By Al Scharffs
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
It seems natural, at 6-foot-2, that Hailey Bassett should be playing basketball. Since the age of six, Bassett loved the feel of a basketball in her hands and began playing in the Junior Jazz basketball city league.
She continued playing with the Junior Jazz through high school, never playing on a competitive team until her junior year, when former WNBA player Natalie Williams picked Bassett up to play with the Utah Flash.
Bassett is definitely noticed in the school hallways. Her tall stature, long blonde hair and kind personality make her noticeable in any crowd. In fact, her teammates have nicknamed her, “Princess Bassett Barbie.”
She wasn’t always this tall, however. In the eighth grade, Bassett was only 5-7. It wasn’t until her freshman year that she started to get her height, reaching 6-2, a nice complement to her playing power.
Bassett doesn’t credit her height for her basketball success, instead she praises her father and grandfather’s coaching. It was their skill, words of wisdom and support that would propel Bassett over the top of the charts in the basketball community.
During her basketball career at Fairfield Junior High, she was privileged to be coached in basketball by her grandfather, David Milius. He was her coach, but she also considered him her best friend.
During Bassett’s ninth-grade year, just before halftime of a game, when her grandfather was serving as the head coach, Milius had cheered ecstatically as a last-minute point was scored. To the shock of the players and crowd, Milius suffered a pulmonary aneurism and passed away.
Bassett now had an important purpose for playing her best. She would dedicate her basketball career to her grandfather and work hard to be all he imagined her to be. His words would continue to ring in her head every time she stepped on a ball court.
“Grandpa was convinced I could be a Division 1 player,” Bassett said.
And sure enough her dream and her grandpa’s dream came true when she signed in the fall to play at Utah State University.
“I still hear his comments in my head when I play,” Bassett said. “Stay on your feet! Look to shoot! Look to drive or look for someone with a better shot than you.”
Bassett is one of four siblings, second to the oldest, and she contributes her competitive edge to her brother.
She always focused on being able to “one-up him” when they played street ball. She learned to be aggressive against him, even though he was two years older than she.
In junior high, Bassett played point guard, but at the high school she plays post. At USU she expects to play as a power forward, which happens to be her favorite position on the court. Bassett, who expects to continue to wear her familiar No. 12 in college, averages 19 and grabs 7.4 rebounds per game.
She enjoys camping, sun and swimming, movies, and her family and friends, but basketball is what makes her world go round. Bassett’s love for the sport is shown through her competitive and enthusiastic nature on the court.
The Lancer senior finds a balance in academics with her 3.8 GPA, and hopes to pursue a career in the sports medicine field. However, family and friends are always prioritized, and Bassett remembers to say, “It’s a blessing to play basketball.” That’s probably something her grandpa would say also.
Layton High sophomore Al Scharffs wrote this story as part of the of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year. Al is the assistant editor for the Layton High Centurion. She enjoys sports, music and writing. Sport writing is her preference.