Prep2Prep 2019-20 CCS Boys Basketball Honors
Archbishop Riordan's Je'Lani Clark is the CCS Senior of the Year. (Twitter @MWCConnection)

CCS Senior of the Year

At a school with a rich basketball history like Archbishop Riordan, getting on any all-time leaderboard is a tall task. Even with his senior year cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, Je’Lani Clark still managed to find his way onto almost every list across the program.

In his four seasons donning the purple and gold, Clark managed to become the school’s all-time leader in games played, starts and free throws made, ranked second in scoring, three-pointers made and assists, third in steals, sixth in made field goals, eighth in blocks, 13th in points per game and 16th in rebounds.

The numbers were certainly impressive, but as good as they were, they couldn’t properly express just how instrumental he was to the program and legacy of Riordan basketball over four seasons. From winning just one West Catholic Athletic League game as a freshman to sharing a league crown as a senior and transforming a team that drew sparse crowds into one that played in front of packed gyms more often than not, the Crusaders’ return to glory went hand in hand with Clark’s development on the court.

His excellence earned him a scholarship to Nevada, and it also earned him the distinction of being named Prep2Prep’s CCS Boys Basketball Senior of the Year.

“Je’Lani has developed not only as a player but as a young man in his time at Riordan,” head coach Joey Curtin said. “He’s been playing at the varsity level since he was a freshman, and he became more physical, more controlled and more confident in his play - driving to the hoop, dunking and taking high-risk, high-reward threes that were game-changers for our team.”

Those dunks and threes always seemed to come with a “wow” factor as Clark always managed to grasp the moment, even while sharing the ball in the backcourt with his cousin and lifelong friend, Bryce Monroe. Against Vanden, it was Monroe who did the heavy lifting on offense while Clark used his length to slow the Vikings at the other end, and when Clark did have the ball in his hands, he could do no wrong, punctuating the win with a dunk right in front of the student section that nearly blew the roof off the old gym.

That moment summed it all up for Clark. Even without a chance to play for a NorCal or state title, he went out on top, surrounded by an adoring crowd that had come to expect great things every night. From playing as a freshman unfamiliar with the WCAL to expecting overflowing crowds every night, Clark’s maturation came with a sense of showmanship that few could match. The highlights came alongside excellent numbers as he averaged 15.8 points while shooting 50.6 percent, grabbed five rebounds per game, dishing out 2.9 assists and collecting 1.6 steals per night, even with early exits in more than a few blowout wins.

Perhaps the best representation of how impactful Clark and the Crusaders were could be seen in their trips to San Jose. While matchups between teams from opposite ends of the WCAL rarely draw big crowds, Riordan’s showdowns with eventual tri-champions Mitty and Bellarmine were can’t-miss events. During the trip to Mitty, where the Crusaders won for the first time since 2002, Clark even managed to steal the show when he wasn’t scoring, stunning the crowd with a dramatic rise to the rim that could be considered one of the best plays of the year, even without a successful finish. That night, he scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half while collecting eight rebounds, dishing out four assists and icing the game at the free throw line to help his team accomplish a goal that had been at the top of the program’s plans for years.

With Clark’s flair and sense for the dramatic, it was only fitting for him to play one of the best games of his career on Senior Night, scoring 36 in a blowout win over Sacred Heart Cathedral to clinch a share of the league crown. He shot 13-of-19 and hit six of nine 3-point attempts, scoring 36 on a night that served as a testament to the entire graduating class.

That game marked his fifth straight win over the Fightin’ Irish, and it completed a clean sweep of City rivals for Riordan. Over his junior and senior years, Clark, an Oakland native who made San Francisco his second home, went 11-1 against City opponents both public and private. “We Run The City” shirts were common among Riordan players and fans, and as he heads to the next chapter in his basketball career, Clark will be remembered as one of the best high school players in San Francisco history.

Other players considered for this award include Menlo-Atherton’s Justin Anderson, Bellarmine’s Quinn Denker, Bellarmine’s Ian Elam, Santa Teresa’s Mahmoud Fofana, Palo Alto’s Matt Marzano and Archbishop Riordan’s Bryce Monroe.

NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features. We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of CCS basketball.