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Men’s Basketball Player of the Year: Jared McCain of Corona Centennial

Josh Giles has run Centennial Huskies for two decades. The men’s basketball coach has never seen anyone go to the lengths that Jared McCain takes to be great.

A couple of falls ago, some Centennial players were staying at Giles’ house before an early morning flight. Everyone was playing on his son’s Xbox, Giles recalled. But at exactly 10 p.m., McCain snuck into a bedroom to follow his nightly routine: yoga. Usual animal.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, what you need to do to prepare yourself to be the best 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 TikTok followers, even through NIL deals galore built off his game and a born-for-Hollywood smile, McCain’s approach. for his craft has never changed. McCain, who is heading to Duke, has been voted The Times Men’s Basketball Player of the Year after leading the Huskies to a third straight Southern Section Open Division championship.

He earned the award by averaging 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game, his work ethic praised by Giles on full display as he spanned a full game and as he guided the Huskies to a three-time championship.

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

He is an avid reader, said Giles. If he comes across a Michael Jordan or Tom Brady practice and finds it interesting, he’ll incorporate it into his routine. Without apologizing to 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 that I put into the shows, and that’s what I really had to keep in my mind.”

It has proven itself throughout a dazzling career at Centennial.

McCain was known primarily as a shooter, Giles said, when he first arrived at Centennial as a skinny, skinny freshman. But he dominated his senior year in every facet of the game: pushing break rebounds, controlling the pace in the pick-and-roll game, taking free throws to slow the pace.

“He’s one of those guys you never bet against,” Giles said.