From the second his size 16's first stepped on campus, the 7'1" center was burdened with big expectations. Expectations he's tried to ignore.
"I try not to think about expectations and stuff like that," said Brown in a 1-on-1 interview with Local 5 this week. "I just go out there and play the game I can play."
That doesn't mean he didn't set his goals high after arriving in Green Bay, but Brown knew there would be growing pains along the way, starting with those first few practices.
"It was tough," Brown recalls with a smile. "It was something I wasn't used to. My body wasn't physically prepared for something like that as a freshman, and I didn't know what to expect coming in."
Becoming the best player he could be meant improving on and off the court. That meant, among other things, packing on 30+ pounds to his tall frame.
"In the weight room getting stronger, eating more food, gaining weight or improving my shot," Brown lists as things he's improved since his early days on campus. "Taking a couple of steps back and starting to shoot the three my junior year. Just little things here and there that help my game."
His game has evolved to the point where he's the only player to pile up more than 1,600 career points, 700+ rebounds, and 300 blocks in Horizon League history. Head Coach Brian Wardle says maturing on the court has coincided with growth away from it.
"He's just grown into a man," said Wardle. "He's a man. He has developed physically obviously a great deal, but just it's more just mental side of the game. The love and the passion has just increased, his work ethic continues to increase, and he's just been a great humble unselfish star player that you don't always get all the time.
Brown certainly has the attention of NBA scouts who are no doubt impressed with his ability to move and shoot for a big man. That, and he's close to going down as the most prolific shot-blocker in Horizon League history. The senior has shied away from talking about himself and his professional prospects in the past, but he admits it is on his mind nowadays.
"Just like any other regular student," said Brown. "They have to worry about what job they are going to do after college and that's basically where I'm at. I have to think about the future, and think about where I'm going to be after this. What I do now each game is going to help me get there."
NBAdraft.net projects the seven-footer as a mid second round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, something Brown is probably unaware of.
"He always puts the team first," said junior guard Keifer Sykes. "A lot of guys rush to him with information about anything that's going on social media, or anything that people are saying about him before he even knows that. He just always brushes it off. So that right there, to have that leadership from the top of our team, our senior who we got out and play for, is outstanding."
Durability is one thing that definitely separates the GB senior from other big men. He's started 122 out of 123 career games, and the only time he's been forced to sit was after suffering a scary shoulder injury against Detroit.
"The pain was there obviously, but I was most upset that the fact that I couldn't go in there the rest of the game," said Brown who the team officially says suffered a shoulder sprain. "And I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to play the next game as well. That's what hurts me the most is when I know that I can't help my team win, not the pain."
Brown's ability to play through pain has helped push the Phoenix to its first goal of winning the regular season crown, next up is earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
"You try to just focus on each game, but at the same time you want to look toward that goal of getting there," said Brown of looking ahead. "So each game you have that little more emphasis to win the game to get to that spot."
One thing is for sure, whenever this season comes to an end so to will one of the best careers of any player to put on a Green Bay uniform.
"I've had no regrets," said Brown of the ups and downs of his four years. "I'm very happy with this decision I made to come to Green Bay, and happy I've stayed all four years. I've had such a great experience. I'm going to miss it for sure."
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