Northern California welcomes back a pair of state champions and plenty of talent. With the season getting underway, we take a look at some of the preseason favorites in the Player of the Year race, including four 5-star prospects.
Oderah Chidom 6-foot-3 Post Bishop O'Dowd: There are so many choices from Bishop O'Dowd for Player of the Year honors, but we start with the Duke signee. One of the top players in the country, Chidom can play from the high post or the block and impacts the game defensively. She was a member of the gold medal winning USA U17 national team. Her teammate, Kendall Waters was the league MVP and NorCalPreps.com Division III Player of the Year last year.
Allie Green 5-foot-10 SG Sacramento: After missing her junior season due to a knee injury, Green was back in action on the circuit and eventually signed with Pepperdine. When healthy, Green is a quality scorer who can create her own shot and has good mid-range touch. As a sophomore, she averaged a team high 12.4 points. Green will also be tasked with more leadership with the Dragons graduating two Division I bound players in Jasmine Ware and Jehiah Cook and will be without Casey Williams due to injury.
Gabby Green 6-foot-1 G St. Mary's-Berkeley: Green came back in the second half of her junior season following a summer injury and helped the Panthers reach the Division IV NorCal title game. A 5-star recruit, Green has good passing vision, can shoot off the bounce and causes mismatches with her size against other guards. She averaged 13.3 points per game with five rebounds, three assists and three steals last year. Green and fellow 2014 5-star prospect Mikayla Cowling will lead the effort to pick up the graduated production of league MVP Shannon Mauldin.
Kelli Hayes F Mitty: The sophomore played a major role in Mitty's Division II state title and will be the go-to player this season. A 5-star recruit, she averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game as an elite athlete who can handle, has an improving outside shot and plays with great energy. The Monarchs returns plenty of talent to start the year at No. 2 going into Saturday's game against No. 1 Bishop O'Dowd.
Dejza James 6-foot-1 F Pleasant Grove: After blowing up on the summer circuit, James signed with Arizona and now leads one of the top teams in the area. James does plenty of work on the block, but can also step out to the perimeter as a versatile threat for head coach James McKeever. She is coming off a junior year with averages of 13 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Is this the year Pleasant Grove captures a section crown?
Onome Jemerigbe 5-foot-5 PG St. Mary's-Stockton: The floor general for the Rams, Jemerigbe packs a wealth of experience entering her third year as a starter. The UC Santa Barbara signee continually finds teammates for easy looks and can get some of her own offense going to the rim. With the graduation of Regina Camera and transfer of Courtney Range, Jemerigbe is a key piece if St. Mary's wants to reach a regional title game for the sixth straight year.
Lynette Johnson 5-foot-9 G Kennedy-Sacramento: Kennedy quietly made the NorCal Division I finals last year after a surprising run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title. Johnson is a scoring guard who averaged 18 points per game as a junior, including 37 point outburst against the then defending champion St. Francis-Sacramento in the second round of the playoffs. She is signed to Utah State as a 4-star prospect.
Mariya Moore 5-foot-11 F Salesian: She helped lead Salesian to the Division IV state title game as a sophomore, but will have more of a burden this year with the transfer of sophomore Ma'Ane Mosley. She was an all-around talent last year at 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals and can create matchup problems with her size.
Natalie Romeo 5-foot-8 PG Carondelet: Romeo handled the point guard duties for the Cougars last year and will take on a larger role after the graduation of NCP Player of the Year Hannah Huffman. She is a steady ball handler who can get to the basket and is a solid spot-up shooter. She is the No. 2 ranked point guard in the 2014 class.
Tiara Tucker 5-foot-6 G Brookside Christian: Tucker has quite the scoring resume through two years and is a big reason why Brookside Christian followed up a state title run with a preseason NCP Top 10 ranking. She averaged 25 points and five steals last year, including a dominating performance in the Division V title game.