denver):
Bamba has been a force for the Lancers in his junior season, averaging 26 points and eight rebounds a game. In Lincoln's last three games, Bamba has recorded a double-double in each and is averaging nearly 30 points a game in that span.• Taylor Harris, Sr., Pueblo West:
The Cyclones are 8-2, and Harris has been a consistent spark for the team. The point guard averages 16.6 points, seven rebounds and nearly five assists a game. He notched an impressive 12-assist outing Dec. 17 in a victory over Widefield.Surprise teams:
It seems surprising to list Longmont
, a team that won the 4A title two years ago and was the runner-up last March. But the Trojans graduated seven seniors off that squad, yet are 8-2 this season with both losses coming to ranked teams. Senior Dallas Dye
has done a little bit of everything for Longmont thus far. … Erie
was 10-14 a year ago, and is four years removed from a two-win season. But the Tigers have jumped out to an 8-2 start under new coach Gail Hook, and have won four in a row. … Green Mountain (Lakewood)
won 15 games combined over the previous two seasons, but the Rams are 8-3 this season. … Northfield (Denver)
is in only its second full varsity season, but the Nighthawks are 9-3, with one loss by only one point to The Vanguard School (Colorado Springs)
and another coming to 5A power Eaglecrest. Senior Nahsyah Bolar
is averaging nearly 18 points and 12 rebounds a game.Class 3A
• Dominique Clifford, Sr., The Vanguard School:
The state's leading scorer is the senior guard from Vanguard. Clifford is averaging 28.6 points and 13.3 rebounds a game, along with more than five assists, three steals and three blocks a game. In the team's narrow victory over Northfield on Jan. 8, he went for 32 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and eight blocks.• Baye Fall, Fr., Lutheran:
The 6-11 Fall has helped Lutheran reload after graduating the core of last year's squad. Fall is averaging 26 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game, to go with four blocks. He's also shooting 74 percent from the field. • Sam Howery, So./Luke Luke Stockelman, Jr., St. Mary's:
The high-scoring Pirates have received a big boost from this talented duo. Howery averages 21.4 points and 9.3 assists a game, and has also hauled in more than five rebounds and nabbed four steals a game. In five contests he has dished out at least 11 assists. Stockelman is just shy of 20 points a game and averages nearly seven rebounds to go with it. He had 27 points and seven rebounds in the team's only loss, which came to undefeated Resurrection Christian.Surprise teams:
Like Longmont in 4A, Lutheran only comes in on this list because the team graduated its four leading scorers from a year ago. But with the play of Fall and a strong junior class, the Lions are 6-2 – the two losses came by a combined four points. … Eaton
and University (Greeley)
were in the middle of the pack of the 3A state tournament last March, and both lost in the first round. But the Patriot League rivals are a combined 16-2 going into league play this week. University's Tayt Chacon
averages 19.3 points a game, and Eaton has five players averaging more than 10 points a game. … After a bit of a down year in which it barely made the state tournament, DSST: Green Valley Ranch (Denver)
is 7-1. Senior Timothy Huston
is averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. … Englewood
hasn't had a winning season since 2010-11, but the Pirates opened 7-0 this season. Junior Nate Gravagno
leads the way at 17.1 points a game.Class 2A
• Tate Bessire, Sr., Highland (Ault):
The senior guard is enjoying a great first half, averaging 22.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, six assists and 5.1 steals a game. He just missed a triple-double in a victory over Frontier Academy (Greeley) early in December, and he's helped the Huskies start 7-1.
• Val Leone, Jr., Fowler:
The Grizzlies started 6-2, with one of those losses coming to 3A's unbeaten Centauri (La Veta) by only five points. Leone is averaging 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds a game for Fowler. In the team's most recent victory, which came against a top-10 opponent in Holly, Leone had 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.• Trey Summers, Jr., Union Colony Prep (Greeley):
Summers has come up big to start the new year, going for 44 and 37 points in consecutive games. Summers is averaging 22.8 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Surprise teams: Sedgwick County (Julesburg)
was 14-8 a year ago and missed the state tournament after three consecutive seasons of at least 20 victories. But the Cougars are 7-0 this winter. … Ignacio
went 10-10 last season, the team's lowest victory total since 2006-07. The Bobcats have bounced back with a 6-1 start this season, the only loss coming to 3A Montezuma-Cortez by four points. … Dawson School (Lafayette)
is one victory away from matching last year's win total of eight games. Seniors Coby Grant-Krenz
and Riley Burridge
each average around 20 points a game. … With six victories, Crested Butte
has already surpassed its victory total of the previous two years.Class 1A
• Wesley Ryan, Jr., De Beque:
Ryan enjoyed a strong December, averaging 27 points and nearly 12 rebounds for the undefeated Dragons. He was 50-of-64 from the free-throw line during that span, and recorded double-doubles in the team's first five games.• Cole Christensen, Sr., Sangre de Cristo (Mosca):
The 5-10 guard has lit it up for the undefeated Thunderbirds. Christensen averages 26.3 points, 6.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds and three steals a game. He has shot 61 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free-throw line, and in the team's victory over Del Norte Jan. 11, had a monster game of 34 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and six steals.
• Wyatt Patton, Sr., Briggsdale:
The Falcons won six of their first seven, and Patton has been solid in each game. The guard averages 17.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and nearly four steals and assists per game. In the team's only loss, to unbeaten De Beque, he had 33 points, 14 rebounds and nine steals.Surprise teams:
Briggsdale endured three consecutive one-win seasons from 2014-17, but has slowly been on the rise. The Falcons have won six of their first seven, and took undefeated De Beque to overtime last month. … Last year was Kim/Branson's
first winning season since 2006-07, and the Mustangs are now sitting at 7-1. The only loss came to Raton, N.M., in a tournament. … Caliche (Iliff)
, which dominated 1A from 2008-12, was just 7-15 last season. At 6-2, the Buffaloes are one victory away from tying that win total, and the only loss was by two points to Fleming.