Fewer than six minutes into the first quarter, Maryland freshman guard Bri McDaniel headed to the scorers’ table at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, in the season opener versus George Mason.
Standing at the top of the key, McDaniel used an explosive first step to get her defender on her heels as she headed toward the rim. Once McDaniel felt contact, she leaned into her defender, extending her right arm to score the basket while drawing the foul.
McDaniel yelled “And one!” as the referee blew their whistle.
The points gave a glimpse of McDaniel’s potential in her debut season for Maryland while diving into how her beloved hometown — Chicago — plays a part in her game on the court. McDaniel recorded 13 points and snagged seven rebounds in the Terps’ 88-51 victory over George Mason on Nov. 7.
While McDaniel is only a freshman, the Chicago native is heavily relied upon to contribute to a Maryland team featuring significant roster turnover from 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. Initially committed to Texas A&M, she reopened her recruitment following the retirement of head coach Gary Blair after the 2021-22 season.
So, McDaniel made her pledge to Maryland in April, alongside former Texas A&M commit Gia Cooke.
McDaniel is prepared to contribute immediately and wants to make a significant impact in her debut season for the Terps. Her early playing career in Chicago has taught her lessons that will play a role for her this season with the Terps.
Adrian McDaniel, Bri’s father, has spent countless hours helping to master the fundamentals and to make consistent improvements in her game.
“She’s a dawg. We don’t create anything but dawgs in Chicago,” Adrian McDaniel said.
McDaniel has been playing basketball since she was five years old and has always played with a chip on her shoulder.
McDaniel’s sister, Shadrian, played with the fourth-grade team, while Brianna got limited minutes on the squad. The Maryland freshman guard wanted to compete against her sister and older competitors, as she jumped at the chance to join in on their weekly practices.
“She wanted to keep up with the kids that were older, there wasn’t much my husband or I could do to stop her being active,” Bri’s mother, Shamona McDaniel, said.
McDaniel’s drive was on display in one memorable practice during her time playing for the Chicago Lady Dribblers.
Her coach, DiAngelo Sawyer, told a young McDaniel that she couldn’t leave practice until she could finally hit the rim. She spent a great deal of time firing off numerous shots, eventually finding success on one of her attempts.
“It was always funny because she was a little determined kid that loved to play basketball,” Shamona McDaniel said.
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-back-down mentality that is cultured in the Windy City.
McDaniel enjoys competing and looks to exert full effort on every possession. While she respects her opponents, it shouldn’t undervalue her ability to never back down from a challenge.
When McDaniel was younger, her grandfather Robert Keel became tired of seeing others effortlessly push her down. So, he hired strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin to build more muscle. While improving, her father was instrumental in developing her skills on the court.
“Having them to push me and going to the gym late at night to put up shots and running helped me a lot,” Bri McDaniel said. “I really appreciate my grandfather and my dad for everything they’ve done [to help me get better].”
Now, she’s a player who thrives off physical contact.
Her competitive tenacity was on display in the Terps’ highly-anticipated matchup versus No. 1 South Carolina on Nov. 11. Late in the third quarter of Maryland’s 81-56 loss to the defending national champion, tensions began to flare on the sidelines. McDaniel didn’t budge when South Carolina freshman guard Ashlyn Watkins attempted to get overly physical on one play. Instead, McDaniel informed Watkins she was not going to be pushed over and that she embraced the challenge.
In a game where Maryland lost by a comfortable margin, the scoreboard wasn’t indicative of the fight McDaniel and the Terps exhibited. Maryland trailed by single digits for the majority of the game, but its resolve and fight were key components they are looking to build on over the remainder of the season.
McDaniel is a part of a promising 2022 Maryland recruiting class head coach Brenda Frese hopes will pay dividends down the line.
McDaniel, along with Gia Cooke, Mila Reynolds and Ava Sciolla, will look to gain valuable first-year experience and eventually lead a Maryland team known for annually competing for Big Ten championships.
The five-foot-10 guard’s goals for the season are team-focused, as she’s motivated to make positive strides throughout the year and lead the Terps to their seventh Big Ten title.
“I want to be a Big Ten champion, national champion and freshman of the year. I always set goals for myself and those are the goals I want to accomplish this year,” McDaniel said.