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Central Section 2021 Final Player Rankings

By Paul Hernandez, 07/07/21, 10:30PM PDT

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Central Section Class of 2021 Top 40 Final Player Rankings

The player rankings below are based on my own evaluation of the players over the course of the past 3 years in high school settings, as well as club basketball and individual player events. I have also sought out input from coaches, media, scouts, and trainers. Players that played club basketball throughout the pandemic and during the modified Covid season may have seen their rankings go up, while others that were not able to participate in organized basketball over the past year and a half may have fallen in the rankings from the April 2020 rankings. Included in the player rankings below are player information, the high school attended, where they will attend college this upcoming school year if applicable, and where they were previously ranked last year. This will be the final ranking for the Class of 2021.


1. 6’3 Cole Anderson (Clovis West HS) - Committed to UC Santa Barbara

Anderson has been at the top of the 2021 Class in the Central Section throughout his high school career, and he solidified that spot with a stellar senior campaign for the Golden Eagles and another TRAC League MVP. Anderson set the record for most points scored in the history of the Clovis West Basketball Program. Anderson had some huge scoring performances this season, with multiple 30 and 40 plus point games, and a monster 51 point showing against Garces Memorial. Anderson’s shooting efficiency, range from deep, and ability to score in bunches make him a lethal offensive weapon that has been nearly unstoppable the past 4 years. Anderson will continue his basketball and academic career this upcoming school year at UC Santa Barbara.

(Ranked #1 in 2020 player rankings)

2. 6’6 AJ George (Hoover HS) - Committed to CSU Long Beach

George is arguably the most dynamic 2-way player in the Central Section for the Class of 2021, and the growth in his ability to create scoring opportunities off the perimeter is why I have him as the #2 overall prospect for this class. Defensively, George has the length and size to guard bigger players in the post and the agility and athleticism to guard smaller players on the wing. Last season, George was very effective from within 20 feet of the basket, helping lead the Patriots to the D3 Central Section Championship Game. The past year, George displayed the growth of his ball handling skills and moves off the perimeter, as well as being more efficient from beyond the arc and a true 3 level scoring threat. This was on full display against Central HS at the Sanger HS Showcase in April, where George set a Hoover HS single game scoring record, putting up 49 points and connecting on 8 threes. George put up big numbers throughout the season and will continue his academic and basketball career at CSU Long Beach. 

(Ranked #3 in 2020 player rankings)

3. 6’7 Ak Okereke (Clovis North HS) - Postgraduate Year

Okereke may have been the most pleasant surprise in the Central Section for the Class of 2021, as he put up some big scoring numbers and led the Broncos back to the Central Section Open Division Playoffs. Okereke improved his efficiency from the 3 point line, making him a consistent 3 level scoring threat, which was highlighted by multiple 35 plus point scoring performances and a career high of 39 points in the State Regional Playoffs. Okereke averaged 22.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, shooting over 45% from beyond the arc and over 50% from the field. Okereke put up 31 points in the Central Section Open Division Semifinals and almost willed his team to a comeback victory against San Joaquin Memorial. Okereke is a double-double threat on the court, and a high academic student in the classroom, finishing high school with a 4.6+ GPA. He is currently undecided and would be a great fit for a high academic program at the next level. 

(Ranked #9 in 2020 player rankings)

4. 6’5 Jincho Rivera (St. Joseph HS) - Committed to Chicago State University

Rivera is a strong and physical wing/forward that has a nice mid-range game and efficient scoring around the basket. Rivera is capable of defending multiple positions, controls the glass amongst bigger players, strong and quick hands to create turnovers, and excels in transition offense. Rivera can stretch the floor from beyond the arc, and has good handles to create off the dribble and attack the defense, has nice moves and footwork to get to his shot spots from the mid-range, and averaged 16.5 points per game and 9 rebounds per game. Rivera will further his academic and basketball career at Chicago State and will likely be an impact player in year one. 

