PROVO — It all starts from the point position for most basketball teams. And fortunately for BYU, it looks to have a very good point guard at the start of the 2015-16 season in senior Kylie Maeda.
Maeda is part of what coach Jeff Judkins believes will prove to be a very good guard line that includes standouts such as senior Lexi Eaton-Rydalch, junior Makenzi Morrison-Pulsipher and sophomore Cassie Broadhead.
While every guard on the roster plays a vital role, the most indispensible role could very well belong to Maeda.
“If you asked me which player would most affect our team if we lost them, it would probably be her,” Judkins said of Maeda and her importance to the team. “Because she sets the tempo for the team on offense and on defense. She’s also playing really well right now.”
Maeda joined the BYU program in 2012 and has progressed every year, surpassing many of the expectations Judkins placed on her initially.
“When I recruited Kylie I never thought that she could start for me for three years,” Judkins said. “I thought it would take some time before she got it. But she’s been a surprise because she’s just tough, smart and she runs the offense the way I expect it to be run.”
Maeda signed with BYU out of Iolani High School in Hawaii, albeit with some stated reluctance and concern.
“It was definitely not an easy decision to come to BYU because I’m not a member,” Maeda, who isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said. “It was a hard decision to come to a place that was very much out of my comfort zone. But the players, the coaches — they’ve all really embraced me and now I love it here. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Upon arriving at BYU, Maeda was able to learn from the player that Judkins considers the best point guard to ever play for the program: Haley Steed.
“It was awesome learning from Haley and playing against her in practice every day,” Maeda said. “I’d ask her questions constantly and she’d always be ready to help. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without Haley.”
While taking copious notes from Steed during practices, and while observing games from the bench, Maeda encountered some initial struggles that first year.
“It was hard. It was really, really hard,” Maeda said. “There were a lot of phone calls made home to my mom crying, but they made me stick it out no matter what. And for that, I couldn’t be more thankful because it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life being here.”
As mentioned, Maeda went on to start as both a sophomore and as a junior and will finish out starting as a senior, in what Judkins expects to be her best year to date.
"She's managed to improve and what she's really done well is to get stronger," Judkins said. "She knows what I expect out there, she's great running what we need to be run. We're lucky to have her."