Photo by Cal Athletics

Jaelyn Brown Reflects on Cal Career

February 21, 2020


Jaelyn Brown isn’t sure she’s ready to think about this weekend, when she will play her final two home games as a California Golden Bear.

“It’s unreal,” said Brown, a 6’1 guard/forward. “It's really is unreal. I mean, it's been a long journey--four years just playing hard basketball. It's just like, it's, it's hard to believe that it's coming to an end.”

After three years as a role player, Brown is the oncourt leader this year for the young Bears. The senior is carrying a heavy load, playing over 31 minutes a game while averaging 14.4 points (12th in Pac-12). She is third on the team with 5.6 rebounds per game and has collected 54 assists (2nd on team). She is on pace to be the 31st member of Cal’s 1000-point club.

Back in November, Brown scored 30 points and 12 rebounds in the upset of top-25 Arkansas, earning ESPN’s Player of the Week honors.

Yet this season has been a difficult one in terms of results on the court. The Bears currently stand at 10-15 overall and is last in the conference at 2-12.

Despite the challenges, Brown remains positive, and she is proud of how her team has stuck together.

“I think the highlight of the season will be just like my team staying together even through the tough times,” said Brown.  “Of course, the wins and losses, like it's not what we really necessarily want it to be. But we have really stayed together. And not every team could say that at this time of the year, and a lot of a lot of teams are separating. And I can really, honestly say that we are very, very tight knit family.”

Brown notes that this level of team cohesion is the result of lessons she’s learned over the years.

“I think I've learned from past experiences for sure. There were times in the previous years where we would kind of separate and kind of point the fingers or do something that's not what was needed at that time. And I feel like I've learned from that, and as a senior I can instill it on to the rest of the team. And just really, preach about staying together and being a family no matter what the score says at the end of the day.”

Brown believed that the team-building the Bears did in the off-season, when there was so much uncertainty and upheaval with the coaching changes--Charmin Smith left to join the New York Liberty, then Lindsay Gottlieb left to join the Cleveland Cavaliers, which then created the opening for Smith to return as head coach--is now paying off.

“We built that relationship from the start, and it’s very hard to break now.”

Brown has worked hard to integrate this year’s freshmen, who have been thrown right into the rotation. She revels in their success, highlighting Cailyn Crocker’s performance (26 points) in the win again Utah last weekend.

“We just give try to give everybody the confidence to be their best at any given moment. Yeah, just like in practice just trying to get them to fit in well with the group and what we're trying to do and guide them into our system.”

Brown came to Cal as a highly ranked recruit--some publications had her as a top 10 recruit at one point, before a serious knee injury tempered expectations. But despite showing flashes of her elite athleticism from her first game as a Bear and earning Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention, Brown did not make a big impact in her first three years. While some saw this as her being under-utilized on a team centered around Cal all-time great Kristine Anigwe, Brown chooses to frame it from the perspective of her own development as a player.

“My freshman and sophomore year, it was more just getting me comfortable on the court and just being able to perform the way I know I can,” said Brown. “It was just like a time thing and maturity thing. It just needed a little bit more time to get it to where it is now. I think everybody comes in a little naive. Especially I did. I did, I thought it was gonna be all sunshine and rainbows. And I mean, that's just not life. You know, in the end, I just personally learned that I can go through a lot and still come out on the other end a better person.”

Brown also shared that she still feels the effects of the knee injury she suffered in high school, when she tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus. 

“It's just like, it's just constant constant maintenance over the years,” said Brown. “That's what I've been going through.”

So it’s only appropriate that Brown chose the word “determined” as the adjective others would use to describe her.

“If I really wanted something I would go after it no matter what, and I would get what I want,” said Brown. “You can kind of see a taste of that on the court too. Like I do struggle sometimes turning it on, but when I do there's nothing that can stop me.”

Brown hopes that determination will carry her into a professional basketball career. She will attend a combine soon to boost her draft prospects.

“WNBA is definitely what I want,” said Brown. “And overseas for sure. We'll see where that goes.”

But first there are games to play and the season at hand to complete.  The Bears will face No. 3 Oregon on Friday (6pm) and No. 15 Oregon State on Sunday (2pm). Brown hopes to go out “with a bang” with an upset. But she’s also looking forward to savoring her final moments on the court at Haas Pavilion and expects herself to be quite emotional.

“Tears of joy probably be the number one thing. A lot of my family members are going to be coming out. So that's gonna be very interesting.” 

Brown is scheduled to graduate in May (Sociology). When asked what she’s proudest of about her time at Cal, Brown did not hesitate.

“I'm most proud of the relationships I built with my teammates, for sure,” said Brown. “I know I said this a while back, but like I would really invite them to my wedding. I would want them in my life no matter what like even after we graduate. I really think we're really a family.”





Brown and the other Bear seniors--CJ West, Sara Anastasieska, Chen Yue, and Mi’cole Cayton--will be honored in a post-game celebration on Sunday, February 23. 






Tags: WBB, Jaelyn Brown
Discussion from...

Jaelyn Brown Reflects on Cal Career

2,249 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by Ashfield63
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Thank you for all that you have done for Cal women's basketball, Jaelyn!! You will be missed.
Best of luck at the next level.

Go Bears!!
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I have been a Jaelyn Brown fan since her freshman year. She is a team player for sure. I was sitting next to her parents during the Cal Classic and enjoyed talking to them. I congratulated Jaelyn on being the MVP of the tournament. She smiled and thanked me. I spoke with her briefly at the banquet last April. Jaelyn is poised and cordial. I would imagine she will be playing abroad next year. The best to this Bear.!
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And how I'll miss that pull-up jumper and the sky-high rebounds.
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BearBint said:

And how I'll miss that pull-up jumper and the sky-high rebounds.
We got to see Jaelyn have a great game vs Oregon last night. I am glad I was at Haas to watch her score, and make over a 1,000 points as a Bear. It always comes to mind, what if Cal had 5 Jaelyn's on the floor at the same time.!!! The Pac-12 announcers have said that C.J. West worked very hard during the summer. She started off not being able to practice for a month in Oct. due to an Achilles problem(chronic), has played through back problems, and being sidelined with the concussion protocol. There have been times when she has played well, but as a senior has not been on the court any where close to the time of her senior counterpart, Jaelyn. Charmin keeps the team playing hard even against Oregon. Speaking of Oregon, their many fans crowded the area in front of their bench after the game. The silent auction went on for some time. After a long period of time the ushers had to work hard to get them to leave the court, even after many requests were made over the loudspeaker. I guess it was autograph time for the Ducks from what was said. Also, people were waiting for Sabrina to join the players and crowd. Of note, Steph Curry, Chris Mullins and Layshia Clarendon were at the game. I am looking forward to Senior Day tomorrow, and will stay for the post-game festivities. Love these Bears.......
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