(Ranked #4 in 2020 player rankings)

5. 5’11 Seth Marantos (Bakersfield Christian HS) - Committed to Fresno Pacific University

Marantos has been one of the top true point guards for the Class of 2021 in the Central Section since he entered high school and he validated that argument with his on court play and leadership this past season. The Eagles played the toughest schedule of any team in the Central Section and Marantos was the driving force behind the teams success on and off the court. Marantos is a legitimate scoring threat from all 3 levels, and when he gets to his mid-range jumper or floater from 12-15 feet he is nearly unguardable. Marantos has great court vision, keeps the ball on a string, has the handle and skill to weave through the defense and find open teammates or get the shot he wants. Defensively, he has solid footwork and quick hands to frustrate his opponent and create turnovers and transition points. Marantos is active on the glass and has quick leaping ability, making him a great rebounder for his size and position. The energy and effort that Marantos exerts every game is infectious and was key in getting his teammates to hit another gear on both ends of the court. Marantos season statistics illustrate his overall impact on the game; with 14 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game his senior season. He will continue his academic and basketball career at Fresno Pacific University and will likely be an instant impact player in year one. 

(Ranked #8 in 2020 player rankings)

6. 6’5 Qiant Myers (Roosevelt HS) - Committed to Western Oregon University

Myers is a lengthy, versatile and skilled lead guard that fits the mold of a Division 1 prospect. Myers played a lot of AAU ball over the pandemic and increased his value as a next level prospect, which was only enhanced by his stellar play throughout his senior high school season. Myers controls the pace of play, surveys the floor to find holes in the defense, uses the wide crossover to get by his man and into the paint, and is a high level playmaker. Myers had some impressive performances in his final season and averaged solid numbers across the board; 14 points, 8.5 assists, 6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Myers was the driving factor for the Rough Riders playoff run, winning the Central Section D2 Championship and Runner-Up in the Southern California D-5AA State Regionals. He will continue his academic and basketball career next year at Western Oregon University.

(Ranked #10 in 2020 player rankings). 

7. 6’5 Cedric Coward (Central HS) - Committed to Willamette University

Coward is one of the most versatile 2-way players in the Central Section and has an offensive skill set that translates nicely to the next level. Coward has good size and athleticism, and his long wingspan allows him to be effective in the paint on both ends of the court against taller players. Coward is a high level rebounder, has good handles and sees the court well, which allows him to push the ball in the open court and initiate transition offense. Defensively, Coward has the length and strength to alter shots around the rim, as well as the agility and footwork to guard perimeter players. He shoots the 3 ball well enough to stretch the defense, but his bread and butter is the mid-range jumper. Coward had a number of games scoring in the 20’s and finished the season averaging 17.3 points per game, leading the Grizzlies to the Southern California D-2A State Regional Championship Game. Coward will be continuing his academic and hoop career at Willamette, and with his versatile skill set he should find himself on the court early and often. 

(Ranked #21 in 2020 player rankings)

8. 6’2 Omarion Thomas-Marshall (Bullard HS) - Committed to De Anza College

Thomas-Marshall is an athletic and physical guard/wing that has been one of the most electric scorers in the Central Section over the past 2 seasons. The Bullard Knights dealt with some adversity this past season with the roster, but the one constant that the coaches could rely on was Omarion’s ability to score at a high clip and put pressure on the defense. Thomas-Marshall had some big scoring performances in the high 20’s and 30’s, and a dominant 43 point and 19 rebound effort against Edison of Fresno. Omarion will take his game to De Anza College this upcoming season, and should be a player that can impact the offense instantly. 

(Ranked #13 in 2020 player rankings)

9. 6’8 Jaden Geron (San Joaquin Memorial HS) - Committed to Rice University

Geron is a rangy and tall shooting guard that is nearly impossible to guard when he starts knocking down shots. Geron has great height and length to shoot over smaller defenders, as well as the handles, moves and long first step to get by bigger defenders when they over pursue on the perimeter. Geron is a solid rebounder, has the handle and court vision to initiate the transition offense, and with his length is an underrated shot blocker. Geron is at his best when he is moving off the ball, running off screens and getting open for the catch and shoot 3 ball. He gets great lift on his jumper and at his height not much his defender can do. Geron played in the Central Section Championship Game all 4 years of high school, and helped the Panthers win 3 Section Championships in that time span. He will be attending Rice University this upcoming season to continue his academic and athletic career. 

