For Williamsburg Christian Academy freshman Keyana Brown, it’s a milestone she’ll likely reach during the first game of her sophomore year season.
As an eighth grader playing at the varsity level, Brown (15.3 points 10 rebounds per game) was named to the Virginia Independent Schools’ All-State first team after guiding the Eagles to their first state championship game in school history. She also earned first team All-Conference honors after leading WCA (27-2, 15-0 MAC) to the Metro Athletic Conference (MAC) regular season and conference tournament championships.
This season her numbers improved and Brown (18.0 points 10.6 rebounds per game) led the Eagles to similar success this past season. As a freshman, Brown led WCA (24-8, 14-0) to repeat MAC regular season and tournament titles in addition to being named the Conference Player of the Year. She guided the Eagles back to the state championship, where they fell for the second straight year to Miller School of Charlottesville. She was again selected to the Division III All-State first team.
Brown says while playing in a state tournament as an eighth grader was intimidating, it also gave her a competitive edge.
“I feed off nervous energy,” Brown says. “I tried not to think, wow, this girl is like five or six years older than me. I just tried to concentrate on playing my game.”
Already in her young career, Brown has totaled 994 points and more than 500 rebounds and is drawing comparisons to some of the best to ever play in the state.
With three more seasons left at the varsity level, she’s got a chance to shatter the state’s all-time scoring record of 2,598 career points set by former Phoebus star La’Keshia Frett, who went on to play at the University of Georgia before playing six seasons in the WNBA.
“It’s a big expectation to be compared to some of the top players,” Brown says. “It just makes me want to work harder and get better.”
Brown is also generating quite a buzz among college coaches. She’s received numerous letters from Division I schools such as Virginia Tech, Dayton, University of North Carolina, George Mason and William and Mary.
Her dream is to attend UNC and win a national championship. In addition to attending several of the school’s private camps, Brown says she’s frequently in contact with Tar Heel assistant coach Tracey Williams-Johnson.
Watch a YouTube video of Keyana Brown here:
For now, Brown says she’s focused on being the best. So she asks herself, “What can I do that my opponents aren’t doing right now?”
For those answers, she looks to her father and WCA assistant coach Chris Brown, who played at Norfolk State in the mid 80’s.
“He introduced me to basketball when I was six and from then on he’s just been so encouraging and his hard work and work ethic have rubbed off on me,” Brown says. “I get motivated from him because he’s so dedicated in everything he does. It inspires me.”
Because of their strong relationship, Chris Brown says the balance between coach and father wasn’t as difficult as he initially thought.
“We’re good friends. We talk straight up with each other,” Chris Brown says. “As much as I want to go up to her after the game and talk about everything, she’s maturing and I’ve started to let her process it on her own.”
Father and daughter stay after school every Monday through Thursday working on everything from speed and agility drills to lifting weights, ball-handling and shooting drills.
“Being the best is more than talent,” Brown says. “To be the best you have to beat the best. And to do that you have to work harder than the best.”
Another part of Brown’s training is playing AAU ball on the Boo Williams Elite 15-and-under travel team that competes in tournaments throughout the summer. She says facing the nation’s top prospects serves as a way for her to gauge her skills.
“The game is much faster, and the pace is much quicker so you have to react to things a lot faster,” Brown says. “It also shows me how many good players there are which reminds me that I have to keep working.”
After suffering a hand injury during WCA’s state championship game back in February – an injury that didn’t stop her from playing, despite the cast she wore for weeks after the game – Brown has worked her way back slowly in order to reduce the chances of fracturing it again.
Jonathan Wilson, the coach of Boo William’s U-15 Elite squad, says Brown is a vital member of this year’s team. He’s is glad she’ll be fully healthy when they compete in the AAU state championship tournament this weekend at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.
“She’s just a freshman but she’s an integral part of this team,” Wilson says. “Keyana is a tremendous talent with a tremendous upside. The sky’s the limit for her.”