SALT LAKE CITY — Some have suggested that the overall talent during the 2009-10 boys basketball season wasn't as strong as it has been in recent years.
This year's five Deseret News boys basketball MVPs, however, have spent the past three-and-a-half months dispelling that myth with their outstanding individual abilities on the court, as well as their ability to be the perfect teammates.
Three of this year's five MVPs guided their teams to a state championship, whereas the other two came within a couple points of doing the same.
Here's a summary of this year's MVPs as picked by the Deseret News: The first-, second- and third-team selections as well as honorable mentions were voted on by the coaches:
5A MVP: Kyle Davis, Alta
Moving to Utah was the best thing that could've happened to Davis and his new basketball team.
A year ago, the Alta senior was playing in Idaho for a coach who utilized him almost exclusively in the post. Upon arriving at Alta, his new coach gave him the green light to be a scorer both inside and out, and Davis and the Hawks flourished as a result.
Led by the 6-foot-7 forward who averaged 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, Alta pulled off the impressive double by not only winning the Region 4 championship but the 5A state championship as well.
"I was excited (when he moved here) because we definitely needed some people at those bigger positions. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting when I first saw him," said Alta coach Jim Barker.
He quickly learned that Davis had a great feel for the post, but he could also step out and knock down an outside shot.
Davis made an immediate impact in his first game with Alta, but as the season wore on and he grew more and more comfortable with his new teammates, it was clear the SUU-bound forward had transformed the Hawks into state-title contenders.
He scored in double figures in every game but two, and his poise in the fourth quarter was a big reason why Alta won five region games by one point. In the state tournament, Alta dodged such drama, winning its four games by an average of 14.5 points.
"He had an ability to not only score but to rebound and come up with big plays when we needed them," said Barker.
Defensively, Davis had his fair share of struggles this year. In the state tournament though, following an intense week of defensive focus, Davis ended up playing his best offensive and defensive basketball of the season at just the right time for the eventual state champs.
4A MVP: Eli Robison, Timpview
On a team with four juniors who played significant minutes, Robison was the glue that held everything together for the eventual 4A state champions.
"He was one of those guys I would seldom take off the floor," said Timpview coach Perry Wildeboer. "I think his work ethic is one of the best on the team. He was definitely a leader that way."
Robison finished the season averaging 15.7 points and 6.0 rebounds. Many of those points came via the T-Birds' patented transition game.
"He plays fast. For anybody who has to guard that kid, I feel sorry for him. He runs the floor unlike anyone I've ever had," said Wildeboer.
During his junior year, Robison played football and basketball, but he opted to focus exclusively on basketball this season. That decision, along with a torn ACL to Bronson Kaufusi during the football season, vaulted Robison into a starring role for the T-Birds. Once he and his underclassmen teammates figured everything out, Timpview was clearly the best team in the state when it mattered most.
Robison's coach believes he'll eventually be a D1-type player. It might take some polishing at the junior college level first, but he believes the 6-foot-5 forward has tremendous upside.
"He's really just started to learn the game. With his athleticism and his ability to shoot, he's going to end up being a D1 player," said Wildeboer.
3A MVP: Trevor Bamgartner, Wasatch
There was no better example of what this senior meant to his team than during Wasatch's 45-24 championship game victory over Judge, which extended the school's winning streak to 23 straight.
Bamgartner scored only five points, well below his season average of 16.5 points, but his seven assists and outstanding defense were instrumental in the blowout victory for the Wasps.
"Trevor was a great leader. He did a lot of really little things well. A lot of times, you didn't notice all the little things he did until the end of the game when looking at the stat sheets," said second-year Wasatch coach Norm Hayter. "That was the type of guy he was."
Those little things added up to an average 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game this season. He also knocked down 40 3-pointers and had one of the quickest releases Hayter has ever seen.
His commitment to defense was another reason Wasatch finished with an impressive 24-1 record.
"The thing about his defense is he always has the ability to be in the right place. His off-ball defense and his on-ball defense were great. He's always staying within the team concept and framework of what we're trying to do," said Hayter.
Bamgartner is hoping to catch on and play junior college basketball some place next season before departing on an LDS Mission.
2A MVP: Neal Monson, Waterford
In many respects, the numbers of this 6-foot-10 Ute-bound center speak for themselves.
During his four-year career at Waterford, he scored 1,321 points, grabbed more than 830 rebounds and swatted away 289 shots. He averaged a double-double his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, including an impressive 21.5 points and 13.3 rebounds this year.
He finished the season shooting 62.5 percent from the field and averaged 4.5 blocks per game.
"It's been a really fun four years as both a father and a coach," said Waterford coach Reid Monson, who is also Neal's father. "Every year, in spite of more increasing attention paid to him, his stats went up, his production went up."
Not surprisingly, most of his accomplishments came against constant double and triple teams. The countless defensive looks forced Monson to expand his offensive arsenal, which included shooting 44 percent from 3-point range in region play and the state tournament. He's also developed a nice hook shot, and his father says he's ready for the next level.
"He's a basketball player first, he's not just a big man. He showed that ability time and time again," said Reid Monson.
Monson came within four seconds of leading Waterford to its first state title since 2002, but his team ultimately lost to South Summit 38-37 in the 2A championship game.
1A MVP: Caden Andersen, Rich
For almost every week of the 2009-10 season, Rich High occupied the No. 1 ranking in Class 1A and Andersen was the biggest reason why.
"The kid can do everything," said coach Ashley Brown. "He can score, he can rebound, he can play defense. He's a great athlete, and that helps a bunch."
Andersen averaged 19.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals this year for the Rebels, whose quest for the 1A state championship ended with a 59-57 semifinal loss to Piute. Andersen finished with 23 points in the narrow loss, as he wrapped up his basketball career by scoring 20-plus points in his final nine games of the season.8 comments on this story
Brown said Andersen's example helped make everyone else around him better.
"The other thing that's very good about Caden, his example he put forth in practice as well as on the basketball court. Very seldom would he lose his cool; he would always keep his focus," said Brown.
The three-year starter finishes his career with a 15.9 career scoring average, and he'll take his talents to the next level to play football at Weber State.