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Brown appreciates journey back to court for FSU women

Amaya Brown lost a season of high school basketball as a junior in high school to surgery on her right knee. She then lost large portions of 2019 and ’20 after a second torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Her return to the court has been a difficult road but one where Brown has remained positive. 

“The journey coming back was hard,” Brown said. “I just had great people surrounding me, the coaching staff. And my teammates they were very supportive. I was just pretty positive the whole way. Especially it was my second time. I’ve been through this before. I knew I could come back. It was pretty easy for me, but it was hard mentally as well.”

Brown will return to the court in a college game for the first time since March 2020 when the Seminoles open the season on Tuesday night against North Florida (7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra). She suffered her second ACL tear in Jan. 2019, came back to play basketball for 13 games at the tail end of the 2019-20 season but then spent last season strengthening the knee.

“I feel like I was good to go probably this past summer,” Brown said. “And then I spent some time home just getting my strength back. When we started summer workouts, I felt like 90 percent. I feel like myself now.”

Brown brushes some of this off like it’s no big deal. But those around her have realized how hard she has worked through the years to get back on the court, appreciating the opportunity in front of her.

“It’s really been fun just to watch her be so grateful for this opportunity again,” coach Sue Semrau said. “Because there’s so many players that haven’t lost it. And Amaya having lost it twice for a really long period of time. It’s fun to see the joy that she comes to practice with and that she plays with every day.”

As the Seminoles open the season, there is a sense of how much depth they have — Bianca Jackson, Morgan Jones and Kourtney Weber were double-digit scorers last season. Guards Sammie Puisis and Tiana England also bring experience, while forward Valencia Myers has impressed in the offseason. Erin Howard, who missed last season due to injury, will bring an added presence as a rebounder.

There are also a few newcomers, including guard O’Mariah Gordon, the top player in Florida twice in her prep career, as well as top-20 prep forwards Makayla Timpson and Mariana Valenzuela.

And then there is Brown, who started early in her career and contributes on both ends of the floor — she had six points and four steals in FSU’s exhibition win over West Florida last week.

“She’s had two knees injured and still is able to stay in front of almost anybody,” Semrau said. “And that’s pretty incredible. I think the only thing for her now is she hasn’t played basketball in a while. So to be able to get back on the court and offensively get into a rhythm and flow, she’s doing that now at a high level.”