By: Megan Wilson
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
For many incoming freshmen, the first semester of college is full of adjustments. Students spend time getting used to the size of the classes, the course load, and the varying speeds of college life. Add to those changes the challenges of being an athlete with workout sessions, practices, study tables, and of course game days. Much like freshmen athletes conference-wide, these are just some obstacles Kansas State forward Branshea Brown is facing this year.
While striking a balance between being a student and being an athlete can be difficult, it may not be the most challenging aspect of being a freshman student-athlete. For Brown, the biggest challenge faced so far this year has been being so far from home. Brown came to Manhattan, Kan., from a close-knit family in Walterboro, S.C., about 45 minutes outside of Charleston.
“I come from a close family,” Brown said. “I’m an only child, but I’m close to my cousins, aunts and uncles too,” said Brown. “I talk to my parents more than once a day, and I talk to my other family a lot as well. This (Manhattan) is home too, but sometimes I miss being home. I’m so busy now, though, that I can’t miss it too much.”
Brown’s approach to school and basketball mirrors her personality - relaxed, laid back, and hardworking.
“Brandy is just a tremendous athlete, a great person and a tremendous worker as well,” said Head Coach Deb Patterson. “When you talk about what you want at Kansas State, we want the whole package.”
Athleticism is something Coach Patterson and her staff felt Brown had to offer the Wildcats. Her ability on the basketball court made her one of the top players in South Carolina in 2008. During her high school career, Brown tallied 1,400 points and 1,226 rebounds at Colleton County High. She also holds the school record for blocks (126) and rebounds (436) in a season. With her many achievements coming into K-State, it is not surprising that Brown’s greatest basketball memory was during her time at Colleton County.
“During my junior year, we made history at our school,” Brown said. “We had a really long winning streak and won more games than they had in a long time at my school. That’s probably my best memory so far.”
By the end of her high school career, Brown had been honored as the 2008 South Carolina Basketball Officials District Player of the Year and as an ESPN/Rise Magazine South Carolina Player of the Year finalist. Even with all of her accomplishments, Coach Patterson sees potential for more on the horizon for Brown.
“Her athleticism, her strength and her body are big-time caliber basketball,” Patterson said. “As she makes the transition and learns the physical nature and speed of the game, and learns how to be a great finisher, her upside is just tremendous. She is a body and a physical specimen like we have never seen here at Kansas State.
“What really makes her potential great is that she cares, she works hard, and she’s just extremely coachable. When you put those things together, you have a great opportunity for success,” said Patterson.
The praise for Brown’s potential is especially high when considering those who have dominated the paint before her including, among others, Nicole Ohlde -an All-American and two-time Big 12 Player of the Year.
Brown has continued to grow as a player, averaging 1.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in an average of 8.5 minutes of playing time during K-State’s non-conference slate. She is expected to continue to grow as the Wildcats look to defend their title when Big 12 play gets underway.
During the season, she has shown flashes of her extreme talent, grabbing 10 rebounds against UT-San Antonio and tallying eight rebounds and eight points in the non-conference finale against Central Arkansas.
Adjusting to the fast-paced lifestyle that surrounds being a student-athlete is a skill Brown wants to improve on, especially on the basketball court.
“I would like to get better at changing speeds,” Brown said. “Coach (Kamie) Ethridge has really pounded that into me, that I need to be able to change speeds.”
Although being a student-athlete makes her college experience a little bit different from that of some of her classmates, there are, however, elements that remain the same. As the basketball season and school year roll on, look forward for good things to come as a result of Brown and the Kansas State women’s basketball team.