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Mike Terry Deseret News

SPRINGVILLE — Lexi Eaton was born to be a basketball player.

The problem was, she didn't really feel like one until she was about 14 years old. "She started playing probably in the fifth or sixth grade," said her father, Alan Eaton. "But she really didn't like it. She was really into soccer. ... But we're a basketball family, so she couldn't really escape it."

It was her performance, and that of her Springville teammates, in the state tournament her freshman year that turned Eaton from a talented soccer player into this year's Ms. Basketball. In addition to leading the Red Devils to a 4A State title, the junior guard verbally accepted a scholarship offer from BYU and was named the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year.

"She had a good state tournament, and they went further than Springville had since about 1990, so she was excited," said Alan Eaton.

That freshman season was the season when everyone, including Lexi, saw that she wasn't just a talented athlete. She evolved into a skilled and, maybe more importantly, driven basketball player.

"It was the game against Spanish Fork (near the end of region play) that she really showed how good she is," said Red Devils coach Nancy Warner. "She had two people on her from baseline to baseline, and she still finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Lexi is a smart player, and she knew if there are two people on me, someone is open. She is just an athlete."

Eaton is an all-state soccer player and one of the state's top high jumpers. She led her team with 25.13 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game and 2.5 steals per game. She also had 23 blocked shots. She's so versatile and strong, Springville used her to guard both forwards and other guards, as well as playing her in three different positions.

"She can jump out of the gym," said Warner. "She's super strong. She can use her body to get to the basket; she can shoot inside; she can shoot outside; she's a great defender, and she can dribble-play-up. I've never seen anything like it in high school girls basketball."

Eaton hasn't rested for a single second on her athletic talent. She has, according to everyone from teachers to coaches and her parents, a relentless work ethic.

"She really is a coach's dream," said Warner. "She is always wanting to get better. She watches film and picks out things to work on. She never settles. She just works so dang hard in everything she does. She never takes a play off. After we won the state tournament, she said, 'Coach, I have so many things I'm going to work on this summer.' "

Her father said her thirst for knowledge, hunger for feedback and desire to be the best she can possibly be have made for some very frank discussions.

"We spend about 10 percent of the time talking about things she did well," he said. "We spend about 90 percent of the time talking about what she needs to improve on. She's quite mellow, but she's very organized, driven, very goal-oriented. We'd talk about her basketball games before and after, and she'd take notes. Then she'd study her notes."

Eaton is the organist for her LDS ward, and she is an accomplished violinist. She is an honor student who loves chemistry and hopes to work in the medical field some day. One of her dreams came true earlier this year when BYU offered her a scholarship.

"That was a pretty amazing experience," said Alan Eaton. "We went over there, frankly, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. When (BYU head coach Jeff Judkins) offered her a scholarship, we were both shocked. We really didn't know what to say. She said, 'I need to think about it.' And I said, 'You do? Well, how long do you want to think about it?' And she said, 'Maybe a week.' "

Because Lexi has dreamed of being a Cougar before she played any kind of sport, it wasn't much of a surprise when she told her dad she'd decided to accept the offer.

"We called Coach Judkins about 10:30 that night and he let out a big whoop," Eaton said. "It was a fun experience."

PAST MS. BASKETBALL AWARD WINNERS

2010: Lexi Eaton, Springville (BYU)

2009: Kimberly Parker, Wasatch (BYU)

2008: Jenteal Jackson, Skyline (BYU)

2007: Tasha Dickey, Brighton (Arizona)

2006: Michelle Harrison, Mtn. View (Stanford)

2005: Vanessa Hutson, Brighton (BYU)

2004: Mallary Gillespie, Mtn. View (BYU)

2003: Heather Hansen, Mtn. View (BYU)

2002: Nancy Seljaas, Bountiful (BYU)

2001: Danielle Cheesman, Mtn. View (BYU)

2000: Lana Sitterud, Lone Peak (Utah)

1999: Erin Thorn, Mtn. View (BYU)

1998: Lisa Osguthorpe, Mtn. View (BYU)

1997: Sarah Pratt, Mtn. View (SUU)

1996: Megan Jensen, Davis (BYU)

1995: Emily Freeze, Timpview (Denver)

e-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com