The closest calls to make in these categories this year were for Division III and for freshmen. Top honorees also announced for every other CIF division and for juniors, sophomores.
Congratulations to these girls players for being selected as an ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. Stay tuned for the release next week of the 32nd annual ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of our girls basketball individual honorees for the 2011-12 season:
Seniors – Nirra Fields (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Also named as the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, Fields played last season at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), a school more known for its boys teams.
Juniors – Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day)
The State Sophomore of the Year from 2011 defended her crown as the top player in the class as she led the Torreys to a CIF Division IV state championship.
In the CIF Division IV state finals, Plum scored 32 points in La Jolla Country Day’s 72-41 win over Salesian of Richmond and tied the record for most 3-pointers in a Division IV title game with five.
Plum is the first player since Vista’s Chris Enger in 1988 to be honored as the state’s top junior. When Candice Wiggins of La Jolla Country Day was a junior in 2003, she was edged out for the honor by Lynwood’s Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood.
Sophomores – Jordin Canada (Windward, Los Angeles)
After barely missing out last year for freshman honors, the ESPNHS Girls Basketball No. 4 overall player and No. 1 guard from the Class of 2014 gets the nod this year over a very talented field of sophomores.
The main competitors she beat out were Kelli Hayes from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and Mariya Moore of Richmond Salesian.
The lightning-quick 5-foot-6 Canada was the floor general and led a balanced attack in three categories with 12.2 points per game, 5.4 assists and 3.5 steals. Despite being only 5-foot-6, she was still able to snag 5.1 rebounds a game.
Canada had 22 points and four assists in a 56-55 win over Long Beach Poly in one of her best outings. She had 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 65-58 West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division title-game victory over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland that solidified her choice as MVP of the division.
In a 65-62 win over Mater Dei at the Nike Extravaganza when Canada was double-teamed, she only scored 10 points but was 6-of-7 from the foul line including key free throws down the stretch. She also had six rebounds and five assists.
Freshmen – Katie Lou Samuelson (Edison, Huntington Beach)
She is the younger sister of Stanford freshman Bonnie Samuelson and Edison sophomore Karly Samuelson, who was considered for the freshman statewide honor one year ago.
This season, as Karly battled a mid-season injury, Katie Lou stepped up and finished with nearly 20 points per game. The 6-foot-2 player who can play on the perimeter was MVP of the Orange County Championships. Among her best outings were 27 points against Villa Maria Academy of Pennsylvania, 29 points against St. Anthony of Long Beach, 21 vs. state-ranked Etiwanda and 24 when Edison beat Huntington Beach in the first of two league matchups.
Both Katie Lou and Karly missed Edison’s post-season games when both suffered complications from mononucleosis. Still, Katie Lou played in enough big games to nab this year’s frosh award. And unlike Bonnie, who was stuck being from the same county at the same time as Mater Dei’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Katie Lou appears not to have such a problem. She may end up being the most honored of all the Samuelson sisters.
CIF Division I – Nirra Fields (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
The only reason that Mater Dei players have not been tops in D1 for more than the last two years is that the Monarchs were in the D2 state playoffs before that. Fields also is this year’s overall Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
CIF Division II – Hannah Huffman (Carondelet, Concord)
Not only did the Notre Dame-bound player that can play any position do just that for the Cougars this season, she did it for four years and started every game.
With Huffman in the lineup, Carondelet won 112 games and lost but 20, while winning two NorCal Regional and three CIF North Coast Section titles.
Huffman is one of the few girls that can stop on a dime and hit a true jump shot, an ability she shares with 2006 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Jacki Gemelos of Stockton St. Mary’s.
This season, she averaged 18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, and finishes her career among the all-time leaders in school history (including Jayne Appel) in almost every category, including rebounding, despite being only 5-foot-9.
Huffman already has been selected as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Girls Player of the Year.
CIF Division III – Kendall “K.C.” Waters (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland)
The 6-foot-2 junior who was the State Freshman of the Year two years ago was the linchpin of the Dragons’ Division III state championship team, and led a balanced attack that included several Division I college prospects.
The Contra Costa Times East Bay Girls Player of the Year led the team in scoring (14 ppg) and rebounding (12 rpg) and secured a double-double in almost every game.
Two other areas in which she excelled and improved drastically from last year were her defense and assertiveness.
The No. 34 overall and No. 11 forward in the Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNHS Girls Basketball is drawing major interest to go along with her improvement.
According to the Contra Costa Times, Cal, Duke, USC, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia and UCLA have expressed interest but she is still uncommitted.
CIF Division IV – Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day)
The San Diego Tribune reported that Plum was "whooping for joy" when she heard that her coach, Terri Bamford, had been chosen as the State Coach of the Year. She should be feeling some joy for her own season.
In addition to being the State Junior of the Year, Plum also tops the field for her CIF division. In leading La Jolla Country Day to the state title, she averaged 22.2 points, 4.6 assists, 3.7 steals and 4.2 rebounds per game.
The 5-foot-9 guard becomes the first San Diego Section choice ever for Division IV, although La Jolla Country Day’s Candice Wiggins was the pick for Division V twice.
CIF Division V – Michelle Miller (Poly, Pasadena)
She may be the player of the year from the smallest division but she put up big-time numbers on the court. Miller’s 877 points this season will earn her a spot in the top 10 of the Cal-Hi Sports state record book.
Averaging more than 32 points and 13 rebounds per game, the state stat star regular had a season-high of 52 points. Among the honors she has received so far include Prep League Most Valuable Player and Pasadena Area Girls' Player of the Year.
For her career, Miller finished with 3,331 points to put her in second-place on the all-time list for the CIF Southern Section behind the legendary Cheryl Miller. Michelle also is currently at No. 5 on the all-time state list. She will now head to play at Princeton.
Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.