Corona Centennial, located out in Southern California, has been one of the state’s most consistent basketball programs for a couple decades now under head coach Josh Giles.
I had a chance to speak with coach Giles just regarding his success, last season, next season, and more recently. Giles has been running the program at Corona Centennial for 20 years now coming into the 2022-2023 high school season and just secured his first ever CIF state championship.
“I think it was a pretty big thing that was made when we lost a pretty important player that summer before the season and I think it was a lot of people last year that questioned how good will we be. The guys that we had coming back, they are all tough kids and winners. All of our starters from last season have played major minutes at the high school minutes before.
We had Jared, Devin, and Aaron. We had Donovan Dent, who fell under a lot of people’s radars, to this day I don’t understand. They were tough kids. I think losing to Duncanville (TX) helped us more than anything because when we lost, they outplayed us and they should’ve won. There were a lot of things we did not do right in that game.” He explained.
“When we got back from that game I got on everyone. Guys saw on first hand how crappy they were. We did not compete at all, that’s not what we are about. If you are afraid to get dunked on and afraid to challenge somebody, you are probably at the wrong school and you probably aren’t going to win a championship anyways.” Coach Jiles continued.
“For me personally, it’s kind of the last thing that I felt like I needed to cross off this list as a coach, a state title. That was really cool to be able to do. You know we’ve been there before, we’ve won CIF, we’ve won an open division CIF title. To have that opportunity to win that in that environment, that was pretty big.
As for the guys on the team, I think the work ethic they put into it. They were an easy group to coach, so low maintenance, everyday they grind, work, and they did things the right way. For them to come out and finish the season off right, after all that they accomplished, I feel like it was the right way for it to end, especially knowing how hard they worked.
Going into that game, I did not realize how much pressure they were under. Going into that game, we had unbelievable practices, shoot around was amazing, and when we got into that game, we kind of played not to lose. Every time-out I started off yelling at them and talking to them, telling them to relax and be yourselves. We didn’t just win in the playoffs, we were dominating teams in the playoffs.” He answered.
Josh Giles has started a trend with Corona Centennial during his duration as head coach. Playing hard, playing the right way, and just competing on both ends. I asked him just to talk about the culture he stamped on Corona Centennial over the years.
“I think some years, culture is easier to coach than others. Some years you have to work at it and some years it comes easy, last year the culture came easy. We had two seniors on the team with Ramsey Huff and Donovan Dent, you could not find two better senior leaders.
Donovan was a phenomenal talent, he can score only six points and dominate the game. He did not care about shooting or scoring, he is a true point guard. With your main guys doing that, it follows in line. When you have great players that do not care about their numbers and they’re willing to sacrifice their numbers for their teammates, it makes it really really hard to beat somebody.”
If you really care about shots or points, you shouldn’t be at Centennial. I don’t care about your shots or points, I care about us scoring more than the other team when the final buzzer sounds. Our culture morphed into that. It has taken some time to get there obviously. We had to get rid of some players that were really really good because they did not buy into that. When we got rid of them, it ended being the best decision I ever made because it set the tone for the culture that we have now.
I think there is a lot of coaches that are scared to coach their best players because they think if they yell at them, they will transfer. At Corona Centennial, you are going to get yelled at. It doesn’t matter if your Donovan Dent, it doesn’t matter if your Jared McCain, you are going to get yelled at. I also tell you when you do it right. I don’t lie to anybody. I tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and you might not agree with it, but at least you know I’m not full of it. I think because of that, I feel like the kids respect it and want to be coached.” He explained.
Jared McCain, a 2023 guard headed to Duke in a couple years, has been under the Corona Centennial program for three years now coming into his senior season. McCain will headline their roster for 2022-2023 and is one of the highly rated prospects in the country.
“If Jared had a different personality, I think it would be really really hard, but the fact that Jared is who he is, it’s great. He is incredibly coachable. Everybody loves him. He’s a great teammate, he does not cut corners, and he out works everybody.
He out works people. Those documentaries they do on him, the “Believe” series, what’s amazing about it is, it does not show everything and just how hard he works. He works so much harder than what it shows in the series. He does every rep in practice. Jared has been with me for three years now and I have not once spoke to him about going game speed. I have never spoken to him about making a time in a sprint and never spoken to him about getting all his reps in the weight room.” Coach says when asked how does it feel coaching a prospect like Jared?
Corona Centennial is one of the best public school basketball programs in the country. They are currently ranked in both the national top-25 and public schools only national top-25 rankings coming into the 2022-2023 high school season.
They will be playing in multiple national high school events once again throughout the season. I asked coach Josh Giles just to talk about next season and the expectations they have?
“The one thing that we focus on a lot is not necessarily the wins or championships. We focus more on the daily grind and when you focus on that, to me the wins, the trophies, and all the stuff that comes out of is a by product of your daily grind.
We’ll the opponent briefly, but more importantly we would talk about what we need to do to get better. Our first game next season we will play San Ysidro (CA) and Mike Williams at their place. Our biggest thing is the game is won on how you prepare leading up to that game, that is when you win the game. That is what we focus on the most.
To answer the question, our expectations are having a group of guys that are willing to make those same sacrifice everyday and commit to the daily grind. That might be difficult because there are so many guys on our team that has already had success. Sometimes when you have that success you slip and to me that is the biggest expectation and challenge we need to overcome, complacency.