Commitment to Excellence

by January 19, 2013

by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup

Playing basketball was a hobby for a young Shareta Brown. As she laced up her sneakers for her AAU game and began pre-game warmups, she took a quick look around the arena. Family and friends may have been at the game, but no college coaches. That day, the way Shareta viewed the game changed, and things on the court were never the same for her.

Don’t get it twisted, Shareta is still the same loveable girl. “I like to chill with my teammates, go home and go shopping with my mom. Do the normal things all young college kids do,” said Brown. What has changed is Shareta’s approach to basketball. Her dedication to the craft has made a big transformation in her life.

As a kid, Brown grew up in Pontiac, MI. Shareta loved to catch the now-defunct Detroit Shock games as a youth. “I don’t watch much WNBA now, but back then I was a Swin Cash fan.” Shareta loved to play sports with her brother, “I liked to playing basketball and football. I liked to play football with my brothers, I was the only girl allowed to play with them.” Becoming accustomed to rough physical contact in football would pay dividends later in life on the court.

Early in her high school career, things were going OK for Brown while playing basketball at Pontiac Northern. But things really began to fall into place when she transferred to Grand Blanc.

“Transferring allowed me to work on more things,” she explained. “My footwork, was a big thing for me. When I was at Pontiac, I really didn’t have anyone to work with me. I was just playing to be playing. Then my AAU coach began to work with me.”

Shareta began to work out twice a day, year-round, on her game. Shortly thereafter, Brown was offered a scholarship to the University of Detroit.

Coach Autumn Rademacher remembers the day she saw Shareta play the first time like it was yesterday. “One of our assistants before, was like, ‘I really like this Brown kid, you should come see her.’ I went to see her at a very small AAU tournament, and she had a small team. The other team had her surrounded, she was a force, but she was being doubled and triple teams a lot. She scored a bit, but she made the right choices kicking it out for open shots,” Rademacher said.

Coach had seen enough promise on that day to offer Shareta an opportunity to play college ball in her program. “We said she’s got great hands, she can run, she can rebound, and we felt we had a great chance because no one knew her,” Rademacher recalled.

The choice that Rademacher made that day to extend a hand to Shareta would change both of their lives for years to come. Even though Shareta verbally committed, Rademacher was still very nervous.

“She really blossomed her junior and senior year, and we had to babysit her across the country to make sure that no one came in and tried to lure her away from us. We are really happy she stuck with her commitment,” Rademacher said.

Buying into the system and commitment to the process means a lot to Rademacher. Coach emphasizes excellence on all facets of the game to her players, which has helped this program become a force in the conference in her short tenure.

“I think for years, they had accepted being at the bottom of the conference. They didn’t feel like they could compete against the better teams in the league. Being someone who went to school at Detroit, there is a pride factor,” Rademacher said. “ You want to be associated with success as a coach and player.”

Rademacher’s commitment to being great has resonated with the players and become a part of the player’s DNA as well—they want to be great at Detroit.

Shareta’s dominance on the court makes winning possible for this program. Shareta is currently second in the nation in scoring at 23.9 points per game. She also leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 61.7 percent, a testament to a good system by Radenbacher and good shot selection by Brown.

“We want to make sure we are rewarding her, for the work she does on the defensive side as well,” Rademacher explained.

There may be a lot of pressure on Brown, but she is up to the challenge. “I do consider myself an elite scorer. I am built to score. A lot of teams say it is hard to get around me, I think I can lead the nation in scoring this year.”

They may need Shareta to do just that, as Detroit is looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.

Good days are ahead for Shareta. If she continues to play like this, soon WNBA scouts will catch on to her, and take a shot just like Radenbacher did three years ago when she offered Shareta a scholarship.

Yeah, that’s right, she’s just a sophomore.