By Giancarlo Diotaiuti
Photos by Kevin McInnis
If you were to walk down the hallways of Bingham High School, it wouldn’t be too hard for you to pick out Branden Carlson, a senior standing at six feet, eleven inches tall. But Carlson’s individuality comes from a lot more than his height.
He contributes a lot to his family, his community and his school, especially being a key team member of the school’s basketball team. From a young age, Carlson loved the game of basketball. He began to play at the age of six after his father signed him up to play.
From then on, Carlson said he just “grew to love the sport.” His father, Bryan Carlson, has been Branden’s most influential mentor in his basketball career. Carlson stated that there were times when he didn’t want to press on, where he didn’t want to focus on basketball and instead just wanted to hang out with his friends.
His father would just ask him what time he was going to the gym and that would change his whole attitude. Carlson’s father played basketball at California State University, Chico, a Division II school in Northern California.
“Without him, I would not be where I am today,” Carlson said.
During his junior year of high school, Carlson had the opportunity to play for the Miners as they ran an incredible season all the way through the championship. Although he said he didn’t necessarily play a lot of minutes for the varsity team last year, Carlson described the experience as “amazing.” Simply knowing that he was a part of the best team in Utah was enough for him.
“Knowing that I helped contribute to that win a bit was amazing,” Carlson said. “I knew that I wanted to feel the same way the next year at the state tournament, ending my high school career on a win.”
Carlson was an important member of the Bingham boys basketball team this year, averaging just over 14 points and eight rebounds per game during the regular season. He was a beast in the paint, easily outreaching his opponents for rebounds and dunking over defenders left and right. Additionally, he can nailed outside jump shots, hitting a quite respectable 36 percent of his shots from beyond the three-point arc.
But of course, the real prize didn’t come until the postseason. The Miners began their title defense against Northridge High School, where Carlson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
In the next three games, he scored 18, five, and seven points, but his play went farther than points or rebounds. Carlson played great defense, even defending a player from Pleasant Grove High School during the semifinal game who stood 7 feet, 3 inches tall.
Carlson played well through the tournament, and eventually his dream of going out of his high school career came true. Bingham beat Lone Peak by a score of 49-42 in the championship game.
As chants of “Back-to-Back” rang out in the Dee Events Center at Weber State University (where the championship game was played) Carlson got up and, following tradition, cut the net, taking with him his piece of the glory. His high school career was capped off exactly the way he wanted it to be.
Carlson’s basketball career will continue after he leaves the halls of Bingham High. Before he started his senior season, he signed to play basketball at the next level, committing to play for the University of Utah after he concludes high school.
This decision, though, was not necessarily an easy one. Carlson recalls having to decide between the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Stanford University and UCLA. His parents and coaches all had different ideas on where he should go, and that made his decision harder.
Ultimately, they all told him he should go where he was most comfortable.
“I thought about it for a long time, and I tried to picture myself playing for each of the coaches and calling home for the next few years,” Carlson said. “No matter how hard I tried to picture myself at these other colleges, Utah just kept popping back into my head. That’s when I knew that was the place for me.”
And so, Carlson will call the University of Utah home after he graduates, playing what will likely be some impressive basketball for them.
Branden Carlson is definitely what you could call a standout — in more ways than one. His physical build sets him apart on the basketball court, but his hard work, determination and ingrained respect will always set him apart in life.
Bingham High senior Giancarlo Diotaiuti wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year. Diotaiuti serves on The Prospector staff as a writer and a photographer. He also serves as the president of the class of 2017. Giancarlo also runs a personal blog (genuinely-giancarlo.blogspot.com), where he often posts updates about things he’s thinking about or major events in his life. He enjoys watching films, spending time with friends and playing sports (specifically soccer). He loves attending school events, and is typically found on the front row of any Bingham game. Additionally, Giancarlo loves photography and taking pictures. In his words, he enjoys “capturing life’s small but beautiful moments.” After high school, Giancarlo plans on attending college and getting a job where he can spend as much time with his family as possible. His biggest aspiration in life is simply to be happy and to make other people happy as well.