Cooper Lewis remembers Friday night, Jan. 12, as the evening he spent in the “Twilight Zone.” Lehi hosted American Fork in its packed gymnasium and no matter what the Cavemen tried to do, Lewis could not be stopped.
The senior guard hit on a menagerie of 3-point shots, midrange jumpers and layups that brought gasps out of the crowd, both from those cheering for him and against him.
“Athletically, this is the best time of my life. It was nice playing and coaching all those years, but there is nothing like family, mixed with hard work and a good knowledge of what you are doing, and carrying it down to a third generation, it’s just three times better.” — Tim Lewis
“Occasionally, you just get hot and sometimes you get lucky with a couple of shots,” Lewis said. “My teammates were putting me in a great position to put the ball in the basket.”
The only one missing the show was his head coach — and father, Quincy Lewis — despite having the best seat in the house.
“I’m so into the game that I have no idea how many points he scored,” Quincy said. “I’m just trying to win the game.”
Following the 71-61 Lehi victory, an assistant coach spoke up.
“Do you know how many Coop got?” the assistant asked.
“I don’t know, 35?” replied Quincy, who was still in coach mode and prioritizing his talking points for the locker room speech.
“Nope, he scored 47!” the assistant said.
Quincy looked up and for a moment he pushed the pause button.
“I had to stop for a second and think, ‘Wow, I don’t care if he is my son or someone else’s, that’s a special, special night,’” Quincy said. “This is where my dad comes in. He often reminds me to appreciate what Cooper is doing.”
Back at home and after his wife Debbie’s traditional late night, postgame meal, Quincy gave Cooper a fist bump and sent him to bed with, “Nice game. You hit a lot of shots tonight!”
He has hit a lot of shots since.
Cooper followed up his 47 points against American Fork with 37 at Westlake, 26 at Skyridge, 25 against Lone Peak and 22 last Friday against Pleasant Grove.
“My job is to bring the ball up the floor, occasionally take some tough shots and put the ball in the basket,” Cooper said. “It’s pretty fun.”
Fun for Cooper, a nightmare for the opposition.
“We have seen every kind of defense there is,” Quincy said. “We have seen triangle-two, we’ve seen a box-and-one; as soon as he comes across half court, teams have tried to get the ball out of his hands, and we’ve seen people try to play him straight.”
The once 5-foot-7, 125-pound freshman has evolved his game along with his body. He now stands a solid 6-foot-2 and leads the state with 456 points. His 3-point shot tally is already at 73, up from 48 all last season.
“We made some adjustments with his shot that allows him to get it off. It’s at a higher release right now than it was when he was a sophomore and junior,” Quincy said. “That’s helped him against defenses who want to play him tight, but he also has really good players around him and that makes a big difference.”
Quincy and Cooper are living out a Hollywood script, but it’s a movie Quincy has seen before — with his own father.
Tim Lewis, father of Lehi High coach Quincy Lewis, and grandfather of Lehi guard Cooper Lewis, looks on from the sideline during Timpview High game during his coaching days.
When Tim Lewis left Jim Spencer’s basketball staff at Provo High in 1977 to start a team at the brand-new Timpview High, he set in motion a pattern of success that is still winning today.
Tim had a favorite player — his son Quincy, who helped nurture a 35-game winning streak and deliver a pair of state championships for the T-Birds in 1988 and 1989.
“There is nothing in the world better than coaching your son,” Tim said. “We spent a lot of time together.”
Before Quincy’s playing years and while attending Edgemont Elementary, he routinely skipped the bus ride home, walked across the street to Timpview and watched his dad do his thing.
“He was at practice every day. He was on the bus with us to away games. He was in all the pregame and halftime talks,” Tim said. “He learned from the players that I coached and became the composite of their good habits and sportsmanship.”
When his time arrived, Quincy was ready, and his Timpview teams, under Tim’s tutelage, went 47-3.
“I was really lucky to play for him,” Quincy said of his father. “He was a really positive coach. He built the Timpview program from the ground up and I gotta see it from Day 1.”
Years later, as Quincy took up coaching, he knew just how to do it. During his remarkable 12-year run at Lone Peak, the Knights won seven state championships and the 2012-13 MaxPreps national title. Lewis was honored that same year as the Naismith National Coach of the Year.
Through it all, and still today, the father-and-son bond remains.
“Every college game I played, every high school and college game I coached, when I get in my car, the first call is to my dad,” Quincy said. “I talk to him after every game.”
After a four-year run as an assistant coach for Dave Rose at BYU, Quincy took on the challenge of revitalizing basketball at Lehi. In his first season, with sons Kodiak (team manager) and Cooper sitting at the end of the bench, and Tim on the phone after each game, the Pioneers won their first state title in 23 years.
Son, like father
Just like his father, young Cooper skipped the after-school bus rides home and walked across the street from Elk Ridge Elementary to join Quincy at practice.
“I grew up in the Lone Peak gym,” Cooper said. “It was like my second home.”
Cooper watched his dad develop a slew of talented players, including Tyler Haws, TJ Haws, Eric Mika, Jackson Emery, Nick Emery, Justin Hamilton and Frank Jackson. He also saw a lot of wins. Quincy’s teams went 240-45 at Lone Peak.
