hailey bassett

Utah State post player Hailey Bassett (12) takes a shot as Portland guard Maddie Muhlheim (15) and forward Liana Kaitu’u defend in November of 2019.

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When Hailey Bassett was growing up, her grandfather told her she would receive a full-ride basketball scholarship to a Division I program and eventually play the sport she loves professionally.

Both of those predictions have come to fruition as the former Utah State post player has signed a professional contract with Mark Basket Marbo (a.k.a. Marbo Basket), which is based, in Kinna, Sweden.

“I knew I always wanted to do this, so I just put my mind to it and I’ve been working out every single day trying to get in the best shape possible, because I don’t want to go there and be behind,” Bassett said in an interview with The Herald Journal. “But yeah, this means a ton and I want to thank my agent, first of all, for helping me out and he has great connections, and he really put my highlights out there and talked to a lot of teams. And I want to thank my family for being so supportive. Not many families probably want their daughter to move across the world, but my family’s very supportive and they are very excited for me to start my journey.”

Bassett is hoping to move to Sweden in a few months — “(the coaches) want to get me out there by mid-September” — but that might be pushed back a bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first game of the 2019-2020 season for Marbo Basket was contested on Sept. 25, and the team played its final game on March 8.

“They want to get me out as soon as they can to start training before the season, and I want to get out there as soon as I can because I don’t want to be behind,” said Bassett, whose contract is for one season. “That’s one of my things is I hate being behind. Coming into college, I had never lifted a weight ... and I just got beat up my freshman year ... and that’s what made me grow to love lifting weights and doing conditioning stuff.”

The daughter of Denny and Teresa Bassett raved about the Marbo Basket coaching staff and said “I know that they’re going to treat me well and they’re going to try and help me have the best experience.” Bassett and her agent had a lengthy FaceTime chat with the coaching staff, and that’s when she knew it was the right fit.

“I really appreciated them trying to get to know me more as a person, rather than a basketball player because of course they’ve seen my highlights and they know how I play, how tall I am,” Bassett said. “But just FaceTiming with them ... I felt very comfortable just talking to them. We talked for about an hour-and-a-half and it was a really good talk. ... They really made me feel like I was a part of the family, their basketball family, even though I hadn’t signed yet. And they just treat their players very well and like family, and I think I’ll need that my first year, just being away from family, because I’ve been in Utah and my family’s been an hour away for the past four years.”

Marbo Basket went 6-13 during its most recent season and finished eighth out of 11 teams in its league. Marbo Basket’s 2019-20 roster was comprised of 10 players from Sweden and four Americans, including former University of Nevada star Terae Briggs.

Briggs, who graduated from Nevada last spring, and Bassett squared off against each other in the post a handful of times from 2016-19. The 6-foot-3 Briggs was one of Marbo Basket’s top players this past season as she ranked third on the team in rebounding (7.8 per game) and fourth in scoring (12.3 points per game).

“I’m really excited,” Bassett said. “We played against each other and I’m excited just to get to know her and be on the same team, rather than beating up on each other. I mean, we’ll still probably beat up on each other in practice, and it’s going to be different being on the same team with someone that I’ve been going up against. ... She’s a great player.”

Bassett earned this opportunity to play at the next level by having a strong senior season with the Aggies. The athletic, versatile 6-3 post player led the Aggies in scoring (13.8 ppg, rebounding (5.7 pg) and blocked shots (41), and ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.445). Bassett appeared in all 31 games as a senior and was in the starting lineup 30 times.

The Layton native played some of her best basketball at the tail end of her collegiate career. Bassett was named to the all-Mountain West Tournament team after averaging 23.5 points — on 15 of 26 shooting from the field and 12 of 16 from the free throw line — 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in games against San Diego State and Wyoming.

No. 12 poured in a career-high 29 points en route to propelling USU to a thrilling 81-79 overtime victory over SDSU in the opening round of the MW tourney. Bassett chipped in with seven rebounds and buried the game-winning shot in the waning seconds of OT. Utah State became the first No. 11 seed to win a game in the conference’s tournament.

One night later, Bassett scored 18 points in USU’s 64-59 setback to third-seeded Wyoming. The Aggies were in the lead for the lion’s share of that contest.

Bassett netted 20 or more points against SDSU (twice), Cal State Fullerton, North Texas, UNLV, Air Force and Fresno State as a senior. She also recorded five double-doubles during the 2019-20 campaign.

“It was very bittersweet because of course I love my team and I love my teammates — I mean, I’ve spent four years there and it’s really hard to kind of let it go — but it was very humbling all of the people reaching out and kind of congratulating me on my career,” Bassett said of finishing her senior season with a bang. “... I won’t forget my time at Utah State, that’s for sure.”

The former Layton High standout appeared in 126 games (81 starts) for the Aggies, which is tied for the top spot in program history. Bassett also ranks fifth in the Utah State record books in scoring (1,174 points), sixth in blocks (105) and ninth in field goal percentage (.466). No. 12 blocked five shots in games against Dixie State (2019) and UNLV (2020).

Bassett contributed with 9.1 ppg and 3.9 rpg as a junior, 9.4 ppg and 3.5 rpg as a sophomore, and 5.1 ppg and 3.2 rpg as a freshman. She ranked fifth in the Mountain West in field goal percentage (.502) as a sophomore. The 22-year-old was a starter at least 11 times in each of her four seasons with the Aggies.

Bassett, a two-time academic all-conference honoree — the 2020 team has yet to be released — graduated earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in health education and promotion. She plans on teaching and/or coaching in the future.

Prior to her success at USU, Bassett was a three-sport athlete at Layton High. She also played softball and was a 5A state qualifier in the javelin for the Lancers’ track & field program as a senior.

Bassett was selected as the 5A MVP by the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune after leading the Lancers to an undefeated record as a senior. She averaged 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.8 steals and shot 56.1 percent from the field during her final prep season.

Layton capped off a 25-0 campaign with a 73-65 victory over Sky View in the 5A state championship game. Bassett exploded for a career-high 35 points, pulled down 13 rebounds — eight of the offensive variety — and blocked three shots against the Bobcats. She knocked down 13 of 18 shots from the field and buried 9 of 12 free throws.

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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