Skip to main content

It's officially playoff time throughout all of California high school basketball. And after releasing our statewide lists for point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards last week, it's also time to continue to recognize who we at SBLive believe are the top 20 power forwards in the state. Many of the top PFs in California high school girls basketball are underclassmen who are already elite but still making names for themselves, which means the state will be stacked at the four spot for years to come.


The primary criteria for our list were individual statistics and overall impact on team success in the 2021-2022 season, with strength of schedule factored in heavily. Non-statistical elements that impact winning, such as individual defense, were also primary determinants. Film review, the opinions of coaches around the state, and success in prior seasons were important criteria when applicable, and other individual honors, such as all-league/all-CIF awards and college interest, were considered as secondary factors.

Important note on position: In today’s position-less era of basketball, it is very rare that teams list one starter at all five positions, and many players are fully interchangeable across numerous positions. The positions we list players at are a combination of what their “natural” position is, what position they’re listed at by their team, what position they tend to guard or match up with, and their specific roles on both sides of the ball. If you believe one of the state’s best power forwards is missing, there’s a chance that they’re on one of our lists that's already out, or will be on our upcoming list of top Cs.

With all that said, here’s a look at the top 20 power forwards in the state, plus honorable mentions for other players who received major consideration, and a watchlist including many other outstanding PFs across the state from freshmen to seniors.

Did we miss someone who belonged on the list? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or by emailing with statistics/notes, and we will consider them in our future coverage.


The list is arranged by section but is not in any particular order.


Kennedy Smith – Etiwanda – SO.

Etiwanda girls basketball

Many consider Smith to be the best 2024 player in the state regardless of position, and she's one of the best PFs in the state regardless of class as well. As a freshman playing almost exclusively the four, she averaged 22.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.8 steals per game while dominating some of the best upperclassmen in SoCal head-to-head. This season, Smith leads the top team in the state with 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and two blocks per game, and also averages three steals and two assists a game as well. At 6-1 with good measurables across the board, she has both the physical tools and the complete offensive repertoire to score in any fashion. That includes a strong jumper, the handles of a wing, a deadly post game from both the high and low posts, and great overall touch around the rim. Smith has also emerged as one of California's top defensive players as well, protecting the rim and guarding bigs as the Eagles' de facto five while at other times being assigned to opponents' top perimeter threats.


Sa'lah Hemingway – Etiwanda – JR.

Etiwanda girls basketball

Hemingway is another 6-1 matchup nightmare who is interchangeable between either forward spot at Etiwanda. As a freshman, she led Eisenhower to the CIFSS 3A finals averaging 15.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals, two assists, and 1.1 blocks per game on 49% shooting. Then she led the Eagles to a 12-2 record in her shortened sophomore season on a line of 18.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.8 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game. Now at Etiwanda, Hemingway doesn't have as voluminous of a role offensively, but she's an integral part of one of the best teams in the country averaging a line of 8.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3 assists, and two steals per game.

Shayla Gillmer – Ontario Christian – SR.


At 6-0 with the ability to play 2-5 interchangeably, Gillmer emerged as one of the top breakout players in SoCal as a junior to lead Aliso Niguel to the CIFSS Division 1 quarterfinals. She averaged 16.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and one block per game on 51% shooting, and has since signed with BYU. Now playing her senior year at Ontario Christian, she's averaging career-highs of 19.1 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.9 SPG, and 1.7 BPG to go with 13.3 RPG for the 26-3 Knights. Factor in not only her length but also standout strength and athleticism, and very few high school players can contain Gillmer attacking the rim, where she can finish with numerous moves in the lane using both strength and finesse. She has a solid handle and can create for herself, and is also good at filling lanes and scoring off of cuts, plus she is rapidly improving as a jump shooter. Gillmer will continue to cause matchup problems at either forward spot at the next level, and has one of the higher ceilings in the state if she keeps developing at the rate she has been.

Mackenly Randolph – Sierra Canyon – SO.

Sierra Canyon girls basketball

Last season, Randolph averaged 22.7 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game for the CIFSS Division 1 quarterfinalist to fulfill and maybe even exceed the immense hype surrounding her as a freshman. It's commonplace that basketball fans assume that the daughters and sons of former pros automatically have the same type of game as their parents, but she really has numerous gifts that trademarked the career of her father, former NBA All-Star Zach Randolph. That includes a deadly mid-range jumper; polish in both the high post game and low post game, and a natural feel for scoring through interior defenders; a strong build and natural sense of physicality to dominate the glass; and the fluidity and skill in space to handle the ball and finish off the dribble. Randolph is also a major three-point threat whose mere presence at the five greatly helps space the floor for an offense filled with driving threats. She's definitely a forward, not a five, at the next level though. She's currently ranked as a 4-star recruit and top-20 prospect in her class.

