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Brynn McCurry ready for next challenge at Villanova

07/27/2022, 7:15pm EDT
By Meghann Morhardt

Meghann Morhardt (@Meghannmo14)

From a young age, Brynn McCurry sought out challenges. 

Inspired by two athletic parents who both played sports in college, her mom rowing at North Carolina and dad football at Wesleyan, McCurry has used hard work and some natural athleticism to excel in the different sports she has played. 

The rising Sparta senior plays volleyball, soccer, and after playing softball for two years, she made the switch to track last spring. This switch paid off as she went on to win the state championship in javelin after breaking the school record in her first meet. 

Despite her success, she never allowed any other activity to take away from her favorite sport: basketball.  

“These other sports were fun as a side hobby,” McCurry said. “But I never prioritized them. [...] I always knew basketball was my favorite.” 

A multi-sport athlete, Brynn McCurry's true passion has always been basketball. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

McCurry’s coaches say that she doesn’t shy away from challenges, especially when it comes to basketball. After watching her play since fourth grade, Sparta head coach Catherine Wille called her development on the court “amazing”. 

“I've been working since I was four,” McCurry said. “Going to the playground at my middle school and at my elementary school, even before school some days. [...] I wanted to take that chance to get to where I needed to be to play at the next level.” 

In third grade, McCurry realized her church basketball league wasn’t giving her the best competition, so she made the decision to play travel hoops. That was the first of many decisions that would lead the Sparta rising senior to multiple Division I offers and ultimately a commitment to play at Villanova. 

“My dad was a football player and basketball wasn't his thing so he felt like he taught me everything he knew,” McCurry said. “The church league was starting to be too low of a level for me [...] It was time for someone else to be my coach.” 

After playing travel for five years, and taking consistent strides along the way, McCurry knew that she needed another challenge on the grassroots scene. She played her first season with the New Jersey Magic, going to some local tournaments, but she quickly realized that to be recruited at the highest level, local travel hoops wasn’t going to cut it. 

So, six years after transitioning into her travel league, McCurry was in the same position: seeking a way to surround herself with the best people and resources to advance her game. Following a successful freshman season, the 6-foot-1 swing joined United NJ and started attending more national tournaments. Soon after, the interest started coming. 

McCurry’s recruitment started in ninth grade with some lower level D-I schools like University of Hartford, but it didn’t take long for programs like Villanova to join the mix during her sophomore year. The ‘Nova commit credits the COVID break and more time spent in the gym for her increased skill set and jump in collegiate interest. 

“COVID really saved me,” McCurry said. “Having virtual school for two, maybe three hours a day was super helpful. It allowed me to do a bunch more training with one local guy (Brian Thomas) and that's when my game really stepped up to another level.”

McCurry started training with Thomas in elementary school, working with him on a weekly basis. With height and athleticism in her favor, they focused on honing in her skills to optimize that natural ability and take her to the next level. 

“Her skills have really blossomed,” Thomas said. “And it’s because of her work ethic. [...] She could’ve just been another tall basketball player without true skills, but her desire and drive has made her as skilled as she is.” 

Brynn McCurry is excited to be challenged by Villanova's staff. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

As a 6-1 swing with an outside game, McCurry brings value to any system she plays in. She knows how and when to create her own shot, scoring confidently at all three levels, while also creating opportunities for those around her on the floor. 

“She’s a bit of a Swiss Army knife,” Thomas said. “She can do a little of everything, and not at an average level [...] she does most everything really well.” 

McCurry is often the best player in the gym. While this could become problematic for some, creating an unrealistic perspective and overconfidence, McCurry takes it with humility and uses it to bring others up to her level. 

“She’s a player you can challenge,” Thomas said. “I don't think I've ever heard her complain during a workout. Even during frustrations, she's very grateful, very thankful. [...] She’s such a good player and teammate because of her great attitude.”  

All of her intangibles supported by a diverse skill set made McCurry attractive to coaches. A competitive family atmosphere with a leader like Maddy Siegrist made Villanova attractive to McCurry. With a work ethic as strong as McCurry’s, it comes as no surprise that one of her biggest role models through high school has been Siegrist.

“I saw her play and I was just amazed,” McCurry said. “Just how much of a leader she is on the floor. And her basketball IQ is on another level.

“Once I realized that I could play for the same team that she did, I knew I wanted to try to do that.” 

Siegrist has quickly become one of the best players in Villanova history and those around her constantly laud her drive to succeed. 

“In talking to one of Villanova’s coaches (Joe Mulaney), it sounds like their work ethic is very similar,” Wille said. “Maddy is in the gym the longest, the same way that Brynn will come to practice and do what we need to do, but then she goes home to work on individual skills.” 

This determination has brought Siegrist to a Big East Player of the Year, third on Villanova’s all-time scoring list, and a long list of other honors. Willes believes McCurry has the potential to reach similar success in her time at ‘Nova. 

“She’s a multi-sport athlete, but I think once she gets to ‘Nova and focuses purely on basketball, her growth will be exponential,” Willes said. “I think she has the potential to tread a similar path to Maddy.” 

But it wasn’t just Siegrist that attracted McCurry to Villanova. She felt head coach Denise Dillon and her staff fostered a competitive-yet-encouraging environment that would allow her to thrive. 

“One thing I especially liked was that they’re not afraid to yell at you,” McCurry said. “They are strict and I’m used to that. [...] And also the way that it’s very team oriented, everyone just supports each other.” 

Villanova offered McCurry following their elite camp in the summer before her junior year. McCurry had a good feeling about the program, but with the magnitude of players entering the transfer portal in recent years, she wanted to be 100 percent confident before making her decision to ensure she didn’t become one of them. 

The rising senior knew she wanted to be close to home, attend a high-academic university with a business program, and play basketball at the highest level available to her. While the other two programs in her final three, Providence and Penn, checked one or two of those boxes, Villanova gave her all three: A short two-hour drive from home, a nationally recognized business school, and a team coming off an NCAA Tournament berth. 

The final box McCurry needed to check was the compatibility with her potential teammates. As a D-I athlete, the relationship with those around you can make or break your experience. McCurry knew without feeling confident in the camaraderie, she would not be able to commit. But once she got the chance to meet her potential future teammates, there was no doubt left. 

So in April, McCurry was faced with her biggest choice yet. Every early morning workout, every Sunday training with Thomas, every AAU tournament, had led her here. But for the rising senior, this one wasn’t a tough choice. She knew in her gut that Villanova was the place for her. 

“They instantly felt like my people,” McCurry said. “I knew that ‘Nova was the right decision.” 

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