High school boys basketball: Deseret News 2021-22 Players of the Year were steady, clutch through the season
Pleasant Grove’s McCaden Adams, Olympus’ Jack Wistrcill, Snow Canyon’s Lyman Simmons, Layton Christian’s Tyrese Lacey, San Juan’s Cooper Black and Piute’s Gavin Morgan are the 2021-22 Deseret News boys basketball Players of the Year.
Consistency and playmaking were the biggest calling cards of the 2021-2022 Deseret News boys basketball Players of the Year, and there was never a moment they shied away from.
Four were guards and two were bigs, and for all six their teams made sure to get the ball in their hands in the biggest moments and they usually delivered.
Here’s a look the 2021-2022 Deseret News boys Players of the Year.
6A Player of the Year
McCaden Adams, Pleasant Grove — 6-3, G, Sr.
Consistency is trait that every coach wants in a player, and few players did it better in the entire state than Pleasant Grove senior McCaden Adams.
He led the Vikings to the Region 4 title and a 6A semifinal appearance this year by averaging 20.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals. He did it all while playing against a very difficult preseason and region schedule.
“He’s just a passionate, passionate kid about basketball and always has been. Just couldn’t get enough of it. Played as much as he could every day of the year. His improvement really between the freshman and sophomore year just skyrocketed, and sophomore year he got a taste of the state tournament and I knew we had someone special,” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister.
“He’s played so much he was just comfortable on the court. It’s where he felt the most comfort and confidence and he played with that.”
McAllister usually knew exactly what he was going to get out of Adams every night. Of his 26 games, he scored in double figures every night and was within four points of his scoring averaging 19 times. Only once did he score in the 30s. Almost every other game has high teens and lows 20s.
5A Player of the Year
Jack Wistrcill, Olympus — 6-8, C, Sr.
Olympus big man Jack Wistrcill was a weapon not a lot of teams had an answer for, which was pretty clear as the season played out and the Titans ultimately won the 5A state title with a 26-1 record.
Wistrcill, a Northern Arizona signee, was a major part of that as he averaged 21.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 blocks.
“We knew all year that we were going to play through him as good a player as he was, and to his credit he’s very unselfish and makes the right play and sometimes too unselfish. There were a couple games he put us on his back and carried us. He was a tough cover for most,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes.
His size and ability to pass out of the post was a double-threat that was extremely difficult to deal with. In single coverage in the post he could exploit teams, which was obvious in a quarterfinal win over Salem Hills. When doubled though, he had great shooters around him and had no problem kicking the ball out to those weapons.
“He just played with that confidence all year. The moment was never too big and he was a great leader,” said Barnes.
He finished the season with five double-doubles, including three in the past six games when the intensity ramped up.
4A Player of the Year
Lyman Simmons, Snow Canyon — 6-9, F/C, Jr.
From Game 1 to Game 26, Snow Canyon junior Lyman Simmons was the most dominant player in 4A and ultimately helped lead his team to the state title.
“Lyman is about winning and he was willing to make the right play all year long. The right play was sometimes making the pass out of a double-team, getting a big block and rebound, or getting the tough scores when the game was on the line,” said Snow Canyon coach Doug Meacham.
Simmons finished the season averaging 15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks.
He was steady every night scoring in double figures in every game but two and finishing with seven double-doubles.
“His approach to being coached, sacrificing for the team and just being a great teammate allowed us to have such a great year. He improved this year being able to score through contact, and his unique ability to score at all three levels, in the paint, midrange and 3-point line will help him be successful at the next level.”
It was Simmons’ rebound-putback with three seconds remaining in the 4A semifinal against Sky View that helped book the Warriors’ place in the final.
3A Player of the Year
Tyrese Lacey, Layton Christian — 5-8, G, Jr.
A Birmingham, England, native, Layton Christian junior point guard Tyrese Lacey made a huge name for himself in 3A basketball this season with a relentless downhill approach to the game and leading the Eagles to a repeat state championship.
He was at his best in the most important stretch of the season in February, including a 24-point night in a semifinal victory over Juan Diego and 12 points and five steals in the championship game win over Grantsville.
“Tyrese Lacey is a true student of the game. He is a point guard who knows how to make the players around him successful and control the tempo of the game. Tyrese is not only a very good offensive player but is also a tenacious defender. He gets as much pleasure in locking down his opponent as he does in hitting a 3-pointer. It is going to be interesting to watch his growth this summer,” said Layton Christian coach Bobby Porter.
Lacey finished the season averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 steals and 3.4 rebounds.
With his quickness, he’s going to be one of the top guards in the state to watch next season at any classification.
2A Player of the Year
Cooper Black, San Juan — 6-4, G, Sr.
Cooper Black’s determination ultimately helped him and his San Juan teammates get over the top and halt a 30-year state title drought.
“Cooper put the extra time in during the offseason to become a more well-rounded player, from offseason shooting, watching film, playing games, attending camps, etc. He wanted a state championship this year,” said San Juan coach Travis Black. “Cooper is a student of the game and has a strong basketball IQ from years of watching and playing ball.”
The 6-foot-4 point guard was the catalyst of San Juan’s “rip-and-go” offense, and averaged 12.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals.
Coach Black said that Cooper Black’s eyes were always down court as he pushed the pace in leading San Juan’s offense. Defensively, he was a major asset as well.
“Defensively, Cooper’s overall length and quickness on closing out on shooters and at the top of our zone and traps, disrupted even the best shooters and caused havoc against offensive schemes. Like his teammates, Cooper did what it took to win, sometimes that was scoring 20, other times it was getting 12 boards, and other times is was playing great defense on the other team’s best shooter,” said Travis Black.
1A Player of the Year
Gavin Morgan, Piute — 5-8, G, Sr.
Piute point guard Gavin Morgan was coined Mr. Clutch by his team as he continually came up with the big play when his team needed it most throughout the season, and ultimately helped lead his team to the 1A state championship.
“Throughout the season when we needed a bucket Gavin consistently stepped up and hit the clutch shots. He ended up being the team leader in points and assists for our team. He is a hard person to guard as he has the ability to get around his defender and get to the rim, combine that with the ability to hit the 3-point shot and pull-up, mid-range jumper,” said Piute coach Eric Jessen.
Despite being undersized at 5-foot-8, that never slowed him down as he shot 40% from the field and averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Jessen said Morgan is never one to seek out the spotlight, but despite his humility the spotlight found him as he also led Piute to a 1A state baseball title as he was the starting pitcher in the title game.