Quick decision for Terps women's hoops recruit
Lexie Brown isn’t quite certain which high school she’ll enroll at this fall. But the rising sophomore knows exactly where she’ll attend college three years from now.
Brown made the trip from her Suwanee, Ga., home to College Park last week for the Maryland women’s basketball program’s annual elite camp. On Saturday, the 5-foot-9 point guard was offered a scholarship by UM coach Brenda Frese. Seconds later, Brown was a Terp.
“I don’t even think she finished the sentence,” Brown said. “I think I kind of jumped in the middle of her question [and committed]. But after I said it, I was like ‘I think I’m going to cry.’ And she said, ‘I think I’m going to cry, too.’ We were just both really excited about it. ... It was surreal. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
The commitment to Maryland capped an improbable year for Brown, a 4.0 student who guided Dr. Phillips High in Orlando to a 30-2 record and an appearance in the Florida Class 6A semifinals. Brown, the daughter of former NBA point guard Dee Brown, was named a co-captain and led the Panthers with 15 points, four assists and three steals per game.
“I can remember Lexie from the first time she set foot on our high school campus,” said Dr. Phillips coach Anthony Jones. “She was nervous from the start, nervous about how she was going to be accepted in our program and what role she would play. … [Being named co-captain as a freshman] put a lot of pressure on her. But I know that putting pressure on Lexie helped her focus on playing at the varsity level. Every time she stepped on the court she was trying to prove how she can play with the seniors and juniors. We set out with a goal to get to the states, period, and we made it. We lost in the districts but won regionals. We made our team goal and a lot of history at our school at the varsity level.”
Brown cemented her status as a future Division I player almost immediately, earning a spot in the Panthers’ starting lineup right from the start. Jones said Brown demonstrated tremendous basketball IQ, constantly making the right decisions and flourishing in her leadership role.
“She has the background of her father playing point guard and teaching her the point guard role. Starting at four or five years old, or even younger than that, she’s been molded right into that player,” Jones said. “Today, her IQ is on the college level. So she’s going to be a pretty tall, long guard, which will be to her advantage. She’s probably 5-9 right now, and she can stop any guard. She’s long and can block shots. She led our team in steals this year as a freshman. I think at the college level, she will play the point guard. If I was a college coach, she’d definitely play point guard. She can set up her teammates, she can drive and dish, shoot the 3-pointer and mid-range jumper. And she can go left and right. She’s a strong player and a great finisher.”
The Brown family relocated from Orlando to suburban Atlanta after the school year in an effort to cut down on Dee Brown’s commute to Massachusetts, where he coaches the Springfield Armor of the NBA Developmental League. Lexie Brown, meanwhile, has kept busy this summer playing for the Georgia Ice AAU program, while keeping an eye on her college future.
“The first time [the Maryland staff] saw me was last [spring] in an AAU tournament at Boo Williams,” Brown said. “Then [Terps assistant coach David] Adkins came down to Orlando for a game. Coach Frese came down for a game, also. They had seen me a couple times in AAU this season. They kept in contact with my dad a lot.”
Maryland had been the top school on Brown’s radar since she was in elementary school. Over the past several months, the Terps’ interest in Brown became increasingly serious.
“I really started liking Maryland because Kristi Toliver was there,” Brown said. “I really liked the way she played and really could relate to her game. I started researching the academics, and they’re good. I’m really interested in business, and they have one of the top business schools. That’s a plus. I love the coaching staff. I talked to Coach Adkins before, and ever since he has started coming to watch me play. I felt a connection with [the coaching staff].”
At Maryland’s camp last weekend, Brown was pulled aside early on for extra instruction by Adkins. She later played pickup with members of Maryland’s team, toured the campus, and eventually made her commitment.
Brown’s early pledge surprised some who know her, but a plan was in place to commit just in case Maryland offered. Ending the recruiting process before it really got started was something Brown was happy to do.
“Most people were proud and happy,” Brown said. “But there were some people like, ‘Why didn’t you wait to get more offers on the table?’ But Maryland was always my No. 1 choice, so I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, let me see if someone else comes in and offers.’ If they’re my No. 1 choice, I’m going to take it because that’s where I want to be.”