All-State Basketball 2A awards
Ten San Juan County student athletes were named to All-state teams for the 2021 winter sports season that recently came to a close.
The Deseret News released its annual list of the top Utah high school athletes over the past couple weeks based on coaches’ votes from a list of nominated players from each team.
The San Juan Record is proud to present each of the local honorees in this and coming issues of the paper with photos and comments from their coach or other significant individual in their lives.
In this issue we present the boys basketball All-State student athletes, with upcoming stories covering girls basketball, cheer, and wrestling state champions and runners-up.
2A Player of the Year – Cooper Black
San Juan Senior Guard – Led the Broncos to the 2A state title by averaging 12.6 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game, 1.7 steals per game, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Head Coach Travis Black: “Losing last year in the championship was very tough on Cooper. He hates to lose at anything competitive. But it drove him and his teammates to get better. Cooper put in the extra time during the offseason to become a more well-rounded player.
“From shooting 20,000+ extra shots, to watching film, playing games, attending camps, lifting weights, etc., he and his teammates really wanted a state championship this year and were willing to do whatever it took.
“Cooper is a student of the game and has a strong basketball IQ from years of watching, learning, and playing ball. As a 6'4" point guard, he often led the break on our “rip and go” style offense.
“Cooper's eyes are always up, he loves pushing with the pass, making the extra pass, finding a cutting teammate for a lay-up, or a kick-out to a teammate for an open three. He loves making a great pass for an assist to a teammate.
“Cooper was one of our most consistent players, especially in our last 16 games. During that stretch of games, he shot 61 percent from two, 40 percent from three, and 70 percent free throws, as well as pulling down 6.4 rebounds per game.
“With Cooper’s speed, once he gets a step on you toward the rim he is tough to stop. Defensively, his height, long arms, and jumping ability caused other teams’ best shooters to think twice. His overall length at the top of our zone and traps disrupted guard play and caused havoc against teams offensive schemes.
“Cooper was willing to do whatever it took to win. Sometimes that was scoring, sometimes it was making the right pass to the hot hand or getting rebounds, and other times it was playing great defense on the other team’s best shooter. I have loved making so many great memories with Cooper through basketball.”
2A First Team
Deseret News 2A All-Tournament Team – Ladd Ivins
San Juan Senior Guard – 14.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.9 spg
Head Coach Travis Black: “Ladd is just a freaking baller! Although some would consider him undersized, he plays BIG and always has. When I was coaching Ladd and these boys when they were younger I remember many teams would point and laugh at how small Ladd was when we were warming up.
“It only would take a few minutes of Ladd playing before he would shut them all up, draining threes in their face or darting through the defense and making acrobatic layups between two or more defenders.
“What Ladd lacks in size he completely made up for in heart. His will to win never faltered, he hardly ever got tired, and never wanted out of the game. The second I would take him out, he wanted back in.
“Ladd is a great shooter and wants to score. He had ten or more points in 22 of our 26 games this season. His teammates had complete confidence in him and his abilities, and they looked for and wanted him to shoot.
“Ladd can score in so many ways. He hit many big threes for us in crucial games this year, including making nine clutch three-pointers during the state tournament. Over the last four years, Ladd shot over 85 percent from the free throw line. As a coach, this is one of the most impressive stats Ladd has.
“Although many teams we faced this year focused more on keeping Ladd from scoring he still averaged almost 15 points a game. He is hard to stop. Ladd isn't always the fastest player on the floor, but he is usually the quickest.
“His quickness on defense along with his active hands caused other guards to panic, resulting in several steals and deflections each game. I wish every coach could have the opportunity to coach a player like Ladd.”
2A Second Team
Deseret News 2A All-Tournament Team – Jensen Grover
San Juan Senior Forward – 12.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.0 spg
Head Coach Travis Black: “If I were to pick one word to describe Jensen it would be “gamer.” It doesn't matter what it is, when it's time to play the game Jensen is ALL in. Jensen’s role has changed and developed over the last few years.
“As a sophomore his role was to come into a game for a few minutes and play hard-nose tough defense on whatever player was hurting us. He’d often times be outsized by 40 pounds and six inches, but he rarely gave an inch.
“And although he might pick up several fouls in a matter of seconds or minutes, he did his job, and one thing was for sure: whoever he was guarding would feel the effects of #55 the next morning.
