ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Clovis’ Brown Meshing at UNM
Antiesha Brown won’t waste time on could-haves and would-haves.
Yes, Brown could have been a member of 13th-ranked Texas Tech’s women’s basketball team this season.
And yes, she would have been playing at the University of New Mexico right now had she chosen UNM over Tech out of high school.
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Instead, the athletically gifted, 5-foot-10 guard is caught between those situations and determined to make the best of things.
Brown initially signed with Texas Tech and played her freshman season there in 2010-11. But dissatisfied with her playing time (she appeared in seven games and scored nine points), Brown decided to transfer to New Mexico.
After completing the fall semester in Lubbock, Brown recently started practicing with the Lobos. Under NCAA transfer rules, she won’t be eligible to play until midsemester of 2012-13.
“Yeah, I’m kind stuck being a cheerleader right now,” Brown said. “I’m going to do anything I can to keep my new teammates positive and help them have a successful season.”
But Brown knows the moral-support role has limits.
“You can only be a cheerleader for so long,” Brown said. “I know Texas Tech’s having a very good season and I wish them well. But my mindset is, if I’m not on the floor, I’m not as excited about it. I wasn’t playing at Tech and I want to contribute.”
As a high school player in Clovis, Brown hoped to make a mark at nearby Tech. She was recruited by several schools after a standout prep career, but two stood out.
“It was always going to be Tech or UNM,” Brown said. “New Mexico was my top choice for a while, but it came down to wanting to play in the Big 12. I’m so competitive, I wanted to try that level.”
Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez, who recruited Brown, was disappointed but not surprised to see her land in Lubbock.
“Texas Tech is an hour from Clovis,” Sanchez said. “Clovis kids grow up hearing and reading about Tech. Besides, they have a great women’s program and good coaches. It’s not like Antiesha made a bad choice.”
Her timing was another matter. The Lady Raiders’ roster is loaded with talented guards. Four are juniors this season.
“I didn’t want to wait until my senior year to play,” Brown said. “It was a tough decision to leave, but once I just took the emotion out of it, I knew it was best. The coaches (at Tech) understood. They said they’d be more worried about me if I was content sitting on the bench.”
Sanchez could not take emotions out of her reaction to Brown’s transfer.
“I started fist-pumping right away,” Sanchez said. “Obviously, I’d love to have her eligible now, but I’ll take Antiesha whenever I can get her. She’s really going to help.”
Brown also wishes she could play this semester, but she says the worst months of waiting are over.
“This last semester at Tech was miserable,” she said. “I had to explain over and over that I was leaving and why. It was so hard to stay mentally focused, but I just kept thinking about coming to UNM and got through it. I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
Three weeks into her Lobo career, Brown’s spirits have lifted. She’s glad to be playing basketball again – even if it is practice-only – and has fit in quickly with her new teammates.
“I love it,” Brown said. “These girls are so genuine and have made me feel a part of everything. There’s a real positive, family vibe here.”
Though she played guard at Texas Tech and projects as a 2- or 3-guard at UNM, Brown played primarily post at Clovis High. She graduated as the school’s career scoring leader, but believes spending two semesters as a practice player can still pay dividends.
“It’s a totally different style here than at Tech,” Brown said, “I’m already learning more about guard play, and I’ll improve a lot by the time I’m eligible.”
Until then, Sanchez has Brown teaming with UNM’s male practice players and expects her to go full speed.
“Antiesha’s already very skilled,” Sanchez said. “She’s a good penetrator with a nice pull-up jumper and she goes hard to the boards. She’s a tough kid, too, who’s going to push her teammates to get better. Trust me, she’s worth waiting for.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal