Mature Perspective Complements Jaylen Brown's Tremendous Talent
Basketball fans throughout the country likely know Jaylen Brown (Wheeler H.S., Ga.) as one of the still-unsigned, elite basketball players of the high school class of 2015. Or they might remember that he helped USA Basketball to gold at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Either way, they will get a chance to see him again in the spotlight on April 11 in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit as he and his USA teammates square off against the World Select Team.
“It means a lot to be asked to be on the USA team for the Nike Hoop Summit,” Brown said of his recent USA roster selection. “It’s obviously a big honor and a big achievement to be on such a prestigious team and play for your country. So, I’m just happy that they chose me.
“It was something I was hoping to be able to play in,” he added. “I have been watching the Nike Hoop Summit for the last three or four years. I’m excited to play.”
The USA Junior National Select Team will take on 11 top international players who are 19 years old or younger in a one-game showdown. While the game for the USA players is a matter of pride, the members of the foreign squad are often looking to improve their standing in the opinion of NBA scouts – a dynamic that has inspired some spectacular performances.
“I know that it is the USA versus the world. I know that the players on the international team come and try to make their name off this game. I’m just going to come out and compete for our country and do the best I can,” Brown said.
Brown will be bringing with him to Portland experience from last summer’s USA U18 National Team that was led by collegiate head coaches Billy Donovan (Florida), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Sean Miller (Arizona). The USA tallied a 5-0 record and beat teams by an average of 54.8 points per game. Brown contributed 7.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
“That definitely was a big help to my game,” Brown said of playing for the USA U18 National Team. “It gets me a lot more prepared for college playing for college coaches. You get a taste of what it is going to be like on the next level. Anytime any of those coaches said something to me, I tried to soak it up and use it for my own personal gain."
Currently, Brown is in the midst of his senior campaign at Wheeler High School in Georgia, and he and his teammates are 21-2 on the season (as of Feb. 2). After reaching the Georgia 6A state championship semifinals as a sophomore and the state championship game as a junior, Brown says he is in hot pursuit of a state title.
“Right now, I have a gold medal, but I don’t have a state championship,” said Brown. “To me, that’s unacceptable. So, that is my main focus, my main priority right now.”
When asked about the season, Brown gives a surprisingly sweeping answer that seems more mature than you would expect from an 18-year-old.
“It’s going well,” Brown said of the 2014-15 season. “I’m getting everything out of high school basketball that I have wanted. I’m in a position where I can make myself really successful. So, I’m just appreciative of being around my teammates, playing with a lot of guys that I grew up with, that I’ve known all my life. So, that’s a blessing to be around your friends. I love to play the game of basketball. The fans coming out to support you show so much love. It’s a blessing.”
Undoubtedly, Brown regularly is asked about where he would like to go to college, but there is not yet an answer from the 2014 Georgia High School Federation Class 6A Player of the Year. On his list of favorites are Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina and UCLA.
“Right now, I’m just focused on what is in front of me, just taking one step at a time,” Brown said. “I don’t want to look too far down the line and miss what is happening right now. I want to treat every day like it is my last.”
Playing basketball year round, Brown says embracing hard work is what helps him return to the gym day after day, sometimes more than once a day.
“You have to stay focused, stay humble and remember what got you to this point and what is going to keep you successful,” Brown explained. “Hard work is the key to success. That’s what I believe. I just want to maximize my potential by working as hard as possible, and if that means sacrificing some things, so be it.”
If the maturity of Brown’s answers do not surprise you, then maybe one of his favorite conditioning activities will.
“Yoga helps me a lot – staying flexible and staying agile and getting all that excess body fluid out of you,” Brown said. “That is really beneficial to me – hot yoga. I would say I go at least once a week.
“People are surprised when they find out. They see a big 6-foot-7, basketball player, and they are like, ‘You do yoga?’ They ask me how it is, and I give them my honest opinion about it. I recommend they try it.”
Don’t miss Brown in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit. If you are in the Portland area, get your tickets now: http://bit.ly/1Keb5Se. If not, stay tuned to USA Basketball for the television broadcast information, which will be coming soon.