From being the first woman to throw a perfect inning in a Minnesota high school baseball game, to being Nebraska’s second-leading scorer as a bench player, freshman guard Sam Haiby is anything but common.
Haiby was the women’s basketball team’s leading scorer for a majority of the season. Currently, she is the second-leading scorer, averaging 10.2 points per game, as fellow freshman Leigha Brown just surpassed her following a loss against Rutgers. Surprisingly, Haiby does most of her damage off the bench, as she is the team’s sixth woman.
Haiby hails from Moorhead, Minnesota, where she was a force on the high school basketball court. While overcoming a knee injury during her senior year, she managed 25.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. She accumulated more than 2,000 points in her high school career, including a mammoth 46-point performance in a 54-49 win. She earned first-team class 4A all-state honors and was ranked as the 28th best guard in the country by ESPN.
Like many Division I athletes, Haiby was an accomplished high school athlete in more than one sport. However, her second sport wasn’t an ordinary one. She played high school baseball.
“I played baseball ever since I was five,” Haiby said. “I knew all the guys growing up and just wanted to continue it through my four years of high school.”
Not only did she play outfield, but she pitched as well and holds a few Minnesota high school records. Haiby was the first pitcher to throw a pitch in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and she also became the first female to pitch a scoreless inning in Minnesota high school baseball history.
“It was a really cool experience,” Haiby said of playing high school baseball.
Even though she is multitalented, Haiby always dreamed of playing college basketball, but Lincoln wasn’t always where she thought she would play.
“Nebraska wasn’t on my radar when I first started to get recruited,” she said.
Once Nebraska reached out, however, Haiby took notice.
“After my visit I knew I really liked this place,” she said. “It was my top choice and ultimately, it felt most like home.”
Lincoln is seven hours south of Haiby’s hometown. The distance and long drive don’t bother her, as the two states are still in the same time zone. She said Lincoln is far enough away that she doesn’t feel obligated to come home often, but she can make the trip north if need be.
Ironically, traveling has the been the highlight of Haiby’s short collegiate career. She said seeing all the different venues has added to her experience. Her first year on campus hasn’t been entirely a breeze though. Traveling with the team coupled with a healthy amount of homework has made it difficult for Haiby to balance her many commitments, but she has managed.
On the contrary, scoring in basketball hasn’t been much of a challenge for her halfway through her freshman campaign. Haiby has the qualities to be a productive playmaker. Nebraska coaches felt Haiby went fairly unnoticed going through the recruiting process and they believe her length and quickness will bode well for her future.
She often uses her natural quickness to create separation and beat people off the dribble, creating a path to the rim. Even with all the tangible tools, Haiby attributed the ease of scoring to her teammates and said her 3-point shot could use some improvement.
“We don’t just have one player that the other team can shut down,” Haiby said. “It makes it easier for everyone to do their own thing.”
Haiby’s goal entering the season wasn’t to lead the team in scoring; it was simply to establish a role for herself. She has done that as the sixth woman and she is thriving.
“I don’t really have a concern whether I am starting or not,” she said. “Because I know we are going to get into the game no matter who is on the floor. I’ve embraced my role and when I get in, I do the best I can.”
Haiby hasn’t thought about her future past college yet. She is just a freshman and there is plenty of basketball to be played. There are still some unknowns with Haiby, but there is one thing that is certain: she has found her home with the Huskers.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Haiby said, “I love it here at Nebraska.”