Nancy Seljaas is the kind of person and basketball player you might not notice until it's too late.

She's quiet, polite and unassuming in and out of uniform. This year's Deseret News Ms. Basketball honoree responds to a challenge, disappointment or obstacle without tantrums or tirades.

Instead, she continues to go about her business, marshaling more energy and focusing more than before, and most of all, she doesn't get mad, she gets even.

"Sometimes people will be hanging all over her, hitting her, and she doesn't get angry," said her coach, Bountiful's Mike Hall. "She just gets more intense."

Her self-control might be mistaken for indifference or surrender, but make no mistake about it, it's not. She doesn't look at what she can't do, only how she can get around it.

"She's very under control," Hall said. "Which is great as an athlete. I know when I can get somebody mad, they don't play as well."

Anger clouds thinking and hinders judgment. So Seljaas doesn't bother with that.

Instead, she works on winning.

While she doesn't play on the state's most dominant team, her consistently excellent play has earned her a place as one of the best female basketball players to ever drive the lane or shoot a jumper in the Beehive State. In her last tournament game this season she broke a 35-year-old scoring record at Bountiful High. The senior became the all-time leading scorer, man or woman, from the high school by scoring 551 points in her career — 11 points more than Dave Anderson, whose prep career ended in 1967.

"She was our leading scorer as a sophomore," Hall said. "She has a very aggressive demeanor, but she's very quiet."

Many coaches who voted for Seljaas did so because, "she carried her team on her back, and more often than not, Bountiful won."

Seljaas, who also maintains a 3.93 GPA, was able to elevate the Braves so often because she can play almost any position on the floor — and she has.

"She plays them all," Hall said. "Wherever we need her, we put her. That was our success, moving her around. I think she prefers the two guard because there is more flexibility . . . The other players look to her as a leader, their leader."

Last year she led the Braves to a 4A state title. This year the girl who her coach calls "a sweet young lady" helped them earn the region title and go as far as the semifinals in the 4A tournament. She's played her three-year high school career in one of the toughest regions in the state, and she's been one of the state's leading scorers every year.

Maybe her affinity for basketball is genetic, and, while she wasn't quite born on a basketball court, she certainly grew up on one.

"We're a really big basketball family," said Seljaas, who will play for BYU next fall. "My dad played in high school and at BYU Hawaii."

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Her father, Gary, instilled in Seljaas those hoop dreams. When little Nancy was chasing around a basketball, it was her dad who threw it to her. It was her father who shagged balls while she practiced the shot that would eventually carry her team to win after win. He helped her see how to deal with a tough defense, with a spin move or a head fake. And it was her dad who put his arm around her, win or lose, and helped her to believe in herself even when the outcome tried to convince her otherwise.

"He's been my coach my whole life," she said. "He trains with me, runs with me, shoots with me. He helps me set my goals and has just always been there for me. He always wants the best for me."


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com