EGR junior commits to Northwestern amid suspended playoffs

NCAA Hoops
Courtesy photo of Jillian Brown.

Courtesy photo of Jillian Brown.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the MHSAA winter sports high school playoffs being currently placed on suspension, many players are left to wonder if their 2019-20 season can be finished.

In this time of more questions than answers for sports to resume, East Grand Rapids junior Jillian Brown announced Tuesday that her basketball career is far from over.

The 5-foot-10 guard announced her commitment to Northwestern of the Big Ten via Twitter.

“This summer, I took a visit and started to consider (Northwestern) a lot,” Brown said. “It’s kind of an early commitment since I have a year left, but I just felt like I was really comfortable with them.”

For Brown, it wasn’t her only Big Ten school calling. The Pioneers guard also landed offers from Michigan, Rutgers and Penn State.

The culture, coaches and players were all the main points that tilted Brown in the Wildcats direction.

“Lindsey Pulliam is an amazing player who I just love watching play and I feel like I could end up making a difference like her,” Brown said. “I’m really close with the coaches and I love being around the players, they are all super nice.”

Pulliam, who Brown mentioned she looks up to, was selected to the All-Big Ten First Team. The junior guard averaged 18.8 points per game.

As a junior, Brown was having a stellar season herself. She was averaging 22 points and eight boards per contest, leading her team into the regional final against Hudsonville in Division I.

Of course, like most things around the country, the MHSAA has suspended play due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. As it stands right now, sports have been banned between March 16 and at least April 5, according to a release from the MHSAA.

For Brown’s team, it was hard to take after being one game away from a regional title.

“We’ve had such an amazing season and we have a lot of unfinished business,” Brown said. “We could’ve potentially won a state championship. It was a goal in the back of our minds since the summer. Just seeing all of that hard work, maybe not playing out is tough. We take it the best we can. But we’re not the only ones going through it. It’s a bigger deal for everyone.”

When the season was just put on a temporary suspension, Brown said the team held a meeting trying to stay positive it would just be a pause. For the seniors, it was tough to accept they had played their last game in high school.

“We’re all just trying to stick together and make sure (the seniors) felt like they had a great season,” Brown said.

In the bigger picture of all professional and college athletics being put on pause, Brown is like anyone else who enjoys sports — left with a feeling she can’t explain.

For Brown’s specific situation, it involved her going to watch Northwestern play in the women’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were projected to be a 3-seed by many bracketologists, meaning they would host two games in opening rounds.

The feeling is again left with what could’ve been.

“In my opinion, the world is more boring (without sports),” Brown said. “It’s crazy to not have it going on, and everything is just different without it.”

While the NCAA Tournament has been canceled and Brown is still left waiting on the potential finish of her junior season, one thing is certain — she’s going to play Division I basketball in the future.

“(Northwestern’s) style of play really fits in with what I want to do and even all the little things like it being right by Chicago, it’s on the water, close to home,” Brown said. “I’m excited to go compete for a Big Ten and NCAA Championship and really get that experience.”

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