When Arizona’s Breanna Workman set foot on the hardwood of McKaleCenter in her first game last season, the 6’1 forward was forced to deal with a different atmosphere in more ways than one.
For starters, this isn’t CentennialHigh School in Las Vegas where she was a four year starter. The sophomore wasn’t playing GreenValley, Desert Oasis, Bishop Gorman or Cimarron-MemorialHigh School anymore. She was playing big-time college basketball against the likes of Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and USC on a weekly basis. She wasn’t playing in a high school gym that could only accommodate 300 fans anymore. She was taking the floor of McKaleCenter with nearly 1,500 fans singing Bear Down and Fight Wildcats Fight along with the cheerleaders and the pep-band.
There was one change that probably had more significance than any other. When she stepped on the court this past season, Workman was doing what she had done since she was little. She was passing, shooting and stretching the floor like she was taught, but she it was without her long-time best friend and fellow forward Jada Brown.
Breanna and Jada have played on the same teams since they were in the seventh grade. They started playing for a club team in Las Vegas and later became teammates at CentennialHigh School where they won the state title in 2010. It was there where mere team camaraderie turned into a friendship and from there has turned into nearly a family-like connection.
“She’s so funny and outgoing,” Breanna said. “We’re basically the same person. Some best friends are total opposite, but we are pretty much the same person. We are with each other so much that we are pretty much family to each other. And we look out for one another as well. ”
Over the years, Jada has seen the different personality traits of Breanna. She recognizes the work ethic and commitment Breanna has working towards her game, but also sees the relaxed, fun-loving side of Breanna every time they get together.
“She is a very strong-minded person,” Jada said. “She’s very committed and always keeps her word. We’re always joking around with each other and having fun. We just had an instant connection because we were around one another all the time, we just became good friends. We’re really more like sisters than anything else. ”
The girls like to do something spontaneous every chance they get. They like to try new things, take risks and live their lives to the fullest whenever they are together.
“Whenever we get together, everything we do is hilarious,” Breanna said. “We like to live on the edge a little bit. Everything that I’ve done in my life that is kind of risk-taking, she’s always right next to me. We’re together 24/7.”
From playing two years with the Vegas Bulldogs club team and four years at CentennialHigh school, the two played on the same floor for the better part of six years. They knew how to communicate during a game, each other’s tendencies, and if one of them was ever having an off day.
With the on-court success they shared, it was easy to imagine that both girls would be given the chance to play at the next level. Breanna chose to stay closer to home and play for The University of Arizona, while Jada signed on to play at the University of Kansas.
Though the tandem is separated by nearly 1,200 miles, they still find a way to keep in touch on a daily basis. Whether they talk on Facebook, Instagram, via text or on the phone, they still manage to act as if they are back in Las Vegas sitting next to each other having a conversation.
“We talk every day,” Breanna said. “Whether we comment on one another’s status on Facebook or Instagram, we send each other text everyday. And sometimes they are just random texts. We also like to facetime a lot.”
Even with the grueling workout, practice and game schedule that comes with playing division one basketball, the two always find time to call each other and exchange quick words of motivation before games.
“We talk to each other before our games,” Jada said. “We’ll say good luck and then we will talk to each other after the games to catch up.”
But Breanna and Jada have been through some difficult times together.
Breanna’s darkest hour came in December of 2011 when she received the horrifying news that her older brother Darnell was severely wounded after he had been shot several times in Breanna’s home state of Indiana.
Jada and Breanna were attending the Nike Tournament in Phoenix the weekend of the shooting.
“When I found out about it, Jada was next to me,” Breanna said. Our phones were taken up at night, so I didn’t read the message until the next morning. Jada was right beside me when I found out and we both just started crying.”
“I flew out to Indianapolis the next day,” Breanna said. “And I stayed with him through Christmas, then I flew back to Las Vegas.”
Darnell’s injuries were severe, but he did not die right away. He went through several successful surgeries and it was believed that he only needed one more to make a recovery.
“His first few surgeries went well,” Breanna said. “So my mom told me to go on back to Las Vegas. So I went back and I stayed with Jada for a couple of days.”
On January 4, 2012, a matter of days after Breanna had flown back to Las Vegas, Darnell had passed away at the hospital. Breanna was at Jada’s house when they heard the news about her brother. Jada took the loss just as personally as Breanna.
“It hit me hard,” said Jada. “It almost felt like I had lost my brother. He was a good, spirited guy and when my family found out they were just at a loss for words. Both of our families are close and it just felt unreal.”
Jada never left Breanna’s side. Throughout Breanna’s grieving, she stayed with her to comfort and support her.
“Having a friend like Jada really helped me get through that time,” Breanna said. “She is my sister and she made the whole experience easier to get through.”
Through the good and bad, Jada and Breanna stay side-by-side wherever they go and whatever they do. They follow up on each other’s games, giving one another pep talks or advice. They keep up with each other’s programs and even think what it would be like if Arizona were to play Kansas.
“If we were playing a game of one-on-one, I think I would take her,” Breanna said smiling. “I would tell coach Butts that I want to guard Jada Brown.”Whether life takes these two and puts them in different states, or if they end up buying houses right next to each other, Breanna Workman and Jada Brown will always be connected at the hip. They’ll always be smiling, laughing or even occasionally singing together. They might even be on the court playing a game of pick-up. They’ll both be putting up points and talking trash to try to get the other one off her game. One might even try to get the other one upset. You could try to ask them to “play nice,” but that’s not how sisters are