By Brynlie Cox
Photo by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
The massive number of fans in the student section at Lehi High School is intimidating to any team that steps foot into their gym. Every student in that crowd could instantly tell you who the Lehi boys basketball team looks to most as its clutch player. That’s Tanner Nygren.
Nygren, a junior, is the Pioneers’ leading scorer. His ability to take the ball to the basket and to hit key shots when the game is on the line brought Lehi victories in many of its games early in the season.
“Coaches talk about how players have a high basketball IQ,” said Lehi head coach Bob Barnes. “Tanner has a real high IQ about what’s going to be open and how he can get the shot off. He’s real crafty around the basket.”
A ton of close losses once it got into the teeth of the difficult Region 4 schedule cost Lehi a shot at a postseason run even after the impressive start, but Nygren was certainly one of the team’s bright spots. The guard averaged nearly 24 points per game for the 2014-2015 Pioneers.
But as the team’s leading scorer, Tanner’s strengths as a player go far past the points he can put on the board.
“One of his biggest strengths is, of course he scores, but he’s also versatile,” Barnes said. “He can play guard, sometimes point guard, shooting guard or any of the forward spots. He can score, he can defend, he can pass. He’s got all of the skill sets.”
Tanner Nygren has been playing basketball since he was three years old, and his love for the game has been one of the factors pushing him to success. The Pioneer coaching staff saw his potential at a very young age, years before he was brought up to the high school team as a freshman.
Before playing on the high school level, he always played on club teams above his grade. This experience, along with his club coaches, helped him start down the path to his successful high school career. Nygren’s athleticism is only part of the contributor to his ability on the court.
“He’s really motivated,” Barnes said. “He’s a good student, he gets good grades. That carries over to the basketball court. He has goals both academically and on the court, and that kind of goes hand-in-hand. It helps him keep focused and doing well, in all aspects of his life. I think that it all goes into being a good player. I’ve coached a long time, coached a lot of players and those that are successful are both motivated on and off the court.”
Nygren not only plays the role as one of the team’s leading scorers, but as that of a team leader. He is known to push his teammates in practice, and his leadership doesn’t just end there, it extends to the friendships that Tanner carries with his team off the court.
“One of the ways he’s grown as a player is being an off the court leader,” Barnes said. “He’s realized how important it is to be a leader off the court as it is on the court. He’s grown in that capacity even though he is a junior.”
One thing is for sure. Tanner Nygren has a bright basketball future and he is looking to help his high school team take another step forward, he just has to wait until next season.
Lehi High student Brynlie Cox wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah/Nu Skin student journalism program.