You can go home again.
For Georgia Southern Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Coretta Brown, that opportunity follows a journey that took the Statesboro resident and Southeast Bulloch High School graduate to the highest level of competition collegiately and professionally before delving into a coaching career that has seen stops throughout the Southeast.
When Head Coach Anita Howard was looking to fill out her staff after taking the Georgia Southern position in April of last year, Brown called to congratulate her on landing the position in her hometown. That phone call would lead to a spot on her staff less than a month later.
"I had known Coach Howard previously, as we had worked a camp over in Japan together," Brown said. "I called her and said, 'I'm from Statesboro, you need to bring me home!"
Coach Howard had looked at bringing Brown on board to her staff at Columbus State, but at the time, she was working for former Georgia Southern head coach Rusty Cram's staff at West Alabama. The move to the Eagles, however, provided the easy opportunity to bring Brown back to Statesboro.
When Brown began her high school career at Southeast Bulloch, she had already garnered attention from collegiate coaches across the country. And for a program - and an area - that had not experienced a lot of success in girls basketball, it became an event to watch her play for the Yellow Jackets.
"My first recruiting letter, was on the first day of my first year of high school," Brown said. "I had this awesome flyer on my desk that said 'We're excited about your high school journey.' I was overwhelmed in ninth grade."
Josh Aubrey, who covered Brown during her high school days and still covers area sports for the Statesboro Herald, remembers the buzz surrounding her as she moved into high school.
"I'd heard stories about her at middle school," Aubrey said. "Playing with the boys, and just knowing she was going to be good. And her freshman year, she definitely stormed onto the scene. She was very thin, but I had never seen a girl who could handle the ball with both hands as well as she did. And on top of that, you could tell she knew the game in a way that not many people do. You could tell she was a special player."
The attention grew as her exploits grew, taking Southeast Bulloch to the State tournament each season. By her junior year, many of the top coaches across the nation could be found in the long wooden bleachers of the gymnasium, including the late Pat Summitt, from the University of Tennessee and Sylvia Hatchell, from the University of North Carolina.
Hatchell would be the coach who would eventually land the prized recruit, and according to the Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, the family aspect went a long way to proving that North Carolina was the right fit.
"I remember, we flew into a little airport outside of Savannah for her home visit, and drove out to her home," Hatchell said. "We visited with her parents and her grandparents, and of course her mother fed us! The house was out in the country and I couldn't help but think that she was a great kid from a great family. My only concern was that she had a couple of sisters who attended Duke, which was our rival. But I felt we there was just this great chemistry between her family, me and my staff."
The recruitment could have lasted all four years, but Brown signed early with the Tar Heels - as much as anything so it would not be a distraction for her senior season.
"By the time I was a junior, I was over it," Brown said about the recruiting process. "I was being bombarded every day. And my mom was the type of mom where I had to talk to every single coach who wrote to me. It was a lot for me, almost overwhelming. So I signed early, because there was no way I wanted to play my senior season dealing with that. I wanted to focus on playing."
And focus she did, averaging 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game en route to earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the state of Georgia.
"She just didn't have triple-doubles, she had quadruple-doubles," Aubrey recounts. "One game where I was keeping stats, she just missed a quintuple double - points, rebounds, assists, steals and she finished with eight blocks, just two away. That's how well rounded a player she was."
This profile will be continued in Saturday's edition of the Herald as Georgia Southern reflects on Brown's college career at the University of North Carolina.