The 2020-21 high school basketball season in Washington is scheduled to start on February 1.
Though doubt surrounds when the season will start in its already-delayed form due to to state-issued COVID-19 guidelines, players around the state have worked hard to prepare for the possibility.
We thought we’d do the same.
In the lead-up to the season, SBLive Washington is identifying and assessing state player of the year candidates at every classification based on impact on the high school stage last season and projected impact this upcoming season.
Here are the 2020-21 girls basketball player of the year candidates for Class 3A, listed in alphabetical order:
3A PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
Sharayah Johnson, Lincoln of Tacoma, 6-4, C, sr.
She’s worked hard in the offseason on her game – and her fitness. If that carries over to the season, Johnson (20.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.5 blocks) could arguably be the best face-up and back-to-the-basket center at this level.
Molly Moffit, Seattle Prep, 6-1, SF, sr.
If the Panthers make a move toward the top of the Metro League in 2020-21, this all-league first teamer (14.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 steals) will likely be leading the charge. Her energy is contagious, and her work rate is unmatched.
Katie Peneueta, Heritage, 6-2, SF, sr.
She has won a gold medal in international basketball, but never reached the postseason. That could change in a wide-open 3A GSHL, allowing this multi-faceted standout (14.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) to show off her vast skill.
Malia Samuels, Eastside Catholic, 5-6, PG, so.
What a high school debut for the Metro League MVP in 2019-20 (14.3 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.4 steals). As she gains more experience, her production will surely climb – and her NCAA Division I scholarship offers will certainly skyrocket.
Rosa Smith, Lake Washington, 5-7, PG, jr.
It all came together so quickly in the final few weeks for the 3A KingCo’s upstart program. Smith (10.7 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 steals) was the biggest reason behind it as an unfazed ball-handler and heady decision-maker.
Jenna Villa, Arlington, 6-1, PF, so.
Point guard Hailey Hiatt was the Eagles’ all-state standout in 2019-20 – but Villa (8.9 ppg) is the program’s highest-ceiling player. After a breakout summer, she will likely be the one that dominates the 3A Wesco.
Zahirah “Zaza” Walton, Eastside Catholic, 5-10, PF, jr.
You could make a case that Walton (15.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg) was the Crusaders’ most consistent playmaker in the postseason – and should pair with Samuels to form the Metro League’s most dynamic duo.
(Feature photo by Vince Miller)