With its national reputation growing with each statement win, the Lone Peak boys' basketball team is being recognized as a national powerhouse.
Just ask the folks at MaxPreps.com, who have ranked the Knights (6-0) No. 2 in the country in their weekly national rankings. The only team in the country ahead of Lone Peak in the MaxPreps.com Top 25? Jabari Parker's Simeon Career Academy out of Chicago, Ill.
The Knights have already played some of the top teams in the nation through six games, including decimating previously-ranked No. 13 Proviso East (Ill.) 84-46 in Chicago on Dec. 1. Most recently, Lone Peak went 3-0 at the Great Western Shootout this weekend, handily defeating Foothill (Nev.), Denver-East (Colo.) and the 4A Orem Tigers.
Lone Peak's 73-54 win over Denver-East, the No. 1-ranked Class 5A team in Colorado, was the second time the Knights defeated the Angels in two years at the Great Western Shootout.
Senior guard Nick Emery had a stellar outing in the Great Western Shootout in Orem, averaging 21 points in the three Lone Peak victories, including a game-high 25 points in a 22-point victory over Orem Saturday night.
This week, Lone Peak is scheduled to be at Viewmont Wednesday at 7 p.m. After that, the Knights are set to head East once again next week to participate in the 40th anniversary of the State Farm City of Palms Classic in Fort Meyers, Fla. Once there, Lone Peak is scheduled to face Callaway out of Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday, Dec. 19. According to the City of Palms Classic website, Callaway won Mississippi's Class 5A title a year ago behind 6-foot-7 senior TreShawn Bolden and highly-ranked 6-foot-4 sophomore Malik Newman, whose 22.9 points per game a year ago broke a state record set by Monta Ellis of the Milwaukee Bucks for most points per game averaged by a freshman.
In their six victories so far this season, the Knights are averaging over 73 points per game and have an average margin of victory of nearly 30 points per outing. All of Lone Peak's stars, Emery, center Eric Mika and guard TJ Haws all BYU commits will have to be on top of their game if they want to advance far in the prestigious City of Palms Classic and handle the versatility of Bolden and Newman in the opening round game. Lone Peak senior forward Talon Shumway has established himself as a lockdown defender as he held BYU commit and Orem forward Dalton Nixon to just two points and will be key to how far the Knights can advance.
Orem coach Golden Holt, who has coached many of Lone Peak's top players in the club realm, said Shumway's energy and effort does not go unseen and that it's players like him that make the Knights such a well-rounded team.
"I told Talon Shumway after the game, 'If I could choose one (player), I'd choose you,'" Holt said after Lone Peak beat his Tigers 56-34 Saturday night. "When he played for me, I could point to (a) wall and he'd run through it."
The City of Palms tournament is a 16-team championship-style bracket and the Knights will learn who they play throughout the remainder of the tournament depending on wins and losses.
Some notable national teams set to participate in the City of Palms Classic are: Chester (Pa.), which features Arizona commit Rondae Jefferson and owns a 58-game win streak; Long Beach Poly (Calif.), led by USC commit Roschon Prince and Oregon commit Jordan Bell; Montverde Academy (Fla.), a team that has Florida commit Kasey Hill and West Virginia commit Devin Williams; Omaha Central (Neb.), a team aiming for a fifth-straight Class A title behind 6-foot-9 Louisville commit Akoy Agau.
Lone Peak is still scheduled to travel back to Wisconsin and Massachusetts for tournaments before the season ends. The Knights are scheduled to open region play in a home game against Riverton on Wednesday, Jan. 9.