Davis High basketball coach Jay Welk said a game never passed without Dart guard Brody VanBrocklin doing something special.
One game he would score 28 points with five three-pointers. Another night it would be 24 points and four three-pointers. Early in the year, he hit 18-for-18 from the foul line to keep his team in the game before losing in three overtimes.
In the Class 5A state championship game two weeks ago against West Jordan, he scored only 10 points but dished out five assists and had seven rebounds and three steals. The Darts won 53-39.
"He's very well-rounded. He's one of the best players I've had the opportunity to coach," Welk said. "He's a mature player and he recognizes what it takes to be good. He works very hard to become as good as he can be."
For this, VanBrocklin, who led the Darts to their first state basketball championship since 1976, was named the 2002 Deseret News Mr. Basketball Award winner.
"He's a big-play guy," Welk said. "There were some games, even the games we lost, he kept us in it. Had he not played like he did, the scores would have been a lot different.
For the year, he averaged 18.8 points a game, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and shot 48 percent from the field, 80.5 percent from the foul line, and buried 50 three-pointers.
Snow Canyon's Nick Hammer, the Class 3A MVP, who led the Snow Canyon Warriors to their first-ever basketball championship and averaged 23.6 points a game, was a close second for the honor. Northridge's Matt Emadi and Riverton's McCade Olsen were also candidates for the award.
Welk knew VanBrocklin, 6-foot-5, 155 pounds, had the offensive skills, but his defense made him a complete player. And, on any given night, he would use one or the other or both.
"He had the ability to recognize if he needed to do that (score points) or not," Welk said.
Along with the offensive pressure, VanBrocklin drew the toughest defensive assignments by guarding players like Emadi, Olsen, and Layton's Scott Fitzgerald, who are all Class 5A first-team all-state selections.
"He became a much better defender," Welk said. "That's what I thought he needed to become a complete player."
He scored 20 points or more 12 times and was never held below 10 points. He hit five three-pointers in a game twice, and four five times. The Darts (18-7) won 10 straight Region 1 games and finished as co-champions with Northridge.
Welk knew he had a special player in VanBrocklin when he saw him play in junior high school, but he didn't get to tap into that talent until VanBrocklin's junior year. His father was transferred to Chicago with work, and VanBrocklin played there his freshman and sophomore seasons.
"He brought a little of the Chicago game back with him," Welk said, "He has a crossover (dribble) and is very hard to guard."
He utilized the crossover to create shots, and if he wasn't guarded, he would spot up for the three-pointer.
"He's a student of the game," Welk said. "He makes others around him better. He doesn't monopolize the ball. Some guys score a lot because they shoot a lot."
VanBrocklin, 17, is still fielding calls from colleges on all levels and has yet to decide about his future."He has the potential to be an extremely good player," Welk said.
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