By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
How does one choose?
Frank Jackson or Yoeli Childs?
Lone Peak, Timpview, Wasatch Academy and Orem of seven of the top 5A teams in the state with a talented 4A team from Olympus thrown in for fun?
When the Utah Elite 8 tournament arrived on the December high school basketball scene a year ago, sharing the same weekend with the Great Western turned FreeTaxUSA Shootout, I was hoping, for selfish reasons, that the shared date situation was a one-year thing. There is, after all, just one of me.
So, when the schedules were released and this two premiere events were once again competing directly for our attention, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there is going to be some excellent basketball played in Utah County over the next three days, but we are all going to have to make tough choices…
True tournament format vs. carefully selected matchups. Do you prefer one format over the other?
The Utah Elite 8 tournament offers up eight of the state’s best teams (seven from the 5A classification) in a three-day win and advance tournament format. (all eight teams do continue to play through the three days with battles for seventh, fifth and third place also slated for Saturday). It’s a great showcase for teams that expect to be playing in a similar tournament format come the first week of March.
The FreeTaxUSA Shootout offers an alternative. Are you more intrigued to see how top Utah teams like Lone Peak, Timpview and Wasatch Academy fare against top teams from Georgia (Miller Grove), North Carolina (Charlotte Christian) or Los Angeles (Fremont)? If so, this event is for you. They’re not playing in a tournament format, but it’s an elite showcase event with some amazing matchups.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably spend some time on State Street commuting back and forth between Orem High (the venue for the FreeTaxUSA Shootout) and American Fork High (Utah Elite 8), picking and choosing the matchups you like best. There’s always the DVR for some part of the solution, as KMYU is televising the premiere night games at the FreeTaxUSA Shootout.
One of the most intriguing matchups for me is actually an in-state game, but not one you’ll see very often. Since Wasatch Academy went independent last season, most of its games are played at out-of-state tournaments. That’s an amazing team and I always want to know how it will do against Utah’s best.
Then, of course, the FreeTaxUSA tournament folks threw us a curve ball. They did give us a Lone Peak/Wasatch Academy game on the schedule, but due to Lone Peak’s scheduling needs, the game will be played Thursday night at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant. To see that one live, you will need to add in another couple of hours for the round-trip commute from Orem.
Such a dilemma? What to do?
The FreeTaxUSA Shootout offers Duke signee Frank Jackson of Lone Peak, UConn commit Alterique Gilbert from Miller Grove in Georgia, BYU signee Gavin Baxter from Timpview and Utah State-bound Koby McEwen of Wasatch Academy along with dozens of other outstanding players.
At the Utah Elite 8, you get future BYU Cougar Yoeli Childs of Bingham, Marquette signee Brendan Bailey and Weber State-bound Spencer Johnson from American Fork, along with high-scoring Jaxon Brenchley (Mountain Crest), Jake Hendricks (Sky View) and Preston Sanchez (Copper Hills) along with another huge collection of talented players.
Good luck choosing between these two outstanding events, and whatever you decide, enjoy elite high school hoops.