With an outspoken grandma and intriguing game, Zippy Broughton races up recruiting rankings

Helen Stinson, left, has given daughter Natasha Broughton and granddaughter Zippy Broughton an earful on basketball over the years. Courtesy the Broughton family

Zippy Broughton was in her grandma's hair salon, A Nu Attitude, on Rosa Parks Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, about a month ago when the call came in.

It was Alabama assistant women's basketball coach Kelly Curry on the line, and Broughton put him on speaker. Big mistake.

Curry extended invitations to Tuscaloosa to Broughton, her grandma, Helen Stinson, and the rest of the Broughton family. Big mistake No. 2.

"She told him straight-up, 'I'm a War Eagle,'" Broughton said of her grandmother, a former high school basketball player and, clearly, an Auburn fan.

Broughton hasn't visited the Alabama campus since Grandma Stinson hurled her own version of "Nu Attitude" at the coach. One of the fastest risers in the 2018 class, all the way up to No. 23, Broughton is a 5-foot-7 point guard for Robert E. Lee (Montgomery, Alabama). She's been having a lot of conversations with college coaches recently, and she says she's open to Alabama.

"I'm not going to let my grandmother dictate where I'm going to go," said Broughton, who admits she grew up rooting for Auburn in football and followed her cousin, Jeno James, who played offensive tackle for the Tigers before a seven-year career in the NFL.

Auburn has yet to offer Broughton a scholarship, though the Tigers are recruiting her. Alabama, Kansas State, Michigan State and Florida State are among the schools that have extended offers.

Broughton, who wants to major in business, said she knows exactly what she wants in a college. "What I'm looking for," she said, "is a coach who mostly relies on his guards."

A fitting name

Natasha Broughton gave her daughter a Biblical name: Zipporah, who, in the Old Testament, was Moses' wife. But Zipporah gave way to Zippy; her speed and quickness demanded it.

"My name is unique," Broughton said. "It ties it all together ... like I was meant to play."

For a while, it seemed that Broughton might be a soccer player. She loved scoring goals as a forward and calls that sport her first love.

"I was faster than everyone else, so I weaved through the defense very easily," she said. "And when I saw a boy take a corner kick, the next thing you know, I was able to bend the ball into the goal."

Broughton played soccer until sixth grade, but then something happened: Her mom saw her play basketball.

Broughton made the varsity basketball team in seventh grade, competing for her original high school, Wetumpka (Alabama). Wanting a better chance to win a state title, Broughton, along with her family, made the decision to transfer to Lee, which is about 30 minutes from their home in Wetumpka.

Broughton has flourished at Lee. She was a finalist for Miss Alabama Basketball this past season, averaging 22.9 points and 3.9 assists. She recently switched AAU teams, from Alabama Southern Starz to Florida-based Essence, with which she is being coached by Kimberly Davis Powell, who has expressed great confidence in her new star.

"She is going to be the sleeper of the summer," Powell said. "A lot of coaches in the south know about her. The rest are going to find out that she can shoot, she can handle, she has great court awareness, and she attacks the rim going downhill off of screens. And her passing has been impeccable."

Broughton's passing had been a source of irritation for Natasha.

In her two years at Wetumpka, Broughton deferred to her older teammates, passing often and rarely shooting.

"I used to fuss at her: 'Why are you always passing?'" Natasha said. "But it has paid off because now her passes are so sweet, going behind her back. That's what I love about her game, the way she can bring up her team."

Broughton can still score enough, though, to win her family's bragging rights .

For decades, Grandma Stinson has bragged about scoring 22 points in a high school game. Broughton surpassed that in seventh grade, and last year, she reached her career high with 43 points. That earned her an offer from Florida State that very night.

Broughton also puts up impressive numbers in the classroom. She has a 4.1 GPA and ranks second in her junior class.

"She makes sure her grades come first," said former teammate Tykeria Williams, who now plays for Nicholls State. "I don't think she's even made a B yet. I think she'll be the valedictorian."

As for Broughton's basketball skills, her grandmother is taking full credit. Broughton's mother wasn't an athlete; she played clarinet in her high school marching band instead.

Perhaps, Stinson has suggested, athleticism skipped a generation.

"She always tells me I get it from her," Broughton said with a laugh. "I just wave her off."