The praise, accolades and hype have been around for nearly two years now, and Erin Thorn has downplayed it all, preferring to talk about what her team and teammates have accomplished instead.
The Mountain View guard is widely recognized as one of the best high school players in the country, and she just completed a career that may never be duplicated again. To cap her outstanding career, Thorn has been selected as 1999's Ms. Basketball, an annual award given by the Deseret News to the most outstanding girls basketball player in the state.Thorn averaged just over 18 points and six assists per game in her senior year for a team that finished with a No. 8 national ranking in USA Today. While her numbers may not be eye-popping, the fact that she played an average of just 20 minutes per game make the stats more remarkable.
Big point totals weren't Thorn's goal for the year though, despite the fact she did score 36 points and set the new state record with nine 3-pointers in a state tournament game against Northridge.
"Erin wanted to improve her ability to attack the basket and get others involved in the offense," said Mountain View coach Dave Houle. "She makes incredible passes. It took a while to get her teammates to realize that she might pass it to them . . . . She put the team first and that's a dream come true for a coach."
Her four-year record at Mountain View can be summed up in a huge "wow!" Thorn helped Mountain View compile a 93-3 record, with the only three losses coming to nationally ranked teams at the Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara. Only the second sophomore ever to start for the Bruins, Thorn never lost to a team from Utah (88-0), garnering four state championships in the process.
Thorn's final state tournament only put an exclamation point on her outstanding career, averaging 24 points and four 3-pointers in four games. She was a second-team all-state selection her sophomore year, and won first-team honors as a junior.
Thorn's rise to being a hot commodity came quickly. She was selected to the all-tournament team at the Tournament of Champions her junior year, prompting an invitation to this past summer's prestigious Nike Camp.
Playing with 50 of the best girls in the country, Thorn was named to the five-player all-camp first team, solidifying her status as one of the biggest recruits in the country. Add to that being tabbed a preseason Super Prep 25 player by USA Today, and Thorn had become to Utah girls basketball what Highland's Logan Tom was to volleyball.
"She was being recruited by everybody in America," said Houle. "It was awesome to see."
She quickly cut her choices down to national powers Old Dominion and Duke (who meet in a Sweet 16 game this weekend) and hometown school BYU. Instead of pulling a Chris Burgess move and heading to the East coast, Thorn chose to become a Cougar along with teammate Heather Cheesman, following in the footsteps of previous Ms. Basketball selections Megan Jensen and Lisa Osguthorpe.
Having seen what Thorn can do for the last four years, Houle feels that she was not only the best player in the state this year, but the best player ever to play in the state. It's a bold statement, and Houle knows it will probably ruffle a few feathers in the coaching community.
"In the last 12 years we've had some pretty good teams, and I've seen all the great players . . . Reagan Scott, Lori and Kim Henry, Megan Lofthouse and Julie Krommenhoek, but Erin Thorn is the best player ever," said Houle. "People might hate me for saying that, but great players know how to win championships, and Erin Thorn has won four of them."