Women’s Basketball: Why I Play: Jillian Brown discusses her passion for the game and family support


Daily file photo by Alyce Brown

Sophomore guard Jillian Brown looks to inbound the ball at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Brown is one of the key players this season for Northwestern women’s basketball.

Divya Gupta, Reporter

Ever since basketball games in elementary school , Northwestern guard Jillian Brown has had aspirations to play Division I collegiate basketball.

A second-year from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brown continues to impress this season for the Wildcats, increasing her minutes on the court in the wake of Veronica Burton’s departure to the WNBA. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week last season and had a season-high record of 17 points against Michigan this season.

Brown’s dedication to the sport is shared by her family: one of her sisters currently plays college basketball at Valparaiso and the other plans to in the near future. Her father, Spencer Brown, said Jillian excelled as a child, and watching her has always been impressive.

“She’s amazing to me,” he said. “I have so much respect for her as a young woman and athlete.” 

The Daily spoke with Jillian Brown about why she continues to play the sport and how she sees her future as a member of the Cats’ women’s basketball team.

“Why I Play” is a Q&A series where Wildcats discuss their love for their sports and how they got their starts. This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: How did you start playing basketball?

Brown: I was always around the game growing up. My mom had this basketball league she would play in and we would go to watch, so I always grew up in the gym and around basketball.

The Daily: What made you want to play in college?

Brown: Since high school, it was always assumed I wanted to play in college. I just loved the game and I just love playing it. I got to a point where I worked hard enough so I was good enough to play in college. I liked (Northwestern’s) team and the coaching staff. I knew it was somewhere I’d fit in well and could make a difference.

The Daily: What do you see for your future in basketball after college?

Brown: If I’m able to, I would love to continue playing. Last year Veronica (Burton) was a senior when I was a freshman, and she set such a good example for me, and I learned a lot from her. Seeing how hard she works was inspiring. I love the game; it’s taken me places and given me opportunities that I’m grateful for, so I want to play for as long as possible. I just want to impact the game.

The Daily: How has your family influenced your playing and your love of the sport?

Brown: They’ve been very supportive and given me so many opportunities and always been there for me. They’ve kind of, like, just taken me to every practice, every tournament, and really have been supportive. In high school, they would rebound for me before every game. Basketball is a really big part of my family and both my sisters play too, so if they weren’t into it or (weren’t) as supportive as they are, I just wouldn’t love the game as much as I do and wouldn’t be where I am. 

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Twitter: @divsgupt

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