Fire + Ice: Chris Howell and Nick Herrmann headline Full-Time Hoops All San Diego Selections
Yes, Co-MVPs and Players of the Year are an absolute cop out -- most of the time.
But in the curious basketball season that is 2021, it is fitting that a pair of guards from San Diego's first undefeated team in nearly 50 years share the honor.
Chris Howell and Nick Herrmann came together to comprise the deadliest back court in San Diego. Herrmann, who's personal triumph over cancer became a viral story nationally, and Howell, the steady anchor of the Falcons' offense and defense, were equally important to the Falcons now 30-0 record. A date with Etiwanda is all that stands between them and becoming the first team since the 1973 Kearny Komets to finish the season undefeated.
Herrmann led the Falcons with a team high 18.6 points along with 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists and shot 44 percent from three, but perhaps his biggest contribution was his fiery demeanor, which sparked the Falcons in some of the season's most critical moments, such as when he scored 13 straight second-quarter points to pull Torrey Pines ahead of Cathedral in the CIF championship game.
Howell's numbers might not be as gaudy as previous players of the year (13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5 assists and 3.7 steals per game), but his impact belied his statistical output. Just ask Damien, which saw Howell, as the primary defender on their top player, hold USC-bound Malik Thomas to 10 points in the CIF Regional Semifinals game. His ability to guard all five positions at the high school level is unique, and his unselfishness and high IQ make him one of the toughest covers in all of San Diego.
That's not to discount other player of the year candidates. Devon Arlington was San Marcos' unquestioned leader on a team that started the season winning 25 games in a row. Coronado's Wayne McKinney III hung 42 points on Torrey Pines and the USD-bound guard posted gaudy statistics on the way to the D2 title game. And San Diego's AJ Burgin again led the region in triple doubles. But the combined efforts of Howell and Herrmann and the path they took to lead the Falcons to an undefeated season must trump those efforts.
Chris Howell and Nick Herrmann are the Full-Time Hoops Co-Players of the Year.
Devon Arlington, 6-3 Jr. G, San Marcos
The talented point guard averaged a team-high 20.3 points and 6.1 assists to lead the Knights to an undefeated regular season and the Open Division semifinals.
Wayne McKinney III, 6-0 Sr. G, Coronado
The USD-bound point guard averaged 22.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game to lead the Islanders to the CIF Division 2 title and a CIF Regional Final appearance.
AJ Burgin, 6-4 Sr. G, San Diego
The Idaho State-bound combo guard paced the Cavers with 19 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5 assists per game averages, leading the Cavers to a third-place finish in the Western League behind St. Augustine and Cathedral Catholic.
Hayden Gray, 6-4 G, Santa Fe Christian
Headed to Azusa Pacific, Gray led the Eagles in scoring and assists and the team's first Coastal League title and a CIF State Regional Finals appearance. Gray averaged 19 points, 6.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3 steals per contest.
Jurian Dixon, 6-5 So. SF, St. Augustine
Emerged as the Saints leading scorer and rebounder after transferring from San Ysidro, leading the Saints to a second-place Western League finish and an Open Division berth.
Dillon Wilhite, 6-9 Sr. PF/C, Cathedral Catholic
Cathedral's second leading scorer and leading rebounder (15 points, 10 rebounds) made a huge leap in his final year for the Open Division runners up. Headed to Kansas as a preferred walk-on.
Melo Sanchez, 6-5 Sr. G, Mater Dei Catholic
The Mesa League's player of the year, Sanchez willed the Crusaders to a CIF D1 championship and led the team in scoring (20.2 ppg) while contributing 4 rebounds and 3 assists per contest.
Caleb Nelson, 6-7 Sr. PF, Carlsbad
Leading the Lancers in scoring (19 points per game) and rebounds (10 rpg), the high-flying swingman, who is headed to Cal Poly Pomona, helped the team make its first Open Division appearance.
