There are few superlatives that haven’t been used when describing the high school career of Baylor signee Kalani Brown.
Salmen’s 6-foot-6 center led the Spartans to four consecutive Class 4A state championship games, captured titles in 2013 and 2014, is a four-time LHSAA Top 28 all-tournament selection and a two-time Most Outstanding Player in the 4A title game and left Salmen as the all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots with 2,392, 1,471 and 605, respectively.
Now Brown becomes only the third player to win the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Farm Bureau/Miss Basketball award two times, winning it in back-to-back years.
“I’m just honored to be chosen for a second time,” said Brown, who ended her career at Salmen with a 30-point, 23-rebound effort in the Class 4A championship game against Warren Easton. “I know most girls don’t get that honor and I’m just really excited because Seimone Augustus is top-notch. I’m just very thankful and very blessed to receive this award.”
Among her national honors, Brown is the top-rated center in ESPN’s Class of 2015, a USA Today Naismith All-American, McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand Classic All-American, the 2014 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year and was a gold medalist with Team USA in the summer of 2013.
After being selected to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s All-Metro team for a fourth time and earning Player of the Year honors for the second season in a row on March 28, Brown said the accolades “never get old” and thought she may have a few more awards to come.
Her hunch proved correct. The first player to repeat since former Capitol and LSU star Seimone Augustus (2001, 2002), currently with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. Pineville star and LSU player Kisha James (1997, 1998) is the only other back-to-back winner.
Brown averaged 23.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in her final season with the Spartans, but her basketball career is just getting started. She is slated to arrive on Baylor’s campus June 1 and is currently preparing herself for the elite-level competition she is sure to face.
In late March, Brown was named MVP of the LHSCA All-Star Game in Shreveport, a contest comprised of the top seniors across the state of Louisiana. Not even two weeks later on April 1, she competed in the McDonald’s All-American game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, an honor Brown says ranks at the top of her list.
“Being chosen as a (McDonald’s) All-American is probably one of the highest accolades you can get,” said Brown, who is also set to play in the Jordan Brand Classic April 17 in Brooklyn, New York. “If I had to pick one (accomplishment) that stood out, it would probably be that one and winning gold medals (with Team USA).”
“I think my proudest moment…oh wow,” began her mother and coach, Dee Brown, contemplating which of Kalani’s accomplishments meant most. “I think my proudest moment would be her becoming a McDonald’s All-American and her holding records (points, rebounds and blocks) at what will be our alma mater (when Kalani graduates in May). To have accomplished that is just beyond words.”
Kalani is also the daughter of longtime NBA veteran P.J. Brown but the 6-foot-6 center learned mostly under the tutelage of her mother.
An assistant coach at Salmen, Dee Brown played at Louisiana Tech after being recruited by then assistant Kim Mulkey, currently the head coach at Baylor. Brown is also the head coach of the top girls AAU program in the state, Lady Pumas Elite, where she and Kalani led the team to three consecutive State Tournament titles on the AAU circuit.
Brown said the balancing act between mother and coach was difficult at times but knows Kalani is in good hands with Mulkey at the helm of the Bears.
“I told her I’ve brought her as far as I possibly can and have given her everything I can give her,” Dee said with a laugh. “I think she’s going to be in good hands and where she goes from here will be solely on her. I’m excited for her.”
“I watch (Baylor) and try to see where I would fit in,” said Brown of her soon-to-be new team. “I feel like I’m going to be comfortable there. It’s all about picking somewhere where you know you’re going to be taken care of and I know (Baylor) is the place for me to be.”
Brown continues to take her accomplishments in stride while trying to improve herself on and off the court. She says her primary goal is to build up her conditioning while improving her right hand and adding a hook shot.
Off the hardwood, both Kalani and Dee are becoming more involved with the Ronald McDonald House, which provides assistance to families with terminally ill children.
“The best part was going to the Ronald McDonald house and playing with the kids,” said Kalani of her trip to Chicago for the All-American game. “Overall, it was a great experience.”
“Kalani’s one of those that’s always humble in any and everything she does,” Dee said. “It’s just a blessing for her to be in the company of the caliber of players she has. I think she doesn’t quite appreciate it like she will down the road but it’s all truly a blessing. She’s worked hard for what she’s gotten and I’m just so happy for her.”
Farm Bureau/Louisiana Miss Basketball winners
1996: Judy Clark, Singer
1997: Kisha James, Pineville
1998: Kisha James, Pineville
1999: Ashley Antony, Anacoco
2000: Alana Beard, Southwood-Shreveport
2001: Seimone Augustus, Capitol-Baton Rouge
2002: Seimone Augustus, Capitol-Baton Rouge
2003: Katie Antony, Anacoco
2004: Quianna Chaney, Southern Lab
2005: Courtnee Hollins, Fairview
2006: Alexis Rack, Franklin
2007: Tarkeisha Wysinger, Many
2008: Deana Allen, Ellender
2009: Kylie Leonards, Fairview
2010: Theresa Plaisance, Vandebilt Catholic
2011: Tina Roy, Kaplan
2012: Lulu Perry, Benton
2013: La’Dencia Johnson, Rayville
2014: Kalani Brown, Salmen
2015: Kalani Brown, Salmen