Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
OREM — Lone Peak, the four-time defending state 5A champion, will be one of six Utah teams participating in the fourth annual FreeTaxUSA.com Shootout that will be held at Orem High School on Dec. 11-13.
The tournament field is now set, and in addition to Lone Peak, the other local teams participating will be Orem, Timpview, Jordan, Wasatch Academy and Timpanogos.
“What we’re most excited about is the demand that we’ve had. We now have teams calling us and wanting to be a part of the tournament,” said Orem coach Golden Holt, who is the tournament director. “The tournament has a bright future. Our partnership with FreeTaxUSA.com has allowed us to brand the tournament and become an event teams from all over the country want to play in.”
The Utah teams will get a chance to see how they fare against some of the top teams from around the country.
Overland, Denver East, Richland (Washington), Kahuka (Hawaii) and Redemption Christian Academy (Massachusetts) will also be making the trip to Utah for the three-game tournament.
Lone Peak features junior Frank Jackson, a BYU commit, who participated in the MPAC International tournament in Dubai and led the tournament in scoring with an average of 32 points per game.
Jackson is ranked as the 53rd best player in the country by ESPN for the Class of 2016.
“This is one of the best tournaments in the West. Golden and his staff continue to bring in high quality out-of-state teams year after year,” said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis. “This year’s tournament offers some really fun diversity with teams from Hawaii, Massachusetts, Colorado and Washington state. I think that makes it really interesting.”
Each team will play three games with the exception of Lone Peak, which can only play two games due to another national tournament commitment. Timpanogos High School will fill in for Lone Peak for one game.
The tournament is the brainchild of Holt, who set out to show the rest of the country just how good basketball is in Utah. It started in 2011 as the Great Western Shootout and was changed to the FreeTaxUSA.com Shootout last year.
Jackson figures to be one of the tournament’s biggest draws. He played against three of the top teams in the nation at the MPAC International tournament in Dubai in June and led the tournament in scoring with 32 points per game.
Other players to watch from Utah include Orem’s Richard Harward, a 6-foot-10, senior center who verbally committed to play at Utah Valley University; Timpview’s Gavin Baxter, a 6-6, junior who is getting Division I interest; Jordan’s Tanner Monson, who led the Beetdiggers in scoring last year at 13 points per game; Wasatch Academy’s Cody John, the two-time state 2A Player of the Year, who averaged 19.5 points per game last year; and Koby McEwen, a 6-3 guard, who had a 17.3 scoring average.
The top out-of-state player is Overland High School’s De’Ron Davis, who is a 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior center with a 7-2 wingspan. He is ranked 14th by ESPN (2016). Indiana, Colorado, Arkansas and Arizona have all offered Davis a scholarship.
Lone Peak and Overland figure to be the teams to beat since both schools could be ranked in the top 25 nationally when the preseason rankings are released.
“One of the reasons we started the tournament was to show the rest of the country how much basketball talent there is in Utah,” Holt said. “I think this event will help people realize what type of basketball is played in Utah.”
All games will be held at Orem High School. Sportz Filmz, which will offer a premium package that will include interviews with the coaches and top players, will also stream the tournament.