Oh what a KnightPublished 4:19pm Friday, April 5, 2013
WILLIAMSTON — This all could have been very different without a simple suggestion from Willie Brown. It was at his behest that his daughter, Jalyn Brown, trade in the little yellow ball for the big orange one.
“At first I didn’t start out playing basketball, I was a softball player,” Jalyn said. “One day my dad just asked me if I wanted to play basketball and I said sure. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Since then, Brown has blossomed into one of the area’s elite players, displaying all-around skills that helped Riverside become one of the top 1-A teams in the state. After two years of knocking on the door of dominance, Brown burst through it as a junior averaging 15.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.4 assists per game to lead the Knights to a 28-2 record and a Four Rivers Conference regular season and tournament title.
Brown, who scored her 1,000th career point this season, was also an easy choice for the Washington Daily News Player of the Year.
Playing on a Riverside team that makes its living in transition, it’s imperative to have, not just a talented point guard, but one the coaching staff trusts to run the show and the Knights had that in Brown.
“That means everything. You know with her she’s going to get the job done,” Riverside coach Kirby Maness said. “I can completely trust her. Being a point guard is like being a quarterback in football. You have to have that trust in them and allow them to be the coach on the court. Jalyn does a good job of taking control of the game.”
The Knights pressed from opening tip-off to the final buzzer this season and it was the speedy Brown that led the attack as she averaged nearly four steals per contest. While her defensive abilities were a key element in the Knights’ success, it was her ability to direct an offense and get to the rim when sets broke down that allowed Riverside to advance all the way to the East Regional semifinal round of the playoffs.
“Her best quality is her offense. Her offensive game is by far head-and-shoulders above a lot of kids,” Maness said. “She’s got a really good handle. She can go to her right and left. Midrange and in she has a great shot. She was our best free throw shooter. Her overall offensive game is her greatest strength.”
Brown’s offensive strength is a muscle Maness would like to see her flex more often as he has often argued with her to shoot the ball more. However, like a true point guard, Brown is extraordinarily keen to the needs of her teammates.
“I just love what I do,” Brown said. “I don’t make it just about me. I make it about my teammates. I’m just one player, it takes five of us to win. I try to look out for everybody else and make sure they’re good, on and off the court.”
How can you argue against that.