Boys' basketball player of the year: Jared McCain of Corona Centennial

Corona, CA, Thursday, November 10, 2022 - Corona Centennial High guard Jared McCain is the top-ranked recruit in California who is headed to Duke. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Corona Centennial guard Jared McCain averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game in his senior season. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Josh Giles has helmed the Centennial Huskies for two decades. The boys' basketball coach has never seen anyone go to the lengths Jared McCain has to be great.

A couple falls ago, some Centennial players were staying at Giles' house before an early-morning flight. Everyone was goofing around on his son's Xbox, Giles remembered. But at precisely 10 p.m., McCain snuck into a bedroom to follow his nighttime routine: yoga. Creature of habit.

“It doesn’t matter where he’s at, what he’s doing, what he needs to do to prepare to be the best that you can be, that comes first,” Giles said. “Everything else comes second.”

It’s the side most don’t see — even through amassing close to two million followers on TikTok, even through NIL deals galore built off his game and a smile born for Hollywood, McCain’s approach to his craft has never changed. The Duke-bound McCain has been chosen The Times' boys' basketball player of the year after leading the Huskies to a third consecutive Southern Section Open Division championship.

He earned the award by averaging 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists a game, his Giles-lauded work ethic on full display in expanding an all-around game and while guiding the Huskies to a three-peat.

His methods, beyond his time in the gym, are unconventional for a high schooler. Before Centennial’s opening-round game of Southern Section pool play, before a 22-point performance to lead the Huskies over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, McCain was doing tai chi.

He's an avid reader, Giles said. If he stumbles upon a practice of Michael Jordan's or Tom Brady's and finds it interesting, he'll incorporate it into his routine. Unapologetically himself.

“The pressure is always going to be there,” McCain said in the fall of his newfound fame. “You just have to minimize it as much as you can by trusting your work. I feel like the work I put in shows, and that’s what I really had to lock into my mind.”

It’s showed throughout a dazzling career at Centennial.

McCain was known primarily as a shooter, Giles said, when he first came to Centennial as a spindly freshman. But he dominated his senior year in every facet of the game — pushing the break off rebounds, controlling tempo in the pick-and-roll game, drawing free throws to slow the pace.

“He’s one of those guys you don’t ever bet against,” Giles said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.