This week is just a little more than half over, but Baylor’s Kalani Brown has already led her team to a national championship in Tampa, Fla., traveled home to celebrate at the Ferrell Center and flown out to New York for the WNBA Draft.
And now the Lady Bears’ center is headed across the country to Los Angeles.
The L.A. Sparks selected Brown with the seventh pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft on Wednesday night in New York. She became the eighth Lady Bear to be picked in the first round of the draft and the highest pick since the Tulsa Shock picked Odyssey Sims No. 2 overall in 2014.
Brown, whose father P.J. Brown played for 15 seasons in the NBA and won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, was coached by her mother, Dee Brown, in AAU and high school basketball. Dee Brown played college basketball at Louisiana Tech when Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was an assistant for the Lady Techsters.
But Kalani Brown told ESPN’s Holly Rowe at the draft that she’s never leaned on anyone else’s reputation to make her way.
“Just by making it here, I think I’ve created my own legacy,” Brown said. “My parents have always told me, you know, you just don’t want to be known as P.J. Brown’s daughter. Make your own legacy. Make your own path and I think I’ve done that tonight.”
Brown averaged 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in leading Baylor to the national championship. Her numbers came down a bit from her junior season averages of 20.1 points and 10.2 boards as she shared more minutes with freshmen NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo this season.
Brown earned second-team All-American honors as a junior and senior and made the All Greensboro Region and All Final Four teams during the Lady Bears’ title run in this campaign.
The Sparks are coached by five-time NBA champion guard Derek Fisher, who will make his debut coaching in the WNBA in the upcoming season.
Baylor point guard Chloe Jackson shot up the draft board and was taken by the Chicago Sky with the No. 3 pick of the second round.
Jackson made her mark in one season at Baylor as she transitioned from playing shooting guard at LSU to running the point for the Lady Bears after the team dismissed Alexis Morris in September.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had already given extensive praise to the grad transfer point guard for the way she transitioned to being the player with the ball in her hands, running the offense. And then Mulkey granted Jackson the ultimate compliment by calling her number with the national championship game at stake.
Jackson used a high ball screen to get a step on Notre Dame’s Jackie Young, the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, and drove for a layup that ultimately lifted Baylor to an 82-81 victory and its third national title on Sunday night.
That one play might have made the difference between Jackson going in the third round of the draft, where she was projected by some last week, to the 15th pick.
The Chicago Sky are coached by James Wade, who was an assistant in the WNBA from 2012 to 2017 before taking over as the Sky’s head coach last year.