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The Dallas Morning News’ 2020-21 girls basketball Player of the Year: DeSoto’s Kendall Brown



DALLAS, TX – With a state title on the line, and in the biggest game in DeSoto history, Kendall Brown was asked to play an entirely new defensive role in the final game of her high school career. She was asked to guard a McDonald’s All-American one-on-one.

Just as she did all postseason, Brown was extraordinary when it mattered most and lived up to her nickname. The Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship last season with brilliant play from point guard Rajon Rondo — nicknamed “Playoff Rondo” for his ability to raise his game to a spectacular level in the playoffs — and DeSoto has its own version of Rondo with a 5-8 senior guard who has signed with Houston.

“We call her ‘Playoff Kendall.’ Kendall has been our senior glue all season, but as we went through the playoffs, there was a different version of her,” DeSoto coach Andrea Robinson said. “She just turned into this gritty, tough kid. When she makes her mind up to do something, she’s going to get it done.”

On March 11, Brown decided that she wasn’t going to let four-star Texas signee Kyndall Hunter of Cypress Creek deny DeSoto its first girls basketball state title. DeSoto normally employs a full-court press and zone defense, but it tried something new and had its guards play man-to-man against Cypress Creek’s two McDonald’s All-Americans — five-star Texas signee Rori Harmon and Hunter, the top two recruits in the state in the Class of 2021.

“We had not done that all season,” Robinson said about the switch to man-to-man. “Those kids were too good. They could score the ball too easily, and their range was phenomenal. You could not lose sight of them, ever. They require something special.”

Brown drew the assignment on Hunter and held her to 6-for-18 shooting while also playing a “chaser” role, where she helped trap the ball in certain areas of the court. Cypress Creek, which was 32-0 and ranked No. 7 in the nation going into the Class 6A championship game, shot 5-for-36 (13.9%) from the field in the second half and 15-for-63 (23.8%) for the game as DeSoto won 53-37 at the Alamodome.

The reward was a carriage ride around San Antonio for Brown and some of her teammates as part of DeSoto’s celebration.

“Kyndall is one of the top guards in the country right now, so it was pretty tough. But I knew if I could shut her down, we had a good chance to win,” Brown said. “I did what I had to do … crowding her space, getting in her area and not letting her feel comfortable.”

Brown was primarily a post player when she started high school, but like her favorite player — 11-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant — her versatility and improved jump shot allowed her to become a force on the perimeter. Brown averaged 15 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists for the season, and she increased her scoring after DeSoto’s leading scorer, Texas Tech pledge Ja’Mia Harris, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a win over defending state champion Duncanville on Jan. 23.

Brown averaged 15.6 points in the final five games, scoring 19 against Langham Creek in the regional semifinal and 17 against South Grand Prairie in the state semifinal. Brown led DeSoto with 12 points, four assists and three steals against Cypress Creek.

Robinson talked throughout the playoffs about how challenging this season was, and it wasn’t just because DeSoto lost three guards to torn ACL injuries. Brown and her teammates chose not to do in-person learning this year because of the pandemic, so they were isolated from friends and classmates outside of the team.

“It’s my senior year, so it was a little sad not coming to school,” Brown said. “I’m just doing what the coaches tell us to do — make sure we’re safe at all times.”