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BYU basketball: five players sign letters to play women's basketball at BYU

BYU women’s basketball head coach Jeff Judkins announced that three Utah standouts along with a top player from Washington and North Carolina have signed letters of intent to play women’s basketball for the Cougar program.

Paisley Johnson from Washington, Maria Albiero from North Carolina/Brazil, along with the top players out of Utah, Ashley Beckstrand from St. George, Malli Valgardson from Pleasant Grove and Sara Hamson from Lindon, will be on the 2017-18 BYU roster.

“We signed a good group of players that are going to be able to play a couple of different positions for us and we see this as a plus,” Judkins said.

“This is one of our better classes. All of them are hard workers, have winning attitudes and with their talent, we see nothing but a bright future ahead for our program. We are also happy that we were able to sign the top players in the state.”

Johnson – Everett, Washington, 5-foot-9 guard, Glacier Peak HS

In her junior season she averaged 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 3.3 spg and was named First Team All-WESCO. She plays club ball for the Northside Swarm.

“Paisley is aggressive, very athletic, tough and has a scoring mentality. She’s very similar to Lexi Eaton,” Judkins said.

Albiero – Londrina, Brazil/Raleigh, North Carolina, 5-7 guard, Neuse Christian Academy

In her junior season she averaged 18.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.9 apg and 3.0 spg. She was also named 1A All-State Team, named Second Team USA Today, was North Carolina All-State in 2016 and was a member of the U17 and U18 Brazilian National Team. She plays club ball for the Carolina Waves.

“She is a good shooter, can handle the ball well, can run the offense with confidence and she brings a lot of experience including her international play. She’s a lot like Haley Steed,” Judkins said.

Beckstrand – St. George, Utah, 5-8 guard, Desert Hills HS

During her junior season she averaged 24.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 2.8 spg. Beckstrand was named Region 9 Deseret News First Team and 3A Coaches’ All-State Second Team in 2016. She plays club ball for the Utah Raiders.

“She’ll be a good point guard for us. She’s strong, physical, good passer and can play either the 1 or the 2 spot," Judkins said.

Valgardson – Pleasant Grove, Utah, 6-5 forward, Pleasant Grove HS

In her junior season Valgardson averaged 3.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 1.1 bpg. She was named Region 4 Deseret News First Team, 5A Coaches’ All-State Honorable Mention and made the 2016 Daily Herald All-Valley Team. She plays club ball with the Utah Flash.

“She’s a good offensive player and has a great touch. Her playing abilities are a lot like those of Kristen Riley," Judkins said.

Hamson – Lindon, Utah, 6-7 forward, Pleasant Grove HS

Hamson will play both volleyball and basketball at BYU. During her junior season she averaged 6.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 3.3 bpg, and she plays club ball with the Colorado Premier.

"She’s got a knack for blocking and she has a better touch in scoring than her sister Jennifer. She’s confident in her scoring and will look to shoot," Judkins said.

Norma Collett is the athletic communications director for the BYU women's basketball team. She can be reached at 801-422-4908 or at