When Quincy took the BYU job, Cooper was right there with him. As soon as his long day at Rock Canyon Elementary ended, Cooper bolted to the Marriott Center, where he watched practice, ate with the team and stayed late shooting baskets alone with his dad in the cavernous arena.
It wasn’t until Quincy’s move to Lehi that Cooper became old enough to join his roster, and it brought an additional challenge, much more significant than the daily commute from their Provo home.
“As far as coaching goes, it’s been some of the hardest times. There is just more emotion involved with it, but it’s also the best,” Quincy said. “I drive to and from school with Cooper and I get to see him every day in practice doing something that I love and that he loves, and we share it.”
Tim has watched the father-son process from the very beginning.
“They are both thinking the same thing. They know each other well enough. It’s like two seasoned missionary companions — before one says it, the other one is doing it,” Tim said. “Cooper is a coach on the floor and Quincy knows that.”
It’s no secret in the gym that Cooper is the coach’s kid, but it helps him to know that his dad was a coach’s kid who also brought the ball up the floor and was called to make some difficult shots.
“He definitely knows what it feels like to be in my shoes,” Cooper said. “So, I feel like he understands where I’m at. He won’t hesitate to get after me, but that’s part of the coach-player relationship that I appreciate.”
Chasing another title
At 15-3 and 4-1 in Region 3, Lehi is preparing for a run at a second state championship since Quincy took the job. If the Pioneers can pull it off, it will be the 11th title for the Lewis family and the first with Cooper on the floor.
“Grandpa Lewis was a fantastic coach. My dad won playing for my grandpa,” Cooper said. “There is pressure to continue the trilogy and win one when your dad is the coach.”
Lehi travels to American Fork (11-7, 4-1) this Friday in a first-place rematch. After giving up 47 to Cooper on Jan. 12, there is no doubt the Cavemen will attempt a different approach.
“If he scores 35 points or 12, it doesn’t matter to him. He wants to win. He’s been around a few state championship teams as a kid. He knows that is what he wants,” Quincy said. “At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
Lehi’s Cooper Lewis celebrates after scoring against American Fork at Lehi High on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Lewis ended up dropping 47 on the Cavemen.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Despite his senior surge, Cooper and his 25.3 points-per-game average is drawing little attention from the in-state schools. He’s currently committed to former Utah Valley head coach and BYU assistant Jeff Reinert at the College of Southern Idaho with a church mission in the plans at some point.
Quincy is well-versed in the recruiting game. He went after kids as a college assistant, and he hosted the biggest coaching names in the game during his dozen years at Lone Peak. He is a proud father of a late bloomer — and a realist.
“Coop’s development reminds me of Jackson Emery,” Quincy said. “Jackson was an all-state kid as a junior like Cooper was, but he didn’t have the name that resonated with a lot of people yet because he was still growing into his body. He was still getting bigger and stronger and developing his game. Jackson just kept getting better and better. That’s where Cooper has been.”
Emery eventually signed with BYU and teamed up with Jimmer Fredette to lead the Cougars to the Sweet 16 in 2012.
Justin Hamilton was another late bloomer at Lone Peak who played at Iowa State and LSU before being selected in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft by Philadelphia.
“It’s important not to close the door on kids too early. You might have someone like Cooper, Jackson or Justin who are really skilled guys, but they just need to grow a little bit and get some experience,” Quincy said. “Some kids grow early. There are a lot of good basketball players across the state. I think one of the hard things about being a recruiter is you really have to keep your eyes open as a kid develops over four years.”
Tim Lewis is 78 years old — old enough to appreciate something special when he sees it. The championship hardware in his family may be unprecedented in Utah, but the memories will always trump the trophies.
“Athletically, this is the best time of my life,” Tim said. “It was nice playing and coaching all those years, but there is nothing like family, mixed with hard work and a good knowledge of what you are doing, and carrying it down to a third generation, it’s just three times better.”
For Tim Lewis (78) to Quincy Lewis (52) to Cooper Lewis (18), basketball is a tie that binds, but family is the glue that holds it all together.
“There are times after a game when I sit back and think, ‘I’m really lucky that I get to play for my dad,’” Cooper said. “I just want to soak it all in with my teammates.”
Return to Lone Peak
Another memory maker is ahead for the Lewis trio when Lehi plays at Lone Peak on Feb. 13. It will be a full-circle moment. Quincy won 240 games with the Knights, but he has never coached against them in their home gym.
It will be a first for Cooper too. The school he described as his second home as a young boy will be trying its best to beat him, his team and his father. Last week at Lehi, Cooper scored 25 points to carry the Pioneers past Lone Peak 60-53.
No matter the outcome, Quincy’s emotional night in an arena decorated by his championship banners will end like all the others. He will talk to his dad on the drive home, enjoy Debbie’s cooking and fist-bump Cooper before the third generation goes off to bed to dream about playing another day.
Father, like son. Son, like father.
Lehi head coach Quincy Lewis looks on as his son, Cooper Lewis, makes a play during a game against Pleasant Grove at Lehi High School in Lehi on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Lehi won 77-61.
Marielle Scott, Deseret News