No. 5 Jared Dudley vs. No. 1 James Harden: Vote for 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.

Circling back to the NBA region, five seed Jared Dudley from San Diego Horizon takes on James Harden, a one seed out of Artesia, to continue the second round.

Here’s a look at the matchup:

(5) Jared Dudley, Horizon (San Diego)

Dudley averaged 23.2 points and 14.0 rebounds per game as a senior at Horizon earning All-State honors. He captured 2002-03 San Diego Section Player of the Year honors from the Union-Tribune newspaper. He was also Cal-Hi Sports magazine’s 2002-03 state Division IV Player of the Year. Dudley led the Panthers to back-to-back Division IV San Diego Section and State titles (2002 and 2003) registering 16 points and 14 rebounds against Hercules in the 2003 state title game from Sacramento’s Arco Arena.

Dudley went on to play for four years at Boston College leading the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament each season and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2006. Dudley was drafted 22nd overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. He now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

(Photo by Verse Photography)

(1) James Harden, Artesia

Harden is one of the most decorated high school basketball players in the history of the state. He led his Artesia team to a 33-2 record in his senior year, 2007. Artesia won their second straight sectional and state titles that year. Harden averaged 18.8 points, 7.9 boards and 3.9 assists per game that season and won a trophy case full of Player of the Year honors. He averaged 18.8 points, 7.7 boards and 3.5 assists per game in his junior year. That Artesia state title team went 33-1 and Harden shot nearly 60 percent from the floor. Harden averaged 13.2 points per game in his sophomore year. Artesia went went 28-5 that season and lost in the Sectional championship to Santa Margarita.

Harden entered Arizona State as the most coveted signee in school history (first McDonald’s All-American to sign with ASU out of high school since 1984). He was drafted third overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He now plays for the Houston Rockets. Harden won the NBA’s MVP Award in 2018. He’s an eight time All-Star.

(Photo by Tim Shelby from Arlington, VA)


Jared Dudley: 266

James Harden: 114


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