St. Frances girls basketball star Jalyn Brown made her birthday extra special.
In addition to turning 18 last Friday, the rising senior made a commitment to play at national power Louisville.
The 6-foot-1 forward — a four-star prospect and ESPN’s 83rd-ranked recruit in the Class of 2022 — had nearly 30 offers before narrowing her list of schools to Louisville, Maryland and North Carolina State.
In the end, she chose to play under 14-year coach Jeff Walz, who led the Cardinals to a 26-4 record (14-2 in the American Athletic Conference) and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament last season. Brown will be the second St. Frances player to play at Louisville, with 2005 graduate Angel McCoughtry enjoying a stellar four-year career there before becoming a star in the WNBA.
A week ago, Brown was celebrating her special day with her family, sporting Louisville gear and a big smile. She is also ranked the No.12 wing in the Class of 2022 by ESPN, and the No. 5 player in the state of Maryland by Prep Girls Hoops.
“I always felt that I wanted to commit on my birthday — it would be 2-for-1 kind of thing and I was really, really excited,” she said.
“It was definitely a big blessing for me, a lot of hard work. When I went on my [Louisville] visit, that’s when I kind of knew that’s where I wanted to go. Just the family atmosphere and the honesty of the coaches, I just felt that was my best opportunity because Louisville is a very big platform for girls basketball.”
While Brown’s college decision has been made, she is still determining whether she will play her senior high school season at St. Frances or transfer to national power New Hope Academy in Landover Hills in Prince George’s County.
After spending her first two years at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Brown averaged 20.6 points and six rebounds as a junior at St. Frances, which played a condensed season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Her father, Lawrence Brown, who has helped train her throughout her childhood, said his daughter’s success came with hard work and determination. At Riverdale Baptist, she came off the bench as a freshman before earning a starting spot during her sophomore year.
“It’s been a long process,” he said. “We just stayed in the gym, stayed in the gym and I always tried to find the best competition for her regardless — not looking for her to succeed all the time. With that and her growing and things like that, it kind of all came around.”
Brown maintains a 3.7 GPA and plans to study nursing at Louisville in addition to getting the most out of her basketball talent.
“You do all this hard work, you put in all these late nights and you realize that you did it,” she said. “I always say, ‘We always have dreams to reach for the stars, but if you don’t go get the stars, then there’s no point in dreaming about it.’ I knew I wanted to play college ball at the highest level I possibly could. Louisville was definitely one of the biggest opportunities I had at that dream.”
While she has never spoken to McCoughtry, who was the top overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft, Brown said she has admired her game and tried to emulate it.
“She’s definitely a big role model for me,” Brown said. “We’re built the same — same height — from the same place, play the same position. So just looking up to her and seeing what she did is kind of like a milestone for me to reach. … She definitely inspires me by her work ethic by itself. This is definitely something that you have to want to do, so she definitely showed me anything is possible, especially from coming out of Baltimore.”
With Brown’s college decision made, her father said they will next determine where she’ll play her final high school season, with New Hope’s national schedule an enticing option.