If there ever were a unanimous pick for boys' basketball player of the year in Southern California, this would be the season, and Stanley Johnson would be the player.
The Santa Ana Mater Dei star was the best player from start to finish.
The 6-foot-7 senior averaged 25 points and 8.1 rebounds in leading the Monarchs to a 35-0 record and a fourth consecutive state championship. He's the only boys' player in California history to win titles in four consecutive seasons at the upper-division level.
"Stanley is the best we've ever had," said Mater Dei's Gary McKnight, who has coached the Monarchs for 32 seasons.
How the Arizona-bound Johnson was able to elevate his game this season with his improved passing will be long remembered. It was his unselfishness and leadership that helped the Monarchs finish unbeaten.
"I can get myself going any time," Johnson said.
But he knew he had to bring along his teammates for the Monarchs to succeed, and winning a fourth championship ring was his season-long goal. He played point guard and accomplished his feat with a 25-point performance in a 71-61 win over Oakland Bishop O'Dowd in the Open Division final at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
"It's virtually impossible for any high school to figure out how to stop him," said Coach Derrick Taylor of Bellflower St. John Bosco. "He will always make the right play to assist his team to victory."
Two of Johnson's most memorable performances came in the Southern Section Open Division playoffs, a 42-point effort against Lakewood Mayfair and a 38-point performance against Etiwanda in double overtime.
"I'm showing up to his graduation with a gift, and I'm going to verify he's leaving school," Taylor said. "I love the kid, but he's got to go. He's a nightmare."