Maryland freshman guard Bri McDaniel’s Chicago roots shaped preseason success

Less than six minutes into the first quarter, Maryland freshman guard Bri McDaniel made his way to the scoring table in the season opener against George Mason at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia.

Standing on top of the key, McDaniel made an explosive first step to put her defender on her heels as she headed for the rim. As soon as McDaniel felt the contact, she leaned towards her defender and extended her right arm to hit the basket while drawing the foul.

McDaniel yelled “And one!” as the referee whistled.

The points provided a glimpse of McDaniel’s potential in her debut season for Maryland while delving into how her beloved hometown – Chicago – plays a role in her game on the court. McDaniel scored 13 points and snatched seven rebounds in the Terps’ 88-51 win over George Mason on November 7.

While McDaniel is just a freshman, the Chicago native is heavily reliant on contributing to a Maryland team that has seen significant roster turnover last season.

McDaniel, a four-star recruit from Kenwood Academy in Chicago, was the No. 42 player in the Class of 2022 according to ESPN. Originally hired at Texas A&M, she took up her enlistment after head coach Gary Blair retired after the 2021 season /22 up again.

So, in April, McDaniel made her promise to Maryland, along with former Texas A&M engagement Gia Cooke.

McDaniel is ready to make an immediate contribution and wants to make a significant impact in her debut season for the Terps. Her early playing career in Chicago taught her lessons that will help her with the Terps this season.

Adrian McDaniel, Bri’s father, has put in countless hours helping her master the basics and keep improving her game.

“She’s a buddy. We don’t do anything different in Chicago than Dawgs,” said Adrian McDaniel.

McDaniel has been playing basketball since she was five and has always played with a chip on his shoulder.

McDaniel’s sister Shadrian played in the fourth grade while Brianna played in the kindergarten group. The Maryland Freshman Guard was looking to compete against her sister and older competitors when she took the opportunity to attend her weekly drills.

“She wanted to keep up with the older kids, there wasn’t much my husband or I could do to stop her getting active,” said Bri’s mother, Shamona McDaniel.

McDaniel’s drive was evident in a memorable practice session while playing for the Chicago Lady Dribblers.

Her trainer, DiAngelo Sawyer, told a young McDaniel that she couldn’t leave practice until she could finally get to the rim. She spent a lot of time firing numerous shots and finally found success in one of her attempts.

“It was always funny because she was a small, determined kid who loved to play basketball,” said Shamona McDaniel.

Chicago is credited with being a pipeline for talent on the basketball court. Derrick Rose, Candace Parker, Isiah Thomas and countless others play with a never-ending mentality cultivated in the Windy City.

McDaniel enjoys the competition and puts in every effort with every possession. While she respects her opponents, don’t underestimate her ability to never back down from a challenge.

When McDaniel was younger, her grandfather, Jane Doe, got tired of seeing others effortlessly depress her. So he hired strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin to build more muscle. As she improved, her father was instrumental in developing her skills on the pitch.

“Having them pushing me and going to the gym late at night to shoot and run has helped a lot,” said Bri McDaniel. “I appreciate my grandfather and father very much for everything they have done [to help me get better].”

Now she’s a player who thrives on physical contact.

Their competitive tenacity was shown on November 11 in the eagerly awaited Terps vs. No. 1 South Carolina. Towards the end of the third quarter of Maryland’s 81-56 loss to the defending champions, tension on the sidelines began to flare. McDaniel didn’t move when freshman guard Ashlyn Watkins from South Carolina tried to get overly physical at a game. Instead, McDaniel informed Watkins that she would not be knocked over and that she accepted the challenge.

In a game where Maryland lost by a comfortable margin, the scoreboard didn’t show the fight McDaniel and the Terps showed. Maryland trailed in the single digits for most of the game, but his determination and struggle were key components they look to build on for the rest of the season.

McDaniel is part of a promising recruiting class of 2022 in Maryland that head coach Brenda Frese is hoping will pay off down the line.

McDaniel, along with Gia Cooke, Mila Reynolds and Ava Sciolla, will seek to gain valuable first-year experience and eventually lead a Maryland team known for battling for Big Ten championships annually.

The 5’2″ guard’s goals for the season are team focused as she is motivated to make positive progress throughout the year and lead the Terps to their seventh place finish Big Ten title.

“I want to be Big Ten Champion, National Champion and Rookie of the Year. I always set goals and those are the goals I want to achieve this year,” said McDaniel.

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