AUBURN – Former DeKalb girls basketball star Leigha Brown is moving closer to home.
The 2018 DeKalb High School graduate posted on Twitter Sunday evening that she is transferring to the University of Michigan. She played at the University of Nebraska the last two seasons.
The former KPC Media Group All-Area Prep of the Year said the biggest factor for her decision was family.
“Ultimately, I just wanted to be closer to home. I think I can be a lot happier somewhere closer. My family can come to a lot more games. That was the deciding factor,” Brown said.
Family plays a huge role in Brown’s life, and now she is just a two-hour drive from home instead of 10-plus hours.
“Talking to coach (Kim Barnes) Arico these past few days makes me really excited. You can just tell by watching Michigan play that they are a very family-oriented team. They’ve got a lot of team chemistry. I think we can do big things in the future there,” Brown said.
She said she was contacted by almost every school in the Big Ten and plenty of other teams outside the conference when she decided to transfer.
Brown earned the Big Ten Conference’s Sixth Player of the Year award. She led the Cornhuskers with 14.4 points per game while coming off the bench in all 30 games. She was also an all-conference honorable mention.
During her time at DeKalb, she was a very versatile player, and she said that’s an area of her game that’s improved while in Lincoln.
“That’s always been something that I’ve been good at, being able to do multiple things on the court. I think especially this last season the ability to break down defenses, whether it’s by watching film and then applying that to the games. I think that’s something that I’ve definitely improved on, and that’s helped my game a lot,” Brown said.
Brown said she is not sure whether or not she will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules or if she will be granted a waiver.
Her last game at Nebraska was against the team she will now join when the Huskers played the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament. It was then when she noticed how Michigan operates as a team.
“This is something small, but just being around their huddles during the game, you can tell the IQ and the passion for the game. That’s something that’s important to me, and I think that goes a long way,” Brown said.
Michigan made it to the semifinals of the conference tourney, and Brown wants to help them go a few steps further.
“I think the first thing would be a Big Ten Championship. They went pretty far in the Big Ten Tournament this year, and I think next year and the year after are going to be even better. I think the program is going in positive direction,” Brown said.
She is not sure what her role will be in Ann Arbor, but she said she’s joining a team with a lot of talent.
“I think with Naz (Hillmon) and Amy (Dilk) there’s two great weapons on their team, and their supporting cast is really good as well,” Brown said. “I think just going in and making an impact and just to build off of what they have currently.”