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Girls' basketball: Layton's Hailey Bassett is The Salt Lake Tribune's 2016 Player of the Year

Published March 30, 2016 9:52 am

Senior post player Hailey Bassett was the dominant force in the Layton Lancers' undefeated run to the Class 5A state title.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Layton • Call Layton's Hailey Bassett "The Natural."

The reason the 6-foot-2 Lancer senior is The Salt Lake Tribune's 2016 girls' Player of the Year is that she seems like a natural when playing any position on the floor.

"Since she was little, she has been naturally athletic, especially playing basketball," said Bassett's mother, Teresa, adding that "she was not trained by anybody. She's always been really natural."

As a lover of the outdoors and beaches, she is a nature enthusiast who enjoys a good hike when sports pursuits such as basketball, volleyball or track don't interfere.

On top of that, the player who led Layton to a perfect season and a Class 5A state championship is a 3.8-GPA student who plans on playing college basketball at Utah State next year and hopes to be a nutritionist, health teacher or coach.

"She could play any position and play it well," said Layton coach Van Price about Bassett, who has been a member of the varsity since she was the first player off the bench as a sophomore. "I can put her anywhere on the court. She can score from any position. She is a 3-point shooter who can handle the ball. In the state championship, against the press, she brought the ball up the court. She is very long and a good post player with good post moves who keeps the ball high."

Bassett's statistics reveal much about her versatility and are skewed down a bit by the fact that Layton was so good much of the season that she often did not play in the fourth quarter.

She averaged 19.5 points a game and shot 56 percent from the field, including 42 percent from the 3-point line, where she was 15 of 36. She averaged 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 assists a game.

Copper Hills coach Ben Morley, whose previously unbeaten team lost to Layton in a memorable 5A semifinal game, said Bassett has the rare combination of power and athleticism. He said he put the Grizzlies' best defender on her as a shadow and double-teamed her when she tried to shoot.

"Like they say about all great players, you can't shut them down completely, you just hope to limit the damage they do," he said.

Morley said Bassett is capable of beating an opponent in many ways, and said if she gets the basketball near the basket, she will likely either score or get fouled.

Part of that versatility is that Bassett played many positions growing up.

"I was always a guard in junior high, but I used to post up as well," she said. "I like power forward, where you can shoot or post up. That's my favorite."

Bassett started playing basketball on a co-ed team when she was 5. She never played on a competition team until Natalie Williams invited her to be on the Utah Flash team when she was already at Layton.

Price saw great potential in Bassett when he watched her playing at Fairfield Junior High.

Layton lost to eventual 5A champion Brighton in the quarterfinals by four points a year ago before its breakout season this year. The Lancers won or shared the league title all three of the years Bassett played.

"She was special because of her size and mobility," said Price. "I was pretty excited about her."

Bassett said she was about 5-foot-11 in junior high and shot up to 6-foot-1 by the time she was a sophomore.

"I kept growing," she said. "But I might be done. I feel so tall here. There are so many short people. Everyone is just tiny."

That said, like many tall basketball players, she enjoys playing guard and handling the ball. She expects to play small forward at Utah State, a place she fell in love with early in the recruiting process.

One aspect of Bassett's game that became apparent in rugged games against unbeaten Copper Hills in the semifinals and reigning 4A champion Sky View in the 5A title game was her intensity.

She ended the title game with a black eye and a lacerated hand. In one memorable play, she shot an angry look at an opposing player after being hit in the face. When fighting for a loose ball, Bassett's fierce competitiveness became obvious.

Price said Bassett learned her competitiveness in practice going up against twins Olivia and Aletia James. Her mom credits an older brother she played against for her toughness.

"There is a feisty side to her," said Teresa. "It is fun to see it. She gets a mad face. It's not that she is mad. It's intensity and taking the game seriously. For the most part, she is really a nice girl."

Bassett said she can be intense when she wants something badly.

"At the state tournament, when people hit me in the face, my dad calls it my evil look," she said. "When I get hit, there is a switch that just clicks."

Hailey said she got particularly intense in the state tournament because she knew it was her last chance to play with her team, so she was emotional.

Speaking at school away from basketball, Bassett comes across like many seniors. She talks about enjoying running up a mountain, watching horror movies to the point where she becomes so scared she spends the night on the floor in her parents' bedroom, and loving family trips to the beaches and traveling.

For now, though, there will be the high jump and javelin throw during the track season, and then she's on to Utah State, where she will be joining several other all-staters in building an improving program.

Chances are, no matter which position she plays in college, she will remain "a natural."


Twitter: @tribtomwharton —

About Hailey Bassett

School • Layton

Class • Senior

Position • Forward

Height • 6-foot-2

Noteworthy • Bassett's versatility made her a multipositional player, at times called upon to post up and score in the paint, and at others to bring the ball up the court against trapping defenses. Despite playing only about 20 minutes per game, she averaged 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots, 1.8 steals and 1.2 assists, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from the 3-point line. She led the Lancers to an undefeated season and the Class 5A state championship. She has earned a scholarship to Utah State.






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