Christian Oliver, Santa Clara’s junior center who powered the Saints to their first CIF-Southern Section boys’ basketball championship in the post-“Coach C” era, was named Division 5AA Player of the Year for 2019.
Also earning honors, announced this week by the CIF and presented by the LA84 Foundation, were seniors Ivan Barocio and Nick Abbott as members of the All-CIF D-5AA first team, and coach Bobby Tenorio as Coach of the Year.
Ranked No. 1 most of the year, Santa Clara beat Sage Hill 68-52 to win the D-5AA title last month, its 15th CIF-SS championship and first since 1999 when legendary coach Lou Cvijanovich, who died last November, was at the helm.
The 6-foot-10 Oliver, who scored 23 points in the victory, becomes the first Saint honored as player of the year since Nick Jones and BJ Ward shared the award in 1999. Other Santa Clara players similarly honored include Chris Cole (1991 and 1992), Shon Tarver (1989 and 1990), Stacey Cvijanovich (1985), Joe Wallace (1983), Matt Colburn (1981), Andy Herrera (1964) and Steve Miller (1960).
In Division 4A, Coach Brandon Lincoln, who led Providence/Burbank to the CIF-SS D-4A finals, was named Coach of the Year. First Team selections included juniors Jordan Shelley and A’Jahni Levias of Providence/Burbank.
Underclassmen were well-represented on the All-CIF divisional teams, as were several seniors. The list of Catholic school representatives includes:
- Open Division: Seniors Josh Vasquez and Gianni Hunt of Bishop Montgomery, sophomores Devin Askew and Wilhelm Breidenbach of Mater Dei, and senior Christian James of St. John Bosco.
- D-1: Seniors Max Agbonkpolo and Jake Kyman of Santa Margarita, senior James Keefe of Loyola, junior Ian Martinez of J.Serra, and sophomore Malik Thomas of Damien. Kyman is a repeat from 2018.
- D-2AA: Junior Zaire Williams of Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks and sophomore Kenneth Simpson of Chaminade.
- D-3AA: Junior Andre Henry of St. Francis.
- D-3A: Junior Efren Lemus of Salesian and senior Joseph Octave of Mary Star of the Sea; for Octave, it was his third straight first-team selection.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).
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