With four Division I players on one team, the Lone Peak Knights are sure to have several players get plenty of post-season recognition.
But having those scholarships awaiting had no influence in putting four Knights on the Deseret Morning News All-Utah Valley boys basketball team. The players earned the honor by their play this season and their contribution to bringing Lone Peak a second straight 5A title. Each was vital in Lone Peak's balance, success and each played outstanding basketball during region play and then at the state tournament.
Overall, 5A basketball was a little stronger than 4A basketball. That's why we feel that the valley's top six players are all from the valley's 5A league. Region 4 was just a touch stronger than Region 7 this year.It was also an easy decision, since Lone Peak was the state's top team, to select a Knight as the valley's top player. And that player just happens to be the one who came through time and time again in the clutch for Lone Peak, especially in last week's state tournament.
TYLER HAWS, Lone Peak Knights: The steady junior is considered by most to be the state's top player. He scored nearly 21 points per game for the Knights and came up huge several times in the state tournament, both from the free-throw line and the field. His game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left in overtime No. 2 against Davis in the semis will be a shot that Lone Peak fans remember for a long time. It was the shot that lifted Lone Peak into the championship game.
"He's the kind of player who doesn't even have to score to make them a better team," Davis coach Jay Welk said.
Still, he was the Knights' go-to guy and the state's Mr. Clutch."This might sound boring, but he's incredibly consistent," Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. "Game in and game out, he's the same guy. He's a tremendous shooter. Even though he faces box-and-ones, triangles and all that stuff to deny him the ball, he still shots 58 percent from the floor."
DALLIN NAULU, Spanish Fork Dons: Statistics don't really do this heady point guard justice. His defense, court leadership, ability to get teammates shots and control a game in many other ways made him one of the state's top point guards. Still, he scored more than 10 points per game and was among the state's leaders in assists.C. J. WILCOX, Pleasant Grove Vikings: There's probably not a more athletic player in the state, or a player who is better at creating his own shot. As a threat to score driving to the hoop, posting up or shooting the 3-pointer, Wilcox (a junior) finished as the top scorer in 5A at nearly 24 points per game.
JUSTIN HAMILTON, Lone Peak Knights:The 6-foot-11 senior center, headed to Iowa State, would certainly get the state's most-improved player award if there was such an award. Developed great offensive skills around the basket and was an outstanding rebounder and shot blocker. Had 10 blocks in the title game.
JOSH SHARP, Lone Peak Knights:An extra dangerous player because of his ability to play around the basket, slash to the basket and shoot from outside. Offensive rebounding and shot blocking are probably the biggest strengths for this future Utah Ute. Averaged more than 12 points per game.
BRACKEN FUNK, Lone Peak Knights:Set the school record twice this year with 18-rebound games. At his best when he's around the basket or hitting the boards, but also very effective at running the floor and shooting from deep. The Fresno State-bound senior scored more than 13 points per game for the Knights.
KYLE COLLINSWORTH, Provo Bulldogs: For a sophomore, he showed incredible poise and confidence in leading the Bulldogs in scoring at nearly 15 points per game. Excellent at attacking the hoop, grabbing rebounds and running the floor. Simply, the best player on the state's top 4A team.
BRONSON KAUFUSI, Timpview Thunderbirds:Without his bruising force in the paint and work on the boards, the T-Birds would have never reached the semis or finished second in Region 7. Timpview was a much better team when Kaufusi touched the ball. Scored nearly 17 points per game.
MICHAEL SALAZAR, Springville Red Devils:One of the state's best players at making those around him better players. A top assist guy with great court leadership and an outstanding sense of when to shoot. Scored more than 16 points per game and nailed 64 3-point shots.
SETH LOVELL, Payson Lions:One of the best in the paint. He knows what to do with the ball once he gets it and has outstanding skills in scoring in traffic and against tough defenders. Finished as the top scorer in 4A basketball at almost 21 points per game.
SKYLER HALFORD, Timpanogos Timberwolves:Even though he's not big or strong, Halford was one of the toughest players to defend during his high school career. Just a great knack of knowing how to score. Finished the season as the second-highest scorer in 5A at 23.5 points per game.
BRANDON DAVIES, Provo Bulldogs: This junior center showed steady improvement on his inside offense and defense, and became a top rebounder. Scored more than 10 points per game, and had a huge 26-point game in the semifinals. MATT GARDNER, Spanish Fork Dons: CRAIG TUCKER, Pleasant Grove Vikings: GOOSE KALLUNKI, Orem Tigers:
MATT GARDNER, Spanish Fork Dons:Led the Dons in scoring at more than 14 points per game, and was one of the valley's top clutch performers. Also, deadly from long range finishing the year with 51 3-pointers and making more than two per game.
CRAIG TUCKER, Pleasant Grove Vikings:One of the valley's top defensive players, top rebounding guards and just an overall outstanding hustler on the court. Even with his unselfish style, Tucker could shoot from deep and around the hoop as his 11 points per game attests.
GOOSE KALLUNKI, Orem Tigers:Many might put the label of bombs-away shooter on Kallunki, but he developed into a reliable inside player and rebounder for the Tigers. Scored 14 points per game and hit 27 3-point shots.
Best of the rest
AMERICAN FORK: Greg Meacham, Jake Murphy
LEHI: Wil Walker, Tyson Henderson
LONE PEAK: Kimball Payne
PLEASANT GROVE: Brady Thurgood, Adam Nielson
SPANISH FORK: Zach Clayton, Juan Vergara, Devin Nelson
TIMPANOGOS: Colton Willman, Trevor Thomas
SPRINGVILLE: Dan Foster, Brad Kohler, Alex Mortensen
TIMPVIEW: Marcus Hunt, Brandon Hatton, Tanner Brockbank
PROVO: Adam Law, Scott Edwards, Kyson Koop
PAYSON: Jake Hiatt
OREM: Ian Harward, Jake RobisonMOUNTAIN VIEW: Adam Lewis, Tanner Young, Greg May, Cameron Schmidt