Former Wiregrass Ranch High girls basketball standout Stephanie Brower, a 2017 walk-on at the University of Florida, reacts with her teammates to being told by the Gators women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer that she had earned a scholarship for this season. (Photo: Screengrab, UF video)

Former Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) girls basketball player Stephanie Brower was never one of the most recruited players in Pasco County. But, she was always one of the hardest working and, after one season as a walk-on at the University of Florida, it is probably no surprise that, well, she no longer is a walk-on.

On Oct. 8, Brower received the surprise of a lifetime when, surrounded by her teammates, she was told by Gators head coach Cam Newbauer that she had officially earned a scholarship.

Brower could only cover her mouth in shock as her face slowly turned red with tears. Her teammates mobbed her in celebration.

The Gators team had gathered at the Delta Zeta house, which is Brower’s sorority, under the guise of promoting the team and drumming up attendance by inviting the sorority sisters to come to games this season.

After Newbauer made his pitch to support his team, Brower took the floor to loud cheers. Newbauer then interrupted.

“Come on now, how loud do you cheer for a Delta Zeta?,” he asked a gathering of about 50 sisters, which then erupted into even louder cheering.

After they stopped, Newbauer continued: “How loud would you cheer for a Delta Zeta…that earned a scholarship?”

Brower covered her heart with her hands — “Oh my God, are you serious?” — and then covered her face as her teammates jumped into the celebration.

It was the second time this summer that Newbauer surprised one of the Gators with a scholarship. Brower joined Corey Staples, who was surprised with a scholarship after a carefully orchestrated scavenger hunt.

“It’s been really cool for me to see Steph’s growth and development,” Newbauer says. “When I was coaching at Belmont (University) she actually came out to our elite camp and was really interested, but at the time we didn’t have any scholarships available or room on our roster. Then when I got here to Florida, she reached out about a walk-on opportunity. I was really excited to hear from her because I remembered how hard she played. She will do anything to add value to the team.”

Brower, a 2017 WRH grad, averaged 15.1 points and 10.5 rebounds as a 5-foot-11 guard. She led the Bulls to the school’s first district title in 2016, surpassing the 1,000-point career mark with a 15-point, 16-rebound performance in a 59-47 district championship win over Freedom.

Brower finished her Wiregrass Ranch career with 1,493 points. 1,059 rebounds and 514 assists.
She walked on at Florida on Dec. 12, 2017, appearing in six of 30 games during the 2017-18 season, including four Southeastern Conference games. She played 24 of her 45 minutes against No. 15 Tennessee in February, scoring 2 points with three assists, two rebounds and a steal.

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