(Ranked #5 in 2020 player rankings)

10. 6’7 Samuel Bazunga (St. Joseph HS) - Committed to Hawaii Pacific University

Bazunga was the most dominant post player in the Central Section this season and controlled the paint on both ends of the court for the Knights. Bazunga is a physical, strong and athletic player that dominates the glass, patrols the paint blocking or altering shots, and has the agility to guard smaller players on switches. Offensively, Bazunga has great hands around the rim, finishes with authority above the rim, and is efficient with the mid-range shot. Bazunga led the Knights in scoring with 24 points against Clovis West and 19 points against San Joaquin Memorial en route to their Central Section Open Division Championship Title. Bazunga will be extending his basketball and academic career at Hawaii Pacific University this coming season. 

(Ranked #23 in 2020 player rankings)

11. 6’5 Lendl Henderson Jr. (Bakersfield Christian HS)

Henderson has been one of the top prospects since he entered high school and has the length, height and athleticism to be a premier wing/guard at the next level. Henderson opted out of the 2020-2021 season and is likely to do a postgraduate year and reclassify to the Class of 2022. He will be playing for I-Can All-Stars throughout the month of July and looks to regain the notoriety and attention from college coaches that he had before the pandemic hit in March of 2020. 

(Ranked #2 in 2020 player rankings)

12. 6’1 Jalen Douglas (San Joaquin Memorial HS)

Douglas has been one of the best defensive players throughout the Central Section the last 2 seasons, as he has been tasked with defending the opponents best offensive perimeter player in each game. He has improved his overall offensive skill set and become more of a 3 level scoring threat. 3 time Central Section Champion in 4 years. 

(Ranked #18 in 2020 player rankings)

13. 6’1 James Prescott III (San Joaquin Memorial HS)

Prescott was a welcome addition for the Panthers with the departure of Devin Newsome. Prescott is a high level lead guard, shifty handles, creative moves, good vision and is effective from deep. 

(Not ranked in 20202 player rankings-moved to California after his junior year).

14. 5’10 Anyel Ortiz (St. Joseph HS)

Ortiz is a tough and crafty point guard that knows how to score around the basket over taller players. Had a huge 2nd half of the Central Section Open Division Championship, as he finished with 14 points helping the Knights win the Section Championship. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

15. 6’3 Nathan Towsley (KIngsburg HS) - Committed to Reedley College

Towsley is a strong athletic wing/guard that is efficient from beyond the arc, improved 3 level scorer, good rebounder and high motor player. Was the leader for the Vikings as they won the Central Section D5 Championship and the Southern California 

D-5A State Regional Championship. 

(Ranked #22 in 2020 player rankings)

16. 6’7 Jeremiah Hannah (Edison HS)

Hannah has great size and length to impact the boards, be a shot blocker, and has good hands around the rim. Hannah can knockdown the midrange shot and is a player that has tremendous upside. 

(Ranked #24 in 2020 player rankings)

17. 5’10 Mikey Ficher Jr. (Tulare Western) - Committed to Davidson for Football

Ficher has been one of the top point guards and overall players for the 2021 Class since he entered high school. Dynamic ball handler, electric shot maker, and great athlete. Ficher missed most of his senior season due to injury and despite heavy interest from D2 basketball programs, he has decided to pursue D1 football at Davidson University. Leaves Tulare Western as one of the best athletes in school history. 

(Ranked #6 in 2020 player rankings)

18. 6’2 Qyncee Patterson (Mission Oak HS)

Patterson has a strong, physical build and is a superior athlete with great bounce. Gets into the teeth of the defense, draws fouls, nice mid-range jumper, and electric in the open court. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

19. 6’2 Ipreye Egbe (Garces Memorial HS)

Egbe is a high level defender capable of guarding the 1-3 positions. Egbe is effective from beyond the arc, which allows him to get to the basket off the dribble when lanes open up. Relentless motor and very coachable. 

(Ranked #15 in 2020 player rankings)

20. 6’1 Brock Batten (Liberty HS/Bakersfield)

Batton is a lights out shooter from deep that has expanded his all around game over the past few years. Rebounds well, moves nicely off the ball, excels in the catch and shoot role, and was one of the better scorers in the South Valley this past season. 

(Ranked #33 in 2020 player rankings)

21. 6’5 Joshua Uphold (Garces Memorial HS) - Committed to Wyoming for Football

Dominant in the paint, rebounds very well, strong moves at the basket. Like Ficher, Uphold has been one of the top prospects since entering high school but has decided to pursue D1 football at Wyoming the next four years. Great athlete. 

