Lexi Eaton is good at basketball. And soccer. And track.
But decisions must be made, and for Eaton, after four years of devotion to varsity basketball, soccer and track and field, basketball was the way to go in college.
One of the latest and greatest freshmen on the BYU women’s basketball team, Eaton, currently a 5-foot-10 guard for the Cougars, said her passion for basketball didn’t begin until two years after she began playing.
“I actually started out in soccer when I was younger, and that was my first love,” Eaton said. “I started to get into [basketball] in seventh grade, and I hated it. It was in ninth grade that I actually started to love it. I made that switch from soccer to basketball, and turned my focus to basketball, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
But it wasn’t lack of skill that held Eaton back from basketball — she was a natural. And Eaton’s athletic ability and skill at basketball runs in her blood.
“My family’s actually, I guess what you could call, a ‘basketball family,'” Eaton said. “My dad played in college, my older brother was a state-leading scorer for Springville, and my grandpa also played basketball for BYU. I was sucked into the whole basketball thing because my whole family loved it.”
Eaton has a hefty load of awards, including two time Salt Lake Tribune Female Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011, ESPN Rise Underclass All-America Team in 2010 and Deseret News 4A MVP in 2011.
With such a decorated past, Eaton had her choice of schools but had no problem deciding.
“I’ve grown up around (BYU),” Eaton said. “I went to some of the individual camps and was invited to the elite camps. I just really loved the coaching staff, and I’ve always been a BYU fan as well. There are just so many positives to it, that it was a no-brainer choice.”
Eaton’s first taste of college basketball was at the Blue/White scrimmage in October.
“(The scrimmage) was a lot of fun,” Eaton said. “We got the chance to play with different players; they mixed up teams a lot, so they could get different looks. It was basically a chance for you to prove yourself and another chance to earn that starting spot. It was really competitive, which I think was fun for the crowd to watch.”
And earning that starting spot was what Eaton did. The only newcomer in a group of returners, she has started every game this season.
Women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins has had plenty of positive things to say of Eaton.
“I’ve been really lucky; the girl’s an awesome player,” Judkins said. “She has all the tangibles that you need to be a great player: she’s tough; she’s coachable; she’s athletic; she’s skilled; she’s aggressive; she’s a gym rat. … She has it all. I think when she walks out of here, she’ll be one of the best players ever to play here.”
So far this season, she has averaged 11.2 points in 23.2 minutes a game — impressive numbers for a freshman.
But Eaton doesn’t pay attention to the numbers. For her, and the team, there’s only one thing to do.
“Our main goal for this year is to be conference champions, so we can get that automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament,” Eaton said. “We’re all really driven to that goal, and it’s all very clear that that’s what we want to achieve.”
Though basketball is a constant commitment for Eaton, she takes full advantage of her free time.
“If I ever have spare time, I love hanging out with family and friends, watching movies or just having time to myself,” Eaton said. “I (also) really enjoy playing the piano and violin. I took piano lessons for about seven years and violin lessons for about four years.”
As for her future in basketball, Eaton said she plans to play it by ear. Although managing the stress of an undeclared major, she’s currently exploring her interests through a career explorations class and has found a growing interest in psychology. Whether her future will end up in psychology or another field or even playing basketball, Eaton said it primarily depends on her situation later on in life.
“The idea of (playing basketball for a career) sounds great,” Eaton said. “To get paid to play a sport that you love, I’m open to it.”