Nov. 20, 2009
The ethos of UT Athletics is simple and succinct.
You hear it caroming around in our stadiums, see it every night on our playing fields and, occasionally, there's that one special player who makes you feel it.
Edwina Brown is one of them. Her Women's Basketball career from 1996-2000 is a pure testament to heart and hustle.
Former head coach Jody Conradt remembers that Brown wasn't necessarily a gifted shooter, but she was a gifted scorer - tenacious and aggressive.
"She was pretty much unstoppable with the ball in her hands," Conradt said.
How about unstoppable, period?
Brown remains the only player in school history to lead the Longhorns in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals in the same year - and she did that as a junior and senior.
Ranking seventh nationally in scoring as a senior with 21.2 points a game, Brown also earned the prestigious Margaret Wade Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top player. The honor underscores Brown's versatility, and her leadership.
She brought recognition to a team that was unheralded. She championed a squad that was doubted. Brown averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds in the 2000 Big 12 Tournament, when the Longhorns became the lowest-seeded team in the history of the event to advance to the finals.
"I was just doing what was fun to me, and what was natural, and what I needed to do to get my team a win," Brown recalls.
Brown treated every basketball court she stepped on as a Longhorn like it was her own personal playground. She dove and slid, jumped and skipped. That, after all, is how Brown's love affair with basketball started when she was just eight years old.
First she was just making racket, dribbling the ball all around the house, much to the delighted annoyance of her grandmother, Dorothy Brown. Soon enough, Edwina ventured outside, and whenever someone started looking for her, Dorothy knew where to find her.
"Always over on the playground," Dorothy remembers, "playing with the boys."
And, Dorothy quickly points out, "She could whoop them, too."
As a high school player in nearby Lockhart, Texas, Edwina drew national attention from college recruiters, but she followed her heart to the Forty Acres.
It didn't take long for the player everyone called Winkie to endear herself to the Longhorns' faithful. She was a two-time All-American, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, and of course, in her last season, the best player in America.
If one game can embody a career, perhaps it was Edwina's effort on Jan. 23, 2000, when the unranked Longhorns hosted No. 5 North Carolina State at the Frank Erwin Center. Rallying behind her, UT scrapped and clawed for an 81-77 upset victory.
With her ever-present grace and overwhelming athleticism, Edwina led the Longhorns with 25 points. Conradt remembers that it felt like a lot more -- probably because Edwina also totaled 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
In the spring of 2000, Edwina was drafted by Detroit with the third overall pick in the WNBA Draft. She played with the Shock and Phoenix Mercury during her five-year WNBA career, and has spent the last five years playing professionally overseas in Austria, Lebanon and, most recently, Israel.
Brown is also pursuing her passion of giving back to the community and recently founded the non-profit foundation, MAP'D Out (Mentoring Athletes and Providing Dreams). Raised by her mother and grandmother in Lockhart, TX, Brown realizes the importance of an inspirational mentor and started MAP'D Out to lend a helping hand to youth in the community who exemplify sportsmanship, integrity and the desire to "map out" their future goals.
Still, Edwina always returns home to Austin, and spends her offseasons training at Cooley Pavilion.
"That's the thing about The University of Texas -- when you put your time in, they love you. You are one of theirs," she says. "It's like one big family. Ever since I left, I've always come back. Even after you leave, you'll always be part of the family."