Staff Photo: John Bohn . 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 played Thursday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Hillgrove defeated North Gwinnett 56-51.
When Lexie Brown made the USA Basketball U18 national team, it was made very clear to her what she would be asked to do during the team's participation in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship tournament.
"(Team USA and University of Miami) Coach (Katie Meier) pulled me and Moriah (Jefferson) aside and said, 'You guys are my point guards. You're the only two true point guards we have.' ... I knew that's what I had to do."
The North Gwinnett senior guard played her role to near perfection, combining with Jefferson to give Team USA strong direction on both ends of the court to help the team to the gold medal in the tournament from Aug. 15-19 in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
Not that Brown didn't contribute to Team USA's offensive output as she averaged 5.8 points over five games in the tournament, and shot 30.8 percent from 3-point range, third on the team.
But it was other areas in which the 5-foot-8 Maryland commitment made her biggest contributions.
She was top three on the team in both steals (second at 2.8 per game) and assists (third at 3.0 apg), and added 3.4 rebounds to boot during her 21.8 minutes per game.
"We had so many amazing scorers around me, I didn't have to do any extra stuff to score," said Brown, who earned first-team honors from the Daily Post last season by averaging 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.8 steals per game and helping the Bulldogs (26-4) to their first state Final Four appearance since 1963.
Brown definitely enjoyed herself during the tournament, and she certainly didn't mind missing time from school.
But she makes it clear that her trip to the Caribbean with Team USA was no vacation, and she believes the experience she came away with will pay dividends both for her and for the Bulldogs in the 2012-13 season.
"It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot," Brown said. "I think it's going to help me a ton, and not just from the tournament, but from practicing (against her Team USA teammates). (Syracuse commitment) Brittney Sykes might be one of the most amazing athletes I've ever been matched up with. Me and her matched up in almost every drill.
"It was awesome. The coaches were amazing. The team was amazing. With the coaches all being college coaches, I got to see how college practices are run and how the schedule will be run."