Junior Mitch Grant is on a mission to leave a legacy for the East boys basketball team and has pulled out all of the stops to make an impact.
"I don't want to be mediocre or average," Grant said. "I want to be great."
It's been 32 years since East hung a state championship banner in Mickey Oswald Gymnasium. There is a slew of regional titles, but those are just a reminder that Grant and the Leopards need to work harder every practice and every game.
To be the best, the 6-foot-3 Grant has found the courage to push himself harder than he could dream and give everything he has to his teammates.
"We worked so hard in the offseason to be ready for this year," Grant said. "I never want to walk off the court wishing we could have that one back."
Preston Curtis, John Fakahafua, Connor Pardoe and University of Utah commit Parker Van Dyke round out a Leopards starting lineup that is committed to working harder than its opponents. Grant said that his team's strength is its ability to make adjustments and never back down from a challenge.
"We expect contributions from different guys every night," he said. "This is a solid group of guys who work their tail off."
Grant was awarded a captainship because his on- and off-court leadership gives the Leopards the charge they need in a tough regional schedule. According to coach Skip Lowe, Grant's aggressive play and knack for bringing in rebounds are the junior's biggest strengths.
"He's never shy or afraid of a situation," Lowe said. "He's fearless under the basket and never holds back when he is on the court."
Grant is second in scoring behind Van Dyke with 156 points this season. It is his 63 rebounds that make the biggest impact for East.
"My dad said I got a knack for getting the ball," Grant said. "With my timing, I like to get up there and grab the big boards."
Lowe believes Grant has a bright basketball future at East. He'll be leading the squad next year, but in the meantime, he is an important role player who does whatever is needed.
"He's the kind of kid that coaches love to have on the court," Lowe said. "He's tough, unselfish and a really good kid. Teams better look out for him."
Eyes on the hoop
Mitch Grant's last-minute steal and layup in the overtime victory over Murray was the difference in East's 69-61 victory.
Grant focuses exclusively on basketball. He used to play baseball and football.