Junior wing Leigha Brown was granted immediate eligibility to play for the Michigan women’s basketball team in the 2020-21 season by the NCAA on Sunday, according to a press release.
“We are excited and thankful that Leigha will be able to play this season,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said in the release. “She has been an amazing addition to our program these last few months, with both her skill set and her experience playing at the highest level. I can’t wait for her to step on the court in a Michigan jersey.”
Brown transferred to Michigan from Nebraska at the end of last season. She was the Huskers’ leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game last season.
On the offensive end, Brown will bring a new dimension to the Wolverines’ already-dominant offense. She’s unafraid to take shots from the perimeter and shot 34.1% from the 3-point line last season, with 22 points against Michigan in their second time playing each other — six of which were from the 3-point line.
But Brown is not a typical shooting guard. Standing at 6-foot-1, she also poses a threat in the post. Her ability to shoot from deep, coupled with her skills in the post, could be just what Michigan needs.
“She made people around her better,” Brown’s high school coach Ben Eltzroth said. “She was able to still find ways to contribute and score. Just an unselfish player and made her teammates better around her.”
On defense, the Wolverines will need Brown to be comfortable in all spots on the floor. She adds value to the depth chart with her height and experience and can help guard a post player down low or step out and contest shots on the perimeter.
Brown also has a wealth of experience under her belt. As a freshman at Nebraska, she worked her way into the starting lineup of the final six games. Sophomore year, Brown started in all 30 games. On a Michigan team with four freshmen and just two seniors, experience in the lineup will be vital.
With the news of her eligibility, Barnes Arico has a tough decision to make regarding the starting lineup. The Wolverines only graduated one senior last season, so playing time is in high demand from those who’ve been on the team for a year or two. Brown will have to prove her ability to mesh with the offense and bring consistency on the defensive end to earn minutes.
Eltzroth has no doubts about her fitting into the team.
“I think she’ll do a good job of trying to blend in,” Eltzroth said. “Doing her roll, whatever the coaches decide for her. She’ll do whatever she can to help the team.”
In high school, Brown was a gym rat, Eltzroth said. She could be seen putting up extra shots, staying overtime to work on her craft, and working out at home. She’ll need that same attitude to earn minutes on a team full of competitive players.
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