Boys High School Basketball

Seven must-see players at Idaho’s boys basketball state tournaments

Boise guard Paul Pennington leaps over the top of Borah’s Kyler Castro, scoring and drawing a foul Jan. 20 at Boise High.
Boise guard Paul Pennington leaps over the top of Borah’s Kyler Castro, scoring and drawing a foul Jan. 20 at Boise High. doswald@idahostatesman.com

The Idaho high school boys basketball state tournaments tip off Thursday around the Treasure Valley.

Below are the top players to watch, regardless of classification.

[Related: State tournament brackets in all six classifications]

JALEN GALLOWAY, MOUNTAIN VIEW

The 6-foot-7 College of Idaho signee is going to get his points. With his size, strength and range, opponents know they’re not going to stop Galloway. It’s a matter of containing him.

He leads the 5A classification with 22.8 points per game while adding 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and an imposing presence in the middle.

PAUL PENNINGTON, BOISE

The 5-10 senior won’t impress anyone stepping off the bus, but few can match the point guard’s toughness and competitive fire.

Pennington pours in 15 points per game with his soft shot, explosive first step and array of floaters in the paint. But where he truly stands out is at the head of 5A’s top-scoring offense (65.3 ppg), averaging 7.1 assists per game, the most in the 5A SIC.

JAKE PFENNIGS, POST FALLS

A true inside-outside threat, the 6-7 senior averages a double-double of 16.1 points and 10.4 rebounds while shooting 38 percent behind the 3-point line. And he prevents defenses from collapsing around him by dishing out 2.1 assists.

But for all of his accolades on the hardwood — including first-team All-Idaho last year — he shines brightest on the baseball diamond. The right-handed pitcher signed with No. 1-ranked Oregon State in the fall.

MAX RICE, BISHOP KELLY

Rice already has etched his name in the Bishop Kelly record books with 1,525 career points, second most in school history. He’s averaging 24 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game this season, and every coach in the state knows he can heat up and take over a game in a heartbeat.

The son of Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice will join his dad as a walk-on with the Broncos next year. But first, he’s out to capture a title after finishing second as a freshman and sophomore and third as a junior.

BRAYDEN PARKER, PRESTON

The 6-7 center and reigning 4A All-Idaho Player of the Year is the only Idaho senior committed to a Division I scholarship. He plans to sign with Idaho State after the season.

Parker utilizes his raw strength, athleticism and soft hands to dominate at both ends of the floor, racking up 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He brings the defending state champs back to state undefeated, including a victory over 5A heavyweight Rocky Mountain in December.

RYAN BAGLEY, BURLEY

The 6-2 senior point guard terrorizes defenses off the dribble, slicing through with ease to get to the rim or find open teammates. He’s pouring in 18.3 points per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor, adding 5 assists and 5.2 rebounds a night.

And he always steps up in the biggest games. He topped 20 points in every district tournament game this year and averaged 21.7 points at state last season.

ETHAN CHRISTIANSON, AMBROSE

Like Pfennigs, Christianson’s future lies in baseball. The left-handed pitcher and reigning state Gatorade player of the year has signed with Seattle University.

But the 6-2 senior and first-team All-Idaho selection also can tear it up on the court. He’s averaging 23.8 points and 3.4 steals per game, and he erupted for 56 points in the Archers’ overtime victory over Oregon’s Baker High in December.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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