Kalani Brown won her very first basketball award as an eighth-grader when she was named Most Valuable Player at St. Tammany Junior High School.
The awards have been rolling in ever since.
She keeps some of them in her room.
Others are in the family room.
And her Team USA basketball jersey hangs in the sports bar in the family’s home in Slidell.
Now it’s time to add yet another award.
Brown, Salmen’s 6-foot-6 senior center, capped off her stellar high school career by being named Miss Basketball by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for the second straight season.
It’s the latest honor for the Baylor-bound Brown, adding to her list of accolades that includes four-time LHSAA Top 28 all-tournament selection, two-time Most Outstanding Player in the 4A title game and McDonald’s All-American.
“I’m proud of every single achievement I have,” Brown said. “They are all rare to have. I’m just blessed and humbled to get the awards and just thankful.”
The repeat Miss Basketball selection puts her in some exclusive company.
She is just the third player to win the honor twice, following in the footsteps of former Capitol High standout Seimone Augustus (2001 and 2002) and ex-Pineville star Kisha Jones (1997 and ’98).
“Seimone is one of the greatest, so you can’t get any better than that,” Brown said.
Brown averaged 23.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks as a senior, leading the team to the state championship game for a fourth consecutive season.
She helped her team win the Class 4A state title as a sophomore and junior and capped off her career with a monster game in a title game loss to Warren Easton when she scored 30 points and grabbed 23 rebounds.
She leaves as Salmen’s all-time leader in points (2,392), rebounds (1,471) and blocked shots (605).
In addition, she is the top-rated center in ESPN’s Class of 2015, a USA Today Naismith All-American, the 2014 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year and was a gold medalist with Team USA in the summer of 2013. She’ll play in the Jordan Brand Classic, another all-star game featuring the nation’s best player, next week in Brooklyn.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” she said when asked to reflect on all of her achievements. “I don’t think it will hit me until I get where I am going, and then I will probably say ‘wow,’ I’m really starting the next level now.’ ”
Her next stop is Baylor, where she will play for one of the premier women’s basketball programs in the nation.
“I want to go in and make an impact my freshman year and make everyone proud,” Brown said.
Her parents (former NBA player P.J. Brown and ex Louisiana Tech star Dee Brown) are already proud.
“I’m just proud of her as an individual,” said Dee Brown, who was an assistant at Salmen and also head coach of her daughter’s AAU team. “I’m glad to see Kalani had the ability to separate herself from me and her dad and create her own legacy.”
Brown credited her parents for her “talent and athleticism.”
But she knows it wasn’t just what she inherited from them that made her the player she is.
“I’d also say my work ethic because I worked so hard to get this far,” she said.
But she knows there is more work to do.
She wants to improve her conditioning and also add a hook shot to her offensive arsenal.
She plans to major in journalism with a minor in communications and would like to play in the WNBA.
“I want people to remember me as just a humble player,” Brown said. “I was never one to really like to be in the spotlight. To be honest, I really don’t like the spotlight.
“I want them to just see me as a humble player that worked hard and always put God first.”
Would she like to be in the conversation as one of the best girls players to come through Louisiana?
“I hope so,” she said.