Prep notes: Freshman hoops phenom Brown leaving the state so he can play

James Yodice, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·3 min read

Feb. 24—Temporary relocation or permanent move?

Even Amari Brown can't say for sure.

But one thing that we do know is that Brown will not be playing basketball for Cibola High School this spring, if there even is a season.

And that uncertainty about the prospects of having an abbreviated season this semester is the primary reason Brown, the most heralded incoming freshman in the metro area in over a decade, is leaving New Mexico.

Brown is moving to Georgia next month to rejoin his former club team, an elite squad called the Atlanta Celtics, and compete in their 2021 club season.

"My future ... we have no season here (in New Mexico) right now, so I gotta take my opportunities to go to Atlanta where I can get that exposure that I can't get right now out here," Brown said Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2 Brown, 15, is considered one of the top freshman prospects in the country, and he recently received his first Division I offer from Western Illinois.

He expressed sadness that he has lost his entire freshman high school season. To that end, he couldn't say if this move to Atlanta would see him finish his prep career there, or if he'd someday return to New Mexico. His father, former New Mexico Lobo Greg Brown, is the first-season boys basketball coach at Albuquerque High.

"We haven't thought that far ahead," Amari Brown said. He has an aunt in Atlanta; mother Tina Dunn is going to relocate, at least temporarily, to Georgia.

APS GOFUNDME UPDATE: The GoFundMe page created Monday to raise money on behalf of Albuquerque Public Schools athletes had raised nearly $5,000 as of late Tuesday afternoon. The goal is $30,000 to pay for litigation against the State of New Mexico and the Public Education Department.

But the page was refreshed on Tuesday to include some updated information — most notably, that this battle will be taken to a federal rather than a state court.

APS athletes cannot engage in their respective sports because of the state mandate that a school district be in hybrid learning or in-person learning in order to be eligible to do so. APS is remaining in an almost exclusive remote learning model. The APS board of education, in fact, voted to remain that way until the end of the school year. Bernalillo County going from a yellow health status to green between now and then is one way APS students could return to school immediately.

A group of parents and coaches — La Cueva High volleyball coach Steve Archibeque is organizing the fundraiser — from several schools in the city say they have already "secured attorneys" to take their case.

And, one of the GoFundMe page organizers, AnnaMarie Garcia, the parent of a La Cueva football player, said those attorneys "are in the process of reaching out to the State of New Mexico," she said.

No potential plaintiffs names are going to be identified as yet as lawyers work "to see if they can come to an agreement without litigation."

MORE BLUE AND GREY: A handful of additional prep football standouts in New Mexico have been chosen to play in the spring edition of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on May 24 at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas.

West Mesa running back Ja'Calvin Newsom is one of the new additions. So are La Cueva defensive end Ja'Shon Lowery, Clovis' Jaden Phillips, Manzano defensive end Jaxon Powell, Cleveland defensive back Trey Ortega, Storm receiver Trevon Dennard and Artesia receiver Braxton McDonald.

Albuquerque High's Carlos Lovato, Goddard's Larry Luna and St. Pius' Aaron Deller already had been selected to play in the game.

HALL OF FAMERS: Former Cibola High coach Bill Gracey and former Belen coach Al Wisneski last Sunday were inducted into the New Mexico Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Gracey took Cibola to a pair of state championship games, with the Cougars winning state in 1983. Wisneski had an incredibly productive decade at Belen, transforming the Eagles into one of the state's strongest programs in the second-largest classification.