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Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson is boys' player of the year

Johnson was at his best in big games, and he's only a junior.

April 06, 2013|By Eric Sondheimer
  • Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson drives against St. John Bosco during a regular-season game.
Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson drives against St. John Bosco during… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

The talk began in February that 6-foot-7 junior Stanley Johnson might be the best player ever at Santa Ana Mater Dei.

By the end of March, Johnson had only added to a resume that is nothing short of spectacular.

There was the CIF Southern California Open Division championship game in which he missed his first 11 shots, then made six in a row in the third quarter, four from three-point range, and finished with 25 points in a rout of Southern Section 1AA champion Etiwanda.

He then had 26 points and 12 rebounds against McDonald's All-American Aaron Gordon and San Jose Archbishop Mitty in the CIF state championship game in Sacramento, making him the only player to win three consecutive state championships in Mater Dei history.

"It was testimony to my training, working hard and my coaches believing in me and my parents too," Johnson said of his junior season. "I went into every game with confidence."

Johnson has been selected the Southern California player of the year by The Times.

He led the Monarchs to a 34-2 record, averaging 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. He made 53 three-pointers and had 72 assists.

"He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot, he can do everything and he's smart," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "He understands the game."

In the Open Division final against Mitty and the 6-8 Gordon, Johnson was at his best. He had played with Gordon for a USA national team and told McKnight before the game what he might do.

"He was telling me about how Aaron crosses over [on dribbling], and 'I think I can steal it,'" McKnight said. "He did. He just understands and really watches the game. He's a student."

Johnson repeatedly was at his best in big games. He thrives under pressure and has the ability to get his teammates to rise up too.

—Eric Sondheimer

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