The best AAU basketball programs are always filled with superstar prospects. What makes the Georgia Ice different is that it is also filled with superstar parents.
In particular, the 17-and-under Georgia Ice girls basketball team features four of the best girls basketball players in the country who happen to be the daughters of former sports superstars: Taryn Griffey is the daughter of baseball slugger Ken Griffey Jr., Kaela Davis is the daughter of longtime NBA star Antonio Davis, Lexie Brown is the daughter of former NBA slam dunk champ Dee Brown and Diamond DeShields is the daughter of former MLB infielder Delino DeShields.
"They call us the famous Dad team," Lexie Brown said in a recent video interview. "We're kind of all used to it. That's just our label, and we're rolling with it."
Dee Brown now serves as the team's coach, a role that Antonio Daniels fulfilled in 2009. While Ken Griffey Jr. might be the most famous father connected with the team, determining which current Ice member is most likely to turn heads in future years is much harder to determine.
Just consider the quartet's honors already:
• Diamond DeShields has missed the Ice's recent summer action while she competes at a national training camp with the U.S. Under-19 World Championship team. At 16, DeShields is the youngest player at the camp.
• Kaela Davis, who has already committed to Tennessee, is widely considered the top overall prospect in the Class of 2013. The versatile 6-foot-2 guard will be expected to make a significant impact as soon as she arrives in Knoxville.
• Taryn Griffey is slightly less heralded than DeShields and Davis, but only very slightly. She's also younger, and led Dr. Phillips (Fla.) High to an amazing 34-2 record and the Class 6A state title … as a freshman. Notably, she finished just a single assist short of a quadruple-double in one November game.
• Lexi Brown may actually be responsible for Griffey's emergence, too. Brown led Dr. Phillips to the Class 6A state title as the team's point guard in her freshman season, then transferred to North Gwinnett (Ga.) High for the 2010-11 campaign, where she was picked as the Class AAAAA player of the year. Brown has committed to Maryland.
All four seem likely to have a bright future, but it's a wonder they can maintain their composure and close friendships in the moment, all while remaining grounded despite their famous fathers.
The elder Brown said that the team's and players' success comes from the players' commitment to earn their own success.
"The girls always want to make a name for themselves," Dee Brown said. "They take pride in that. 'I don't want to be known as Dee Brown's daughter, I want to be known as Alexis Brown, going to the University of Maryland in two years.' Or Kaela Davis that's going to the University of Tennessee."
For their part, the Ice is focused on more personal improvement before the start of the 2011-12 season. Despite a disappointing showing at the recent AAU 11th Grade Gold Super Showcase at Walt Disney World (which was won by the Atlanta-area AOT Celtics), the team's stars insist they are still on track for a bright future if they maintain their work ethic.
"A lot of stereotypes come with it all," Kaela Davis said. "I think it's just a matter of working together and proving that we can get out of the shadow of our fathers' names and make something for ourselves by being one team and doing the right things together."
- Dee Brown