One player from among these five will be selected as the 2012 honoree and will be added to a list of state players of the year by Cal-Hi Sports that stretches back to 1905.
A guard-heavy group of girls have been singled out this week by ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports as finalists for the 2012 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
The five prime-time performers are led by McDonald’s All-Americans Jordan Adams and Nirra Fields, who both played at Mater Dei of Santa Ana and led the Monarchs to the CIF Division I state title.
When two players like that, however, are on the same team, the consideration for post-season honors can be split and can help a different player move up to the top.
Here is a closer look at the five players:
Jordan Adams (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
If there was a rock for the Monarchs this season, it was Adams. The 6-foot-1 senior battled injuries all season and gutted it out on many occasions to score big baskets in the crucial moments. She got up from a leg injury in the game against Brea Olinda with the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA title on the line and came through down the stretch. Adams, who is headed next to USC, was a starter and leading player on all of Mater Dei’s last three state title teams. She played Wednesday night in the McDonald’s All-American Game. She had 13 points, three blocks and three steals when Mater Dei topped Berkeley in this year’s Division I state final.
Jordin Canada (Windward, Los Angeles)
Just a sophomore, the 5-foot-6 point guard is one of the nation’s top-ranked recruits in her class. She only averaged 12 points, five assists and three steals per game, but was at her best when Windward was beating the best teams in the state. Canada was MVP of the Platinum Division at the West Coast Jamboree with 20 points and four assists in a title-game win over eventual CIF Division III state champ Bishop O’Dowd. She also had 10 points and five assists when Windward beat Mater Dei at the Nike Extravaganza and had 22 points and four assists in a win by the Wildcats over Long Beach Poly. Canada played last summer for the USA Under-16 national team that won a gold medal in international competition.
Nirra Fields (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Choosing a player who has only been in the state one year might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s just too impossible to ignore all that Fields did for the Monarchs. She came to the school when her legal guardian, NBA coach Mike Brown, was named new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Fields, already named the Gatorade State Player of the Year, averaged 22.5 points with seven rebounds and 4.5 steals per game. She had 24 points and nine rebounds when the Monarchs beat Berkeley for the Division I state title. Fields, a member of the Under-19 Canadian national team, will play next at UCLA.
Hannah Huffman (Carondelet, Concord)
She’s been a mainstay for all four of her varsity seasons with the Cougars, helping them reach the CIF Division I state final in 2010. Huffman is the only player among the finalists headed to a Final Four school for college as she has signed with Notre Dame. The 5-foot-11 senior averaged approximately 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game over the last two seasons. This year’s team saw its hopes for a D2 state title end in a NorCal semifinal loss by two points to eventual state champion Archbishop Mitty. Huffman had 20 points and seven rebounds in that game. She’s ranked No. 52 in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100.
Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day)
After averaging 19.6 points and 7.1 rebounds last season to earn our State Sophomore of the Year award, Plum was even better this season as the Torreys captured the Division IV state championship. On the year, the 5-foot-9 guard averaged 22.2 points, 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Scoring in double figures in every game, she had a season-high 38 in a win over Dobson of Arizona and in the state finals she scored 32 points in the 72-41 win over Salesian of Richmond. She is ranked No. 31 in the ESPNU HoopGurlz Super 60 player rankings and has yet to declare for college.
For corrections or comments and to make your vote known about who you think should be Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year for 2012, email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.