Second-generation stars give Maryland women added experience

Maryland's women's basketball team worked out in College Park on Thursday to prepare for Sunday's NCAA Final Four game against UConn. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

By the time they're through at Maryland, they all emerge into their own players.

But on a team loaded with players whose parents competed in sports either professionally or collegiately, the Maryland women's basketball team benefits plenty from its cadre of second-generation stars, led by point guard Lexie Brown, daughter of former NBA star Dee Brown.


"I always think when you find a player whose parents have been coaches, parents have played, there's just a certain level where they've just been around the game a lot longer," Terps coach Brenda Frese said. "They've watched it, they've been in the arenas, they've been in the gyms non-stop. ... I do think there's an advantage when you're able to recruit players like that."

Frese's Terps (34-2) — who face two-time defending national champion Connecticut (36-1) Sunday in the Final Four at Tampa Bay's Amalie Arena — feature several such players.


Brown scored a team-high 15 points in Maryland's Elite Eight win over No. 2 Tennessee, the Terps' 28th straight victory. The team's third-leading scorer with 13.4 points per game, the sophomore guard was named a third-team Associated Press All-American and last month earned All-Big Ten first team honors.

Forward Brionna Jones (Aberdeen), the team's leading rebounder with nine per game, is the daughter of two coaches. Plus, her father, Michael, played at the University of Hartford and her mother, Sanciarhea, played volleyball at East Texas State.

A'Lexus Harrison (Digital Harbor) is the daughter of a former Miami (Fla.) women's basketball player, Kim, and a former Towson football player, Quann.

Freshman reserve forward Aja Ellison is the daughter of former NBA star Pervis Ellison, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1986 NCAA tournament, when he led Louisville to a national title.

Senior guard Lauren Mincy's father played baseball for a year at Seton Hall, while Tierney Pfirman is the daughter of a former Rutgers football player.

Beyond those connections potentially making a difference on the court, they allows Frese to start the recruiting process a little farther along.

"I think they're a lot more prepared," she said. "Sometimes the recruiting process, you're trying to educate parents, versus them coming in with another set of expectations, questions, analysis."

Once they arrive, those players can elevate everyone around them.

Jones believes her upbringing in a basketball-crazed family in Havre de Grace gave here better awareness on the court. She didn't realize until she began playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball that not every player's parents were as steeped in the game as her own.

Brown's life was a bit different, with the children of professional athletes on many of her AAU teams. She and Ellison had even spent time together when they were babies. Brown doesn't know any other life than that of an NBA family but said it painted every aspect of her game.

"I've just grown up in that lifestyle my whole life, so that's where I get my work ethic," she said. "That's where I get my love for sports and the game."

Teammates marvel at Brown's understanding of the game, which starting center Malina Howard believes came from seeing so much of it as a child.


"She's one of the highest-IQ basketball players I've ever played with," Howard said. "She just knows basketball. She can read well as the point guard, she leads our offense. She's a great leader. She knows what to say in the huddles to keep us motivated and everything, so I think she's a great leader because of all the basketball she's been around."

Brown — whose father Dee is now an assistant coach for player development for the Sacramento Kings — believes she fits right in among players who came to Maryland with such strong basketball backgrounds.

"I think that this team has a lot of basketball knowledge, and that's come from their parents," she said. "We have a lot of different views of the sport. My dad is a guard, Aja's dad is a big guy, so it's been really cool to share stories and put our heads together and help this team."

Frese, though, takes pride in the fact that each player emerges from whatever familial shadow she arrives with.

"I think through the course of their career, for Lexie to be able to see that unfold, she was able to kind of create her own name right away," Frese said. "It's always going to be a task. I think it's a great storyline, but I think it's also pretty exciting when you continue to create that additional identity on top of it."


Recommended on Baltimore Sun