Skip to content

Women’s basketball: Impressive debut sparks confidence in CU Buffs’ freshman Brianna McLeod

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:
University of Colorado's Brianna McLeod shoots ...
University of Colorado’s Brianna McLeod shoots in the Adams State game on Nov. 1, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

It was only 10 minutes, 18 seconds of playing time, but it was enough to boost the confidence of Colorado women’s basketball freshman Brianna McLeod.

Through months of preseason practice, McLeod got the work she needed to prepare for her first season of college basketball, but Monday’s 85-55 victory against New Mexico State assured her that she belonged.

“It definitely did help,” she said, “just because I feel like it was kind of hard in practice to gauge, ‘Oh, am I really gonna help? Or am I just kind of like another person on the team?’ I think (the New Mexico State game) was good for me. I think it was also good for my confidence, too, being the first freshman off the bench. I think I did pretty good.”

A 6-foot-3 forward from Brampton, Ontario, McLeod is one of four true freshmen for the Buffaloes and was the first off the bench in the season-opening win. She scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting, pulled down three rebounds and blocked two shots.

As the Buffs prepare for Saturday’s home matchup with Jackson State, McLeod is hoping her debut was a good sign of things to come, but exactly how she fits into the rotation remains to be seen.

“I’m still kind of adjusting and kind of figuring out, like, where I can impact this team, compared to what I used to do in high school,” she said. “It’s been pretty good though.”

McLeod played high level basketball in Canada, averaging 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds as a senior last year.

“It was really elite competition,” she said. “It was really fun playing with all those girls and I made a lot of friends and I’m just seeing a lot of them go to different schools in the States. I have friends at Iowa State, Villanova, Rice; so it’s actually really fun.”

Like a lot of freshmen, McLeod has a lot to learn as a college player, but CU head coach JR Payne is excited about what McLeod could become because of her exceptional athleticism.

“I think Bri is gonna be a great player,” Payne said. “I think she’s just got a ton of untapped potential. … She’s just young in basketball. I think as she transitions to this level that’s just so fast and so physical, she’s kind of a sponge and wants to learn. Someone like (senior Quay Miller) will coach her up on the sidelines and help her develop.”

Being young and learning from others is actually a comfortable situation for McLeod, who is the youngest of 10 children in her family.

“My siblings, they’re also a lot older than me and I kind of feel that sometimes on the team,” she said. “I feel like we have so much veterans, and then there’s me. I feel like sometimes I’m just still trying to find my way and I just make little mistakes. It kind of just relates to how it was at home.”

And, just like at home, McLeod has a strong support system with the Buffs. Payne, her staff and the veteran players are helping her develop and adjust to college. Meanwhile, mom and dad are still guiding their youngest child from afar.

“I’ve always kind of just been the baby of the family,” she said. “It was kind of hard when I left because I was the last kid and my parents were really protective over me. So I talk to them almost every morning as I walk to class. They always call me.”

No doubt they heard about her impressive debut as she continues develop with the Buffs.

“That’s one of the main reasons I came to America for basketball, because I know the competition’s better here,” she said. “It’s new for me playing against taller players, especially in practice, and people who are just as good or even better than me. It’s really been a challenge, but I’ve been liking it.”

Jackson State Tigers at CU Buffs women’s basketball

TIPOFF: Saturday, 2 p.m., CU Events Center.

TV/RADIO: TV — None (Live stream at CUBuffs.com). Radio — 630 AM

RECORDS: Jackson State 0-1; Colorado 1-0.

COACHES: Jackson State — Tomekia Reed, 5th season (78-38). Colorado — JR Payne, 7th season (95-84; 196-197 career)

KEY PLAYERS (2021-22 stats): Jackson State — G Miya Crump, 6-1, Sr. (9.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 apg); G Jariyah Covington, 5-5, Sr. (8.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.8 apg); G Keshuna Luckett, 5-8, Sr. (8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg); F LaMirale Sims, 6-1, Sr. (4.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg); F Daja Woodard, 6-3, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg). Colorado — G Frida Formann, 5-11, Jr. (7.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Sr. (10.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Sr. (8.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.8 apg); C Aaronette Vonleh, 6-3, So. (4.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg at Arizona); G Kindyll Wetta, 5-9, So. (4.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.8 apg).

NOTES: This is first game of the preseason WNIT, a four-team event that also includes Louisiana and Texas Tech. CU and Jackson State will head to Lubbock, Texas, next week to complete the round-robin event. … CU has never played Jackson State. … The Buffs have won 26 consecutive non-conference home games, dating back to an 81-75 loss to Dartmouth on Dec. 11, 2017. … Under Payne, the Buffs are 39-2 in non-conference home games. … CU is seeking its fifth consecutive 2-0 start. … Reed has led Jackson State to the last three Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season titles. She has also taken the Tigers to three SWAC tournament title games, and it might have been four had the 2020 tournament not been canceled because of COVID-19 (JSU was the No. 1 seed). … The Tigers won the SWAC tournament the last two years to get into the NCAA Tournament. … Jackson State opened its season Wednesday with a 91-59 loss at North Carolina. … The Tigers’ non-conference schedule is loaded, with eight of 10 games against Power 5 opponents, including Texas Tech, UCLA, Oregon State, Missouri, Texas and Washington State. … JSU doesn’t play at home until game No. 8, Dec. 14 against Texas. … JSU freshman Shelomi Sanders is the daughter of Tigers head football coach Deion Sanders.