Baylor coach Kim Mulkey knows a thing or two about landing dominant post players.
It was just a few short years ago when she signed highly-touted 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, now starring in the WNBA.
Add Salmen’s 6-foot-6 Kalani Brown to the list.
Brown, rated the top center in the nation in the class of 2015, signed with the Bears on Friday in her Slidell home.
But Brown isn’t going to be the next Griner.
“I always looked up to Brittney when she played,” said Brown. “But I want to make my own path.”
Her final three choices were Baylor, Texas A&M and Tennessee. She said she “barely” slept Thursday night, but made her decision on Tuesday.
“I had tremendous respect for all three programs and they were good,” said Brown, the daughter of former Louisiana Tech star and NBA player P.J. Brown. “I was going to get an education wherever I went. But Baylor has been with me since Day One … I had a great relationship with coach Mulkey. She is like family.”
Brown’s mother, Dee Brown, also starred at Louisiana Tech when Mulkey was an assistant there.
The basketball genes didn’t skip Kalani.
Brown is ranked the 11th best player in the class of 2015 in ESPN’s HoopGurlz national rankings and the top center.
She averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots per game as a junior to help lead Salmen to its second consecutive Class 4A state championship. The Spartans, who finished as the No. 1-ranked team in The New Orleans Advocate season-ending Super 10, finished 33-1 and ended the season on a 27-game winning streak.
“It’s a big day for Kalani Brown, a big day for Salmen and a big day for Baylor,” said Salmen coach Kevin Anderson. “They are getting a really good player, but they are also getting a good person and a good student. They had a tall one before, so the offense will be a perfect fit.”
She has a tough junior season to follow when she won basically every award possible.
Brown was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Farm Bureau/Miss Basketball, Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Player of the Top 28 and The New Orleans Advocate’s Player of the Year.
She is expected to be named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game.
“Those accolades would be good if they come and if I can get them, but I am just working hard to try to get another state championship,” Brown said.
That quest begins Saturday when Brown and her teammates play Jewel Sumner in a jamboree before Monday’s regular season opener against Cabrini.
Brown can now just focus on the season.
“I’m very relieved because there has been so much pressure and attention,” Brown said. “So I am very happy it’s over with.”