Notre Dame women gain commitment of top-rated guard Jenna Brown

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — The first time Jenna Brown of Marietta, Ga., spoke with Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw she said she felt a connection.

“I want to play for this lady,” Brown thought back then early in her recruiting process.

And on Tuesday, Brown, rated by many as the top high school junior point guard in the country, announced her intention to attend Notre Dame, making the connection complete.

Yes, the Irish talent pool just got richer.

Brown, a 5-foot-10 guard from Lovett High School in Atlanta, is the third commitment in the class of 2018, joining Indianapolis Heritage Christian's Katlyn Gilbert, a similar 5-10 guard and Abby Prohaska, also 5-10, from Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio.

Brown, at 5-foot-10 can do anything with the basketball, according to Bret McCormick, a recruiting analyst for All-Star Girls Report.

“She can take it off the bounce, shoot the three and handle it in the open floor,” said McCormick, who projected Brown as a future first-round draft choice of the WNBA. “She has that type ability.”

She's not able to show it this winter as she recovers from a knee injury.

She was a player on Team USA this past summer, earning a bronze medal at the FIBA U17 championships in Spain, and suffered the knee injury in early July.

According to her father, Matt, Brown is ahead of schedule in the rehabilitation process and is expected to play competitively again in the summer.

“It was tough to miss a season,” Brown said. “But it is five months out now and I have adjusted. The injury made me have more appreciation for the game — more hunger.''

Brown reportedly made official visits to Stanford, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Princeton.

“I fell in love with the campus,'' she said of Notre Dame when contacted by phone Tuesday. "I loved the game atmosphere at Notre Dame. I enjoyed meeting the players. They are so down to earth.”

“It just felt different than the rest of the schools,” Brown told ESPNW. “I really had a lot of great choices, but Notre Dame has a history of excellence.

“The basketball team, the staff and the school combined to make it the place for me. I also value the importance of a quality education and I know that Notre Dame will offer that to me."

Basketball runs in the Brown family. She was born in Manhasset, N.Y., and now lives in Marietta, Ga. Her older sister is a senior guard for the Princeton basketball team and her great uncle is the legendary NBA and college coach Larry Brown.

As a freshman at Lovett, she averaged 15.1 points while starting 28 of 30 games and leading her team to the semifinals of the state tournament. Her sophomore season, she averaged 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. She has had single-game highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Her style of play fits with what McGraw prefers.

“I love to push the ball,'' Brown said. "I love transition. I love to attack the basket.”

McGraw cannot comment on recruits until they have officially signed letters of intent.

The Irish also have three players ready to join the Irish for the 2017 season.

Earlier they had received commitments from 6-foot-2 Danielle Patterson of New York and 6-3 Mikayla Vaughn of Fairfax, Va.

Last Thursday, Lili Thompson, who played three years at point guard for Stanford, announced she is joining the Irish for her final year of eligibility after sitting out this season

Notre Dame women's basketball recruit Jenna Brown played for Team USA this past summer, earning a bronze medal at the FIBA U17 championships in Spain. Photo courtesy/USA BASKETBALL