Clichés get overused enough to become clichés because they’re frequently applicable — and "out of sight, out of mind" is most certainly a thing when it comes to basketball.
Most preseason discussions about the top juniors in the state of Indiana did not include Kuryn Brunson, and that was largely due to her missing much of her sophomore year while recovering from an offseason knee injury.
"I definitely think people forgot," Brunson said, "but I could say that about our whole program. People are always like, ‘Franklin? Where’s that?’ Or they say Franklin Central. They never think of Franklin Community. So I think our whole program was just slept on, and this season we woke some people up."
That’s an understatement. Brunson put together an All-State season while leading the Grizzly Cubs to the Class 4A semistate, and she is the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year in girls basketball.
Brunson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in May 2019 and sat out the Grizzly Cubs’ first 12 games last winter. Even when she returned, Brunson wasn’t nearly as impactful as she had been as a freshman — so it was only natural that there be questions about how effective she would be going forward.
"I was anxious to prove myself, because an ACL is a traumatic injury and people were like — you know, I heard whispers, like, ‘Is she still going to be how she was?’" Brunson said. "So I just wanted to show everyone I can still perform and I can still help my team to get to where they want to be."
The team certainly got close. Franklin didn’t just post its first winning record in nine seasons; it went 22-3. The Grizzly Cubs won their first sectional since 2008 and their first regional since 1999 before falling to Brownsburg in the semistate.
Brunson was a massive reason why, leading the team in scoring (16.2 ppg), assists (4.7) and steals (2.5) and ranking second in rebounding (5.2). She was named to the IBCA’s Supreme 15 Underclass All-State team and was one of 12 players to earn Indiana Junior All-Star honors.
Falling short of the ultimate goal — a state championship — should keep the Grizzly Cubs hungry. Despite not making it all the way, though, Brunson can look back with pride on the team’s 22-3 season.
"We definitely wanted to win it all, and now we know where we need to be next year," she said, "but it feels good to do things in Franklin that haven’t been done ever or in a really long time. So it was a really good start, especially for the freshmen."
Those freshmen — three of whom were in the starting lineup by season’s end — helped make Brunson even more dangerous by spreading the floor with their 3-point shooting prowess. Without the hassle of double-teams or a clogged interior, she was far more free to do damage, both inside and out.
"It definitely makes things easier, because you have to respect them," Brunson said of her younger teammates. "You can’t leave them open; they’ll hit open shots. Sometimes they’ll even hit them with people in their face. But it definitely opens up the lane and let me be able to do what I do.
"It’s kind of like a team has to pick their poison — they can either guard me or they can guard our shooters."
This season woke up plenty of observers, including college coaches. They’ve shown even more interest in Brunson’s services now that they’ve seen her healthy again.
COVID-19 restrictions will likely have something to say about if and when she can take college visits, but Brunson would like to secure her academic and athletic future sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Of course, her future still includes one more season at Franklin. Nobody will be sleeping on Brunson and the Grizzly Cubs when it arrives.
"Expectations are high; we always hold ourselves to a high standard," Brunson said. "But we’re definitely excited to get next season rolling and get our underclassmen into the game and build up their experience. We’re looking to make another deep run."
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="All-County team" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
The 2021 All-County team for girls basketball:
<strong>Kuryn Brunson, Franklin junior:</strong> Returned from injury-shortened sophomore season to lead Grizzly Cubs to 22 wins and a Class 4A semistate berth … Junior All-Star and Supreme 15 All-State pick paced the team in scoring (16.2 per game), assists (4.7) and steals (2.5) and also averaged 5.2 rebounds.
<strong>Lauren Klem, Franklin freshman:</strong> Second in the state with 86 3-pointers made, leading the way for the nation’s top outside shooting team … All-conference pick scored 11 points per game and added 52 assists and 38 steals … Committed just 14 turnovers while leading the team in minutes played.
<strong>Izzy Reed, Greenwood Christian senior:</strong> Finished off one of the most statistically impressive careers in state history with a county-record 2,064 points and 1,349 rebounds, most in state history … Averaged 22.6 points, 13.5 boards, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals this season … Signed with Indiana Wesleyan.
<strong>Brooklyn Stubblefield, Greenwood Christian senior:</strong> Transfer made an immediate difference for the Cougars on both ends of the court, averaging 16.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.6 steals while helping lead the team to a repeat Class A regional championship.
<strong>Mary Wilson, Center Grove senior:</strong> Averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals for a young Center Grove team, making 57 3-pointers and earning All-MIC honors … Finished her career with 1,056 points … Will play at the University of Denver next season.
Kyra Baker, Franklin; Brooklyn Bell, Greenwood; Ellie Bigelow, GCA; Aubrie Booker, Center Grove; Braylyn Clendenen, Whiteland; Gracie Crawhorn, Edinburgh; Lauren Foster, Indian Creek; Savvanah Frye, GCA; Ella Hobson, Center Grove; Emily Karr, Center Grove; Quinn Kelly, Greenwood; Scarlett Kimbrell, Franklin; Annelise Lollar, Edinburgh; Kylee Marlin, Whiteland; Jenna Sawyer, Greenwood; Emily Todor, Indian Creek; Kurstin Thompson, Indian Creek; Faith Wiseman, Indian Creek