The Class of 2026 has already shown glimpses of being one of the deepest classes of potential next-level prospects the Central Section has had since the Class of 2021, which ended up having 7 players go on to play Division 1 basketball and a number of others playing at various levels (Division 2, Division 3, NAIA, or JUCO). Furthermore, the 2026 Class will be the first cohort of players since the pandemic that will not be subjected to the rigorous Covid protocols and guidelines throughout the 2022-2023 season, which helped with player exposure and development. The talent of this class is fairly spread out as far as schools represented, but the cluster of this list of players will compete in the TRAC league, making for some interesting match-ups over the next four years. Clovis East has the largest group of freshmen, with four being on the roster and all playing contributing minutes this season. Overall, a majority of the names on this list will be key pieces to their team’s success and should lead to an interesting update to this list in the Spring of 2023.
I have updated this list to include the 2022-2023 high school basketball season, which comes to a close Saturday, March 11th in Sacramento with the Boys Open Division Championship. With the inclusion of the high school season, along with all of the events listed below used for the initial round of rankings for the 2026 Class, I have expanded this list from 20 to 30 players from around the Central Section. Along with the high school season, the individual showcases and team events throughout the end of the Summer and the Fall have provided countless platforms for players from the 2026 Class to showcase their skills and capabilities. The Central Cali Next Up Showcase, Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp, West Coast Elite’s Bakersfield and Fresno Exposure Camps, and the Clovis West Fall Showcase are some of the key events that have allowed me ample opportunities to evaluate and observe the play of a majority of the top freshmen in the Central Section.
This list of players was compiled using my own evaluations, along with feedback from knowledgeable media, coaches, and other relevant basketball personnel from the Section, to make up the top 30 freshman prospects for this updated round of player rankings for the 2026 Class. However, the order of players on this list is my own. I will update these rankings at least two times a year over the next three and a half years and it will expand to 40-plus players by the start of their junior year.
This list takes into consideration two key factors in determining where players are ranked, and will be the same criteria used each time this list is updated. The criteria for these rankings are as follows: current skill level and production on the court, as well as future projection at the collegiate level. Although this class appears to have more players with Division 1 potential compared to the 2023-2025 class of players, I do not see any reaching the national status of super sophomore Tounde Yessoufou of St. Joseph in Santa Maria. Nevertheless, the depth of this class combined with the immediate impact many had on their high school varsity team led to some impressive statistics and numbers that will set some on track to achieve key milestones and even school records. We begin this updated list with a shake-up at the top, as Julius Price of St. Joseph has taken over the #1 spot.
I moved Price into the top spot after his sensational freshman season, where he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13 points per game and leader in assists with 5 per game. As I had stated in the initial round of these rankings, Price is the most developed and complete player in the freshman class. Price performed well in team-based events for the Knights and made his name one to know in the Class of 2026 in California, as he made the all-tournament team in the talent-laden Ron Massey Classic in early September. This was followed up by a monster showing at the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp in late September, where he opened up the event with a 32-point performance and earned a spot in the Top 30 Creme of the Crop Game. Price has emerged as the primary ball-handler for the Knights and, along with senior combination guard Luis Marin and super sophomore Tounde Yessoufou, St. Joseph has one of the top perimeter threats in the state of California.
Price has been big in the playoffs with a huge 28-point game against Dougherty Valley in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Price has the court vision to make plays, the physicality to finish through contact at the basket, the moves to create off the dribble, and can light it up from beyond the arc, as he connected on six in his 28-point showing. He is a lockdown on-ball defender that can guard the 1 through 3 positions and generates turnovers and open-court baskets. Price and Yessoufou will be a dynamic backcourt to challenge any in the state for the next two-plus years.
