Highland’s defense was ready for Parker Van Dyke to shoot the ball. With the Rams up two, with time running out and the East junior guard driving the length of the floor, it made perfect sense.
But the Class 4A MVP could see what was happening, too, in that game on Jan. 27. He passed and a teammate made the basket that sent the game to overtime in what was ultimately the defining win of the Leopards’ season.
“He’s a lot more well-rounded than people think,” Highland coach Keith West said. “He’s more than offensive player, he can pass that thing.”
As a junior, Van Dyke grew into a star that has drawn a number of college coaches to Salt Lake City and led East beyond the first round of the 4A state tournament for the first time since 2002.
“It took a whole team effort to try to slow him down,” West said. “He was that good.”
Van Dyke has offers to play at Utah, Utah State and Arizona State, and Stanford is recruiting him as well. He led Class 4A in scoring at 24.7 points per game.
But this year marked the transition from being only a scorer.
Van Dyke said his greatest improvement this year was in his ability to “just getting the ball up top and take my guy off the dribble and either get my own shot or get my other teammates open.”
East bowed out in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, something Van Dyke hopes to rectify in his last year at the school. The exit from the playoffs was not due to a lack of effort from Van Dyke, however: He scored 30 points in an opening-round win over Springville and 23 points in the elimination game against Olympus.
“I can’t think of anybody that’s been better that we’ve played against,” West said.