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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U-Hi senior Bailey was league MVP last season

University’s Brett Bailey, last year's GSL MVP, returns for his senior season. (Jesse Tinsley)

Brett Bailey was named the Greater Spokane League’s most valuable player last season.

It’s not likely the University standout’s senior year will look much like his junior campaign – he will be even better.

At least one coach knows Bailey’s status going into this season.

“He’s head and shoulders the best player in the league,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “He’s a game-changer.”

His coach agrees.

“He really doesn’t have a weakness in his game,” Titans coach Garrick Phillips said. “He’s always been a special talent.”

And Phillips predicts people will see a measurable difference in the 6-foot-6 wing this year.

“He’s filled out and put on more strength,” Phillips said. “He’s a man now.”

And Bailey knows where he’s going. In fact, he’s known that since orally committing to the University of San Diego in the summer of 2011. He signed his letter of intent in mid-November.

“His versatility as a player will really help us on the perimeter,” USD coach Bill Grier, a former assistant at Gonzaga, said when Bailey signed. “He can shoot the ball well from (3-point range) but is also good at making plays off the dribble. He has a very good feel for the game, and he is a very rugged and tough athlete that has a willingness to defend. He will be physically ready to step in and impact our program as a freshman and our staff has very high expectations of him.”

As good a basketball player as Bailey is, he’s an even better person.

“He’s as close to a perfect kid as possible,” Phillips said. “I can’t find anything negative to say about him. He’s got it. It seems unfair that he’s got so many things going for him. The only thing close to critical I could say about him is I wish he was more of a verbal leader. That’s the only possible criticism I can come up with. But in the same breath I’ll say he leads by example.”

It wasn’t long after Phillips arrived at U-Hi that he heard about this phenomenal middle-school AAU player. Turns out it was Bailey.

“Word got out pretty darn quickly about him,” Phillips said. “I remember being specifically told that he was the best seventh-grader in town.”

Now he’s the best senior in town.

He will likely finish as the Titans’ all-time leading scorer. He has 726 points. Mike Barrett set the all-time mark at 1,054 in 1975.

Bailey comes from a basketball-playing family. His parents, Kevin and Donna, both played basketball in high school and eventually met while playing at Seattle University.

His older brother, Kyle, is a redshirt sophomore at Biola University near Los Angeles, and his sister, Brooke, made varsity at U-Hi this year as a freshman.

“Dad’s always said she’s going to be the best of us,” Brett said. “I can’t argue with that with her making varsity as a freshman.”

A three-year starter, Bailey led U-Hi to its best state finish last year when the Titans took third. It was their first trip to state since 1985.

Bailey is the lone starter back along with two lettermen. The core of the team moves up from junior varsity after a 17-3 season.

“It’s going to be different this year,” Bailey said. “Last year we were a known team and were projected to get to state. This year, I think we’ll surprise some teams. We’re not where we want to be but we’re definitely making progress.”

Bailey, who gets it done in the classroom with a 3.86 grade-point average, led the Titans in most statistical categories last year, averaging 16.2 points and 6.5 rebounds.

“He’s worked so hard at his game,” Phillips said. “And he’s always pushed himself to get better.”

Bailey knows teams might try to double team him or use gimmick defenses to slow him down.

“Once they see the players around me, they won’t be able to win doing those things,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the steadying influence throughout his life is no mystery. He places a high value on his faith.

“I’m a Christian and very proud of it,” Bailey said. “God is very important to me. You start your day and end your day with Him.”