- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Over the past month, Salmen center Kalani Brown has been busy filling up her trophy case. And now, she’ll need to make a bit more room.

Less than four weeks after winning a second consecutive Class 4A state championship with the Spartans, and three weeks after being named the Gatorade Louisiana Girls Player of the Year, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association has tabbed the 6-foot-6 junior as its Farm Bureau/Miss Basketball.

Brown, who averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks per game in Salmen’s 33-1 run to the championship, scored 35 points and grabbed 32 rebounds collectively in the semifinals and finals at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Girls Top 28 at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. Following the Spartans’ 56-48 win in the title game, Brown was named the Most Outstanding Player of the State LHSAA/Farm Bureau tournament.

“This has all been a blessing,” Brown said. “I still have things I can work on with my game to get better for next year.”

Brown’s mother, Dee Brown, who also is an assistant coach at Salmen, said Kalani is scheduled to play AAU basketball in the summer, but will be trying out for the national team in Colorado Springs, Colo. If she makes it, she’ll play across Europe, including France and Slovakia.

As she enters her senior season in November, Brown will be one of the nation’s top recruits, garnering attention from national powers such as Baylor, Connecticut, LSU and Texas A&M;, among others.

“This is just awesome, and I have told Kalani over and over that when you do the little things on the court - just the intangibles - you learn about more than basketball. You learn about life, and things like that can take you a long way,” Dee Brown said. “I am so proud of her, and these awards are huge. . We can’t put into words how we feel about what she has done and been able to achieve.”

Both Dee and her husband, P.J. Brown, played basketball at Louisiana Tech, and P.J. played in the NBA for 15 seasons, including three in New Orleans with the Hornets. Dee said their daughter is better than either of them were at this stage.

Both make sure to keep Kalani grounded. They repeatedly stress the importance of doing well in school. That message has streamed through loud and clear.

“I know I can’t go to college without the grades, and in my house I am taught you’re a student first, then you’re an athlete. Books before ball, always. That’s very important to me.”



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