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A giant leap: Micah Brickner headlines the FTH Most Improved team

After being an afterthought at Mater Dei Catholic for three years, Micah Brickner transferred closer to home to Scripps Ranch.

He had to wait his turn, sitting out the first half of the 2022-23 season due to CIF transfer rules. When he suited up, however, it became clear that Brickner was a different player - and a difference maker.

After not playing varsity basketball until his junior season, Brickner was named to the All Eastern League 2nd Team and anchored a Falcons team that won league and made it to the CIF D2 semifinals.

Brickner, the younger brother of former St. Augustine standout Isaiah Brickner, then capped his final year of HS hoops by winning MVP of the San Diego County Senior All Star Game and winning the companion dunk contest as a last-minute addition to the game.

Brickner's dramatic growth during his final season makes him the Full-Time Hoops Most Improved Player, edging out a field of largely underclassmen who also elevated their games this year.

Here's the rest of the Most Improved Team:

Josiah Jefferson, 6-5 Jr. F, Mater Dei Catholic

Jefferson emerged as the clear No. 2 option on the Open Division Crusaders squad, averaging 13 points and a team-leading 5.6 rebounds per game, earning All League second team honors.

Tony Duckett, 6-2 Jr. G, Carlsbad

After a steady rise during his sophomore year as the Lancers sixth man, Duckett developed into one of the best No. 2 options in the city, earning All CIF honors and All Palomar League first team honors.

Kyelin King, 6-4 Jr. G, Lincoln

King was on the verge of a breakout year as a sophomore if not for injuries. But this year, he became a full-fledged star, leading the Hornets to the CIF Division 2 championship as well as All CIF and City League Player of the Year honors.

Kai Brown, 6-0 Jr. G, Scripps Ranch

A year after establishing himself as the sixth man on the Open Division champion Saints, Brown became an All Eastern League first-team selection spearheading the Falcons' league title run.

Gavin Girouard, 6-0 Jr. G, Mission Bay

A role player on the Buccaneers as a sophomore, Girouard became one of the Western League's top scorers as a junior, named to the All Western League 2nd team.

Devin Hamilton, 6-4 So. W, Montgomery

Hamilton nearly quadrupled his scoring output from his freshman to sophomore year, emerging as one of the Aztecs primary offensive options and their defensive stopper.

Elijah Stephens, 6-5 So. F, Sage Creek

A year after he was a solid contributor for the Bobcats, Stephens became a star, averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds, nearly winning Avocado League Player of the Year in the process (he finished behind Del Norte's Ben Lee).

Zaki Monqad, 6-0 Sr. G, Vallhalla

The fourth leading scorer for the Norseman as a junior (8.6 ppg), Monqad put together a senior year for the ages, averaging 24.6 points per game and earning Grossmont Hills Player of the Year honors.

Micah O'Dell, 6-7 Sr. F, El Capitan

New head coach Scott Reed made O'Dell the No. 1 option on the revamped Vaqueros. O'Dell responded by doubling his scoring average from 11.5 to 23.9 points per game en route to All Grossmont Valley 1st team honors.

Chance La Chappa, 6-2 Jr. G, El Capitan

The St. Augustine transfer was known as a football prospect but quickly became the Vaqueros floor general and defensive ace, earning an All Grossmont Valley 2nd team selection.

Jaiden Herrera, 6-0 Sr. G, Del Norte

A rotation player during his junior season, Herrera became a co-star of a high-powered Nighthawks offense as a senior, earning a 1st Team All Avocado League selection.

Jack Leininger, 5-10 PG, Del Norte

Leininger overcame an injury plagued stretch during his sophomore and junior years to become an All Avocado League selection during his senior year.

Aaron Owens, 6-3 So. F, Bonita Vista

A JV standout as a freshman, Owens rapidly became a varsity starter and key cog for Don Dumas, averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds per game.

LaCiya Garrett, 6-3 Sr. G, Vista

Garrett's improvement occurred not only between his junior and senior season, but throughout the course of his final year, which saw him named to the All North County Coastal 2nd team.

Bruck Kifleyesus, 6-2 Sr. G, Helix

Kifleyesus emerged as the Highlanders top offensive option after the graduation of Markees Williams, earning an All League 1st Team selection.

Anthony Aruffo, Sr. G, La Jolla Country Day

Aruffo quickly showed off the growth in his game during summer tournaments with the Torreys, and carried the momentum into his senior year, where he was named to the All Coastal League first team and narrowly missed the All CIF team.

Quincy Williams, 5-10 Sr. G, Francis Parker

Williams went from being the Lancers seventh option as a junior to a 20.2-point-per-game scorer as a senior, often while facing double teams and face guards.

Jamal Kendrick, 6-2 So. G, Olympian

A little-used freshman on Mater Dei Catholic's varsity team, Kendrick transferred down the street and became the Eagles leading scorer, earning a spot on the Full-Time Hoops All-Sophomore 1st Team.

Ayden Horn, 6-4 So. F, Rancho Buena Vista

Horn's emergence as the Longhorn's second-leading scorer was key to the team's Division 3 semifinals run. He earned All North County Coastal 2nd team honors in Year 2.

Vincent Patterson, 6-7 Sr. C, Calvin Christian

The third leading scorer on a 5-win Crusaders team as a junior, Patterson's game took a leap forward as he became the team's No. 1 scoring option en route to All Pacific League 1st Team honors.

Sammy Carmona, 6-3 Jr. G, Fallbrook

Carmona, who logged varsity minutes as a sophomore, emerged as an electric scorer and athlete for the Warriors en route to All Valley 1st Team honors.

Honorable Mention:

Jamier Sykes, Sr. G, Lincoln

Aubrey Thompson, Sr. G, Scripps Ranch

Farai Sibanda, Sr. G, High Tech SD

Terrion Woodard, Jr. G, El Camino

Jaiden Schube, Sr. G, Scripps Ranch

Isaiah Baker, Sr G, Kearny

Ben Felice, Sr. G, Christian

Micah Whitley, Sr. G, The Rock Academy

CJ Coleman, So. W, Vista

John Scates, Sr. F, Escondido Charter

Torrean Smalley, Jr. G, Bonita Vista

Michael Contreras, Jr. G, La Jolla

Isaiah Marte, So. G, San Diego

Miles Harris, Sr. G, San Diego

Hassan Anglo, Jr. W, Hoover

Caleb Thach, So. G, Steele Canyon

Vincent Hillman, Jr. F, West Hills

Tico Kirkpatrick, So. G, Crawford

Lachlan Hetrick, Sr. G, Canyon Crest Academy

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