File Photo North Gwinnett's Lexie Brown (4) reaches for the ball while defending against Hillgrove's Tiffani Schick (34) during the first quarter of a girls Class AAAAA state basketball semifinal game.
After two summers of watching several of her contemporaries get opportunities to try out for one USA Basketball national team or another, Lexie Brown is finally getting her chance to do the same.
The rising North Gwinnett senior left Friday for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and by the time she returns home tomorrow, she hopes to be one of 12 players selected to represent her country with the U18 national team.
"It's such an amazing opportunity to get an invitation (to try out)," Brown said of being one of 25 players nationally invited to the team's tryout camp. "So, of course I have to work hard and make the most of it."
This marks the first time Brown has received an invitation to try out for one of the national teams. Last year she earned first-team all-county honors from the Daily Post last season after helping the Bulldogs (26-4) to their first state Final Four appearance since 1963 by averaging 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.8 steals per game.
While others in her class, like two-time Gwinnett Daily Post Girls Player of the Year Diamond DeShields of Norcross or Kaela Davis of Buford have gotten their shot before, the 5-foot-10 Brown has always not due to the fact she is a "tweener" in terms of age.
"Last year, I was too old to try out for the U16 team and too young to try out for the U19 team," Brown said. "I've always been caught in the middle. This is the first year I'm the right age. I've been happy for (DeShields and Davis) getting their invitations, but it's been tough (being left out). But my parents kept telling me to be patient and my chance would come."
As she said, Brown isn't going to let that opportunity pass without giving her best effort, and she's enlisted some impressive help to make sure she is well prepared.
She's been working out with her father, former NBA player and current Detroit Pistons assistant coach Dee Brown, for the past few weeks since the NBA regular season ended in order to hone her skills.
But she says the most important preparation she made for the tryout camp was the mental side of playing and competing with some of the best talent her age in the country and taking instruction from Team USA and college coaches Katie Meyer (Miami), Nikki Caldwell (LSU) and Kelly Graves (Gonzaga).
"I'm not going in there to try and be the superstar and take every shot," Brown said. "I'm going to try to play within the system. Hopefully, they're looking for someone who doesn't mind sharing the wealth, but who can take the shot when needed -- someone who can lead the team and control the tempo.
"I've been working with my dad three or four days a week right after school. I'm happy he's back. He doesn't want to overwork me, but just to work on the little things."
No matter whether Brown makes the national team or not, North girls coach Bryan Sellers is simply delighted the Maryland-committed guard is participating the tryout camp, and believes her game, and the Bulldogs, will benefit as a result.
"Between the amount of time she's prepared for this and the level of competition she'll be going against and the college coaches who will coach the team and instruct her, it's a recipe for success," Sellers said. "There are only (a little more than) 20 girls trying out. No matter if she makes the team or not, it's going to be an awesome experience for her."