"More Boys BB State Players of Year" -- CalHiSports
Kyree Walker (Moreau Catholic, Hayward)
This was our toughest choice among boys’ selections and it came down to the talented Walker and the gifted Jalen Green of San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno. The duo is currently ranked No. 1-2 in our Cal-Hi Sports 2020 Top 25 as prospects and had the best seasons among first-year players. It came down to a statistical comparison, team success and answering the question, “In a championship-level game, which player makes the biggest impact, right now, today?” Our choice is Walker, who helped the Mariners advance to the D2 state title game with some big post-season performances. The 6-foot-5 scoring wing had 24 points and nine rebounds in Moreau’s NorCal regional final overtime victory over St. Francis of Mountain View and 30 points in the regional semifinal win over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa. The state was able to witness his rebounding prowess and trademark contact drives to the bucket in the state title game, where he went for 28 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in the loss to Esperanza of Anaheim. San Joaquin Memorial was on the opposite side of the NorCal D2 bracket and fell in the second round to Del Oro of Loomis despite 25 points and eight rebounds from Green, who averaged 18.1 points while shooting 55 percent from the field, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Walker finished with averages of 21.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Both players are among the nation’s Top 10 freshmen prospects and we have a feeling they’ll be going head-to-head for more honors in the future. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us to see Green as or even more highly touted than Walker three years from now when they are on their way to the next level. Walker is the first honoree among ninth-graders from a North Coast Section school since 1989, when Jason Kidd was teammates with McDonald’s All-American Calvin Byrd (the 1986 pick) at St. Joseph of Alameda.
Jimmy Beltz (Elliot Christian, Lodi) 6-2 Sr.
It was tougher for this division in one sense because competitive equity has moved up some of the schools that have tended to have the top players. Beltz still did some things and had some performances that lifted him up over other contenders.
Despite actually being held to limited minutes in some of Elliot Christian’s league games, Beltz still averaged 19.8 ppg for a team that reached the CIF NorCal D5 final before losing on the road 69-64 to St. Francis CCC of Watsonville. It was his 3-point shooting, however, that proved too hard to ignore. He had a chance in the last two weeks, in fact, to set a new single-season state record but fell short of the record of 165 set in 2001 by Chad Bickley from Santa Maria Valley Christian and wound up with 156. For his career, Beltz also will go into the state record book in the top five with his total of 443.
Some of Beltz’s top games of the season included 31 points (9-of-14 on 3-pointers) vs. Jesuit of Carmichael, 32 points (10-of-17 on 3-pointers) vs. Elk Grove, 33 points vs. Ripon Christian in the CIF Sac-Joaquin D5 semifinals and 26 points vs. Argonaut of Jackson in the SJS D5 championship.
Beltz is the first D5 State POY from the SJS since Adrian Oliver of Modesto Christian in 2006.