DeKalb’s Leigha Brown named 2017-18 News-Sentinel.com Girls Basketball Player of the Year
They say be humble.
It is the first step in achieving success on a high school athletic level.
They say be driven. Call it step two.
If you need a step three, it is to be educated in your sport and constantly improve your skill set.
There may not be a better example of following through on steps one through three than Leigha Brown. That is why the DeKalb senior is the 2018 News-Sentinel.com Girls High School Basketball Player of the Year.
“Leigha Brown, the girl who can do it all. She is one of the most versatile kids I’ve trained, seeing that she can literally do everything I ask her to do,” Always 100 founder Vernard Hollins said.
Brown has been at the forefront of area girls basketball for her entire career. She scored in bunches, earned an Indiana Junior All-Star spot and committed to play NCAA Division 1 basketball at the University of Nebraska all before she played a game her senior season. And then, her game and exposure exploded even more.
Game one of the season, the Barons hosted Heritage and Brown posted a 34 point, 20 rebound, 10 assist triple double.
Game two of the season, the Barons took a trip to Lakeland. There was no early feeling out process. Final statline for Brown: 53 points on 16-of-28 shooting, 23 rebounds and five steals. It was the eighth best single scoring game in area history, girls or boys.
She finished the season averaging 28 points per game, second in the state, in leading DeKalb to an 11-12 record.
“What makes her special is that she actually is almost perfect at those things,” Hollins said. “She’s a 6-foot-1 point guard, which is rare but that just makes her game that much better because she can use her height to do other things.”
Brown remains humble as others heap on the praise.
“I just go out and do whatever; I play my hardest and whatever happens happens. I always want to do the little things, whether it is on defense or rebounding and getting my teammates involved,” she said.
Up next for Brown is Nebraska, which is in the midst of a turnaround. A year after winning just seven games — the lowest total the program had ever had — the Cornhuskers are a tournament team this year. Next year, they add Brown to the mix and she knows she is adding to a good core.
“The people there are great; the coaching staff, the players, especially the fan base. One of the greatest fan bases in the country, so it was a huge reason why I wanted to go there,” Brown said.
Brown could add a significant scoring punch immediately. She scored in double digits in all 20 games she played in this season, missing three games due to an ankle injury. Only three times did Brown score less than 20 points: twice against NECC powers Angola and Class 2A state champion Central Noble and then a season low 11 points against Northrop in a game she only played a portion of due to her ankle injury.
Outside of hoops, Brown will major in business management, in hopes to potentially follow one day in Hollins’ footsteps.
“Since I can remember, we’ve had Spiece. And once I got to middle school, Always 100 came in and I think that just kind of elevated the whole area,” Brown said.
“I kind of want to do what Vernard has, start my own gym and just get kids involved to get active. I just want to be a positive role model and show that if they work hard, I can help give them the skill sets to help accomplish their goals.”
The senior leaves DeKalb with plenty of records in place. On Jan. 13, as the Barons hosted East Noble, she scored 37 points to pass MaChelle Joseph as the program’s all-time scoring leader, finishing with 1,798 points. She also set the school’s rebound record with 820 for her career and became the career scoring leader for DeKalb County. Her final career scoring puts her ninth in Northeast Indiana area girls basketball history and 18th in area history regardless of gender.
As an Indiana All-Star again this season, she was also named of one of five Miss Basketball finalists on March 14.
Needless to say, one could rave all day about the impact Brown leaves at DeKalb. But she, of course, wants to leave a different legacy than just numbers.
“I just want to leave a legacy and be a positive role model for the younger girls coming up through the program to show them what they can do too,” Brown said.