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Ford’s Brown learning about, improving her game

This summer has been quite a learning experience for Shayra Brown. The Bishop Ford rising senior guard has seen the strengths and really learned the weaknesses of her game while playing her first season with the Exodus NYC AAU team.

“I wouldn’t say it’s different,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be getting to the basket like I usually do. Instead of getting to the basket strong I would pull up for a shot. Everything I do is just hesitant, instead of just reacting.”

Exodus coach Apache Paschall said that Brown played well at the start of the summer, but has hit a bit of a wall because of the rigors of the AAU season and continual high level of competition they face at each tournament. Playing against the best teams and players in the country is something new.

“Shayra’s never done this before,” Paschall said.“It’s just a different level of basketball.”

Brown believes she just needs to stop thinking too much when she is playing, but said it is not nervousness. She needs to be stronger with the ball in her hands and dribbling it. Brown, who missed her entire sophomore season with a broken foot, said she fumbles it sometimes and turns it over more than she likes.

“My handle and my shooting off the dribble need to really get better,” she said.

Added Exodus teammate Tiffany Jones, of St. Michael Academy: “I think that she is just scared sometimes, but other than that she is good.”

The summer, though, has served its purpose by giving Brown a chance to play against a higher level of competition. It has gotten her seen by more college coaches and prepared her to return for her senior season. She is extremely athletic, great in transition, and has an uncanny ability to get into the passing lanes on defense. Brown, when going well, can take over multiple facets of the game.

“I think that Shayra actually should’ve been on our higher team a year ago,” Paschall said. “She is a superb athlete. She can run up and down with the best of them.”

It is those skills that have Brown’s stock rising this summer. Paschall said she has moved from being a low Division I prospect to a mid-major player. Brown is being recruited by Louisville, Northeastern, George Washington, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, according to Paschall.

“She is going to get a scholarship to a major Division I school, but in order for her to make an immediate impact she has to work on her handle,” he said. “It can’t just be her running up and down the court.”

Brown can’t wait to get back on the floor for the Falcons and new head coach Mike Toro. She believes with the players Ford is returning, four of five starters and strong additions from the junior varsity team, they can content for the Brooklyn/Queens title. After what she faced this summer she should be more than ready to lead the way.

“The level of this is different from the level of Brooklyn/Queens,” Brown said. “So I think I will be alright.”

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