Apparently, Fremont High’s basketball teams picked up a new fan on Saturday at the state championship games.
You might have heard of him before.
Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell was on hand for the 6A boys basketball state title game at the University of Utah and saw Fremont defeat Davis 55-52.
The television cameras caught his reaction to a couple of big baskets by Dallin Hall: a fastbreak 3-pointer and a one-handed slam dunk as Hall led the Silverwolves with 16 points.
After the game, Mitchell was apparently so impressed that he sought out Hall in the stands.
In a video posted to Twitter by Nicole Hall, Dallin’s mother, Mitchell told the senior guard he liked how he played, asked Hall about recruiting and the two chatted for about 30 seconds while Hall was holding the state championship trophy.
Asked later what he said to Mitchell, Hall said he had a hard time figuring out what to say.
Hall did say later that when he threw down the dunk, made possible by a steal and pass by Talmage Mitchell, it was then that he saw Mitchell sitting at the game behind the scorer’s table.
Mitchell’s apparent Fremont fandom didn’t end there. During the 6A girls title game, sophomore forward Timea Gardiner scored 17 points in the first half with a flurry of 3-pointers.
The comment was first met with brief silence, then a realization. Hall celebrated and his teammates doused him with water.
Fremont High’s administrators came prepared. They heard Mitchell was going to be at the game, so they brought an extra white Fremont High sweatshirt and gave it to Mitchell.
Mitchell wore the sweatshirt on the Jazz team flight, according to a picture posted on Instagram by teammate Royce O’Neale.
STATE TOURNAMENT NOTES
So many things happened Saturday that I flat-out didn’t have enough room to include them all in the state championship stories. Here’s some emptying-the-notebook nuggets.
After the locker room celebration, Fremont’s boys basketball coaching staff walked outside into the hallway and each opened up an energy drink and shared a toast.
Back in December, Fremont boys hoops head coach Corey Melaney was speaking to reporters outside the gymnasium when he was asked what it takes for a team to win a state tournament.
Melaney lowered his voice and said something that ended up being a little prophetic.
“You win with — you go deep in the state playoffs with seniors and with Division-I players. We’ve got some seniors, we’ve got a Division-I player and then we got a couple very nice next level guys as well,” he said.
Hall is the obvious Division-I player with offers from BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State among several others in a weird recruiting process. Guards Baylor Harrop and Tige Voorhees also have basketball offers from junior colleges.
So, yeah, Melaney was spot-on.
A THEME WITH STATE CHAMPIONS
It’s not hard to see that there’s a theme with state-title winning teams.
Last year’s 6A champion American Fork had two D-I signees — Isaac Johnson (Oregon) and Trey Stewart (BYU) — as well as two eventual junior college players.
The Lone Peak team that won in 2018 had a guard, Steven Ashworth, who’s signed to Utah State once he comes back from a church mission. Bingham, the 2017 5A champs, had center Branden Carlson, who’s now at Utah.
The Bingham team before that? Oh, the Miners had this guy named Yoeli Childs, that’s all.
The 2015 5A champions Layton?
All the Lancers had on that team was Julian Blackmon (he could’ve played D-I basketball but instead is probably going to get picked in the upcoming NFL Draft), Jarriesse Blackmon (who played at UC Santa Barbara) and Jakoby Kemp (he’s at Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis).
Who has the D-I caliber players and seniors coming back next year? Right now, it’s Layton.
ENJOY THIS FREMONT GIRLS TEAM WHILE
For the past three years, the Fremont High girls basketball team has gone 23-2, 21-2 and 24-3 overall.
Combined, that’s 68 wins, 7 losses and a winning percentage of .906 with three region championships, a state title in 2018 and a state runner-up finish this season.
Enjoy the Silverwolves while they’re still this good.
Four of their five starters figure to be back next season: junior Halle Duft, junior Emma Calvert, junior Averee Porter and sophomore Timea Gardiner.
Calvert has been committed to BYU since before the season started. By the time Gardiner picks where she wants to play college basketball, she’ll basically have her choice of any school in the country.
Figure if 6-foot-5 Maggie Mendelson plugs in as the fifth starter next year (she was crucial off the bench as a freshman this season) and there will be no team in the state with as much height as Fremont, no one with as much talent and hardly anyone with as much returning experience.
There wasn’t a dry eye coming out of the locker room after Fremont lost to Bingham in the state title game Saturday.
Magnifying the heartbreak is the fact that a) the Silverwolves were arguably the best team in the state the entire season b) Fremont led Bingham for most of the game and c) they dealt with a serious injury to a starter for really the first time all year.
It’s a safe bet there will hardly be any other team in 6A that will be as motivated as the Silverwolves to win a championship.