Louisville commit Jalyn Brown has footwork like a dancer from practice

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(Courtesy of Sam Caldwell)

It is a favored cliché of the basketball commentariat to declare a player as having footwork like a dancer. But in the case of the New Hope wing Jalyn Brown, the truism is rooted in truth.

Brown, a lanky 6-foot senior signed to Arizona, grew up dancing ballet and hip-hop. When she transitioned to basketball full-time, in middle school, her coaches often commended her footwork. It looked as if she was prancing around defenders, shimmying and shuffling to the rim.

Last Saturday, early in New Hope’s game against Montverde in the GEICO Nationals final, Brown did just that. Then, as she whirled into the restricted area, she looked to her left while passing straight ahead to senior forward Taniyah Lawson. The no-look dime brought the Tigers’ bench to its feet and sent the ESPN announcers into a frenzy.

New Hope fell to Montverde 61-57, but Brown stood out in a tournament full of some of the nation’s best. After scoring 28 points in the Tigers’ 80-50 win over IMG in the semifinal, she recorded 14 points and four steals against Montverde in the championship.

It was a weekend that earned Brown a spot on the All-Tournament team, as well as JWS Player of the Week honors. Nearly a week later, it’s the no-look assist to Lawson that Brown is most proud of.

“I can score, yes,” she said, “but the thing that gets me hypest is when I make a really good dime.”

The sleek pass to Lawson was years in the making.

Brown has been attempting no-look dimes in games since eighth grade. Except back then, they weren’t always hitting the mark.

“Let’s just say the ball didn’t get there,” Brown said, chuckling. “My parents would say, ‘Stop doing it.’”

Instead she doubled down, and these days, she’s often on the mark. It helps that she’s been playing with Lawson — as well as teammates Kirah Dandridge, Laila Reynolds and Channing Williams — since they were kids, for local AAU team Lady Prime.

The group split up for a couple of years, attending different area high schools, before converging this season at New Hope for coach Sam Caldwell. The group rolled to a 27-2 record entering GEICO Nationals, having claimed the National Association of Christian Athletes Division III crown.

Brown led the way all season long, and will look to bring that same success next year to Louisville. She is trained by her father, Lawrence Brown Jr., who has been pushing her hard since she decided to give up dance and focus on basketball, sending her on hill runs and into the weight room.

Her father, Brown said, felt he never got a fair chance to show Division I coaches his ability at the high school level.

“I think that’s why he puts so much pressure on us,” she said, referencing her young brother, Lawrence III. “He wants us to go to (college) for free.”

Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.