His effortless handle and silky-smooth movements were always traits of a great college point guard, but coupling his ball-skills with a 6-foot-5 frame had many around the state wondering when, not if, he would establish himself as one of the best point-men in the nation.
For Brown, now a redshirt junior and starter at North Carolina State, that when is now.
Averaging a career-high 13.2 points per game this season, Brown leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists per game (7.2), is second in the ACC in steals per game (2.1) and has his Wolfpack ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25.
“This year has been [better] than I ever could have expected,” said Brown, who began starting at point for the Wolfpack last year and has flourished in that role this season.
“I’ve put in a lot of work getting stronger and better on defense, which is really paying off because I’m much more comfortable this year.”
Brown — a 2009 Centennial graduate that spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy before enrolling at N.C. State — posted a season-high 24 points in a December win over Stanford, notched 12 points and 13 assists in N.C. State’s early January upset of No. 1 ranked Duke, and had a 20-point and 11 assist effort in last weekend’s win over North Carolina.
His play got him nominated in December for the Bob Cousy Award — presented annually to the nation’s top point guard — and he was named one of 20 finalists for the prestigious trophy earlier this month.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Brown of the Cousy Award nomination, which has been won by players like Kemba Walker and Ty Lawson in the past. “You grow up looking up to players like this and watching their highlights, just to be nominated is a great accomplishment.”
While he has yet to declare any intentions for the NBA Draft, his on-court prowess has even drawn the eye of professional scouts across the country that are deeming him as a possible first-round pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
Brown is projected as the No. 29 overall pick by NBADraft.net, No. 30 overall by DraftExpress.com and a late first-rounder by ESPN.com.
But for now his focus is squarely on improving himself and his team for a postseason run into March.
“Personally I’m just going to stay in the gym for now and keep working, because there is a lot of excitement and this season and this team and we’ve set goals of winning ACC and National Championships.”