Old-Fashioned Troy Brown Jr. Hopes To Honor Vegas, Values At Nike Hoop Summit
“He reminds me of my dad, honestly.”
That’s what Troy Brown Jr. had to say of his future University of Oregon coach, Dana Altman. In seven seasons at the helm for the Ducks, Altman has won 20-plus games each year and is one of six active Division I coaches with 20 consecutive winning seasons. Sure, winning is nice, but that’s not how Brown connects the dots.
“[Altman] is very old-fashioned. He doesn’t like a lot of glitz and glamour. He teaches a lot. That’s one thing I knew I needed to develop my game, somebody to help mentor me and help make me a better basketball player, but also care for me off the court as a man.”
That’s why Brown decided on the Ducks, and the 6-foot-7, 215-pound guard will be Altman’s first five-star recruit to choose college life in Eugene, Oregon. The Las Vegas, Nevada, native defied the blue bloods, because, well, he’s old-fashioned, too.
“Personally, I have never focused on being “one-and-done,” so my biggest thing was choosing a college where I would feel comfortable for four years, knowing the coaching staff and team would have my back for all four years.”
Brown’s attitude is selfless, naturally preaching “we” rather than “me.” He gets that from his father, who hooped collegiately at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He also credits his father for helping him to keep his head on straight and never allowing “the stuff other people worry about to bother me.
“He doesn’t care about anything other than getting the job done. He’s taught me the same thing, but through basketball, and it has kind of just rolled over into my life outside of ball, too.”
In his commitment video, he walked the Las Vegas strip, ultimately declaring his choice of Oregon, preluded by, “For Vegas, for my family, for me.” Brown’s hometown means the world to him, and he’s played with a chip on his shoulder because of it.
“I think people seem to think Vegas doesn’t really produce a lot of great players, or they don’t think Vegas takes basketball that seriously. On a higher platform, I try to think that everything I do is for Las Vegas. I want to be the one that starts this up and gives Vegas the name it deserves to have.
“The rest of it is the same for my family. I want to represent my family and do everything I can to make them proud.”
Brown understands he is a part of something bigger than himself. That’s another reason he opted to attend his local public school, instead of Vegas’ powerhouses Findlay Prep and Bishop Gorman High School.
“I was never a huge fan of leaving to go play somewhere else when I felt like I could do my best at my home school and get to where I want to be,” he said.
“My biggest thing was loyalty. I grew up with a lot of kids that I go to school with now, and I didn’t want to give up on the people that I grew up with and the situation that I’m in.”
Brown starred at Centennial High School, and he will be just the second player to be featured in the Nike Hoop Summit from a Vegas-based public school, with the first being Kevin Gaines in 1999.
In addition to being named to the McDonald’s All-American game – of which he is the first public school player out of 17 Vegas athletes since 2009 – Brown is also a Jordan Brand Classic athlete, and will compete in Brooklyn following his time with USA Basketball in Portland and the Nike Hoop Summit on April 7.
This past summer, Brown captured his first gold medal with USA Basketball as a member of the USA Men’s U17 World Championship Team. He started all seven games for the USA U17’s at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain, leading the team in minutes per game (23.7) and steals (20), while averaging 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
He shot 17-of-18 from the free throw line in tournament play and posted a double-double line of 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 104-57 win over Egypt in the preliminary round.
“That was such a great experience for me. Having coach [Don] Showalter, BJ [Johnson], and those guys supporting us and leading us on the right path made the experience so great. I had never even been overseas before.”
Brown’s USA Basketball pride shines through, right alongside his “we, not me” attitude. He cherishes the hard work his experiences with USA Basketball have instilled in him, and he’s eager to put on the USA jersey again for the Nike Hoop Summit, because to him, it’s more than a game.
“Whenever we play with USA Basketball, it brings more of a pride and a purpose for us as players. You’re playing for more with USA across your chest,” he said.
“People will play with more of a team purpose than just for themselves, and that makes the game a whole lot better knowing people are coming out to play to win.”
Again, winning is nice, and Brown has been a mainstay for much of Centennial’s recent success – the Bulldogs were 95-17 with him in the lineup, while he scored in double-figures all four years. He averaged 22.0 ppg., 10.0 rpg. and 4.0 apg., and was named the 2017 Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year after lifting Centennial to the state semifinals this season. That helped even the family bragging rights. His sister and former University of Kansas basketball player, Jada, took home the honor in 2013.
“That was one of those things where [my family] didn’t put any pressure on me about earning Gatorade Player of the Year, but it was something that I wanted to go get for my family, just to have my Gatorade banner next to my sister’s. It’s a dream come true for me,” he said. He also will be following in Jada’s footsteps as a broadcast communications major in college.
His mother ran track at Texas A&M-Kingsville, while his father was on the Javelina’s basketball team. His oldest sister, Jenae, won a national championship when she was 10 years old, and Jada captured a state title and major honors in her own right, but family competitiveness hasn’t been a motivator for Brown.
“I’ve never had to worry about living up to expectations, other than being a good person to people. When it came to sports, that was never a problem. I just made sure outside of basketball that I treat people with respect.”
That’s where Brown’s old-fashioned mentality sticks out once again. His game isn’t entirely traditional, because he does often rip down rebounds and take off up court. He even compares his play to Penny Hardaway and Magic Johnson, who aren’t new-school ballers by any means.
His versatility and defensive skillset will be put to the test this fall, and the possibility of uniting with close friends Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and former USA Nike Hoop Summit athlete Payton Pritchard has him anxious to put on Oregon’s various greens. The Ducks’ up-tempo style thrills Brown, too, so the other pieces of this decision fell right into place for him, with plenty of credit to his values.
“I just have a good feeling about where I am going and the guys that are there, because I know where they stand and what their character is like as people. I know they are all great guys and I really believe in the things they teach.”
Don’t miss Brown and his USA teammates on April 7 from the Moda Center in Portland at the 20th Annual Nike Hoop Summit. Get your tickets now: bit.ly/HoopSummitTix.