The secret Amaya Brown has been carrying around for six days became part of the public domain Wednesday.
Cibola High School’s dynamic 5-foot-11 senior-to-be guard, one of the most sought after basketball recruits in the state’s history, announced she would play collegiately for Florida State.
FSU won out over UCLA. Those were the only schools Brown, 17, chose for official visits.
“I had a better bond with the Florida State coaches, since they have been recruiting me since the eighth grade,” Brown said.
Surrounded by about 30 family members and friends inside a downtown studio at ProView Networks, Brown sat behind a desk as she made her decision.
“This has been a long, hard journey,” she said.
As she decided, she stood up to take off a sweater to reveal a charcoal-colored T-shirt with the letters “FSU” in red across the front.
“I feel like they play my style, which is fast-paced,” Brown said.
Dozens of top women’s programs around the country had shown interest in Brown. Florida State made two in-home visits to Brown, in September and March. She visited the Tallahassee campus in early April.
“I thought it would be a real country town, but it’s … a college (town),” Brown said, adding later, “It’s a small town, and I like the small-town feeling.”
And from the start, it was clear the Seminoles were the front-runners.
When she visited Los Angeles two weekends ago, Brown said she knew UCLA would have to hit a proverbial home run to get her to pivot away from Florida State.
She said she called UCLA’s coaches last Thursday to inform them of her choice to go with Florida State. New Mexico, Brown said, was also in the picture, if not a finalist.
“They came to my house twice,” Brown said of the Lobos. “But I just feel like I didn’t want to stay in New Mexico anymore. It was time for me to get away.”
Brown said she has been paying attention to the Seminoles.
“I watched them all last season,” she said. “And during the NCAA Tournament. I thought, ‘That’s me.’ They fit me.”
As this is just a non-binding commitment, Brown technically remains in play for any college until Brown signs her national letter of intent during her senior year at Cibola. The early signing period begins in November.
Brown missed her junior season with a serious knee injury, suffered in July in club ball in Texas.
She returned to the court a month ago with her club team, Texas Elite. And on June 10, she leaves for Italy, where she will have a 10-day trip competing for an adidas USA Select team.
Brown’s former club coach, Robert Sanchez, said Brown can play beyond Florida State.
“She can get to the rim anytime she wants to at the next level,” Sanchez said. “And with her ability to defend in the open court — she’s the best defensive guard in the country — that’s what is gonna make her a pro.”
Brown concurred and said she definitely has WNBA ambitions after Florida State.
“She’s got the athleticism, and she’s got the drive,” former UNM women’s head coach Yvonne Sanchez said of Brown. “I know the Florida State (coaching) staff well. They’re getting a good one.”
Brown and her mother, Catina Dunn, both expressed relief that this was over.
“It was very stressful,” Dunn said. “And it’s been going on since she was in the eighth grade. It was hard for Amaya, and it was very difficult to make that call to UCLA.”