ATLANTA — Lexie Brown played a season-best 15 minutes last week when the Connecticut Sun visited Seattle.
It was more than double what the North Gwinnett grad has averaged as a rookie for the Eastern Conference co-leaders, but still drastically short of what Brown was used to in high school and college.
“I felt good when I have a game like that,” said Brown, who was back in Atlanta on Friday night for a game against the Dream. “And that’s the nature of the league — you never know when your number is going to be called depending on how the game is going or which players are clicking. You just have to be ready for whatever.
“Just trying to get that consistency is what I’m waiting for, but that’s on me, showing that I’m locked in and engaged.”
At North, then at Maryland and, for the last two years at Duke, Brown rarely left the game.
The 5-foot-9 guard finished an all-American career in Durham as only the third player in NCAA Power Five Conference history to accumulate over 2,000 points, 500 assists, 300 steals and 200 three-pointers. Her 122 steals in 2017-18 broke a Duke single-season record.
“I’ve grown up that way, which makes me a rhythm player,” Brown said. “Going in in spurts is just something I’m going to have to adjust my game to. It’s not what I’m comfortable with, but life is about making uncomfortable situations comfortable.”
The last two months have been a whirlwind.
Brown was one of just 10 players invited to attend the WNBA draft at Nike’s New York headquarters in April and Connecticut selected her at No. 9 overall.
“It was exciting and a little nerve-racking,” Brown said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to get invited to the WNBA draft so to be able to check that off my list was really cool. Even for the other nine girls, we all earned it. It was something we all worked our whole lives for and to be one of 10, that’s amazing.
“It was such a fun experience. We spent a couple of days in New York and had a blast. My family was up there with me so it was awesome.”
Brown was back at Duke for class the next morning.
“I kind of went back to regular life for a few weeks, took finals, had a couple of conversations with (Connecticut coach Curt Miller) about what he expected out of me in training camp,” Brown said.
She was able to take her finals a week early and immediately headed for Connecticut.
“My (Blue Devil) teammates and my friends, they were so supportive and helped me pack up my apartment,” Brown said. “I had to do everything really fast. I think actually, the other day, one of my coaches she got the last of my stuff out of my apartment. So it’s been a process. My mom had to go up to North Carolina once or twice to get some of my stuff a little at a time.
“It’s happened really fast, but it’s a blessing and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Logistics aside, the move to professional basketball was unlike anything Brown had been through.
“From high school to college, you get there four months before the season starts,” Brown said. “I don’t remember struggling this bad my freshman year of college. The girls are still so young and not as strong.
“Everything is a lot more structured in college, too.”
Brown was frustrated and questioning herself.
“I’m like, ‘Why am I still in adjustment period?’” Brown said. “But you’ve got to think back — I’ve only been in the league two months and you go straight into games. There’s not really a lot of time to learn. You just have to learn as you go.
“I’m just happy I’m on a really great team with great players. We’re having a really successful start to our season and I love to win. I hate to lose so to be on a team that has a winning culture that they’ve been working for was awesome for me. I couldn’t imagine going through this on top of losing a lot.”
The Sun were 21-13 last season despite playing without all-star Chiney Ogwumike and 7-4 coming into Friday’s game in Atlanta.
But being on an upper-echelon team with veteran guards like fifth-year pro Alex Bentley and Jasmine Thomas, a fellow Duke alum in her seventh season, means Brown must play a different role than she has for a lifetime.
“I’m learning so much from them, but hopefully as the season goes on, I’ll be able to earn more minutes and as my career goes on, I’ll be able to establish myself,” Brown said. “I’m in one of the better situations as a rookie. I’m not playing as much as I’d like to, but I’m learning a ton.
“The goal is to have a long career. You just have to stay focused and have tunnel vision. I’m here for a reason and I can’t forget that.”
Brown can turn to teammates, including Morgan Tuck, who is in her second pro season after a career at UConn, for perspective.
“They just tell me to stay patient and not get discouraged,” she said.
It’s not easy for a driven Brown.
“I just want to be able to make my mark as soon as possible,” she said. “I don’t like to wait for things to happen; I want to go get it. It’s a little harder in my situation, but the first step was making it.
“That’s the hardest part, getting into the league. I have friends on the outside wishing they were in our shoes. So I have to wake up and be thankful that Coach Curt (Miller) has given me this chance to be a part of the WNBA.”