Jackson Scarborough of Clovis moves down one spot to the #2 rank. Scarborough has been the player that has garnered the most attention within and outside the Central Section since the start of middle school, as he has performed in various regional and national exposure events over that time period, which include the West Coast Elite Junior All-American Camp, the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp, Made Hoops Midwest Middle School Camp, the CP3 Middle School Combine, Central Cali’s Prospect Preview, and Central Cali’s Next Up Showcase to name the more prestigious events. Scarborough has played club basketball with Fresno-based EBO and is attending Clovis High School. Scarborough is a lengthy forward that has the perimeter skills to create off the dribble, is accurate from the 3-point line to stretch the defense, and protects the rim and controls the rebounds on both ends. Scarborough had a solid freshman campaign for the Cougars, as he anchored the defense, was one of the top shot-blockers in the TRAC league, and continues to show he is capable of playing in the post, as well as operating off the perimeter. The Cougars are looking to build around one of the top prospects in the freshman class, as Scarborough would be a key piece in helping re-establish Clovis in the difficult TRAC league. Given the minutes Scarborough played this season, he was able to put up quality numbers to start off his high school basketball campaign. Scarborough has the skill and the frame to be a high-level wing/forward prospect and is already on the radar of Division 1 programs on the West Coast.
Moving up one spot to #3 is Dalen Felder of Clovis East, who led the best freshman cohort of any team in the Central Section. Felder is another player whose game is far advanced beyond his age, as he would lead the TRAC is scoring as a freshman class and will look to put up big numbers for the Timberwolves over the next three seasons. I was able to see Felder multiple times during the high school season and he displayed a high level of play on both ends with quality leadership characteristics. I had seen him a few times with Jalen Green Elite’s 14u National team over the Summer and in a few games at the Clovis West Fall Showcase, but his game has progressed since then and he remains one of the better long-term prospects for this class. Felder has elite handles, shifty moves to create off the dribble, is accurate from the perimeter with range beyond the arc, and generates perimeter turnovers with active hands on defense. Felder has good court vision and makes quality decisions with the ball in hand, as he weaves through the defense to make plays in tight windows or create his own scoring opportunities. I believe Felder is playing with Jalen Green Elite on the Adidas 3SSB Circuit, where he will make a name for himself that extends beyond the Central Section. Impressive shot-maker.
After a fantastic freshman season for Bullard, Ja’Vance Coleman slides up four slots to the #4 spot. I saw Coleman play a few years ago during the Covid pandemic when we were hosting open runs where he displayed quality combination guard skills and was more of a scorer. This Fall, I was able to see him with his high school team, which was followed by a solid showing at the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp in late September. The Knights graduated a large chunk of their scoring from last year’s team and Coleman showed he was ready to fill some of the void as one of Bullard’s top scorers in his freshman season. Coleman’s level of production increased as the season progressed and will be the centerpiece for Coach Amundsen over the next three years. Coleman has the court vision and the handles to make plays and facilitate to open teammates, has the shifty handles and moves to create separation from his defender, the creativity to finish around the basket over height, nice touch on the floater, and can space the floor with the 3-ball. Coleman has good lateral quickness and footwork with active hands on defense to generate turnovers. His ability to control the pace of play and the leadership he gained this year as one of the main guys as a freshman has made him one of the top lead guards in the Section.
The lengthy sharp-shooting wing/forward Parker Spees of San Joaquin Memorial moves down a few spots to #5. At 6’6”, and seemingly always growing, Spees is one of the top overall long-term prospects for this deep class of talent, as he can operate in the post area or create off the perimeter with accuracy from the 3-point line. I have been able to observe Spees in all three arenas of prep school basketball (club, high school team, and individual showcases) and he has performed well in each. Spees was a Top 10 player at the Central Cali Next Up Showcase, earned a spot in the Top 60 Creme of the Crop Game at the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp, and recently was a Top 20 selectee at the West Coast Elite Fresno Exposure Camp. Spees played for a loaded Panthers team that featured forwards senior Mike Davis and junior Dre Davis, so San Joaquin was not as reliant on Spees production compared to other teams throughout the Section. Therefore, I moved Spees down a few spots from my initial 2026 rankings but would not be surprised if he is back in the top 3 by this time next year. Spees has good length and skill to operate on the perimeter and the moves and touch around the basket to make an impact in the post. Spees is highly effective from the 3-point line, has the handles and moves to create off the dribble, protects the rim and alters shots, controls the glass with the handle to push the ball up the court. Spees made the move to San Joaquin Memorial, which gives the Panthers one of the top underclass rosters in the Central Section and will keep them as one of the top programs in the Section and beyond the next 3 years.
