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Cibola basketball star Amaya Brown enjoys recruiting

Phase I is complete. At least, the first phase of Phase I is complete.

For a huge chunk of September, Amaya Brown opened her front door and entertained visiting college coaches, all of them courting the Cibola High School junior guard and hoping to be the one to land her signature next year on a Division I National Letter of Intent form.

Arizona State came through town. So did Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. And Oregon State and Florida State. UCLA and Baylor. Kansas, TCU … and the University of New Mexico.

They all took their turns inside the Brown living room to make their first in-person sales pitch to New Mexico’s highest-profile girls basketball recruit.

“It was a good experience,” Brown said in a sit-down interview with the Journal earlier this week. “I got to have a feel for the colleges.”

The power-point presentations were specific and all-encompassing, and of course created to give Brown, like all blue-chip recruits, a sense of the program, and of the college as a whole.

UNM, for example, pitched Brown as a hometown hero. The Lobos’ visit had Brown’s attention. It included a highlight video of Brown during the summer.

“That changed my mind about UNM,” she said.

So, we can safely assume that the Lobos are a player.

Who else? Arizona State seems like a good fit, Brown’s mother, Catina Dunn, said.

Baylor is her dream school, Brown said, probably from the time she attended one of their summer camps as a sixth-grader. The Bears, she added, were one of the schools that impressed Brown during those home visits in September. Brown regularly tweeted out photos of herself with the visiting coaches, giving her followers sort of a road map to follow during those frantic three weeks.

But this was only the first part of the process. Other visits are still to come.

After the coming college season, Brown said she will welcome several other colleges — Louisville, Tennessee and South Carolina for sure, she said, and possibly also Kentucky.

She said she is flattered by the attention.

“I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “It’s really fun. I never thought all these coaches would come and visit me.”

It is also worth mentioning that not everyone who wanted to shake Brown’s hand in person was given the green light to get on a plane. Despite its status as a national power, Stanford was on a short list of schools that were rebuffed by Brown.

Is there one school that meets all of her academic and basketball needs? If there is, Brown is keeping that one close to the vest.

“I’m still working out which college I want to go to,” she said.

Ideally, like any gifted recruit, she’d like to get into a program where she could play and contribute immediately. This means having to vet each school individually, to measure both returning talent and incoming talent.

It is, for someone at Brown’s level, an extremely time-consuming process.

“I’m very ready for it,” she said. “It’s not going to be a distraction for me at all.”

As for Brown’s health, she is working to rehabilitate her injured knee, pretty much on a daily basis.

The goal remains the same for Brown as it was when the Journal first reported on her injury: to return when Cibola begins District 1-6A play, which is the final third of January. She said she’s a fast healer and is optimistic she can meet that self-imposed deadline.

I asked Brown and her mother whether it was worth the risk of coming back this season, rather than simply sitting out her junior season and returning as a senior.

Brown said she would not even think about putting on the Cibola uniform again until she knows her body has the same speed, agility and movement that it did before she injured it in July at a summer camp in Dallas with her AAU team, the New Mexico Heat Elite.

“I’m only gonna come back if I’m 100 percent,” she said firmly.

Brown said she will take a couple of official visits in the spring, and probably do the rest — she can do as many as five officially, and as many as she wants unofficially — after July.

“It’s all about what Amaya wants,” said Dunn. “We’ll give her opinions, but (she) has to make sure the school is vested in (her).”

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