Justin Weidauer started his celebrated prep basketball career at Cottonwood High in a less-than-auspicious fashion - getting felled by a blow to the face. From there, though, he scored in double figures in all but one of his 72 games, shot 60 percent from the floor and 87 percent from the line, and averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in each season as a three-year starter for the Colts.
Weidauer, a 6-foot-7 senior signed to play at BYU next year, earns recognition as the 1991 Deseret News Mr. Basketball honoree - an annual award given to the state's top prep basketball player. He is also one of eight most valuable players selected by the Deseret News this season, earning the honor from the 4A boys ranks.He's joined by other MVP selections - Ogden's Tramyne Watson, North Sevier's Nathan Hallows, Green River's Gary Quarnberg, Mountain View's Kim Henry, Jordan's Marti Callister, South Summit's Kamie Siddoway, and Valley's Ann Esplin.
They headline the Deseret News' 80 all-state prep basketball players - 40 first-team selections and 40 second-team honorees.
Weidauer averaged at least 20 points a game for three straight seasons, going 20 points and 10 boards a game both his sophomore and junior years. His senior-season stats of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks a contest were aided by his 26-point, 16-rebound averages during his final dozen games.
Toss in the stellar shooting percentages and all-tournament honors at national BCI tournaments - and the result is an all-around effort in passing, running the court, defense, rebounding, shooting and scoring.
"He's a complete package - he does everything well," said Cottonwood Coach Blair Martineau of the Colts' 4A MVP. "He could have beena 40-plus-point scorer in high school - he has that ability and makes things look effortless."
What with the swift, spirted play of junior forward Brandon Parker and the zone-busting, long-range shooting of junior guard Neal Geddes, there were times where Tramyne Watson looked like Ogden's third-best player rather than the state's 3A MVP.
"They just took turns sharing the spotlight," said Ogden Coach Mitch Wilcox. And while Parker and Geddes earned enough votes - and some MVP consideration themselves - for first-team all-state honors, it was the player dubbed "Tree" and his per-game averages of 17 points and 12 rebounds that earned top recognition.
The player the Ogden faithful dubbed "Tree" "Take Tree out of the lineup and the others have to work twice as hard to get open and get things accomplished," said Wilcox of Watson, who holds the school records in single-game rebounding and season rebounding and finished in the top three of every individual statistical category at Ogden this year.
Repeat, repeat - North Sevier won its second 2A title and Nathan Hallows led the Wolves in scoring (17.2 points a game), rebounding (10.2 boards) and assists (7.0) for the second straight season. While Hallows only earned all-state honors last year, this year he's the 2A MVP.
"He led us last year in all three categories, so we're not surprised to see him do it again this year," said North Sevier Coach Craig Gladwell. "The strong point with Nathan is that he has the ability to score more, but he's a team player. He keeps the team contest and tries to find the best way for the team to win."
That might be drawing the double- and triple-team defense and deftly dishing off underneath to the likes of Ryan Braithwaite for an easy basket or moving outside alongside Ricky Torgersen to can three straight three-pointers and add a driving layup for a personal 11-0 spurt in the 2A semifinals. "The bigger the game and the more important it is for him to come through, the better he plays," said Gladwell of the 6-2 junior.
Gary Quarnberg, a 6-foot-2 senior and three-year starter from Green River, might be the best unknown commodity when it comes to Utah's prep basketball talent - but the state's 1A team and their fans know all about the Pirate player and his skills.
Having averaged 18 points, 5.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game this season, Quarnberg may have seen his scoring drop a bit from his all-state junior season. But he was drawing the toughest defense and also had the likes of 6-foot-9 Leon Carter and trey-happy Garrett Ekker outside to help with the point production.
"Gary really has been a big key to the team," said Green River Coach Stan Parsons. "Every time we needed a big play - even last year - Gary would take charge."
Kim Henry, Mountain View's 5-foot-10 senior center, found no problem in starting this year after being the Bruins' first-substitute spark as a sophomore and junior. And despite facing foes who were three, four and five inches taller, Henry also found no problem pitting finesse against sheer height en route to statistics of 18 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks a game.
For example, she has wowed not only local opponents and fans but BCI crowds and college recruiters with her explosive jumping - the volleyball-basketball standout can jump and touch the rim. "There might be some who can jump, but she can jump and get right back up there again - up and down quickly," said Mountain View Coach Dave Houle.
Henry's strong inside game resulted in double- and triple-teaming, which in turn opened up the Bruins' outside offense. "Every team and every coach I came in contact with - no matter who you would talk to - said they had to prepare to stop Kim Henry," said Houle.
The season averages for Jordan's 5-foot-11 senior. And how about the numbers in her two last games - 27 rebounds in a state-tournament semifinal victory over Pine View and then a 39-point outing against Emery County in the 3A finals.
"And she should have had 60," said Jordan Coach Tim Lewis. "She stepped over the free-throw line several times and only hit 9-of-18 - and five of those misses were one-and-ones. But for girls' ball, those (27 rebounds, 39 points) are two great accomplishments.
With her 18-point, 14-rebound averages, Callister teamed with Kristi Deem down on the blocks in Jordan's inside- oriented offense. "The ball is taken to the blocks when we have players of their caliber inside," said Lewis.
South Summit's four-year starter earned all-state honors last year, but cut down the foul trouble that hindered her last year while posting impressive numbers this season - per-game averages of 25 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. More importantly, she only fouled out of one game this year.
All that, and earning praises like "a very team-oriented player" and "she came through about every game for us" from Wildcat Coach Shauna Woolstenhulme, who would let Siddoway run the offense from the point when the defense play man-to-man or put the 5-foot-7 senior at off-guard when facing a zone defense.
Word is getting out on Siddoway's skills - besides all the in-state recruiting, she's drawn out-of-state attention as far away as the East Coast and like of Boston College.
Ann Esplin, a 5-foot-4 seasoned sparkplug, is just one of several familiar faces in the Valley lineup - Esplin, Heather Heaton and Teresa Durfey were four-year starters, while Lindsey Cox was a three-year starter. And the result of the talent and time together was two state titles (1989, 1991), a second-place finish (1990) and a third-place finish (1988).
This year, Esplin averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists - and that's being slowed down for a second season by her ulcerated colitis condition, which was kept under control a bit by a regulated diet. "I know it's slowed her down. And Ann is very unselfish - she could have averaged 20 to 25 points a game, but she brought the best out of the kids she has played with," said Valley Coach Ferrill Heaton.
But Esplin could bring the best out of herself as well, as evidenced in this year's 1A semifinals against defending champion Enterprise. Down by 10 points after the first period, Valley's adjustment at intermission was to set third-period screens for Esplin, and she responded with six straight jumpers in the third period that helped her team to a two-point lead, a semifinal victory and eventual state championship.