The first player to move into the top 10 of this updated list at the #6 spot is Lydell Farmer of Clovis East. I had Farmer at the #15 spot in the initial round of these rankings, as he was playing football at the time and I had not seen him much during the Fall showcase and early high school preseason portions of the year. Farmer made a seamless transition to the basketball court and earned a spot in the starting line-up by the time TRAC league play got underway. Farmer is a lengthy and agile player that is capable of defending the 1 through 4 positions effectively, alters shots in the paint and on the perimeter, has enough handle to push the ball in the open court, and is a creative finisher at the basket. He uses his wingspan to disrupt passing lanes and generate turnovers that lead to easy transition points, and has the moves to create off the bounce with nice touch on his shot and floater within fifteen feet. The upside for Farmer is top 5 in this class with his build and style of play and could be one of the best long-term two-way prospects in the 2026 class. The main reason I moved him ahead of sharp-shooter Elias Gish is based more on the long-term projection and the defensive impact that Farmer provided for a young Timberwolves squad that competed against a tough schedule.
At the #7 spot is the rangy sniper from Clovis North, Elias Gish. Gish proved to be a much-needed scoring threat off the bench for the Broncos and provided some size to defend on the perimeter and impact the boards. Gish had a solid Summer club season that led to a productive Fall showing at the Clovis West Fall Showcase and the West Coast Elite Fresno Exposure Camp, being selected to the Top 20 All-Star Game. Gish was able to absorb some of the scoring that was absent with standout junior Connor Amundsen missing the entire season. Gish has smooth handles, the moves to create off the perimeter, is a capable 3-level scorer, and can light it up from the 3-point line with the size and length to shoot over most perimeter defenders. Gish does a solid job on the boards, can push the tempo in the open court, and has the court vision to advance the ball and make plays. Gish has the versatility and the skill set to play off the wing and can operate in the post with his length and touch around the basket.
Aidan Beechler of Clovis East (Clovis) moves to the #8 spot and played a key role as a freshman for the young but talented Timberwolves. I was able to see Aidan play with the Fresno-based EBO club team in the Summer, and then again at the Central Cali Next Up Showcase, where he was a Top 10 player in the event. Beechler played well for Clovis East at the Clovis West Fall Showcase and was a key piece off the bench as an impact player in year one of his high school basketball career. Beechler has good handles, nice moves to shake his defender, the physicality to bully his way through contact at the basket, the court vision to make plays when on the attack, and can score it from the perimeter with accuracy. Plays with great pace and feel for the game.
Derek Jimenez of Liberty of Bakersfield is not only a newcomer to the top 10 from the initial rankings at the #9 spot, but he is new to this list overall, as I did not have him in the initial rankings for the 2026 class. I had not seen Jimenez play since his 8th grade year and, as a multiple sport athlete, he was on the football field during the Fall period of the high school season. However, Jimenez made it clear early and often that he would play a key role for the Patriots in his freshman year. Jimenez was the most consistent threat from beyond the arc, showed poise and ball control at the lead guard spot, and will likely be awarded the best freshman in the South Valley. Jimenez has elite handles, shifty moves to create off the bounce, is just as accurate from the 3-point line off the dribble or off the catch and shoot, moves well off the ball to get to his sweet spots, and is a creative finisher around the basket over height. Jimenez plays with maturity and makes decisions on the court far beyond his years and will be a key piece to go along with what is one of the top 5 freshman classes in the Central Section.
Concluding the top 10, and staying steady at the #10 spot, is McKae Amundsen of Clovis North. Amundsen, the younger brother of the top point guard in the 2024 Class Connor Amundsen, has hit the ground running and wasted no time in carving out his own identity as a player. Amundsen played club basketball with West Coast Elite’s NorCal 15u UAA squad and performed well throughout the Spring and Summer. I have been able to see Amundsen with his high school team and in various individual settings (Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp, Central Cali’s Next Up Showcase, and most recently West coast Elite’s Fresno Exposure Camp as a Top 20 All-Star Game selectee), and he makes his presence felt in any arena of grassroots basketball. Similar to Gish (listed above at #7), Amundsen’s role as the lead guard expanded with Connor out for the season. Amundsen has great court vision, keeps the ball on a string, weaves through the defense, can create his own offense or make plays for others, and can light it up from well beyond the 3-point line. I would expect Amundsen to run the point more often than anticipated as a freshman, but he has the IQ and skill to make it happen.
