PHOTOS BY GREG FLINT SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Brittany Rayburn of Attica High School in Indiana
"It's not all about winning. I'd rather have fun with the team than go to the national championship and hate every minute.”
- Brittany Rayburn, in an interview with the Indianapolis Star, February 6, 2006.
Brittany Rayburn, a star guard in the Class of 2008 from Attica High School in Indiana, has been called a lot of things. The Indianapolis Star called her a “small-town legend.” Others call her the next Stephanie White, another small-town kid from nearby Seeger High School who in the mid 90s had a brilliant prep career and took her talents to the University of Purdue.
Rayburn now can be called a future Boilermaker as she called new head coach Sharon Versyp on Tuesday night to verbally commit to play for Purdue.
To Versyp, Rayburn is a kid is a sure-fire prospect. Although NCAA rules do not allow coaches to comment on prospects, Versyp did, after all, begin recruiting Rayburn during her freshman season, while Versyp still was the coach at Indiana University. Rayburn burst on to the scene with her AAU team, Indiana’s Finest, helping them to the AAU Division I National Championship in the 14u division. “Coach Sharon (Versyp) offered me my first scholarship,” said Rayburn who also had Connecticut, Duke, Indiana and Vanderbilt recruiting her.
Rayburn has averaged more than 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists, nearly four steals and more than two blocks a game at Attica but to Rayburn the season was a bit of a disappointment. Rayburn was joined this season in the backcourt by her older sister DeeAnn and had visions of cutting down the nets together. “We are going to have kind of a young team coming back next year so hopefully in the next two years we’ll have a shot (at a state championship),” said Rayburn.
Rayburn made unofficial visits with both Kristi Curry, the former Purdue coach who left this spring for Texas Tech, and the new coaching staff on the West Lafayette campus.
So with the pressure now off of Rayburn in terms of her college choice what is her next challenge? “Definitely my weakness is conditioning,” Rayburn said. She was diagnosed with an illness in the sixth grade that left her oft-fatigued and unable to reach elite level conditioning for quite a while. “I’m just now starting to rebuild my core,” she explained. “I can start lifting weights now.”
The Lafayette Journal and Courier Player of the Year has a very impressive offensive repertoire with the ability to hit the three well behind the line. She can shoot off the dribble in the mid-range and from the three-point arc. “My biggest strength is my ability to create my own shot,” said Rayburn. “A lot of players can make open shots, but can they with someone in their face?” She is very creative with the ball and finishes after contact both at the cup and with a nice runner from the middle of the paint.
Rayburn’s plan for the summer is to again work with the Indiana’s Finest in her fifth season in the program and try to repeat as AAU National Champions. This year will be a bigger challenge as Indiana’s Finest is skipping an age bracket and moving to the 16u division. When she’s not playing with her AAU team, she plans to train in the gym with her high school coach, David Baxter, to continue to develop her game. Her coach agreed that while she is a spectacular player she could improve finishing with her left. It’s probably the most glaring offensive weakness which is part due to her ability to control her body in the air and make crafty shots with her right hand from anywhere around the basket.
Left hand or not, Rayburn has scored 50 points in a single game while maintaining a 3.9 grade point average and being an honor student. She is excited about not only the basketball opportunities ahead of her at Purdue but also the academic challenges. She wants to study to be a veterinarian but admitted her academic focus could change in the next two years.
Despite the fallout from Purdue’s 2006 class when Curry left, Rayburn gives Versyp, who was 19-14 last year with Indiana and is a Purdue alum, a good start for the program’s future.
Chris Hansen is the National Director of Scouting for Women's Basketball at HoopGurlz.com and Scout.com. Chris leads the panel that evaluates and ranks girl's basketball prospects nationally for HoopGurlz, Scout.com and Full Court Press (www.FullCourt.com). Chris has been involved in the women’s basketball community since 1998 as a coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.