(Ranked #7 in 2020 player rankings)

22. 6’1 Kuman Chandler (Edison HS)

Skilled lead guard, nice handles, creative shot maker and confident demeanor on the court. 

(Not ranked in 2020 player rankings)

23. 5’11 Milton Walker (Central HS/Fresno)

Walker has nice handles, plays downhill and gets to the basket, understands floor spacing and good court vision. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

25. 6’ Steven Vasquez (St. Joseph)

High level defender and knockdown from deep. Great leadership skills and the glue guy for the Central Section Open Division Champs. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

26. 6’1 Luke Dillon (Sanger HS)

Crafty lead guard, with decent handles and the ability to get to the basket and finish through contact. 

(Ranked #20 in 2020 player rankings)

27. 6’7 Shaan Dhillon (Kerman HS)

Stretch floor that can shoot the 3 ball efficiency, nice mid-range shot and rebounds well. Sleeper that could make an impact with his skill and height. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

28. 6’5 Jose Martinez (Kingsburg HS)

Martinez is active on the glass, finishes well around the rim, alters shots, can hit the 15 footer consistently, and plays bigger than his height at the 4 or 5 spot. 

(Ranked #16 in 2020 player rankings)

29. 5’9 Verlee Ruff (Hoover HS)

Shifty lead guard, keeps the ball on a string, puts pressure on the defense and controls the offense. 

(Ranked #27 in 2020 player rankings)

30. 6’6 Carston Saelzler (Fresno Christian HS)

Strong, physical build, rebounds well, can space the floor, great athlete and coachable. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

31. 6’4 Landon Humphrey (Clovis North HS)

Athletic and lengthy wing that rebounds well and has active hands on the defense end. Like his upside if he finds the right situation. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

32. 6’1 Fernando Carranza (Cesar Chavez HS)

Shoots the ball very well and is a 3 level scoring threat. Tough minded player that leaves it all on the court. Did not have a senior season at the school he attended). 

(Ranked #17 in 2020 player rankings)

33. 6’3 Gurkirat Singh (Clovis HS)

Sniper from deep, scores in volumes, great motor and versatile skill set on both ends. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

34. 6’4 Isaiah Gilliam (Roosevelt HS)

Rangy and athletic wing/slasher that rebounds well and can knockdown the mid-range shot. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

35. 5’11 Noah Hernandez (Ridgeview HS)

Prototypical point guard that is looking to facilitate and run the offense. Gritty on defense and rebounds very well for his height. 

(Ranked #30 in 2020 player rankings)

36. 6’3 Colby Charles (Kingsburg HS) - Committed to Reedley College

Charles is an athletic player with length to be a high level defender. He has the ability to spread the floor and attacks the rim with confidence. Hit the game winning 3 pointer to give the Vikings the Southern California D-5A State Regional Championship.

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

37. 6’ Chaun Davis (Foothill HS) - Committed to Reedley College

Range from beyond the arc, can create his own offense, good feel for the game and can play either guard position. 

(Ranked #25 in 2020 player rankings)

38. 6’4 Damare Watts (Roosevelt HS)

Dominant on the glass, averaged nearly a double-double for the season, good handle for his position and scores well from various spots on the court. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

39. 5’11 Leviticus Latu (Independence HS)

Shot creator, tough minded defensive player, can push the ball in the open court and scores in bunches. 

(Ranked #28 in 2020 player rankings)

40. 6’3 Lani Whiteside (Liberty HS/Madera)

Active on the glass, can stretch the floor, good hands at the rim, and finishes through contact. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

41. 6’4 Mekhi Pitts (Frontier HS)

Improved handles and moves off the perimeter to score, good rebounder, can stretch the floor with the 3 ball. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

24. 5’10 Ryus Vang (Clovis West) - Committed to Fresno Pacific University

Vang is a high IQ point guard that knows how to run an offense. Efficient from beyond the arc and cochable. Will continue his academic and hoop career at FPU. 

(Ranked #31 in 2020 player rankings)

42. 6’4 Amari Thomas (West HS)

Efficient from beyond the arc, improved handles, rebounds well, and uses his length to shoot over smaller defenders on the wing. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

43. 5’10 Shawn Packard (Bullard HS)

Good on ball defender, quick hands to cause turnovers, gets downhill with the ball and makes good reads off the drive and kick. 

(Not Ranked in 2020 player rankings)

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