Freshmen pair ready for success

"Why Vanderbilt?" freshman Elan Brown was asked upon learning she had her pick of programs in the Big 10 and SEC. The 6-foot-tall nationally ranked recruit had narrowed the long list to five, which also included Stanford, Auburn, Florida and Kentucky.

"Why not Vanderbilt?" she threw back, sparking a discussion of the school's academic reputation and basketball legacy. The pre-med major from Atlanta and granddaughter of French Creoles from south Louisiana, said her parents were fans of the scholastic strength of Vanderbilt as she was.

"Academics are important for me, and the SEC is the most competitive league in basketball. When I came here I could see myself on campus with the team," Elan (photo at left) recalls. "I know I made the right decision. I'm really happy about it."

Her official visit to Vanderbilt just over a year ago took place with Georgia Metros AAU teammate and Vandy freshman Tiffany Clarke. Within a day of each other, the friends committed, not knowing the other had already phoned in their choice. Tiffany, from Duluth, lived just 20 minutes from Elan's family and the pair played for the elite Metros for two years.

Elan and Tiffany both made their schools' 1,000 point clubs. Elan attended Woodward Academy, averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds her senior year. Known for finesse, Elan describes her court demeanor as deliberate and calm. "I may look like that on the outside, but it's not how I feel inside." She adds, "I'm not known for contact."

Her teammate on the other hand, is notorious for it. Tiffany, an aggressive, 6-0 power forward who blocked a record 10 shots in a single game, finished her final Norcross High School season with a double-double: 18 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. A three-sport athlete who turned down a volleyball scholarship from Georgia, Tiffany also was the 2008 regional champion in both triple jump and shot put.

"I like contact," Tiffany, (Photo at right) also a pre-med major, explains. "Some people just don't like being touched in the post, but I don't have that problem." Elan adds that there are bruises on her teammates to confirm it.

With the schedule just released, the pair say they're most eager to play the conference half. "All our club friends are on those teams – we'll be pretending on court like we don't know them and then later, it will be like, ‘hey, what'cha doing after the game?'" Tiffany said.

The Metros placed freshmen at South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia. "It should be interesting," to play them, Elan adds.

The post-season success of the ‘Dores was one of the deciding factors in recruiting the pair. So it's no surprise that both look forward to tournament play.

Tiffany puts the exclamation point on her wish for post-season victories: "We want to another SEC Championship and the national championship!"

Elan emphatically agrees. "Absolutely. It's going to be a new experience. I'm really excited about everything. I know it's going to be tough at times but it's definitely going to be worth it."

As a parting shot when the interview ends, "I love Vanderbilt!" she says, true to her Creole name, which means energetic and lively.

Elan Brown and Tiffany Clarke (VM/Sharon Harper)

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