No. 6 Russell Westbrook vs. No. 2 Onyeka Okongwu: Who’s the best SoCal high school boys basketball player of the 21st Century? (Sweet 16)

Who is the best high school boys basketball player in Southern California over the past 20 years? Over the next five days we’ll give you a chance to decide.

Our 32-player bracket tipped off last week with first-round matchups in all four regions: the Ed Azzam region, the Gary McKnight region, the Harvey Kitani region and the NBA region.

We now move into the Sweet 16.

In the Gary McKnight region, No. 2 seed Onyeka Okongwu from Chino Hills takes on Russell Westbrook, a No. 6 seed out of Leuzinger to start the second round.

Here’s a look at the matchup:

(6) Russell Westbrook, Leuzinger

Westbrook played at Leuzinger High in Lawndale. He was a two-time MVP of the Bay League. As a senior at Leuzinger, he led his team to a 25-4 overall record and a CIF Southern Section Division I-AA quarterfinal playoff appearance. Westbrook averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.3 assists per game that season. He made 57 three-point shots and shot 76.0 percent from the free throw line as a senior. He totaled 14 double-doubles scoring 30 or more points eight times. His career high came against Carson when he put in 51 points in January of 2006.

Westbrook played college basketball at UCLA before being drafted fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, the team that later became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. He now plays for the Houston Rockets. He’s a nine time All-Star and was named League MVP in 2017.

(Photo by Keith Allison)

(2) Onyeka Okongwu, Chino Hills

As a senior at Chino Hills, Okongwu averaged 27.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.3 blocks, 4.0 assists per game while shooting 62 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line. He led Chino Hills (25-10) to its third Division I state title in his four seasons in 2019. In the 69-63 win in the title game against James Logan, Okongwu had a double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds. Okongwu was named California “Mr. Basketball” for the second straight season, becoming the fifth player in the CIF state title era to win the award in back-to-back years. He was named the L.A. Times Player of the Year and to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I first team as senior.

As a junior, Okongwu averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game, earning CIF Division I John R. Wooden Player of the Year and the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year honors.  In the title win over Las Lomas, he scored 27 points, had 14 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.  He was also was part of the state title-winning Chino Hills team in 2016 as a freshman. That team went undefeated and finished the year as the number one team in the country. Chino Hills went 116-24 during Okongwu’s four seasons, winning three state titles.

Okongwu played college basketball at USC this past season. He entered his name in this year’s NBA Draft where he is expected to be a lottery pick.

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