Weston Ranch senior point guard Jaelen Ragsdale has been recognized as the top Division III player in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.
It was a historic season for Manteca Unified boys hoops. Ragsdale led the Cougars (27-5) to their first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title, and they downed eventual state champion Manteca three times — twice in Valley Oak League play — in the process.
Ragsdale is the first Manteca Unified student-athlete to be named Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports and the first Division III player from San Joaquin County to earn the distinction since Rick Paulsen of St. Mary’s did so in 1977.
The 6-foot, Stanislaus State-bound Ragsdale had a penchant for shining in big moments. He poured in a season-high 38 points in a win over Eisenhower during the St. Hope Elite Hoop Classic in Sacramento. Then, in the Cougars’ first matchup with Manteca, he helped them overcome a 10-point second-half deficit by firing 28 of his 34 points over the final two periods for a 72-68 win.
In the playoffs, he eclipsed the 30-point barrier for a fourth time this season with a 32-point outburst in the semifinal round against Placer. Ragsdale again led Weston Ranch in scoring with 20 points in the title game at Sleep Train Arena, where the Cougars completed the season sweep of Manteca, 69-57.
Ragsdale joins a star-studded list of past Division III State Players of the Year. Two of them are currently NBA All-Stars competing against each other in the postseason: Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita, 2008) and James Harden (Artesia, 2009) of the Houston Rockets.
Chino Hills standout Lonzo Ball is the Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year and garnered the top honor for Division I a second straight season. Others Players of the Year were Sacramento’s Solomon Young in Division II, Immanuel’s Colin Slater IV in Division IV and St. Joseph Notre Dame’s Jade Smith in Division V.