Berk's Beat: Freshman already on UA's radar

2012-12-07T00:00:00Z Berk's Beat: Freshman already on UA's radarDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Mitch Lightfoot is 6 feet 7 inches. He's also 15 years old. It's always been this way.

"I was taller than my kindergarten teacher," the Ironwood Ridge freshman said seriously. "I always just remember being the tallest one in the room."

But, Lightfoot isn't just one of the tallest people in the room anymore - he's one of Southern Arizona's most promising basketball players.

"He really is a tremendous talent," Ironwood Ridge coach Brian Peabody said. "I've been a varsity coach for 20 years, and I've had two other freshmen on varsity. Neither contributed much.

"Mitch is our leading scorer and rebounder."

Through 10 games, Lightfoot is averaging 11.7 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game and 3.5 blocks per contest.

The Nighthawks are 4-6 but will be in good hands with Lightfoot on the team the next four years.

"He's a freshman now, but we need him to be a sophomore by Christmas," Peabody said. "Then, we need him to be a junior by league play and a senior by the time the year is up."

Lightfoot is up for the challenge.

Ask him what his favorite part of basketball is, and this is what you get.

"I love that it is completely up to me how good I get," said Lightfoot, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Flowing Wells on Thursday. "I work at it 365 days a year. There's never a day I'm not on the court.

"It's fun to improve in something. It's part of life."

So, he didn't account for leap years, but you get the point - Lightfoot likes to work.

He first started playing basketball when he was 6. Everybody in his family plays.

His mom played basketball and volleyball at Rockhurst University in Missouri. His dad played and his two little brothers play.

"He comes from a great family, and it's not your typical AAU family," Peabody said.

"It's not just about playing games to them. It's about putting in the work on the court to get better."

Peabody coaches Lightfoot all year, serving as his AAU coach as well.

The veteran coach said he's already hearing from major colleges about Lightfoot.

Some of the schools that have expressed interest in Peabody are Arizona, Texas, Oregon State and NAU.

Just a freshman, Lightfoot said he has no idea where he wants to go to college, but he likes knowing schools are interested.

"It's like they're throwing me a bone - a little treat," Lightfoot said.

"It's some recognition for working hard, but I also know there's still such a long way to go."

But, Lightfoot definitely pictures himself playing high-level college basketball when it's time.

"I'd give anything to play big-time college basketball," Lightfoot said. "It's all I want to do."

He's on his way.

Peña attracts Ivy League schools

Lost in the craziness of the final couple weeks of the high school football season was the end of a brilliant career.

Salpointe Catholic running back Johnny Peña, a four-year varsity player, finished his career with 4,681 rushing yards and 61 rushing scores.

He finished his senior season with 1,526 yards on the ground and 25 TDs.

Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said Peña's recruitment has heated up recently with Yale, Brown and Princeton all showing heavy interest.

Bene said Peña will take visits in January.

The coach said he's hoping to have five to eight seniors sign to play football in college.

Cienega diver signs with BYU

Cienega's Megan Johnson has signed a national letter of intent to dive for BYU.

Johnson, a first-team All-Southern Arizona pick by the Arizona Daily Star, finished second this year at the Division I state meet in diving.

She dives year-round for the Tucson Diving Team, which practices at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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