BurlisonOnBasketball All-SoCal freshmen selections

LAGUNA NIGUEL – The Class of 2020 (current freshmen) was among the better ones in recent hoops memory, across and from top to bottom of California.

Among the most notable – some would suggest the best – of those are Kyree Walker (Hayward Moreau Catholic) and Jalen Green (Fresno San Joaquin Memorial).

But only players from the Southern, L.A. City and San Diego sections of the CIF are eligible for the BurlisonOnBasketball all-Southern California Top Freshmen/Class of 2020 selections.

So, sorry Green (Central Section) and Walker (North Coast Section) . . .

Before I dive into my selections for the Class of 2020, a caveat:

My choices are based upon a combination of how a kid performed and the success his team enjoyed this past season.

This is not a “ranking the college prospects”-type of a deal.

The college coaching staffs (and NBA teams) get those kind of pecking orders, especially relative to both “short-term” and “long-term potential”.

If you’re a college coach and want those in-depth opinions from me, contact me about subscribing to my BurlisonOnBasketball Scouting Service.

So, there are (were? After all, the season is over . . . ) two prime candidates for SoCal Freshman of the Year and I’ve spent a couple of weeks trying to make a decision.

And it’s Clark Slajchert, a 6-footer who helped Oak Park make its’ first-ever appearance in the Southern Section’s Open Division.

The Eagles were 23-9 and the No. 13 seed in the Open Division, losing to eventual section and state Open champion Torrance Bishop Montgomery in the first round before knocking off ultimate state Division II champion Anaheim Esperanza and then losing to eventual state Division I winner Eastvale Roosevelt in Open consolation games.

A Slajchert 3-pointer at the buzzer gave his team a stunning upset of host El Cajon Foothills Christian (led by McDonald’s All-American Jaylen Hands) in the first round of the State Southern Regional Division I playoffs.

Of the team’s nine losses, seven were to teams that played in the Southern Section Open playoffs and the eighth was to L.A. City Open champion Birmingham.

Slajchert averaged 16.7 points and 2.4 assists per game and can be watched the spring and summer as a member of the Earl Watson Elite 15 UAA squad.

He averaged 19.0 points in five playoff games, including 21 vs. Bishop Montgomery and 24 against Foothills Christian.

And the runner-up is 6-6 Johnny Juzang (Studio City Harvard-Westlake). The decision was so tough I could have easily made them “Co-Freshmen of the Year” if I didn’t have such an aversion to the cop-out “co-Player of the Year” approach seen so often on “all” teams.

Juzang (whose brother Christian Juzang was an all-Southern Selection at Viewpoint High and is currently a freshman at Harvard) was the most productive member of the best freshman class in California for Coach David Rebibo.

The Wolverines finished 23-12. Although they weren’t one of the 16 teams selected to the Southern Section’s Open Division, they won the SS’s 1A championship while knocking off Pasadena in the final, 68-58.

In the State Division II competition they beat Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic (San Diego Section) upset Mission League rival Mission Hills Alemany in the second round and then fell at Pasadena in a rematch of the SS championship game.

Juzang averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, scoring 25 points twice (against Sacramento Sheldon and Riverside Martin Luther King).

You can check him out this spring and summer with the Compton Magic Elite 16 squad on the adidas circuit.

So here are the 16 players I selected (POY Slajchert plus three teams of five, with an alpha listing).

There are a whole lot of quality freshmen in Southern California – some of which could have better long-term futures than some of the guys among these selections.

But, for purpose of being selected here, a player must have stated the bulk of the season or at least played “starter-like” minutes very often as a reserve.


Player of the Year

Clark Slajchert 6-1 Oak Park


First Team

Amound Anderson 6-1 Lawndale Leuzinger

Jaylen Clark 6-4 Corona Centennial

D.J. Davis 5-11 Corona Centennial

Johnny Juzang 6-6 Studio City Harvard-Westlake

Evan Mobley 6-8 Temecula Rancho Christian


Second Team

Lamont Butler 5-11 Riverside Poly

Austin Cook 6-5 La Verne Damien

Dillon DePina 6-4 Northridge Heritage Christian

Terren Frank 6-6 Studio City Harvard-Westlake

Dominick Harris 6-3 Newport Beach Pacifica Christian


Third Team

Mason Hooks 6-9 Studio City Harvard-Westlake

Jaden Jones 6-4 Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart

Shemar Morrow 6-4 La Mirada

Beon Riley 6-3 Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic

J.T. Tan 6-5 San Pedro Rolling Hills Prep

6 Responses to BurlisonOnBasketball All-SoCal freshmen selections
  1. Jack Nelson
    April 18, 2017 | 1:42 pm

    Kind of interesting that Kyree Walker and Jalen Green will go at each other in the opening game of their soph season when Moreau Catholic plays San Joaquin Memorial in the norcal tipoff classic in November.

  2. beon riley
    April 18, 2017 | 1:56 pm

    Beon not Breon Riley

  3. Kris Rains
    April 18, 2017 | 7:31 pm

    Does SoCAL selections include San Diego?

  4. Frank Burlison
    April 19, 2017 | 10:28 am

    My apologies for the auto-correct . . . it’s been adjusted!

  5. Frank Burlison
    April 19, 2017 | 10:28 am

    Yes; read the third paragraph of the story . . .

  6. Jack Pollon
    April 23, 2017 | 11:31 pm

    juzang’s brother went to viewpoint, not viewmont

    terren frank, not tellen

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Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a well-regarded basketball writer who was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. His opinions on the potential of high school and college players are widely respected and sought by college coaches and NBA scouts, personnel directors and general managers from coast to coast. Oh, yes – he can offer plenty of thoughts on movies, television and pop music. Yes, he can rank those, too. Hint: He’s a big The Godfather, Larry Sanders, The Wire and The Beatles loyalist.

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