Alex Wade, 6-0 Sr. PG, Cathedral Catholic
The Western League's Player of the Year, Wade averaged 15.8 points per game and 8 assists to lead the Dons to the CIF Open Division finals. Headed to Notre Dame as a preferred walk-on.
Tyson Robinson, 6-0 Sr. G, El Camino - Became the school's all-time leading scorer while leading the team in scoring for a second straight season.
Momo Stokes, 5-10 Sr. PG, Bonita Vista - All Mesa League first teamer averaged 21 points, 2.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals, shooting an astonishing 55 percent from the field and 51 percent from three.
DJ Sanders, 6-0 Sr. PG, Bonita Vista - A CSU East Bay signee, Sanders averaged 24 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
Keavie Love, 6-2 Sr. G, El Camino - The senior guard was the unquestioned defensive linchpin of one of the region's best defensive teams.
Brendan Perry, 6-5 Sr. G, La Costa Canyon - The Mavericks leading scorer at 21 points per game, the Point Loma Nazarene (preferred walk-on)-bound Perry led the Mavs to their first CIF Championship game appearance in six years.
Alex Crawford, 6-7 Sr. F, Coronado - Averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds and a season's worth of highlight reel dunks for the CIF D2 champs.
Martin Flores, 6-8 Jr. SF, San Ysidro - Led the region in scoring at 25.8 points per game, including a 42 point game against Hoover in his first game.
Richard Nweke, 6-8 Jr. PF, La Jolla Country Day - The All Coastal League first team selection led the Torreys in points, rebounds and blocks.
Camden McCormick, 6-4 Jr. G, Francis Parker - McCormick led the Lancers in scoring (16 ppg), rebounds (10 rpg) and notched 3 assists per contest, and his return from injury propelled the team to a state playoff appearance.
Kristian Gonzalez, 6-3 So. G, Mission Bay - Along with Dixon, Gonzalez made the All-Western League first team as a sophomore.
Otto Landrum, 6-9 Jr. C, Torrey Pines - An All Avocado League second-team selection, Landrum picked up steam after a slow start to the season to become the Falcons leading rebounder (7.9) and third-leading scorer.
Diego Czarnowski, 6-7 Sr. PF, Mission Hills - An All-Palomar League first-team selection, Czarnowski led the Grizzlies to the Open Division playoffs.
Obinna Anyanwu, 6-8 Sr. PF, Cathedral Catholic- An All Western League second-team pick, Anyanwu saved his best performances down the stretch, where he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per contest his final 7 games.
Kailon King, 6-2 Sr. G, Mater Dei Catholic - King had some huge games and became Mater Dei's second leading scorer en route to an All Mesa League first-team selection.
Christian Ubochi, 6-10 Sr. C, Mater Dei Catholic - Also a first-team all-league selection, Ubochi was the Crusaders leading rebounder (7.9 per game) and shot blocker, swatting 2 per contest.
Isaiah Brickner, 6-5 Sr. G, Saint Augustine - An All-League second team selection, Brickner was one of the most improved players in San Diego as a senior.
Adam Nieves, 6-4 Sr. F, Orange Glen - Nieves was the glue to hold the Patriots together, averaging 11 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals.
Mickey Chew, 5-10 Sr. PG, Orange Glen - The Patriots leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and assist man (4.5 assists) helped lead the team to its second CIF Division 2 title appearance in 4 years.
KJ Gonzalez, 6-0 Jr. PG, Mission Bay - An All-League second team selection in his first year at Mission Bay.
Wayne Hampton, 6-2 Sr. PG, Hoover - the All-CIty League first team selection spearheaded a huge turnaround at Hoover, leading the Cardinals to the D3 finals.
Christian Gamboa, 6-4 Sr. G, La Jolla - The Eastern League player of the year averaged over 20 points per game and led his team to the Eastern League title.
Trevan Martin, 6-5 Sr. W, Santa Fe Christian - An All Coastal League second team selection, Martin was the Eagles leading rebounder, second leading scorer, and emotional leader.