DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Former NBA star Dee Brown taught his daughter all about the game of basketball Unfortunately, he doesn’t often get to see Maryland sharpshooter Lexie Brown play in person
He will this weekend.
The Sacramento assistant coach and former slam dunk champion is taking a break from his job and putting on his “dad hat” to see his daughter play in the women’s Final Four.
Lexie Brown could not be more excited.
“It’s going to be great. He couldn’t have come at a better time,” Brown said Thursday, shortly before the Terrapins headed to Tampa, Florida, for a showdown with Connecticut in the national semifinals on Sunday night.
“My mom was there for the first-round games, and when I look up at her, a calm comes over me,” Lexie said. “When I see my dad in the stands, it’s calm times 100. It’s like, ‘I got this. My dad’s here.’ I can’t wait.”
Her father is pretty pumped, too, even though he has watched Lexie play plenty of times this season on television and video. After every game, he calls with advice.
“I’m a dad first. I just tell her: ‘I’m proud of you, way to play hard.’ And then I’m a coach second,” said the 46-year-old Brown, who will miss the Kings’ game Sunday night against the Utah Jazz. “I’ll say, ‘Listen, you could have done this, you have shot this, you missed this pass here, you could have played defense better on this possession.’ But that’s probably very quick, and my dad hat comes out first to make sure she knows I’m proud of her and I’m always watching and supporting her.”
Even from afar.
“My daughter understands my job,” Brown said. “She knows I can talk to her every day, but this makes it more special. I’m nervous, probably more than she is just because it’s my first game all year.”
Lexie Brown wears No. 4, the same number her father wore in college at Jacksonville. This season she was named to the All-Big Ten first team, voted Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten Tournament and was one of three Terrapins to average in double figures in scoring.
The 5-foot-9 sophomore guard is a big reason why Maryland has been in the Final Four in each of the past two years.
“She’s accomplished a lot more in her two years in college than I achieved in my whole college career,” Dee Brown boasts.
Lexie Brown attributes much of her skill to time spent with her father while growing up.
“We had a half-court in our backyard, so we were always out there,” Lexie recalled. “Then Dad opened up his own training facility in Orlando. That’s where we started our journey together, playing basketball in the gym for hours. Those are the moments I remember most vividly when I was younger, and I love them.”
When it came time to pick a college, Maryland didn’t really choose Brown. She chose Maryland.
“It was a real easy recruiting process because she wanted to come to Maryland and we wanted her,” coach Brenda Frese said. “I had a lot of great conversations with Dee, talking about what their expectations were and what ours were. It was a perfect fit.”
When Lexie showed up for her first practice last year, it was clear there was something different about her — in a good way.
“She was raised by her father, who grew up in the game,” Frese said. “She had poise beyond her years in every single element. That’s what makes her so special.”
Dee Brown played 12 years in the NBA with Boston, Toronto and Orlando. His most notable moment probably was at 1991 NBA Slam Dunk contest, which he won with a “no-look” jam.
Impressive stuff, except perhaps to Lexie’s friends.
“Most people my age have no idea who my dad is, which is completely OK with me,” she said. “But a lot of older people go, ‘Your dad did the dunk.’”
Lexie loves being Dee Brown’s daughter. But she’s also making a name for herself at Maryland.
“I’m proud of who my Dad is and what he’s accomplished,” Lexie said. “I love when I go out with him and people are like, ‘Dee Brown! Can I have your autograph? Can we take a picture?’ Every little girl loves seeing her dad be like a superstar. But now sometimes, it’s, ‘Dee, can you take a picture of me and Lexie?’
“To see the transition of being Dee Brown’s daughter to Lexie Brown the basketball player has been kind of cool.”
Dee Brown agrees.
“I like to let her get her own due not because she’s Dee Brown’s daughter. I’m Alexis Brown’s father,” Dee said. “It makes you feel good that she’s earned that, not just because of me, but because of the way she’s played and carried herself on the court.”
Dee Brown’s interest in Maryland basketball has rubbed off on the Kings, who will also have a rooting interest on Sunday night.
“I get the guys to watch and make sure they’re excited about the games,” Dee said. “I’m a proud dad.”
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.
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