As mentioned above, this updated list has expanded to 30 players in total and there is a lot of talent amassed in this class that could see some players move into the top 10 by the next time I update this list. Players like Jensen Hirschkorn (#13), Abdoul Bare (#14) Brayden Harris (#18) are some bigs that as they develop their overall skill set, could be players that project better at the next level in the long run due to their build and size. The quality guard play of players like Cliff Willis (#11), Jace Kellogg (#12), Moses Curry (#19), and Joshua Padilla (#20) is something to keep an eye on over the next few years. Each of these players has impressive handles, court vision to make plays, the moves to create their own scoring opportunities, and can play at either guard position effectively. Positionless players like Irvin Calloway (#16), Carter Finley (#17), and Gavin Christian (#24) each impact the game on both ends and in a variety of ways and it will be interesting to see how they develop and progress. Below is the complete list of player rankings for 30 players in the Class of 2026. I know there are players that have yet to be discovered or seen, as they played JV or frosh/soph this past season and I look forward to expanding this list to include more players if deserved when I update before the next high school season.
|1 (2)||Julius Price||6'3||CG||St. Joseph (Samta Maria CA)|
|2 (1)||Jackson Scarborough||6'8||PF||Clovis H.S (CA)|
|3 (4)||Dalen Felder||6'2||PG||Clovis East (Clovis CA)|
|4 (8)||Javance Coleman Jr.||6'1||PG||Bullard (Fresno CA)|
|5 (3)||Parker Spees||6'5||WF||San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno CA)|
|6 (15)||Lydell Farmer||6'4||WF||Clovis East (Clovis CA)|
|7 (5)||Elias Gish||6'3||WF||Clovis North (Fresno CA)|
|8 (7)||Aidan Beechler||6'2||CG||Clovis East (Clovis CA)|
|9 (NR)||Derek Jimenez||5'9||PG||Liberty (Bakersfield CA)|
|10 (10)||McKae Amundsen||5'7||PG||Clovis North (Fresno CA)|
|11 (6)||Cliff Willis||6'||CG||South (Bakersfield CA)|
|12 (11)||Jace Kellogg||5'10||PG||Clovis West (Fresno CA)|
|13 (17)||Jensen Hirschkorn||6'5||PF||Kingsburg H.S. (CA)|
|14 (NR)||Abdoul Bare||6'9||CF||St. Joseph (Santa Maria CA)|
|15 (9)||Keon Hill||6'3||WF||Hoover (Fresno CA)|
|16 (12)||Irvin Calloway||6'||PG||Bakersfield Christian (CA)|
|17 (NR)||Carter Finley||6'1||WG||Buchanan (Clovis CA)|
|18 (NR)||Brayden Harris||6'6||PF||Buchanan (Clovis CA)|
|19 (14)||Moses Curry||6'||SG||Liberty (Bakersfield CA)|
|20 (16)||Joshua Padilla||5'10||CG||Clovis North (Fresno CA)|
|21 (T-20)||Cash Essert||6'5||PF||Bakersfield Christian (CA)|
|22 (18)||Trenell Emerson Jr.||5'7||PG||Clovis East (Clovis CA)|
|23 (NR)||Myron Pondexter-Johnson||6'3||WF||Central (Fresno CA)|
|24 (NR)||Gavin Christian||6'2||WF||South (Bakersfield CA)|
|25 (13)||Sean Smith||5'10||CG||Clovis West (Fresno CA)|
|26 (T-20)||Matthew Esparza||5'9||PG||Selma H.S. (CA)|
|27 (NR)||Cooper Cleveland||6'2"||CG||Buchanan (Clovis CA)|
|28 (NR)||Acen Zuniga||5'11||CG||Liberty (Bakersfield CA)|
|29 (NR)||Emoni Myles||5'10"||PG||Bakersfield (CA)|
|T-30 (19)||Simon Kebede||5'9||PG||Stockdale (Bakersfield CA)|
|T-30 (NR)||Kamren Owens||5'9||PG||Bakersfiield (CA)|