SAPULPA — Just seeing Alyssia Brewer answers most people's questions. Watching her play basketball leaves no doubt. Is the Sapulpa senior as good as they say? The achievements say so: McDonald's All-American, Tennessee signee, defending Class 6A state champion. And then there are her numbers: 22 points and 15 boards, with a team record of 25-1. The 6-foot-3 lefty is considered by media as the best player in Oklahoma in any class this season. Some coaches and media argue Brewer is the best player the state has ever produced, with all due respect to Kelli Litsch and Crystal Robinson. While that's impossible to quantify, as the Class 6A state tournament begins today at Ford Center, the athletic marvel will be there for anyone to come see and judge for themselves. But, just a note of warning, the conclusion is always the same. Still, was there a time when Brewer wasn't the best? Was she ever just a good, solid player on a team? Was she ever just flat-out bad? Depends who you ask. "Oh yeah, the first time I played basketball, it had to have been so funny to watch,” Brewer said. "I was in kindergarten, and they would line five players up straight across from each other, and that was the person you had to guard the entire time. And the goals were the kind you have to hook on.” Just the description of it causes Brewer to break into laughter. However, a kindergartner — or anyone who plays on a carpeted court where few players can throw the ball up to the net — gets a pass. "Well, you could tell whenever I was young that I was going to be taller, but I didn't really stand out above everyone,” Brewer said. "And then, between the sixth and seventh grade, I hit the awkward growth spurt. I was like, ‘Wow.' I never expected to be that clumsy. "Let me tell you, going through that growth spurt was something else. I was just tripping over things. At first, I was like, ‘What the heck is going on?' I just wasn't used to my body yet.” That same summer, Darlean Calip — now the Sapulpa coach, but the coach at Jenks at the time — first saw Brewer. But Calip saw a different girl than the one Brewer recalls. Brewer had grown to 5-10½, and Calip couldn't quit watching this long-legged girl who had come to her summer basketball camp. "Oh, I just couldn't believe her skill level,” Calip said. "She was a good 5-9, 5-10 and built the way she is now. And she could shoot, she could dribble, she could do anything on a basketball court. I just said, ‘Wow, if this kid stays with the game and continues to improve, she has tremendous potential. There's no limit to how good she could be.'” Brewer reached 6-3 by her freshman year, won a national title and the Junior Olympics with AAU teams that summer. And now, as her prep career comes to an end, she's one of the nation's elite players. So, yes, she's as good as everyone says. And apparently she always has been, considering that when she saw herself as "clumsy,” Calip saw a phenom.
Sapulpa's Alyssia Brewer, right, averages 22 points and 15 rebounds a game. by NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN