The 2011 boys basketball season was definitely the year of the guard.
All five of this year's Deseret News boys basketball MVPs were guards, and all five led their team to a state championship. They were all blessed with great teammates, but their leadership and ability to score separated them from their peers.
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. A voting breakdown of all five classifications can be found by clicking the PDF files on this story.
Nick Emery, Lone Peak
Nobody did it better than Nick Emery — except for maybe Jimmer.
A lethal shooter who was at his best in crunch time, Emery had a fantastic season in leading Lone Peak to its third state title in five years.
Just a sophomore, Emery's potential seems limitless at this point as he's on pace to enjoy an even better high school career than his older brother, Jackson Emery, or Tyler Haws.
"It's amazing that you have that level of player again. To have a player like Haws or Jackson, that's a once in a coaching career kind of guy. But then to have another guy like that," said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis.
Emery finished the year averaging 21.7 points, 3.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 73 total 3-pointers.
He was at his best when Lone Peak need him most. He scored 36 points in a quarterfinal win over West Jordan, knocked down two late 3-pointers in the semifinals against Fremont, and then made his free throws in the state championship against American Fork.
"He really competes. Guys who compete like he does, that's something they do day in and day out. You don't just turn it up for a game, he competes every day in practice, game in, game out," said Lewis.
Emery averaged 18.5 points as a freshman and was named a second-team all-stater. He made unbelievable strides during his MVP sophomore season.
Not only did his assist-to-turnover ratio improve from about 1-1 to 2-1, but his shooting percentage went way up. Taking almost the same amount of shots as last year, Emery averaged 3.2 more points per game this year and finished with 21 more 3-pointers.
Lewis said the step next step in Emery's growth will be the subtle things that might not be noticeable to most.
"You really evaluate it, there's plenty he can get better at," said Lewis. "What's your defensive positioning, what's your footwork defensively, where's the ball going on cross overs, is it low enough? There's a lot of little things that will make him a better player."
That's bad news for the rest of 5A, knowing it must contend with the high-school version of Jimmer as one 5A coach dubbed him.
Sam Orchard, Highland
As a sophomore, Sam Orchard rarely played except in garbage minutes.
His transformation to an MVP-caliber point guard two years later is a case study in hard work.
"He made himself into a great basketball player," said Highland coach Keith West. "He was driven to be the best he could be. There's no way you can win a state championship without somebody who's going to be that kind of a leader and that kind of a player, and that was Sam."
Led by Orchard's will-to win, Highland capped a fantastic season with a 4A state championship. Orchard led the way averaging 16.1 points, and he was a fantastic defender on the best defensive team in 4A.
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