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From coast to coast: Isuneh “Ice” Brady’s road to UConn

Irene Rotondo

Like many children, becoming a professional basketball player was always Isuneh “Ice” Brady’s answer to the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Isuneh “Ice” Brady (25) sets herself up for a shot on Day Two of the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. (Joe Arruda/The Student)

And still, like most children, she started off in a YMCA gymnasium at 7 years old, practicing how to run and throw a ball at the ground simultaneously.

But where Brady differed from the others was her immediate dive into the serious groundwork to make her dream a reality. She moved quickly through the rankings of youth basketball, beginning her club career at 9 years old and the EYBL at 13. From there, she moved into Team USA playtime, and college recruits started looking at her when she began high school.

“Anyone that’s really in love with basketball, you find it at a young age — that little girl — and I definitely had that click, that spark when I was young,” said Brady.

“I just kept going with it, I just kept working hard. It’s all I knew, to put basketball first,” she added.

The San Diego native recalls being 10 years old when she decided she wanted to play for UConn, and having already met one of her lifelong support system members and current assistant coach Sophia Knight two years prior, she had all she needed to make that happen.

Knight has been there every step of the way for Brady’s career, on and off the court, and the pair are extremely close-knit. For Knight, watching Brady grow in her sport has been a full-blown experience.

“For her, for me, for the two of us together, it was mind-blowing, because it’s something she said she wanted at such a young age — you know, like, 10, and it was something that… every kid dreams to go to UConn, but to be with her on the couch when it happened, we both sobbed, like babies. It was super, super special,” said Knight.

Committing to college for a sport at 15 is an almost-unthinkable, major decision to make for most high school students, especially when that commitment is quite literally across the country. But for Brady, it was an emphasis on the hard work she had already done to get there, and a motivation for her to be even better.

Isuneh “Ice” Brady (25) goes in on the paint on Day Two of the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. (Joe Arruda/The Student)

“Instead of being like, ‘Oh, cool, I know where I’m going,’ I was so young that I wanted to keep working so my coaches wouldn’t be like, ‘Oh, nevermind,’” remembered Brady.

“Once I signed and went on my official visit, I did get sophomore year senioritis just a little bit, because I knew it was so close… my coaches and support system do a great job of keeping me focused though,” she laughed.

Brady obviously looks forward to playing at the D1 level alongside women she’s looked up to over the years, but she’s also excited to be furthering her education at such a prestigious school. She hopes to either study psychology or journalism — quite different academic fields, but she has a passion for both.

“Being a basketball player, and also being African-American, I’m super into mental health, especially for athletes. I want to look into that; when I started high school, I struggled with [mental health], especially after I committed, just all the pressure and the other stuff that comes with playing at a high level. Overcoming that, I definitely want to help other athletes that struggle.

“But on top of journalism and communications, maybe being a reporter — I still want to be in the sport after the ball stops bouncing,” she added.

And “passionate” is just the word to describe Ice, said Knight. She’s always the one to bring together the “sisterhood” of her team, as Brady calls them, and Knight recognizes the high morality value Brady brings to her team.

“On the court, she’s always the first to hype her teammates up, she loves it when her teammates hit a big three, or get an end one, loves picking them up so she’s there on the court as their #1 hype man,” said Knight.

“Off the court, she’s always one that wants to do the team bonding activities, and if the sisterhood and the bonding isn’t there, she’s the one to almost force it. ‘Let’s be together, let’s do this and this,’” she continued.

Brady is thrilled for her fellow seniors in their amazing college commitments. She’s been with the same girls for years, and couldn’t be happier for her “sisters” after watching them flourish.

“We’ve known each other since before high school, probably since fifth grade, so just seeing each other grow, and the main three of us… we’re all going D1, so just seeing each other from little kids, growing together to all be D1, that’s super special,” said Brady.

UConn is lucky to have Ice, and her new coach Geno Auriemma is fully aware of that — he attended her 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay game against Springfield Central High School, where Brady racked up the points right in front of him.

Isuneh “Ice” Brady (25) defends against Springfield Central High School on Day Two of the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. (Joe Arruda/The Student)

Auriemma stated that she’s got the talent his team is always looking for. “She’s a big kid, she can shoot, she’s smart, she knows how to play,” he stated of number 25.

Brady noticed him on the sidelines, and it was just an extra layer of elation for her to be at Hoophall Classic.

“When I tell you I was really into it… it was really cool. It’s insane; when I was young, middle school or maybe elementary school, just watching other high school kids performing at this level, and the fact that I’m that now is like, literally out of this world,” said Brady.

“It meant everything, and I do get a little nervous when [Auriemma] comes to games, so I was glad that we played well and got the dub. It was really awesome, and something special,” she finished.

Brady is an amazing individual and athlete, loved by her teammates and coaches, and she will continue to shine in her athletic career — even on the East Coast.

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