Utah 3A State Standouts

Besides Nick Hammer, there were some other players that stood out in the Utah 3A state tournament...

Class of 2002

Nick Hammer of Snow Canyon was definitely the star of the show, but not the only senior to put on an impressive performance in St. George. We featured Hammer in a recent story: Senior Sleepers

6-7 Pete Van Valkenburg is a strong post player who is a bit robotic at times, but who jumps well and hits the boards hard. He also has a pretty reliable shot almost to the three point line. I envision him going to a Utah JC and possibly winding up as an undersized 4 at a DI school in a few years.

6-4 Ben Hartman, Hammer's sidekick at Snow Canyon, is a bit of a mystery. He has a smooth stroke, and he elevates well on his shot, but he has games where he only scores 4 and 5 points. When he's aggressive with the ball, he has the talent and athletic ability to be just about as good as Hammer, but he too often fades into the background. He has borderline DI ability, but he might simply be too "nice" and "suburban" to make an impact at the DI level.

Class of 2003

The Pine View duo of Andy Palmer and Brad Garrett gave their typical standout performances in the state tournament. Garrett hit 4-8 3's in the championship game (16 pts), and despite the bulky shoulder brace/wrap he's worn all season, he's a deadly shooter. I saw him take the ball to the basket a few times and finish inside, something I hadn't seen him do in the past. Palmer might not have a position at the next level, but he's a dominant inside presence on the high school level. If he was 6-8, every service in the country would know his name.

Some other juniors also gave strong performances:

Pine View's cross-town rival, Dixie HS, has a pair of fine juniors. 6-5 combo forward Tom Whitehead and 6-1 combo guard Matt Tobler. Whitehead is slender and lanky, fairly athletic, and a confident shooter. He needs to gain some weight and refine his handling skills, but he's definitely worth monitoring. Tobler is an all-out effort guy. He's the kind of player who could record a triple double without ever attempting a shot. I'm not sure exactly what his offensive repertoire consists of (Dixie didn't need him to score), but he defends well and does all the little things. Hopefully he'll hook on with some sort of AAU program and get to play against strong competition this summer to see what he's made of.

Joe Sasich 6-6 F SLC Judge Memorial - Sasich is a strong, hustling 4-man with some facing skills who could be a very interesting player down the road. He passes well from the high post and has a nice touch, but he doesn't yet have the foot speed to play facing the basket all the time. If he works hard on his agility and stamina in the offseason, he could blow up. Averaged better than 21 ppg this year.

Class of 2004

Michael Giovacchini 5-10 PG SLC Judge Memorial - A slick lead guard with good range on his jumper and a solid handle.

Josh Cottle 5-10 PG Wasatch - A fearless, scrappy floor leader who led his team to the state tournament with his 15 ppg. Distributes well and handles flawlessly, one of three outstanding sophomore point guards in the 3A.

Bowie Jeffs 5-11 PG Castledale Emery - 18.9 ppg as a sophomore after starting as a freshman has Jeffs on pace to threaten for the 3A career scoring title. He couldn't get his school (Shawn Bradley's alma mater) to the state tournament, and I haven't seen him, but he's been the talk of the Utah 3A this year, and he's probably at least as good as Cottle and Giovacchini.

Class of 2005

Two freshmen contributed for Wasatch, and although it's difficult to predict future success for ninth graders, these two look like the real deal. 6-4 Logan Magnusson is an agile swingman who can score from the perimeter and drive to the goal, while 6-5 Darin Mahoney rebounds, elevates to block shots, and scores from the blocks.


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