Teaching The Game
Published 10:34 am Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the greatest professional basketball players. Johnson was an unusual point guard, standing 6-feet-8-inches tall and could play any position for the team.
Johnson is a five time NBA Champion and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. His career and knowledge of the game inspired a generation of players who followed him. Vicksburg native Donna Brown-Wynn felt Johnson’s influence as a young girl in Mississippi.
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“I fell in love with Magic Johnson because he was a point guard. He was a big point guard and to see the floor the way he did, his vision on the court, is who I emulated my game after.”
Nationally she looked up to Johnson; locally she had another idol in David Brooks. Brooks was the player in her neighborhood everybody wanted to play like. Brown-Wynn described him as strong, intimidating and aggressive, and she tried to be like him.
Brown-Wynn began playing basketball at the age of 11. She was the only girl to play in the neighborhood and loved playing with the boys.
“It made me tougher, quicker, strong and faster,” Brown-Wynn said.
While she enjoyed playing basketball she would always beat her brother on the court. Her brother would try to get their mom to make her stay home.
Brown-Wynn said it was a blessing to be able to play with the guys in her neighborhood.
When she entered junior high and high school, she understood the game better than the rest of the girls she played with. Her fundamentals were strong. She could make layups and could anticipate steals on defense because of the time spent playing against boys.
“Me just going out playing was the best teaching for me,” Brown-Wynn said.
Brown-Wynn played for Doc Stevens at Vicksburg High. Initially she played the shooting guard position but by her senior year she transitioned to playing point guard. The difference between the positions comes down to shooting the ball and attacking the rim.
Brown-Wynn said point guards are supposed to set their teammates up and distribute the ball. She did those things but still wanted to be aggressive and attack the rim.
The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs recruited Brown-Wynn to play the point guard position from 1989 – 93. She played against some tough competition in the Southeastern Conference as a Lady Bulldog.
“Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Georga, LSU were always in the top 10,” Brown-Wynn said.
Brown-Wynn played against some of the most legendary coaches in Pat Summitt, Andy Landers and Sue Gunter. In her junior year, her team led the nation in scoring around 107 points a game, but when conference play started, the average dropped to the 80s.
The relationship she formed with her college coach, Jerry Henderson, was special to her. Henderson coached Warren Central High School for years as well. Brown-Wynn and Henderson remained close and talked a lot until his passing last year. Henderson taught her about life and impacting lives and was a great influence.
Brown-Wynn has been running a basketball camp in Vicksburg for 13 years. The main focus of her camp is fundamentals, something she learned from Henderson. Brown-Wynn wanted to leave an impact on her hometown and does so by hosting the camp and discussing subjects like academics, scholarships and what it takes to play at the next level.
“Fundamentals are so important and coach (Henderson) was a fundamental coach as far as angles and inches, balance, shooting and passing. I took those things away from him,” Brown-Wynn said.
Brown-Wynn’s favorite part about the game is learning. In the first hour of her camp Monday, she has seen improvement among players. Brown-Wynn said that when they walked in to start the camp some didn’t know how to pass or dribble. She can see the light switch go off in their mind as they have fun learning.
“I would love for each one of them to get a scholarship,” Brown-Wynn said. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but if one or two gets a scholarship that’s great. I’m here to teach the fundamentals and help these kids be better kids.”