A lot of folks in Utah have high expectations for Lone Peak basketball for this upcoming season. Apparently, thanks much in part to a strong AAU circuit and a number of top prospects, that optimism has rippled out into national circles.
Maxpreps.com has started the Utah County powerhouse and two-time defending 5A champ at No. 6 in the nation in its preseason rankings. Citing BYU commits Nick Emery, Eric Mika and T.J. Haws, the high school sports website gives Lone Peak a lot of respect by putting it in the top 10.
Coach Quincy Lewis sees the ranking as a pat on the back to basketball in the state.
"It's about time Utah schools showed up in this," he said. "I think we have good basketball in this state."
But the ranking might have much more to do with how the year looks for Lone Peak, arguably the most consistent program in the state in the last decade.
It's certainly not a secret that the Knights could be in for a special year: With both Emery and Mika in ESPN's top 100 2013 prospects, the talent may be as good as it has ever been in the program. The team went 22-3 with Mika sitting out last year after transferring from Waterford, dominating Brighton in the state title game.
The club plays as together as the Utah Reign on the AAU circuit, and early returns on the group were very strong. It helps that the team has an excellent track record.
"A lot probably has to do with what we've accomplished over the last nine years," Lewis said. "We've obviously come a long way. ... Eric is a legitimate low post player. As a perimeter oriented team, you're going to struggle sometimes when you miss some shots. But Eric will help us be tougher inside."
Lone Peak aims to maintain and even build its national reputation with an intensely ambitious schedule. The Knights will make stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, Wisc.; Fort Myers, Fla.; and Springville, Mass. in its preseason match-ups, in which it will likely cross paths with other major contenders.
"Our goal is always to develop our players, not necessarily gain exposure or national rankings," Lewis said. "But if those things happen come with traveling and playing the best teams, then that's how it is. But that's not what we're trying to do."