By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Lone Peak’s boys basketball team has received a lot of acclaim both inside and outside the state since it begun a run of four straight state titles that included a national championship. The last two years have not been state title seasons, but the national acclaim came from the coverage of one of the country’s elite recruits, and the pursuit of Frank Jackson is No. 2 in our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year.
#2 – The pursuit of Frank Jackson
After a successful freshman campaign, Lehi guard Frank Jackson and his family made a move that sent him to Lone Peak to continue his high school basketball career. To that point, Jackson was a strong player with a lot of promise, enough promise to earn and offer to play college basketball at Brigham Young University.
With three years of high school still to come, Jackson committed to the Cougars and head to Alpine to play for Quincy Lewis and with TJ Haws and the three-time defending state champion Knights, who were coming off a season that included the “mythical” MaxPreps national title. As it turns out, that was just the beginning.
That first year at Lone Peak, Jackson played a major role in consecutive state title No. 4. After Haws graduated, the Knights lost in a quarterfinal upset to Viewmont in the 2015 state tournament and they were eliminated in 2016 by Copper Hills. Along the way, the combination of some in-season and summer travel with Lone Peak and with his AAU team earned Jackson a ton of much-deserved attention.
Eventually, he pulled back his commitment to BYU and re-opened his recruiting. During the summer before his senior season at Lone Peak Jackson reached a level unheard of in Utah even during those dominant Lone Peak years. He saw his name move up and up the rankings of national recruits until he became a clear Top 15 player and even Top 10, depending on who you ask.
Highlight reels featuring Jackson dunks and huge scoring performances showed up from all over the country, and even from foreign venues he visited by invitation based on his elevated national presence. As he headed into his final season at Lone Peak, the 6-foot-3 guard announced his new collegiate choice – Duke. When Coach K comes calling, it’s impossible to turn away and Jackson will move on.
All of the attention to Jackson also shined a light on other top Utah high school ballers like Yoeli Childs, Brendan Bailey and Gavin Baxter, but Jackson was the headliner. Like previous Lone Peak teams, this one was invited to all kinds of high profile events and even brought ESPN to town to televise a game from the Lone Peak gym.
The Knights put on a show that February Friday night, knocking off St. Joseph from New Jersey as Jackson scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Back in December, Jackson went back and forth with future UConn Husky Alterique Gilbert as the Knights knocked off nationally-ranked Miller Grove (Georgia) at Orem’s FreeTaxUSA.com Shootout.
In January, Lone Peak traveled to the birthplace of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts to face another elite Georgia team, St. Francis. That contest went to two overtimes before the Knights fell, but Jackson dropped 49 with seven 3-pointers.
Eventually he was honored as Utah’s Mr. Basketball. Jackson averaged 28 points per game and scored more than 30 points eight times during his senior year. His season high was 52 and it came against his old friends, Lehi.
As Utah prep hoops continues to grow in national prominence, Jackson’s presence on the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium can only help, but people around here will not soon forget one of the special moments when they saw him play. Who knows, maybe they’ll be telling their kids and grandkids about it.
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