Video: Jaxon Brenchley's highlights vs. Layton
Watch the 6-4 Ridgeline standout in action.
There aren't Utah boys basketball players grabbing the national limelight during the 2016-17 season the way current Duke freshman Frank Jackson did a year ago. Still, the Beehive State is not bereft of elite players who can make serious waves this season. Several high-profile NCAA Division 1 prospects will be displaying their talents on Utah basketball courts this winter.
Here's a look at the cream of the crop and what to expect from them this season: Emmanuel Akot, Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant)
No player in the state is being more heavily recruited by major programs than Akot. The 6-foot-7 guard is a five-star prospect who has narrowed his choices down to Arizona, Louisville, Oregon and Utah. Akot, a junior, averaged 10.7 points and 3.4 assists a year ago and played for Canada in the FIBA U17 World Championship in Spain this summer. Akot is second in scoring for the Tigers so far this season. He is averaging 13.5 points through eight games in helping Wasatch Academy to a 6-2 start.
Branden Carlson, Bingham (South Jordan)
Carlson is poised for a major breakout season as a senior. The 6-foot-10 center saw limited minutes behind Yoeli Childs a year ago, averaging just 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds. Now with Childs at BYU, it is Carlson's turn to show what he can do with his size and length. So far, he has been showing that the hype has substance to it. Through his first three games for Bingham (2-1) in 2016-17, Carlson has averaged 17.3 points per contest. He committed to play for Utah in October over UCLA, Stanford and BYU. Carlson plans to serve a two-year Mormon mission before joining the Utes in 2019.
Trevin Knell, Woods Cross
Knell established himself as one of the most dangerous scorers and outside shooters in the state last season. The 6-foot-5 guard lit up the scoreboard early and often as a junior, averaging 21.3 points per game and making 3.6 3-pointers per contest. His offensive talents drew interest from several schools and Knell, a three-star guard, committed to California heading into his senior season. Knell will play for the Bears in 2019 after serving a two-year Mormon mission. This year, Knell has taken his dominance to an even higher level. He is averaging 33.0 points per game after leading Woods Cross (2-0) to wins over Northridge and Viewmont. Knell made a total of 12 3-pointers in the two contests. Jaxon Brenchley, Ridgeline (Millville)
Brenchley is doing a little bit of everything in his only season at first-year program Ridgeline. He is averaging 20.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals in his first four games, helping the Riverhawks race off to a 3-1 start. The 6-foot-4 guard transferred to the Riverhawks from Mountain Crest. As a junior for the Mustangs, Brenchley also showed he was an all-around threat with averages of 18.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Brenchley committed to play for Utah in 2019 after serving a two-year Mormon mission.
Rylan Jones, Olympus (Salt Lake City)
Jones is a key reason why Olympus (2-0) is favored to repeat as Class 4A state champions. The 6-foot-0 guard is an electric playmaker who transferred into the school after his father was hired as the Director of Basketball Operations at Utah. Jones averaged 19.4 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 steals during his lone season at Logan. He broke the school's single-season scoring record after scoring 504 total points a year ago. Jones, a sophomore, is averaging 16.0 points, 7.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 steals through his first two games at Olympus. He has offers from Utah, BYU and Utah State.John Coon covers Utah high school sports for MaxPreps. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @johncoonsports