Brianna Farris long has been attracted to the bright lights of New York City. Next year she'll get to embrace that passion.
The GPS senior guard recently committed to continue her basketball career at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, an NCAA Division I member. The Lady Blackbirds compete in the Northeast Conference and won 21 games last season.
"There's nothing wrong with the South. I've just always been drawn to New York City," Farris said. "When you're up North, you get a lot of diversity and new trends, and I was drawn to that. The coaching staff was great when I went up there, and I loved the teammates. They've been one of the top teams the past few years, and I liked everything about the school; the location just made it easier to go."
Her job on last season's Bruisers team was to "fit in" with four seniors now playing Division I athletics. Two-time state Miss Basketball winner Chadarryl Clay is at Auburn, while Jeneh Perry plays basketball at Loyola (Md.), Simone Busby plays soccer at Evansville and Tory Kemp is a track athlete at North Carolina.
Farris averaged 8.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.5 steals as the Bruisers repeated their Division II-AA state championship. She and Chappelle Sharrock are the only returners with varsity experience.
"I learned a lot going against Chadarryl in practice," Farris said. "The seniors pushed me, and it's made me ready for the upcoming season because people are counting us out and we have something to prove.
"I've definitely taken over a leadership role, but I don't feel like it's my team. We're all one team together, and that's the way it needs to be for us to be successful. I have a job to help influence how the game goes, but I want to be there to help younger teammates in practice.
"It's a position I'm comfortable in, but I'm not going to boss them around and tell them what to do. You have to know your teammates on and off the court and be there for them."
GPS coach Susan Crownover said Farris has moved comfortably into a leadership role.
"She came to me early in the year and we had a conversation about what I expected from her," Crownover said. "Aside from her and Chappelle, this team has no game experience. I told her we needed her to be the hardest worker and have the best attitude; so far she's done that.
"This year she's matured a lot. She really likes to compete, has a pretty good shot and was always good handling the ball. Her decision-making is improving. and she's really strong taking the ball to the rim."
Farris is considering pharmacy and communications/journalism as potential majors at LIU.