Missouri guard Brown becoming a star
Thursday, January 30, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jabari Brown will let his game do the talking.
The soft-spoken Missouri guard won’t be creating any buzz with a Richard Sherman-esque rant. He won’t be throwing up the “three goggles” or thumping his chest after hitting yet another 3-pointer.
Brown will just go about his business quietly, continuing to light up the scoreboard, including a 24-point performance Tuesday night in Missouri’s 75-71 victory at Arkansas.
“I love his disposition on the court,” Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. “I love the fact he’s not out there hooping and hollering.”
Yet the spotlight is starting to shine on the 6-foot-5 junior. The statistics tell the story.
Brown leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game. That number balloons to 22.3 ppg in league games. He’s 20-for-29 (69 percent) from 3-point range in the last five games, an even more impressive 16-of-22 (73 percent) the last three. On the season, Brown has connected on 47.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He’s also the first Tiger since Anthony Peeler in 1992 to score 24 or more points in four straight games.
“I think Brown is playing as well as anybody in our conference right now,” Haith said. “I think he’s having an unbelievable run right now as far as how well he’s playing.
“He’s making plays. When it comes down to it he’s not only making plays for himself, he’s making plays for others. When you’re a guy who is putting up the numbers he’s putting up at the rate he’s putting up right now, he’s at the top of everybody’s scouting report.”
There’s been no real secret to success for Brown. Just the same approach day in, day out.
“I prepare the same way every day,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to take good shots, quality shots, and my teammates have been finding me in open spots, so credit to them too.”
That’s led Brown to this position. After signing with Oregon as one of the top recruits in the class of 2011, he averaged just six points in two games with the Ducks before deciding to transfer. He became eligible for the second semester last season, averaging 13.7 ppg in 25 games for the Tigers.
Now in his first full season of college basketball, Brown has blossomed into the player many expected him to be. He boasts career bests in points (19.8), rebounds (4.8) and assists (1.6).
“He’s really worked hard on his game to become a complete player,” Haith said. “He was a really good player last year, but his numbers obviously weren’t as good. I think a lot of it has to do with his patience and understanding and maturation as a player.
“He takes good shots and he’s playing in a great rhythm right now. He’s playing at both ends of the court too. The other night (Saturday against South Carolina) he had 24 points but he had six assists and his defensive efficiency numbers were good as far as grading out. He’s been really, really good at both ends of the court. He puts in a lot of work and being a really good student of the game.”
While Brown’s all-around game has grown by leaps and bounds, there’s one intangible Brown’s developed that Haith finds just as important.
“What I’ve talked to him about is being a leader and talking to his teammates,” Haith said. “He’s been absolutely incredible with that. He’s kind of a quiet, reserved guy. He’s embraced that part of it. When I explained it to Jabari, I said, ‘If you do this it will take pressure off you because you’ll be giving to your teammates and you won’t be worried about what’s going on with you. You just focus on them.’ He’s really trying to do that and I think it’s really helped him, and it’s helped our team. Jabari and Jordan (Clarkson) are our leaders. They are the captains, they are the guys the other guys look up to.”
Brown can do no wrong these days. Can he keep that up against the SEC’s top two teams?
“I’m looking forward to it. I always want to play against the teams that the media says are the best teams in the league,” Brown said as No. 11 Kentucky travels Saturday to Mizzou Arena before the Tigers take to the road Tuesday against No. 3 Florida. “I’m looking forward to challenging them and showing them what we can do.”
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