As top assistant for recently departed Georgetown women's basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, Keith Brown had to wear a lot of hats. He led the program's recruiting efforts, handled the team's scheduling and did his fair share of coaching on the court.
But Wednesday morning at McDonough Arena, Brown was greeted at the podium with a different hat — dark blue and blazoned the grey Georgetown "G" — to welcome him as the university's seventh head women's basketball coach.
"His five years here have been the most successful run in women's basketball history, [and] it's no coincidence, because Keith has had his fingerprints in every aspect of this program," athletic director Lee Reed said.
The Hoyas finished 23-9 last season and have advanced to the second round in each of the past three NCAA tournaments.
Few have been more integral to their success than Brown, whose recruiting prowess has helped Georgetown land three consecutive top-25 recruiting classes. He draws his strength in recruiting from an educational background that featured stints as a sixth-grade teacher in Prince George's County and a special education teacher at Cesar Chavez Middle and High Charter School.
"A friend told me a long time ago that the best coaches were probably educators," Brown said. "I've always looked at recruiting as a parent conference, and I was teaching for 15 years, so I don't know how many parents I've talked to."
"He's very kid-friendly," SanJuan Brown, Keith's wife of more than 20 years, said. "When you're sending girls away [to college], you want to be sure that you're sending them to somebody who's going to be like their surrogate family, and he's very good at that."
Brown also spent 11 years on the AAU circuit and helped found the Maryland Mystics AAU program. One of his former AAU players, Georgetown junior center Sydney Wilson, is excited to have her old coach in charge again.
"I've known him since I was 15 years old and have a really great relationship with him," Wilson said. "I think that most people see the crazy side of him, but he definitely has a loving, personable side. I think that now that he's head coach, we'll definitely see more of that."
Georgetown can also expect to see the same kind of up-tempo playing style that has made it so successful over the past couple of years. Brown's hiring will help smooth the transition between the upcoming season and years past, when now-Auburn coach Williams-Flournoy was at the helm.
"We will defend, rebound and share the ball. That is our philosophy: a commitment to compete," Brown said. "I don't think it's going to change much, but with everything comes a little bit of change."
One thing that won't change is Georgetown's family mentality. Between Brown and recently hired assistant coach Kenya Kirkland, a former standout player and assistant operations manager, the Hoyas have shown a commitment to keeping it within the family. And as a man with eight children and two grandchildren, nobody knows family better than Brown.
"[John Thompson Jr.] taught me that you got to take care of the shield, the 'G'," Brown said, adjusting his hat. "I promise that on and off the court, that I will protect the shield."