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 boys basketball player of the year candidates for Class 3A, listed in alphabetical order:
3A PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
Maleek Arington, Auburn, 6-3, sr.
Arington’s feel for the game stood out as a sophomore — “it’s like nobody I’ve ever coached before,” Auburn coach Ryan Hansen said. Now, he’s adding a growing physique. He’s up three inches since his sophomore season, holds a Washington State offer and is the rare player who could average double-digit assists and take over a game offensively at will — and yes, that includes dunking over the top of defenders.
Paolo Banchero, O’Dea, 6-9, F, sr.
He’s the state’s top player in one of its more loaded classes in years. Banchero and the Fighting Irish won’t have a chance to avenge their state title loss last season, but he will graduate with a 3A title (2019) before heading off to Duke — and soon, as many project, to the NBA.
Tyson Degenhart, Mt. Spokane, 6-8, F, sr.
The multi-year all-state selection can post up, face up, throw down and even stretch out beyond the arc. With a knowledge of the game as sound as his, there’s not much the Boise State commit can’t do.
Koren Johnson, Garfield, 6-3, G, jr.
The gifted combo guard can fill up a stat sheet and has already attracted offers from Washington, Arizona, Washington State and more. As a sophomore, he combined for 40 points in the 3A state semifinals and finals while going toe-to-toe with some of the state’s top guards, helping Garfield win the 3A state title.
Malakhi Knight, Marysville-Getchell, 6-3, G, sr.
Knight averaged 26.1 points, 9.5 boards, 3.3 assists and 3.3 steals as a junior, garnering all-area and all-state honors and helping the Chargers reach the 3A state tournament. The Chargers return most of its core around Knight, who is also the state’s top baseball prospect and a projected high-round MLB draft pick in 2021.
Shane Nowell, Eastside Catholic, 6-5, G, sr.
Nowell impresses for the ways he can impact the game aside from scoring, though, he can do that, too. And the recent Arizona commit will be asked to step into a more consistent scoring role for a team that returns most of its core, despite the departure of Kentucky-bound Nolan Hickman.
Jaylin Stewart, Garfield, 6-5, G, soph.
Stewart came into high school with the frame of a college player and showed eye-popping flashes on a Garfield team that won the 3A state championship last season. There’s no saying who will lead the Bulldogs in 2021, but Stewart could help them reach similar heights.