Payson’s star guard leads his team to the state tournament this year
By Spencer Durrant, Payson High Student Sports Writer
Clint Bateman, the quiet, unassuming young man that lives and works on Utah’s largest dairy farm is also one of nine seniors from Utah nominated for selection to the McDonald’s High School All-American team. Bateman is the fourth best assist man in the entire state of Utah, averaging 5.5 assists per game to go along with 18.8 points per game.
However, getting to this point hasn’t been an easy ride. Becoming a potential All-American takes hard work and dedication. Bateman credits his success to good coaches and great support from his parents since he first started playing basketball in the first grade.
Another thing Bateman credits to helping his game develop is growing up on a dairy farm.“It makes you tougher,” said Bateman.
Toughness is a big part of Bateman’s game; after all, he’s based his game off of one of the toughest point guards to ever play – Steve Nash.
“My whole passing game, the reason I wanted to play point guard is from watching Steve Nash play,” said Bateman.
The similarities between Nash and Bateman don’t end at the passing game, though. The job of a point guard is to act as a second coach on the court, to motivate players, to lead the team and to initiate plays, which Bateman does very well. But it takes time for a coach to trust a player to make the right play, to develop that coach-player chemistry.
Payson Lions Head Coach Dan Lunt has been coaching Bateman since the third grade, being involved in Bateman’s AAU teams. The player-coach chemistry is there, and it’s apparent when watching Payson play.
“I’ve always liked to play point guard, to have the ball in my hands and make decisions. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more freedom,” said Bateman. “Coach Lunt and I have a pretty good relationship.”
As the player-coach relationship has developed, so has Bateman’s love for the game.
“Clint developed a love for basketball, put a lot of time into it, and now it’s starting to pay off,” said Lunt.
This is certainly true, as Payson is the Region 12 champion this year. Bateman’s ultimate goal is attaining that ever-elusive state championship. Even if Payson can’t take state, though, this season has still been successful for the Lions.
“Winning region was one of the cooler things that’s happened this year,” said Bateman.
As a senior, Bateman knows this is his last chance to make a run for the state championship. It provides an extra incentive to play even harder for every minute of every game.
“I’ve always tried to play pretty hard,” said Bateman, “But there’s definitely a sense of urgency, a little bit of extra fire this year. I try and keep that in the back of my mind during games.”
After this season is over, Bateman hopes to further his basketball career at the collegiate level. It’s pretty hard to find a high school athlete that doesn’t want to continue on and keep competing, and Coach Lunt is optimistic about Bateman’s chances to play at the next level.
“I think the opportunity needs to be given. I don’t know at what level or where, but he’ll play somewhere.”
Bateman is the point guard coaches love. He’s quick, knows when to score and when to pass, and when to help encourage struggling teammates. He’s a good leader, and someone no one should be surprised to see playing college ball.