High school boys basketball: Layton’s double-double machine Ethan Potter named 2021 Deseret News Mr. Basketball

As an elementary school kid, and even early in junior high, Ethan Potter loved to shoot the 3-pointer like most of his teammates and peers. That was right around the time of Steph Curry’s emergence as an NBA superstar when young kids around the country were trying to emulate his deep 3s.

That was also around the time when Potter hit a major growth spurt, and it was clear his game would be better suited inside.

Late during his seventh-grade year Potter started getting some extra work with coach Kirk Miles, and the only thing they worked on was his inside game.

“All he had me do was just play in the post, and had them feed me inside the post every single time,” said Potter.

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Rep after rep after rep Potter started getting better, and by the time he became a varsity starter for Layton High as a sophomore, it was clear he was destined for great things. This past year as a senior, his polished inside game had become nearly unstoppable as double and triple teams were the only way to slow him down.

The Utah Valley University commit finished the season averaging 25.0 points and 11.9 rebounds, and even though the Lancers bowed out of the 6A playoffs in the second round, his seasonlong dominance made him the obvious choice as the 35th Deseret News’ Mr. Basketball recipient.

“Amazing young man and it’s been great to see him develop and come out of that shell a little bit and turn into a great leader for us this past year,” said Layton coach Kelby Miller. “He’s always had this uncanny knack to score from different angles around the basket, which has obviously been really good for him. If you don’t double or triple team him he’s going to get 30 points.”

Indeed he did reach 30-plus points on five occasions, and recorded a double-double in 14 games.

Averaging 25 and 12 while facing every defensive scheme the state’s coaches could come up with is a remarkable accomplishment, something Potter is extremely proud of.

“When you’re younger, you’re super inconsistent and get frustrated when things aren’t going your way,” Potter said. “I’m most proud of being able to overcome different adversities this year.”

A drop-off with Layton’s supporting cast presented some new challenges for Potter this season. As a junior last year, Potter was still one of the best players in 6A as he averaged 22 points, but it was hard for opposing defenses to key exclusively on him with four other Layton players averaging in double figures. For his senior season, only one teammate averaged double figures.

That allowed defenses to key on Potter even more, but Miller said he was impressed with how his senior handled the unique challenge game after game.

“I definitely think Ethan did a great job this year of encouraging his teammates and being a good leader and doing what he could to win as many as we could,” said Miller.

Despite the obvious drop-off in supporting cast, Layton finished runner-up in Region 1 again this year with an identical 12-2 record as it did the year before.

Potter’s seven-game preseason might be the best evidence of just how dominant he truly was. In region play, the defensive schemes always get more complex as coaches know the opposing personnel so well and have even more time to come up with effective game plans.

In the preseason, the games come fast and furious while coaches and players are still very much getting accustomed to each other in December. In Potter’s seven preseason games before the Christmas break, which included some heavy hitters like Timpview, American Fork and Westlake, he averaged a staggering 30.8 ppg.

In region play, Potter was usually double- and triple-teamed but still found a way to have a major impact night in and night out. His Lancers ultimately came up two points short to Davis in the 6A second round — with region foe Davis then going on to win the state championship.

“He’s been a pleasure to coach, pleasure to be around. Great kid,” said Miller.

Potter plans on serving a two-year mission before enrolling at UVU, but once he gets on a college weightlifting program and continues to polish up his interior moves he could be a force to be reckoned with for four years in the WAC.

He figures to further develop his outside shooting as well at the next level and build on the 14 3-pointers he made his senior season. He’ll probably never shoot it with the same regularity he loved to as a sixth-grader, but at 6-foot-8 if he can develop that outside shot he’ll be a unique talent that UVU will be thrilled to have.