SALT LAKE CITY — Collin Chandler didn’t waste any time settling into Farmington High’s boys basketball state quarterfinal against Provo on Tuesday.
Chandler, the Phoenix’s 6-foot-3 sophomore point guard with bouncy hair, drove to the rim and scored the first time Farmington had the ball on offense.
He’s an attack-minded guard, so it makes sense he’d go straight for the basket.
Attacking the basket and not wasting any time might be a couple themes for Chandler’s breakout sophomore campaign so far.
Farmington’s head coach Kasey Walkenhurst talked about an “exciting” sophomore in the program in November 2019 who he thought was the team’s most explosive playmaker and best scoring threat in practice.
It took one game for Chandler to put everyone on notice with a 36-point game on 12-of-17 shooting in the season opener against East, an 84-64 win.
“I think that just kind of boosted my confidence and proved to my coach and team that I can play a part. I feel like they’d known my potential,” Chandler said.
Walkenhurst had a slightly different reaction to the opening-game foray.
“We knew he was going to be good but as a sophomore, I mean, his first game he scores 36 points as a sophomore and we just kind of — he had all of us going ‘holy crap, this kid has got something special,’” Walkenhurst said.
Against the Bulldogs on Tuesday at the University of Utah, Chandler went 4 of 4 from the field with nine points in just eight first-half minutes. He can hit 3-pointers if he wants to, but that’s not his forte.
“When it was like my eighth grade to ninth grade year, I grew a ton and that’s when I was like, ‘OK, I don’t have to rely on my outside shot because I’m not little anymore,’” Chandler said.
Chandler’s first shot of the second half against Provo got blocked, so he responded with an open 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Even with so many seniors, cerebral leaders and a do-everything glue guy Farmington could rely on, Walkenhurst wanted Chandler to have the ball for the last shot of the third quarter.
Chandler drove the basket and scored a right-handed floater from the left side with two seconds left to give Farmington a boost heading to the final frame.
“He can create his own shot whenever he wants, he gets to the basket really well with his length. That’s kind of a little bit of a weakness with our team, being able to create for himself and that has been such a pleasant surprise,” Walkenhurst said.
Obviously Chandler wasn’t a complete surprise to his Farmington teammates, who watched him practice before the season and knew what other teams were going to be in for.
But for the most part, Chandler started as a surprise.
“No one had expectations for me, so I guess I still had to prove myself. Well, I obviously know that I can play at a high level and play with these guys, but I had to go prove it,” he said.
Chandler says he played maybe a dozen JV games his freshman year, but sat out most of the year with a knee injury.
The ailment, which he says he still doesn’t know everything about, kept him out several months.
“It started back not this summer, but the last summer. I hurt my foot and then I came back that next day after hurting it and went to kick a soccer ball, then my knee happened. I got cleared to play before my freshman season, then just one day my knee swelled up and they still don’t know what happened,” Chandler said.
Chandler scored 20 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter Tuesday as Farmington beat Provo 78-76 in overtime to advance to its first boys basketball state semifinal in school history.
It certainly put an air of confusion into the final minutes of the game, but Farmington advanced to the semis because Chandler’s not the only good player on the team.
The Phoenix got 22 points from McKay Thomsen and 13 more from Truman Hendry in the quarterfinal win. Chandler just gives Farmington an extra edge.
“I feel like our team doesn’t really look at me as a sophomore. I’m just a senior for the next two years after this, I think they kind of rely on me to get them going and they chip in, if I’m having an off night they step up huge,” Chandler said.