If there was an award for most improved girls basketball player in Utah, Mountain View's Sarah Pratt would definitely be a leading candidate.

But as it is, she'll have to settle for the state's most prestigious individual award in girls hoops. Pratt, a senior who led the Bruins to their second-straight undefeated championship season, has been selected as this year's Deseret News Ms. Basketball.As a junior, Pratt was a role player who came off the bench to relieve Lori Henry, last season's 5A MVP, and Laurie Crocker, a first team all-stater. Standing at a lofty 6-foot-3, her biggest strength then was that, well, she stood 6-foot-3.

Not anymore. Oh, Pratt's height certainly gives her an immediate advantage over most high school players. As Mtn. View coach Dave Houle says, "When your wing span goes across the key and you can almost jump to the ceiling, it makes people change their offenses."

But this year, Pratt added some effective low-post moves and adapted a much more aggressive attitude. That combination helped her become a dominating force down low for the Bruins alongside her 6-3 twin tower teammate Erin Hansen, a junior who made third team All-State.

Perhaps no one -- aside from Mtn. View opponents -- noticed her progress more than Houle.

"There was a huge improvement. She's a lot better than last year -- in every aspect," says Houle. "She took the tools she had been blessed with and sharpened them up."

Houle points to the maturity she gained in becoming a senior as a big reason for her higher level of play. Pratt, however, remembers the countless hours last summer that she spent working on her post-up moves and game in general as being a large factor. She didn't see the improvement as much as others, though.

"When people told me how much I'd improved I said, 'I did?' " she recalls. "I didn't really think I had improved that much."

Though no excuses are needed for her glossy statistics, Pratt's game averages should come with a disclaimer. After all, the Bruins not only beat teams, they destroyed them by more than 30 points a game usually. Because of that, Pratt rarely saw action late in the third quarter, let alone in the fourth. Still, in that limited time, Pratt did more than most as she averaged 13 points by shooting an incredible 63 percent from the floor. She also hauled in 10 rebounds, with three blocks and two assists.

"And that's just over half a game. That's amazing," says Houle of his All-American candidate.

Pratt flourished in the state tournament two weeks ago. She scored 15 points apiece in the quarterfinal and semifinal wins over Fremont and American Fork, respectively. She then completed her prep career with in style, with nine points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots in the championship game against Alta.

"Oh, man. It's incredible," she exclaims. "Teams click, but I can't believe we clicked that well."

The season had a somewhat painful ending for Pratt, however. During volleyball last fall, she partially dislocated her shoulder and subsequently played the entire basketball season knowing that she'd need surgery as soon as it was over. The surgery took place last Friday -- less than a week after the 5A championship game. Before that, though, she often forced herself to play in pain, and after December she needed treatment to stretch out her shoulder before each game.

"It hurt bad enough to worry about, but not bad enough for me to miss any games," says Pratt, who did have to bypass several practices to recuperate.

Pratt, who carries a 3.7 GPA and wants to go into sports medicine/physical therapy, is undecided on where she'll play collegiately. She's received interest from several Div. I schools, including BYU, SUU and Montana State.

Though she says she'll make that decision in early April, she has every right in the world to demand a better nickname right now.

Sultana of Swat maybe. Princess of the Paint perhaps. Or whatever. Anything would seem like a vast improvement on the one her teammates have stuck her with. Meet ... "Lurp"?

"I don't know," she says when asked why, "but I like it."

The Bruins certainly didn't give it to her because of her basketball skills. And you'll surely never hear an opponent call her by that nickname.