Sometimes recruiting can take a few years to pay off.
University of New Mexico women’s basketball coach Mike Bradbury put in months’ worth of groundwork trying to lure then-Cibola High star Amaya Brown to become a Lobo prior to her 2018 graduation.
On Thursday she signed with UNM.
Brown, who spent the past four seasons at Florida State, will play her final season of college basketball at in New Mexico. The Albuquerque native and daughter of former UNM men’s point guard Greg Brown made a campus visit and nailed down her decision this week.
— Amaya Brown (@amaya_brown3) April 21, 2022
“I feel really good about it,” Amaya Brown said in a phone interview from Tallahassee. “I missed home and I want to play in front of my family. I came out this week and did a workout and made it official, but I kind of already knew I wanted to come home.”
A 5-foot-11 guard, Brown was plagued by knee injuries after a promising start at Florida State. She suffered a torn ACL late in her freshman season and later sprained the same knee as a redshirt junior. As a result, Brown appeared in just 44 games for the Seminoles with three starts — all as a freshman.
She’s confident that her best days as a college player are ahead of her.
“I’m 100% healthy now and ready to go,” Brown said. “I plan to have an impact right away. UNM has a good team and I want to help them win a conference tournament championship and get to the NCAAs.”
Bradbury was excited to see his recruiting efforts finally come to fruition.
“She looks exactly like the Amaya I remember except more experienced,” Bradbury said. “She looked healthy, in shape and ready to play immediately. She’s impressive. We’re excited to finally sign her.”
Brown ranks among the most decorated high school players in New Mexico history, having helped Cibola to three Class 6A championship games and one state title during her tenure. She was twice named Gatorade New Mexico Player of the Year and was an ESPN Top-100 recruit.
Brown is Cibola’s career scoring leader and set a state record with 345 rebounds in single season.
Speed, quickness and overall athleticism are major attributes for Brown, who is a well-known menace on the defensive end of the court.
In high school, many of Brown’s points were scored attacking the basket or coming off steals. Injuries limited her ability to play at full speed at Florida State, and she took the COVID-impacted 2020-21 season off to fully rebuild her strength.
While she would have liked to play more, Brown says she enjoyed her time at Florida State.
“It was a great experience and I’ll never regret it,” she said. “Florida State will always feel like home, but I’m from New Mexico. Being able to come back and carry on my dad’s legacy is kind of cool.”
Greg Brown had two superb seasons with the UNM men’s basketball team from 1992-94. He led the Lobos to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths and was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 1994. Standing 5-foot-7, the former Albuquerque High standout also won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1994 as the nation’s top player under six feet tall.
Amaya Brown was heavily recruited out of high school and ultimately made UCLA and Florida State her final options, although UNM remained in the picture for most of the process. Brown once again received plenty of interest when she announced her plans to enter the NCAA transfer portal earlier this month.
“I had a lot of options,” she said, “but it’s time to come home.”
Brown said she has kept track of UNM’s program during her FSU tenure. She knows rising sophomore and Sandia High grad Viané Cumber and has gotten acquainted with some other current Lobos via social media. She plans to return to Albuquerque in June to begin summer workouts.
“It feels like a good fit,” she said, “and I’m definitely looking forward to playing at the Pit again. I’m excited.”