THE NEXT time you see Charles Brown play basketball for George Washington High, squint your eyes a little.
Then imagine the shorts much shorter, the socks much higher and, for giggles, picture him with a mustache and a 1970s-style afro.
After all that, maybe when the 6-6, long-armed forward glides up and down the court and deposits a finger roll into the basket, you'll see what his father sees: former NBA and ABA legend George "The Iceman" Gervin.
"My dad says my style resembles his," Brown said yesterday after leading the Eagles to a 56-43 victory over host St. Joseph's Prep.
Charles Brown Sr., who played at Overbrook and later at North Carolina A&T, isn't far off. His son is smooth with the ball and quite adept with the Iceman's signature finger roll.
"It's easy for me because I'm so long and a lot of people can't get to it," Brown said. "[Gervin] was really long and he played the same position as me and I liked his game so I studied it."
However, Gervin, a 1996 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, wasn't known for his defense. That's where Brown made his bones yesterday.
Playing the top of the Eagles' 1-3-1 zone, Brown pilfered five steals, several of which led to coast-to-coast jaunts that ended in layups.
"Having him up there, with his wingspan, he causes havoc," said Washington coach John Creighton.
Brown also finished with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 2-for-4 from three.
"Getting my steals gets me warmed up and gets me in the flow of the game," Brown added.
The Northeast resident [Castor Avenue and Levick Street] said Wagner, St. Joe's, Temple and Monmouth have shown interest. He also reported an offer from Division II West Chester.
Gervin comparisons and college options are great, but Brown found himself on ice last season after academic struggles made him ineligible for the playoffs.
"Last year, I let my team down because I couldn't play in the playoffs," he said. "I let my team down badly. It was a big disappointment. I didn't like that at all. I wished I could have been out there."
Brown said prodding from his parents, Charles Sr. and Danielle Brown, has yielded academic strengthening thus far.
"Staying focused in school and basketball because the two go hand in hand," he said. "Just getting straight to class because last year I used to stay in the hallway and say what's up to my friends. Now, it's just straight to class."
His presence was needed yesterday. After an early 10-0 run bought the Eagles first-quarter separation, the Hawks (1-1) clawed to their first lead, 18-16, 3:45 before the end of the half.
Just when it appeared Prep had seized momentum, Brown converted two buckets after back-to-back steals and Jerome Blume added another, forcing a 25-all stalemate at halftime.
Later, Washington used a 10-2 fourth-quarter spurt for a 53-41 lead with around 3 minutes remaining.
For the Eagles (2-0), Northeast High transfer Elmange Watson added 12, while Asante "Redz" Ali and Jerome Blume (six rebounds) added 10 points apiece.
Washington's defense also disrupted the rhythm of Prep star forward Chris Clover (St. Joseph's University), who finished with 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting, 0-for-5 from three and 4-for-8 in freebies.
Senior guard James McGovern led Prep (1-1) with 15 points, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, and Pete Gayhardt added seven boards.
However, Brown, who last summer played with Clover on the Philly Pride AAU squad, was just too much.
"We played the same position so we tried to outwork each other," Brown said of summer work with Clover. "It was good. I liked it. I liked the competition. It was nice to play with Chris. He was always better than me so I really wanted this win."