Crystal Wang – Sierra Canyon – JR.

Sierra Canyon girls basketball

Another versatile starter in the frontcourt for the Trailblazers, Wang's emergence has been a slightly underrated but crucial component in SC's dominance this season. At 6-2 with standout agility and a high motor, she's something of a Swiss army knife on both sides of the ball, finishing inside the arc in a bevy of ways on offense and both protecting the rim and guarding perimeter threats on defense. If she makes another major leap heading into her senior season, she'll be one of the very best forwards in the state, and Sierra Canyon will be even more dominant.

Jessa Thurman – Chaminade – SR.

Jessa Thurman Chaminade basketball

Thurman is a long, versatile forward/center with a smooth game who was named a McDonald's All-American Games nominee. At upwards of 6-1, she can score at all three levels and attack off the dribble, and also post up smaller defenders at the rim. She projects clearly as a PF at the next level, but her willingness to battle inside and take on a lot of center duties, while also giving them all sorts of options offensively at the five, has been a big part of Chaminade's success.

Samari Bankhead – Windward – FR.

Samari Bankhead Windward

Bankhead entered her high school career as one of the most hyped up freshman in California, and has fully lived up to it to help keep Windward in the CIFSS Open Division. At 6-0, she already has standout strength and athleticism across the board, the lateral agility of a guard, and the tough and physical demeanor of a post player of prior generations. Thanks to her strong motor and feel for the game, she's able to use her athletic gifts to impact the game in numerous ways, whether making plays defensively, attacking the glass, or scoring efficiently inside the arc. With a strong knack for attacking the rim, Bankhead seeks out high-percentage looks by going around or through mismatches off the dribble, cutting or flashing, and thriving in transition whether handling the ball or filling the lane. She's a good ball-handler and skilled finisher inside who attacks the basket aggressively and gets to the line a lot. Bankhead also converts at a high clip on open mid-range jumpers. While she's primarily been Windward's five by default this season, she can also play 2-4 at the high school level, and may project best as a three down the road.

Layla Curry – Corona Centennial – SR.

Layla Curry, Jayda Curry

Curry: No. 24

Unlike most players on this list, Curry might not play a minute of PF again once she reaches the college level (at LMU), but she's thrived as a small-ball four in high school for one of the best teams in the state. Last season for the 25-1 CIF Southern Region Open Division champion, she averaged 8.9 points, nine rebounds, 2.4 steals, and a block per game on 55% shooting and 57% EFG. Curry is only 5-9, but she has long arms, and her athleticism, strength, motor, and toughness are all off the charts. Throw in IQ and feel on defense that can't be taught, and she's one of the best all-around defensive players in SoCal. This season she's averaging career-highs of 9.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game as well. While Curry's scoring numbers never jump off the page, her ability to space the floor, fill lanes, and go at bigs off the dribble on offense have also been vital to the Huskies' offensive dominance.

Shanna Brown – Aliso Niguel – JR.

After averaging 10.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a game as a sophomore, Brown burst onto the scene as one of the most productive players in the state as a junior, breaking some Aliso records in the process. She averaged 24.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game while routinely going up against top-notch competition and playing just about every position on the floor. Brown made her mark by putting up ridiculous rebounding totals (in conjunction with point totals) with lines such 36/30/3/2, 40/15/4/2, she also knocked down over 2.8 threes a game on average.


Gabrielle Abigor – Berean Christian – SO.

She's not a household name yet, but Abigor is a strong candidate to be one of the top recruits in the state in the not-too-distant future. Abigor is one of the most productive players anywhere in high school hoops, averaging 28.6 points, 18 rebounds, 7.7 blocks, 4.6 steals, and 2.3 assists per game shooting 62% from the field. And she's doing it for a good team, leading the Eagles to a 21-6 record and dominating just as much in losses against great teams as in wins against good ones. Abigor is 6-3 with a 6-6 wingspan and an all-around impressive athlete for her size, and despite the Chamberlain-esque numbers she puts up, she's likely just scratching the surface of her potential.

Alexis Woodson – Monte Vista – SR.

A wing by trade, Woodson averages 17.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 50% shooting playing the four for a team that plays one of the toughest schedules in NorCal.

Hannah Golan – Branson – JR.

Golan averaged over 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals per game as a freshman in 2019-20, and has continued to develop into one of the premier forwards in the Bay Area. She's projects more as a SF at the next level, but uses her 5-11 frame to help anchor the interior for Branson defensively.


Etoyah Montgomery – Clovis West – JR.

As just a junior, there's an argument to be made that Montgomery has been the best player in the Central Section for multiple seasons already. With a strong jumper and the skill set of a guard, she's a wing at the next level, but she does a lot of interior work for the Golden Eagles at 6-0 with good athleticism. She averaged 17.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season for the top team in the CIFCS and a top-three team in the state, and has been even better as a junior to keep Clovis West on pace for another top-five finish. Montgomery already has multiple D-1 offers, and could be one of the state's top D-1 recruits by the end of her high school career.

