Graduate guard Claire Brock gets introduced before a game
against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) on Jan. 13, 2023. (Natalie Sandlow/Visual Editor)

For graduate guard Claire Brock, basketball, leadership and winning are natural.

Hailing from Knoxville, Tenn., Brock’s list of accolades began in high school, where she was a three-time District Player of the Year and made the All-District Tournament Team her final three years at the Christian Academy of Knoxville. 

This list of accolades only got longer during her time on Emory University’s women’s basketball team. Over the course of the 2023-24 season, Brock averaged 17.1 points per game, leading the Eagles in scoring for her third consecutive season. Brock was offensively efficient as well, shooting 47.3% from the field, 41.5% from three-point range and 87% from the free-throw line.

This season, Brock reached 1,000 career points. She also made the All-University Athletic Association First Team and earned her second consecutive All-America Honorable Mention.

However, Brock’s Emory basketball career was not always full of points and awards. 

“Her freshman year, [she] played in maybe a handful of games,” said Emory Women’s Basketball Head Coach Misha Jackson (13C). “So, you talk about underdog — this is a kid that literally started from the bottom.”

Brock was not a starter or major contributor her first year on the team, and her sophomore season was then canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Brock felt unsatisfied ending her college career without using all her years of eligibility. She said the team’s chemistry played a large role in her decision to return to the court for a fifth year while she earned a master of arts in bioethics at the Rollins School of Public Health.

“A lot of things were left unfinished for me, only having three years,” Brock said. “The team itself is just full of so many girls that I love being around, and the coaching staff as well. They just invest so much in us. So it’s something that I love being a part of.”

In March, the team was ranked No. 6 in the country, the highest in program history. They qualified for the NCAA tournament for the sixth time on Feb. 26.

“It’s really good for me to see how the program has changed over the years to where it is the expectation that we make it into the NCAA tournament,” Brock said.

Brock’s leadership as a three-time captain helped Emory earn consecutive NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in 2023 and 2o24. Jackson said Brock’s attitude and work ethic have been a positive influence for the rest of the team.

“Her confidence, her swagger, it allowed her to lead it the way she needed to,” Jackson said. “It was a great example to her teammates about putting in the hard work and the confidence that comes after it.”

However, every year introduced new challenges for Brock. Senior forward and fellow captain Paige Gross noted the team had seven freshmen this season, and it was their job to get them “acclimated and comfortable on the court.”

Nonetheless, Brock and Gross were up to the challenge, and with this mix of experience and fresh legs, expectations rose for the team.

“The intensity and the expectations of our team have really stepped up from previous years,” Brock said. “In drills, our goals are always a lot higher than they have been in past years because we’re capable of reaching those higher numbers.”

The team combined their hard work and camaraderie to push themselves to a 19-6 regular season record. Many of these games featured exceptional showings from Brock. Jackson said some of her fondest memories of Brock were her 30-point performances, one of which came against Washington and Lee University (Va.) on Nov. 25, 2023.

In the game, Brock orchestrated a dominant 39-point performance, shooting 62% from the field, 70% from three-point range and 100% from the free throw line. Her high level of play helped the team edge out their top-25 opponent by a score of 86-78.

“It was a crucial, crucial game,” Jackson said. “It literally was our ticket into the tournament, and she dropped 39 points. So to do that, at that stage on the road in a very crucial game was just amazing … to see.”

Beyond her incredible performances, Brock’s teammate and coach highlighted her outstanding leadership.

“She’s carried our team through a lot of big wins this season and in past seasons,” Gross said. “But I think the more important thing is her leadership … off the court. She’s such a passionate and competitive leader, but she knows the right things to say at the right moments to get the team amped up.”

Jackson said even the opposing teams’ coaches recognize Brock’s impressive qualities as a leader.

“I’ve had several coaches in our league telling me, ‘I just love Claire Brock’ after talking to her and meeting with her,” Jackson said.

Although Brock’s hard work has not gone unnoticed, Jackson illustrated that opponents often underestimated her abilities because of her relatively small stature.

“People, if she’s walking down the street, would not assume she’s an All-American basketball player,” Jackson said. “She doesn’t necessarily pass the eye test. A lot of times when we play opponents not in our league, they’re like, ‘Oh, this is a kid. We’ll be fine,’ then she drops 20.”

However, Brock’s time at Emory was not always serious. Gross said Brock brought a lighthearted energy to the team, often getting in “goofy moods.”

“There’s one time before a game, we were in the training room getting ready, and she found this one dog video on her Instagram and was cracking up and was at the point of literally crying,” Gross said. “She showed it to all of us, and we didn’t think it was super funny, but we were laughing, and her energy … was so funny.”

Similarly, one of Brock’s favorite memories was not about basketball, but rather a team trip to Italy.

“To be honest with you, I can’t tell you anything that happened in those games,” Brock said. “We got to go and experience so many different cities, and we got to do a cooking class, we got to do all of these really fun things, and that’s something that I’ll never forget. I would have never had that opportunity if it wasn’t for basketball.”

Brock said she is thankful for all the opportunities Emory and the game of basketball have provided her. Although her Emory career has come to an end after a first-round exit from the 2024 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship, Brock’s Emory basketball legacy will not be forgotten.

“[Claire] is a great representation of what I’ve always wanted for Emory women’s basketball,” Jackson said.

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