He realized for us to be our best and really win some of the tough games we had out of state, we had to have some balance offensively, so he did it. No way we could’ve had the kind of year we had unless Nick kind of sacrificed part of his game to do it. —Quincy Lewis, Lone Peak High School head coach
HIGHLAND — Statistically speaking, Nick Emery’s senior season wasn’t his best.
Not only was his scoring and rebounding down, he was limited to single-digit scoring five times after failing to reach double digits just twice during his freshman, sophomore and junior years combined.
So was it a down year for Emery?
Absolutely not. In fact, coach Quincy Lewis said this was his best year yet, “no question.”
Emery still had the potential to be a lethal scorer, but he was asked to take on a different role his senior season with the arrival of 6-foot-10 mammoth Eric Mika. To Emery's credit, he maturely embraced the situation. Surrounded by oodles of college talent, Emery’s team no longer needed him to score 30 points and heave Jimmer-type 3-pointers, it needed him to run the show at point guard and be a leader first.
That’s exactly what he did.
“He realized for us to be our best and really win some of the tough games we had out of state, we had to have some balance offensively, so he did it,” said Lewis. “No way we could’ve had the kind of year we had unless Nick kind of sacrificed part of his game to do it.”
The scoring and rebounding definitely dipped because of Mika’s presence, but Emery made up for it with 38 more assists and 15 more steals this season — and it was certainly all worth it as Lone Peak will likely be named MaxPreps national champions next week.
“I didn’t care (about scoring) as long as we won the games. I was totally fine. That’s the best part, winning. Every individual thing can come after that,” said Emery.
After leading his team to a scintillating 26-1 record this season and a third-straight 5A state championship, it’s time for the inevitable individual accolades to follow — most notably Mr. Basketball.
Eight years after his older brother Jackson Emery was named the Deseret News Mr. Basketball recipient, the younger Emery has officially etched his name right alongside him as the 27th Mr. Basketball recipient.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to get this, and this was definitely the year to get it,” said Emery, who said seeing his brother’s Mr. Basketball banner hanging in the rafters at Lone Peak the past four years was a constant source of motivation.
The Emery boys join Jeff and Britton Johnsen as brothers who’ve both won the award.
Nick Emery, a BYU commit who leaves on a mission to Germany for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 1, finished his high school career as the eighth-leading scorer in state history with 1,953 points. He also set a new state record with 269 career 3-pointers.
Of the seven players who scored more points in their career than Emery, four won state titles, but Emery is the only three-time champ in the bunch.
“I don’t think it’s any stretch to say he’s as successful a player as there’s ever been in the state,” said Lewis.
From an individual standpoint, Emery’s high school career didn’t end the way he would’ve hoped as he was limited by a broken thumb on his left hand during the state tournament. Realistically though, accepting the lesser role was something he’d grown accustomed to all season.
Lewis jokes that watching a pass-first Emery at the state tournament was a stark contrast to his freshman year when “he wanted to take on the world.”
Emery averaged 18.5 points his freshman year and was named a 5A second-team all-stater. During his sophomore and junior seasons he was named 5A MVP by averaging 21.7 and 21.6 points respectively. This season he averaged 17.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.9 steals, but he did it all with a much more advanced basketball IQ.
“By the time he got into this year, I think you saw a much more poised player that understood what plays needed to happen on the floor,” said Lewis. “When he was a freshman he looked at it as, ‘I’m going to go get 30 a night.’ By time he was a senior, he looked at it as, ‘What do I need to do to help us win?’”
With a 72-4 record the past three season, it’s safe to say Emery has figured out what it takes to win.
Lewis believes one of the more underrated aspects of Emery’s game is his defense, and it’s a big reason he believes he’ll be successful at BYU — just like his brother.
“Jackson Emery was a fabulous defender, and Nick has a lot of those same characteristics,” said Lewis.
The younger Emery has the potential to be a much better scorer in college though, which should have BYU fans ecstatic for his arrival in 2015.