Q&A: Chicago Sky forward Gennifer Brandon
Chicago Sky’s 2014 second round pick Gennifer Brandon talks to WNBA Jones Blog Magazine.
Heading into the offseason the Chicago Sky had one goal – to get tougher. The team was beat up in the 2013 WNBA Playoffs by a tougher, more experienced Indiana Fever team. Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman set out to add post players that would bring toughness and grit down low.
One of those players is University of California forward, Gennifer Brandon. Brandon is the fourth player in the schools history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. In her junior season Brandon broke a 19-year record Pac-12 record by grabbing 26 rebounds against USC. The California native is Cal’s all-time leading rebounder.
WNBA Jones spoke to Gennifer Brandon about her affinity for grabbing boards, adjusting to a WNBA training camp, and being drafted by the Chicago Sky.
WNBA Jones: How has training camp been so far?
Gennifer Brandon: I feel I’ve been learning a lot from my teammates, Coach Pokey, Tree, and Christie. They know what they’re doing and it’s a wonderful experience so far.
WNBA Jones: What’s the toughest thing to pick up in practice?
GB: There are a lot of plays but as the days go on I feel like I’m grasping what the coaches want out of the plays.
WNBA Jones: Did you have any idea on draft night that Chicago was interested?
GB: I don’t know. I was more looking for the Mystics. I didn’t know who was going to draft me but I talked to the Mystics on the phone so I thought they were going to draft me and then oh my god, Chicago Sky! It’s so awesome!
WNBA Jones: How did it feel when you heard your name called?
GB: It was like a day dream. It was crazy. It was wonderful. I don’t know how to explain it but I feel blessed that they chose me.
WNBA Jones: What advice have the veterans given you so far?
GB: Just do you and be yourself. Obviously pay attention to what the coaches want and go hard all the time.
WNBA Jones: Has Coach Chatman told you what she needs from you on the floor?
GB: Pretty much to be myself and rebound. I love rebounding. Most people like to score but I like to rebound and get it to the guards and whatnot.
WNBA Jones: What made you fall in love with rebounding?
GB: It’s a weird story [laughs]. When I was younger and first starting to play basketball the only thing I did was jump high and run fast. The woman who adopted me was also my coach and she told me, “For every rebound you get, you get a Skittle,” and I didn’t even know what a rebound was but at the end of the game I had a lot of Skittles after she told me what a rebound was. That’s what drove me to start getting a lot of rebounds and ever since then I’ve loved rebounding.
WNBA Jones: Have you ever seen Dennis Rodman play?
GB: No. I’m a weirdo. I didn’t watch NBA or sports in general up until I came to Chicago.
WNBA Jones: Seriously?
GB: Seriously. Coach Pokey told me to start watching basketball and that’s when I started watching the NBA Playoffs and those guys are crazy awesome! I know the big players like LeBron James and Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But if there are two teams going at it I’ll say, “The red team” or “the blue team” and my teammates are like, “Do you watch NBA?” and I said, “I just started,” [laughs].
WNBA Jones: Have you ever watched the WNBA?
GB: I’ve actually been to a WNBA game with my mom when she took the team but for the most part I’m more into Forensic Files and Law & Order: SVU and stuff like that. I’d like to pursue law after my professional career in basketball.
WNBA Jones: What’s your degree in?
GB: I’m an American Studies major but I did two semesters of Legal Studies. I really enjoyed those two semesters.
WNBA Jones: Who has impressed you the most so far of the veteran Sky players?
GB: All of them. They all bring different things to the team. Elena, she’s just like amazing. She does everything. Everyone else just hustles and I love their drive to better the team. There is no one out trying to separate themselves from the pack. Everyone is all in for the team. That’s what I really love about Chicago Sky. It’s a family-like environment and you want to better yourself to better the team.
WNBA Jones: What part of your game do you feel needs the most work?
GB: I would probably have to say offense is what I need to work on mostly, and finishing. I love rebounding. Every time I think of basketball I think, “rebound, rebound”.
GB: Defense, I feel I can get a little bit stronger. I can be more versatile in sticking guards more so I can help the team if someone gets in foul trouble. I can help the team in a different way rather than guarding post players and stuff.
WNBA Jones: What’s your natural position?
GB: I always thought I was a forward.
WNBA Jones: Small forward? Power forward?
GB: I don’t know the difference. I’m smaller than most forwards so I would probably say a small forward now.
WNBA Jones: What did your agent say?
GB: He told me that I didn’t have a set role. My role is kind of undefined. My position is undefined. He said I haven’t reached my full potential and I’m really driven to start working towards it. He said I was only at like 40% and I’m like, how’d you calculate that [laughs]? I guess he thinks I have more to show so I’m going to be working to try to reach it.
WNBA Jones: Besides rebounding what do you bring to this team?
GB: I’m a little goofy. I can bring energy. I like being a spark to the team. I love making people smile – even on the court. You might see a few moments where I’ll have someone chuckling.