Miami basketball fans collectively held their breath this offseason as there was some chatter that their 6’5” combo guard, Bruce Brown, would test the NBA waters and leave after only one season in Coral Gables. Luckily for Canes’ fans, Brown elected to stay for his sophomore year.
As a freshman, Brown averaged 11.8 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game (second best on the team), 3.2 assists per game, 2.0 turnovers per game, 1.5 steals per game, and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting an efficient 45.9% from the field, 74.4% from the charity stripe, and 34.7% from behind the arc.
In the offseason, the Boston, Massachusetts native only boosted the hype surrounding Brown as he played at the Adidas Nations Camp in front of NBA scouts and remains high on their boards as a potential lottery pick come June of 2018. Mike Schmitz of formerly DraftExpress, now ESPN, recently rated Brown as his number one shooting guard prospect in the 2018 draft class, so Canes fans should savor this sophomore campaign.
On paper, the numbers Brown posted during his freshman season may not warrant the hype of a lottery pick, but when watching his all-around game, scouts and fans see the same special player Jim Larranaga saw early in his recruitment that later became a five star prospect.
This season, Brown will overtake the role of previous lead guards for Miami on both ends of the court that have produced successful seasons from Durand Scott to Sheldon McClellan to Davon Reed. With a young supporting cast around Brown, he will be leaned on to score more and be the anchor for Miami’s perimeter defense. Thankfully, Brown has all the traits to do just that.
Let’s start with his offensive game. Brown can attack the defense in almost every way possible whether that be his quick first step to get into the lane, the ability to finish with contact, his quick shooting release that led to his catch and shoot surge, and even getting his teammates involved in the pick-and-roll. These traits led to the program’s second ever triple-double vs SC State last year and a career high 30 point game against North Carolina. Not bad, huh?
If you’ve watched Miami basketball under Coach L, you know high ball screens are a vital part of the offense and Brown’s value is the ability to not only run the point and dime his bigs, but also play off the ball and cash out on his catch and shoot opportunities. The most undervalued part of his offensive game, and probably all-around game, is his rebounding, which gives fans in Coral Gables a taste of a Russell Westbrook impersonation as they frequently watch put-back dunks and tip-ins. The one area Brown can really improve in is his ball handling, especially if he’s playing more point guard this year and wants to add stock to his NBA status.
Flipping over to his defensive abilities, Brown possesses all the skills needed to be in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year race. He has a long wingspan that helps him deflect and steal balls in the passing lanes as well as cover ground and close out on shots which led to him being fourth on the team in blocks last season. With Reed now in the NBA, Brown must be vocal on defense and lead this team on that end as their youth will show early.
Canes’ fans, root for Brown’s NBA stock to soar, because if it does, there’s going to be an exciting basketball season in Coral Gables once again.