Meadow Roland – San Joaquin Memorial – JR.

As a sophomore, Roland led the Panthers to an undefeated 13-game regular season averaging 23.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, three steals, and 1.8 assists per game. This season she's averaging 19.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 3.6 steals, and 2.7 blocks per game shooting 50% from the field. Roland is a throwback power forward, a dominant interior scorer who can post up smaller defenders or face up and beat bigs with her speed and impressive touch in the paint. At 6-2 with long arms, she has no trouble getting her shot off, and is also a dominant rim anchor as her RPG and BPG indicate, using her high motor to set the tone physically whenever she can. She has a legit case to make as the top player in the Central Section, and is already receiving high-major offers.

Talia Maxwell – Central – JR.

One of the more under-the-radar players on this list, Maxwell averages over 22 points and seven rebounds a game on one of the top teams in the section. She also averages 2.7 assists and two steals per game.


Maya Hernandez – Archbishop Mitty – JR.

Hernandez is a key role player on one of the state's top teams, averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.4 assists per game in under 20 MPG and bringing defensive versatility. She has at least three D-1 offers.

Elana Weisman – Burlingame – SO.

One of the top breakout players of the Central Coast Section, Weisman averages 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. She shoots 47% FG and 51 EFG%, and has shown a knack to bring her A-game against the Panthers' top opponents.


Mary Carter – Antelope – JR.

At 6-3, Carter can play all five positions at the high school level, and has dominated as a junior to the tune of 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 3.1 blocks, and two steals per game. She converts on 55% of her looks from inside the arc, and is also a legitimate three-point threat. While Carter is still a little bit of an under-the-radar prospect for now, she has a strong chance to be one of the top recruits in California by the time her high school career is over, and she's ranked as a 4-star prospect by Prospects Nation.

Katie Leeth – Lincoln (Lincoln) – JR.

Leeth isn't the most established player on this list, but she's putting together a monster season for the 24-2 Fighting Zebras, averaging 19.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 3.8 steals, and 1.5 assists per game. She's also shooting 52% from the field and 54% EFG, and has already racked up 13 double-doubles this season.

Harper Peterson – Whitney (Rocklin) – SO.

Her numbers don't pop off the page on a young Wildcats team that plays a brutal schedule, but Carter is one of better frontcourt players in NorCal already, and is one of the state's highest-upside 2024 prospects. The 4-star prospect averages 14.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game, and knocks down 1.5 threes per contest as well. At 6-3 with long arms and serious guard skills, she could legitimate play 3-5 on a nightly basis at the high-major level.


Bailey Barnhard – Del Norte (San Diego) – SO.

Jamie Kent – Carondelet – JR.

Alli Dioli – Half Moon Bay – JR.

Jayionne "Juice" Brown – Orangewood Academy – JR.

Kendal Alloway – Eastlake – JR.

Brianna Humphrees – Dixon – SR.

Eliana Hall – Peninsula – SR.


Maria Mejia – Orangewood Academy – FR.

Nina Cain – McClatchy – FR.

Leia Edwards – Sierra Canyon – FR.

Mya Barnes – Rosary Academy – FR.

Gabby Wright – Vanden – JR.

Belle Bramer – Los Gatos – SO.

Mykelle Richards – Cajon – SO.

Annabelle Spotts – Sage Hill – SO.

Isabel Clark – Mater Dei – SO.

Maleyni Tolliver – Alemany – SO.

Reese Noa – North (Torrance) – SO.

Taliyah McFerson – Orange Lutheran – SO.

Lealah Rowden – Evergreen Valley – SO.

Faith Curry – Bakersfield – SO.

Kyori Lloyd – Bishop Montgomery – JR.

Keyonee Neal – Rancho Cotate – JR.

Skylar Chui – Pinewood – JR.

Brynn Scribner – Trinity – JR.

Ava Uhrich – Burlingame – JR.

Shaylynn De Yager – Rancho Christian – JR.

Tatum Leuenberger – Homestead – JR.

Mydrea Moore – Leuzinger – JR.

Taylor Arnold – Palisades – JR.

Hana Speaks – Marlborough – JR.

Alanna Allen-Young – Newbury Park – SR.

Natalie Anderson – Archbishop Mitty – SR.

Brook Slymen – Santa Margarita – SR.

Kaylie Edge – Salesian College Prep – SR.

Alina Tran – Mission Hills – SR.

Kaylee Van Betuw – Murrieta Mesa – SR.

Yasmine Sharpe-Shropshire – Lincoln (San Diego) – SR.

Bella Law – Corona Centennial – SR.