When Farmington’s Collin Chandler got his first taste of true varsity action as a sophomore in 2019, all those watching the game realized pretty quickly that he would be a special player.

In front of his home crowd, Chandler poured in 36 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and had two steals.

As far as debuts go, they don’t get much better.

“I think we kind of knew at that point that, man, this kid could really be something special, and that he had a chance to hopefully become a Division I player and Mr. Basketball in Utah,” Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst said.

Throughout the remainder of his high school career, the Farmington star proved his impressive debut wasn’t a fluke by becoming one of the state’s most consistent scoring threats.

Now, nearly 212 years after bursting on the scene as sophomore, Chandler has signed to play Division I basketball and will be capping his high school career by becoming the 36th recipient of the Deseret News’ Mr. Basketball award.

Though well aware of Chandler’s unique set of skills, Walkenhurst said he nearly fell out of his chair when he heard the news that his star player would be receiving the award.

High school boys basketball: Deseret News 2021-22 Players of the Year were steady, clutch through the season

“I met Collin when he was an eighth-grader and I’ve been his coach for four years, so I know that one of his major goals was to become Mr. Basketball,” Walkenhurst said.

“He’s been working his butt off for a long time to become a Mr. Basketball-caliber player, so when I got the text (saying that he would receive the award), I was almost floored with gratitude. He’s definitely earned it and he’s the best basketball player in our state.”

Though Chandler always had a passion for basketball, becoming Mr. Basketball didn’t always seem like a reality to him while he growing up.

Measuring at 5-foot-9 in the eighth grade, Chandler wasn’t the biggest kid on the court, but he learned to play and see the game in a way that allowed him to be effective despite not having elite-level height.

But as his high school years approached, Chandler began blossoming — literally.

The once average-sized guard grew nearly seven inches in two years and by the time his sophomore year rolled around, a 6-foot-4 Chandler now had the size to go along with the skills he’d worked so hard to develop.

It was then the late-blooming Chandler said he knew many of his goals as a basketball player weren’t just possible, but realistic.

“I grew up playing little ball,” Chandler said. “Being a little guard, I had to score and play in ways that didn’t rely on size. So when I grew, I got the size and athleticism and it definitely helped me.

“I always loved the game of basketball and I always thought that things would work out for me as a player, but it’s definitely worked out better than I could’ve imagined.”

2022 Deseret News boys basketball 6A All-State team
2022 Deseret News boys basketball 5A All-State team
2022 Deseret News boys basketball 4A All-State team
2022 Deseret News boys basketball 3A All-State team
2022 Deseret News boys basketball 2A All-State team
2022 Deseret News boys basketball 1A All-State team

Chandler became a force on both ends of the floor for the Phoenix, but particularly as a scorer. During his 77 games as a prep player, Chandler averaged 20.6 points per game, leading Farmington to an appearance in the 5A state championship game his junior season. 

But in his senior season, the Phoenix had lost nearly every contributor from the team’s 2021 run to the championship game and Chandler was no longer flying under the radar as he and the team made the jump from 5A to 6A. Teams came prepared with game plans specifically designed to slow down the rising guard.

“Coaches were trying to attack me in every way possible,” Chandler said. “It tests your craftiness in the game and your ability to score, because you have to attack each defense in a different way. It was hard, but I definitely feel like it helped me learn and grow as a player.”

Despite the new challenges, Chandler finished his senior year as 6A’s leading scorer at 21.7 points per game, and though Farmington wasn’t able to make the deep playoff runs it had made in previous years, Chandler still stood out as the state’s best player.

Though his play on the court impressed during his final season, Walkenhurst said it was how Chandler carried himself off the court that impressed him more.

Why one of the top basketball recruits in the country ultimately chose BYU over Utah

“His most impressive attribute was that he stayed super humble throughout the year,” Walkenhurst said. “A kid who moves up from not even being in the top 100 to the 26th-ranked player in the country could’ve easily just thought he’d arrived, but he stayed humble for his teammates and the coaching staff. He stayed very coachable, and I think that attribute is huge for him.”

Chandler said that the season taught him leadership skills that he didn’t previously have — something that he hopes to carry into his future both on and off the court.

After putting in the work to get himself to this point, Chandler — who was also named Gatorade Utah Player of the Year — said receiving the recognition for all that work has been gratifying.

“Basketball is a team sport, but you’re working everyday individually to make sure that you can help your team win,” Chandler said. “So it’s super cool and a really good feeling to be recognized for all that work you put in and all the sacrifices you’ve made.”

Wallkenhurst said Chandler, whose freshman season was Farmington’s first year as a basketball program, will leave a memorable legacy as the Phoenix continue to establish themselves in the Farmington community.

“Before our games I’d scan the crowd and notice there were so many young kids, who were there to support Farmington, but I think the biggest reason why they were there was to see Collin play,” Walkenhurst said.

“He’s brought a buzz to the community and he leaves a legacy for our young kids and future players. … As a coach I couldn’t be more happy and more proud that we get to put a banner up in our gym with his name on it.”

Chandler plans on serving a mission before enrolling at BYU, where he hopes to win plenty of games for the Cougars as they make the transition to the Big 12 Conference. 

Though he now has eyes set on his post-high school basketball career, Chandler was grateful for the opportunities and experiences he had as a high school player at Farmington.

“I was blessed to start (my high school career) when the school was first opening,” Chandler said. “Not wasting any time in creating a winning tradition here was amazing. To create that legacy from the start rather than building on past successes, and becoming that foundation for what the school can be with its future players is something I’ll never forget.”

36 years of Deseret News Mr. Basketball recipients

2022 — Collin Chandler, Farmington

2021Ethan Potter, Layton

2020Dallin Hall, Fremont

2019Rylan Jones, Olympus

2018Rylan Jones, Olympus

2017Jaxon Brenchley, Ridgeline

2016Frank Jackson, Lone Peak

2015 — Jesse Wade, Davis

2014T.J. Haws, Lone Peak

2013Nick Emery, Lone Peak

2012 — Jordan Loveridge, West Jordan

2011 — Tyrell Corbin, West

2010 — Kyle Collinsworth, Provo

2009 — Tyler Haws, Lone Peak

2008 — Tyler Haws, Lone Peak

2007 — Morgan Grim, Riverton

2006 — Daniel Deane, Judge

2005 — Jackson Emery, Lone Peak

2004 — Tai Wesley, Provo

2003 — Josh Olsen, Alta

2002 — Brody Van Brocklin, Davis

2001 — Jared Jensen, Fremont

2000 — Garner Meads, Brighton

1999 — Tim Henry, Mtn. View

1998 — Tony Brown, Mtn. Crest

1997 — Britton Johnsen, Murray

1996 — Jeff Johnsen, Murray

1995 — Jeff Johnsen, Murray

1994 — Alex Jensen, Viewmont

1993 — Ben Melmeth, Judge

1992 — JaRon Boone, Skyline

1991 — Justin Weidauer, Cottonwood

1990 — Kenneth Roberts, Bingham

1989 — Shawn Bradley, Emery

1988 — Matt Bowman, Timpview

1987 — Kurt Miller, Ben Lomond