Who is the best high school boys basketball player in Southern California over the past 20 years? Over the next two weeks we’ll give you a chance to decide.
Our 32-player bracket tipped off Tuesday with first-round matchups in the Ed Azzam region, then moved to the Gary McKnight region on Wednesday, followed by the Harvey Kitani region on Thursday.
The first round wraps up on Friday with matchups in the NBA region (every player in this region went on to play in the league). In the second matchup, San Diego Lincoln’s Norman Powell, a seven seed, takes on Riverside King’s Kawhi Leonard, a two seed.
Here’s a look at the matchup:
(7) Norman Powell, Lincoln (San Diego)
Powell secured first-team all-state honors in 2009-10 and 2010-11 at Lincoln. He was a first-team All-Western League selection and Western League MVP in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Powell led Lincoln to back-to-back CIF Championships (2010 and 2011) and a California state championship in 2010. He averaged 20.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game as a senior (2010-11). Powell scored a career-high 35 points in an 85-53 win over St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) on Feb. 15, 2011. He also scored in double figures in every game his senior season, including 34 points and a career-best six steals in a 76-27 win over Scripps Ranch (Jan. 25, 2011). He shot 50.2 percent (211-for-420) from the field in 2010-11 and 31.5 percent (52-for-165) from three-point range.
Powell led the Hornets in the 2010 state title game, their first state title since 1994, scoring 24 points as Lincoln defeated St. Francis of Mountain View, 74-59. He averaged 19.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 steals (led the team), 1.7 assists and 1.0 blocks per game as a junior (2009-10).
Powell played at UCLA from 2011 to 2015. He was taken 46th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, but was traded to the Toronto Raptors on draft night. He won an NBA championship with Toronto in 2019.
(2) Kawhi Leonard, King (Riverside)
Leonard averaged 22.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.0 blocks per game as a senior at King. He was named the L.A. Times Player of the Year in 2009. Leonard had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds six times as a senior for a team that went 30-3, won the CIF-Southern Section Division I-AA title and finished in second place in the Southern California Regional State tournament. He was also named the CalHiSports.com Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year and was one of seven L.A.-area players to receive the John R. Wooden High School Player of the Year Award (CIF-SS Div. I)
Leonard led King to a 32-3 record as a junior and another Southern Section title. He averaged 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game that year.
Leonard attended San Diego State and he led the Aztecs to the 2011 Sweet 16, where they lost to eventual champion UConn. He was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard won an NBA title with the Spurs in 2014 and another with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. He was named Finals MVP both times. Leonard now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard: 20
Norman Powell: 4