Basketball is so much more than a game for graduate student forward Osh Brown and her family. It is a unifying force that has brought Brown and her brothers close both on and off the court.
Brown started her basketball journey playing street ball with her cousins and brothers. It wasn’t until Brown was in the eighth grade that she made the transition to organized basketball.
“When I first started, it didn’t look too pretty,” Brown said. “With my high school coach, we would get extra workouts in, and she helped me with the basic stuff. I felt like I was behind especially because I played street basketball and ... all I knew was bully ball.”
Bully ball, a more physical and less structured form of basketball, is significantly different than organized basketball in the level of physicality. This difference made the transition to organized basketball a little harder for Brown.
“It was definitely a challenge for myself,” Brown said. “Just knowing that you can’t be too physical on the court but still finding a way to still be physical and play bully ball the way I do.”
Brown, who started her collegiate basketball journey at Ball State, entered the transfer portal as a graduate student. With Rutgers in her top three, Brown described the transfer process as stressful and slightly overwhelming.
“Just always getting calls and phone calls. There was a point where I had to put my phone on 'do not disturb.'” Brown said.
The response toward Brown entering the transfer portal was overwhelming but not surprising to most. Brown ranked fourth in the nation in rebounds with approximately 12.9 per game and secured her spot in the Cardinals record book as the only player in program history with more than 1,000 points and rebounds.
“I was expecting schools, but the amount of schools that I got, Power Five schools ... I didn’t expect all that,” Brown said. “It was a new coach every day, and they ask the same questions ... at some point, I took a break for a week.”
The Knights won out, and eventually Brown decided to take her talents to New Brunswick.
“I got a family feeling. (Rutgers was) always checking up on me and asking how I was doing,” Brown said. “They pulled up multiple records of me and the things I did in the past ... They made it feel like a family atmosphere through the phone.”
That family atmosphere was important to Brown since her family back home has been such a driving force in her passion for basketball.
“(My family is) definitely the reason why I’m still doing what I’m doing,” Brown said. “I love the game, but at the same time, I want my siblings to be better than me — better than I ever was.”
Brown, the oldest of seven siblings, has become a role model for her younger siblings. Two of them even wear the number 32 in honor of her. One of her younger brothers takes after Brown on the court as well.
“My brother, he plays basketball, and he texts me all the time about basketball — what he should do in certain situations,” Brown said. “He’s a sophomore in high school, and he’s almost (6 foot 7 inches tall), and he wakes up every day at 5 a.m. before he goes to school at 7:30, and he’ll work out for an hour and a half ... Just seeing me being able to go to a Power Five school, he has that dream of doing that as well.”
Brown, who is the current NCAA active career leader in total rebounds and double-doubles, has given her siblings so much to look up to — both on and off the court. When she finishes her time at Rutgers, Brown hopes to open a childcare facility in her hometown.
“I know childcare is expensive. It’s hard on single moms,” Brown said. “I just want to go back and help my community in any way I can when it comes to children.”
Brown has started in eight games so far for the Knights this season, racking up 66 points and 84 defensive rebounds. As for her advice for any other young girls looking to get involved with sports, Brown wants them to be leaders.
“Don’t try to be a follower, ” Brown said. “If you really love the game, and you really want to get far with it, you have to find other ways to stand out.”
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