Branshea Brown isn’t known as the chatter-box of the Kansas State women’s basketball team.
No, the 6-foot-2 forward has always been more of “lead by example” type of player.
But in her senior season, Branshea — or Brandy, as she’s known by her coaches and teammates — has a bit more to say.
“Yeah, I’m old,” Brown joked before the Wildcats traveled to Las Vegas last week. “I’m confident in what I need to do on the floor. I just need to be that defensive presence for my team. I just need to play that role and to be a leader on the floor and talking to my teammates, letting them know where I’m at, because communication is key.
“We’ve been underdogs a lot and we just want to keep shocking the world.”
If there is any teammate that knows Brown best it is perhaps fellow senior Jalana Childs. Childs — also a forward — came from the same recruiting class as Brown and both are the only players on the team that have put in active minutes on the floor all four years.
Childs said she’s seen the progress her teammate has made not only as a player, but a leader.
“She’s changed… she’s evolved,” Childs said. “Her freshman year she didn’t talk at all and we didn’t hang out as much. It’s been a total 180 from freshman year to senior year.”
Brown is one of the defensive anchors of the Wildcats and is second on the team in offensive and defensive rebounds and third in total rebounds. She leads K-State in blocks with nine and has 10 steals. Offensively, Brown contributes 4.6 points per game and her season-high has been eight points so far twice this year.
In a big win towards the end of last season against then-No. 5 Texas A&M, Brown totaled 10 points, eight rebounds, an assist and a steal. The Aggies went on to win the NCAA Tournament last year.
“Brandy has grown so much in her ability to be verbal,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said. “She picks her spots and you might not see her communicating, but she does communicate a great deal to our basketball team on and off the floor, in the locker room and at practice.”
Brown said a trip to Oklahoma City, Okla., this past summer helped break her out of her shell.
Brown represented K-State women’s hoops at the Big 12 Leadership Summit in June. The summit brings in athletes from across the conference for a three-day workshop in leadership, diversity, communication and collaborative exercises.
“I was kind of nervous,” Brown said looking back at the first day of the summit. “It was a whole bunch of people. I didn’t know anybody there. So, it kind of got me out of my comfort zone.”
The experience had a lasting impact on the Walterboro, South Carolina native, and Childs, who went to the leadership summit in 2010, said the event was a turning point for her as a player as well.
“The leadership summit is pretty cool for people to go to,” Childs said. “I learned a lot from that and came back with a different mindset. Brandy has too.
“You’re in a group with 11 other representatives from the other Big 12 schools and I didn’t know anyone and I had to speak out. For Brandy that’s different because she really doesn’t speak out that much. Once I start talking, I can’t stop… but I’m pretty sure Brandy had to say some things (at the summit) and become comfortable (to speak out).”
Brown, who has led the Wildcats in rebounds in three games in the month of December — including a 13-board night in a win against Northwestern a week ago — said the summit helped her develop communication abilities.
“We worked on different things,” Brown said. “We did little things that you would think doesn’t help leadership, but it actually does. (One exercise that helped) was working on using simple words, which is me altogether because I’m not the most talkative person off the floor. On the floor I know when to talk, but being in that leadership position (off the floor) it’s about letting the underclassmen know what we are about.”
Patterson said Brown’s transformation has evolved right on schedule.
“Brandy was so shy and so timid. But she’s just matured and she’s gained confidence,” she said. “That’s the goal when people get into their third and fourth year into the program. They feel like they’re mature, confident individuals. They’re not timid anymore and I love that about her. She’s a positive and empowering person and she’s repeating the things she’s heard around the program and the coaching staff — she values it and holds others to that standard.”
K-State (8-3) will continue non-conference play Thursday night in Poughkeepsi, N.Y, where it will take on Marist (5-5) at 6 p.m. CT.