A veteran NBA scout, used to combing colleges for the next generation of talent, said you could walk into a St. Joseph’s game, look at how Charlie Brown interacted with everyone pregame, how he played the game, how he acted after the game, and see he’s a good guy, not a jerk. All that is important, the scout added. Far more important than you might think.
The same scout still was surprised Charlie Brown had declared for this week’s NBA draft.
“They’re good players,’’ another scout said of Brown and others who had taken a chance by declaring. “They’re all good players.”
Then the scout added about many of these players:
“Do you guys know how good our league is?”
My take on Brown’s decision that three years of college ball (missing one because of injury) were enough? He’s got a stack of evidence showing that a fourth year wouldn’t suddenly change his status. A year of prep school before St. Joe’s means the George Washington High graduate already is considered “old” by NBA draft standards, since he’d be turning 23 in February.
While you can finish your degree at any time, there is a limited time to make money playing basketball, even if it isn’t immediately in the NBA. As long as the check clears from overseas, it can be real good money. There are all sorts of paths.
Even the scout who wondered about so many players’ taking their chances allowed that there is more money available now at the margins, with two-way contracts with the G League providing a real income, for instance. He used the example of B.J. Johnson from La Salle as a player finding his way despite not being drafted.
You might have thought from the first time you saw Brown play for St. Joe’s that he had a shot at the NBA. From what I understood, coming out was the plan for Brown even if there hadn’t been a coaching change on Hawk Hill.
Does Brown need to get stronger? Some scouts think he does. But he’s got the frame and shooting ability that make anyone take a look. He has visited 18 teams in recent weeks. That alone is preparation for the league. He has probably woken up more than once not knowing what city he’s in.
My bias: He’s easy to root for, was great to deal with.
"At least two every day," Brown said of Charlie Brown jokes coming his way when I asked him in 2017 about being, you know, Charlie Brown. "At least two a day. Sometimes on Instagram and Twitter, sometimes in person."
The rest of that interview was fun …
Did he have a dog growing up?
"Yeah, yeah," Charlie Brown said.
What was the dog's name?
"Champ," Brown said.
Would he watch Charlie Brown on TV?
"All the time," Charlie Brown said. "Especially around the holidays."
"Charlie Brown," Charlie Brown said.
All that, while, yes, great fun, is obviously immaterial to Brown’s present status. All those workouts with the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks and the rest, including one Tuesday with the Sixers, show he isn’t being ignored.
“You have to prove you can be there game after game after game, be there every night,’’ Elan Vinokurov of EV Hoops said. “If we’re going to bump kids up when they win, then oftentimes we have to ask what’s going on when they lose. When that happens at the mid-major level, that’s even more important.”
Meaning that Brown averaged 19 points a game last season, but St. Joe’s way underachieved, going 14-19, including 6-12 in the Atlantic 10. If Brown couldn’t make those around him better — if Phil Martelli was let go after the season — what’s that say?
My counter: Maybe Brown isn’t a DeAndré Bembry or Langston Galloway who could carry a college team, but that doesn’t mean his skills can’t translate, now or later, to an NBA rotation. Vinokurov doesn’t argue against that.
“I think he certainly looks the part,’’ Vinokurov said. “I think he’s gotten stronger. … He has to defend all the time, not some of the time. If he can at least always defend, you can have a little more patience when his shot doesn’t fall.”
Another scout predicts that the mock drafts that don’t have Brown being drafted could easily be wrong. He sees a real possibility that Brown goes in the second round.
“At the end of the day, this is a kid who has good positional speed, can make shots; he’s not abysmal defensively,’’ the scout said. “He is limited off the dribble, but if you’re looking for a backup small forward, you want somebody who can shoot and defend. He has as good a shot as anybody to make it, given the right team.”
That’s not exactly a take-it-to-the bank prediction, just a reminder that it takes only one team to take a chance on you, and the roundabout feedback suggests most teams are saying nice things about what they see from Brown. The rumor mill has it that this team or that team especially likes him.