“Jensen plays with high energy and high emotion. One of the things I am most proud of about Jensen is the work he did on himself the last couple of years to be able to keep his emotions in check and play through frustrations for the betterment of the team.
“Like his teammates, Jensen does whatever it takes to win. He is capable of going off and scoring 20 points, shooting 10-for-10 from the free throw line to keep us in a game, dishing out several assists, or leading the team with energy to get us going on the defensive end.
“Jensen was probably our most versatile player. We could play him against any player or position on the other team, and he could play any position we needed him to on our team. Jensen had a huge sense of in-game awareness, especially of what the other team was doing offensively, and what we needed to do to adjust defensively.
“One of my favorite things about Jensen is his ability to anticipate and take a “charge.” Many times it was a huge game-changer and momentum swing for us. He has led our team in this stat the last four years. Jensen has been one of my favorite players to coach and I’ve also learned so much from him.”
2A Third Team
Deseret News 2A All-Tournament MVP – Jayden Black
San Juan Senior Center – 8.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg
Head Coach Travis Black: “I have absolutely loved getting to know and coach Jayden these last three years. Jayden was the team’s gym rat. He spent more time in the gym the last year or two than most players will spend in their entire life. I wish all younger players would dedicate time to basketball like Jayden did.
“I felt he was our most improved shooter this year as well. Jayden’s season was up and down, as was expected, but he never quit or threw in the towel and I’m so proud of him for that. Jayden came on strong in the middle of our region games, and had some huge games for us.
“The three he hit at the top of the key in the fourth quarter of the state championship game sparked the run we needed. And when Jayden got fouled with less than two seconds left on the clock, we all knew we had won the game!
“We weren't going to take second again. He wasn't just going to make one and send the game to overtime. We all knew Jayden would do what he had done thousands of times before to prepare for that moment, what he had done so many times when it was just him and his dad all alone in a gym.
“At that moment we all felt peace… Jayden breathed like Taylor had taught him… Cooper whispered to him, ‘these two are for your dad,’ and then he calmly sunk them both. What a moment. What a memory – one we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
“If Webster’s ever needed a new definition for the word “resilience,” all they would have to do is write in Jayden Black’s name. I am so proud of Jayden and it has been a pleasure watching him grow up these last few years, and especially these last eight months.
“I know he will be successful at whatever he takes on in life, because he has endured one of the hardest punches life could throw at him.”
An additional note from Coach Travis Black: “It’s very hard for me as a coach to only talk about kids that other people or entities pick as “All-Staters” because I feel every player on our varsity team was very crucial to our success and deserves some type of recognition.
“After coaching this particular group of seniors for so long, it’s hard for me to talk about just one without talking about them all. Having eight seniors on the team this year was so much fun and such a huge part of why we were able to win state.
“Being able to have such a deep bench to look down and select from is every coach’s dream. As coaches we’ve loved having eight seniors, four juniors, and four sophomores on the varsity team battling it out every day in practice and making each other better.
“That is where our real strength came from. We could not have done what we did this year without all the boys committed to the goal of taking state and working every day to get themselves and one another better.
“We challenged them to be the best we would face, and they rose to that challenge each day in practice. They each had a role. For some that varied from game to game depending on our game plan and matchups.
“Other boys’ roles stayed the same throughout the year, but they all accepted their role without drama or complaints and performed their role to the best of their abilities. That is very difficult to do, and I'm very proud of each of them.
“Without Jace Palmer’s stellar defense on the other team’s best player and leading our team in rebounding we don’t win half our games. We needed Preston Imlay’s unselfish play, his clutch shooting, and his positive attitude and laughter to stay upbeat and focused after a tough loss.
“Bronsen Snyder’s size, strength, and toughness were needed to battle with other teams’ bigs and keep our starters out of foul trouble. Cadin McPherson’s tenacious defense and pesky attitude was not only needed during several games, but was mandatory every day in practice as he made Cooper, Ladd, or whomever he was guarding a better player.
“Our underclassmen were much the same, all willing to do whatever was needed whether at practice, coming off the bench, or leading the bench in the best cheers of the year. They were all needed, and I'm so glad those 16 boys got to be a part of a memorable two-year journey.”