- Graham Hays, espnW.com
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Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
BYU coach Jeff Judkins described Haley Steed (then Haley Hall) as one of the best high school players to come out of the state of Utah "for a long, long time," an explosive guard who was quick with the ball and quick to the basket.
The numbers back up his memory; she remains among the top 10 all-time scorers in Utah prep history.
That her freshman teammates at BYU this season were in seventh grade the first time she took the court in college tells you something about how long a road she traveled from that to a special week for a team that needed it.
Steed's journey is the backstory, but she earned her place as espnW's player of the week strictly on the merits of what she did over the span of seven days. BYU's seventh-year point guard played 37 minutes and finished with 22 points, 12 assists and three steals in her team's 81-77 victory against Utah State on Dec. 4, a win that got the Cougars back to .500 on the season and gave Steed sole possession of the program record for career assists. That was just the appetizer. She added another 22 points, six rebounds and three assists in 39 minutes in a 53-48 victory on the road against bitter rival Utah on Dec. 8, handing the Utes their first defeat of the season.
Steed's career was nearly derailed by three serious knee injuries suffered in succession that limited her to just eight games over her first three seasons at BYU. So there is a certain poignancy to her big games coming after the Cougars lost leading scorer Lexi Eaton to a season-ending knee injury after just six minutes against Utah State.
Steed was as good as any player in the nation last season and through the early weeks of this season at setting up teammates for success. She entered last week tied for second in the nation at 7.4 assists per game and was 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio. She had also scored just 38 points in BYU's first seven games. To her, playing point guard is about doing what is needed.
"First thing is it's leadership and being able to set the tempo for your team," Steed said last spring. "To me, I really take it upon myself to get my whole team involved and instill confidence in my teammates and to put them in positions where they're able to succeed and score."
She did the same thing last week; it just took a few more shots on her part. It's nice to know that seven years later, there is still some of that scorer in one of the nation's best point guards.