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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's Ellen Ross, a Butler recruit, will play in today's North/South Indiana All-Star Classic in Martinsville.

Saturday, April 07, 2018 1:00 am

DeKalb senior eager for All-Star Classic

JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: 30th annual North/South Indiana All-Star Classic

When: Girls game, 5 p.m. today, followed by boys game at 7 p.m.

Where: John R. Wooden Gymnasium, Martinsville High School

Cost: $10

Throughout Leigha Brown's four years in the DeKalb girls basketball program, any questions regarding the identity of the Barons' best player faded almost immediately.

When the Nebraska recruit steps on the court at John R. Wooden Gymnasium today at Martinsville High School for the 30th annual North/South Indiana All-Star Classic, she'll join a roster – one that includes Butler-bound Ellen Ross of Bishop Dwenger – rife with NCAA Division I athletes.

A change, to be sure. But one Brown eagerly anticipates tackling.

“I'm really excited to play with that talent of girls,” Brown said. “I'm just ready to play.”

In all, seven players on the North roster will attend D-I schools this fall, including five bound for the Big Ten. Noblesville's Emily Kiser (Michigan), Carmel's Tomi Taiwo (Iowa), Center Grove's Cassidy Hardin (Purdue) and North Central's Ajah Stallings (Purdue – walk-on) will join Brown on Big Ten rosters for the 2018-19 season, while Ross and East Chicago Central's Jenasae Bishop (Boston College) also will suit up for the North before departing for Division I programs.

The girls game tips at 5 p.m., with the boys game to follow at 7 p.m.

Ross views today's contest as the culmination of her prep career, while simultaneously considering it as the launch of what lies ahead at the next level.

“I was looking at the roster, and I'm very impressed by all the names,” Ross said. “Having the chance to play against the best talent in the state, it's like AAU. For basketball, the senior girls don't play AAU, so it kind of closes the AAU chapter, it closes high school, and it gets you ready to play in college all at the same time.”

Knowing that the Big Ten awaits, Brown didn't simply put the ball away after the Barons bowed out of the postseason in sectionals. She's logged many hours honing her skills since then, crediting her father with plenty of help, including serving as a rebounder while she hoisted shots at the YMCA.

“I'm just continuing to work on the fundamentals, just staying in shape and just (working on) a little of everything,” Brown said.

Players will meet with coaches before practicing from 12:30-2 p.m. today, followed by a team meal. This schedule varies from other all-star events, Ross said, and it's a change she enjoys.

“I feel like most of the time it's like 'here's your jersey, go play,' ” Ross said. “It'll be fun to be with the top girls in the state and get to mingle with everybody.”

Finishing as the state's second-leading scorer at 28.0 points per game, Brown knows she can score most any time she has the ball. She explained that she's happy to put up points if needed for the North, though a roster filled with prolific scorers may afford Brown, who also averaged 11.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in her senior year at DeKalb, the chance to display several facets of her game.

“I just think my versatility helps,” Brown said. “I can score, (but) a lot of the girls' viewpoints is to score. I can always give them assists to showcase my passing ability, I can run the floor and rebound.

“I know defense isn't always a big aspect of all-star games, but I hope I can bring that to it.”