Sunday, November 13, 2016

Uno En Uno With: Zach Brown, St. John's Commit

In this day and age, high school off-season periods rapidly morph into a recruiting carousel. High-profile recruits transfer at alarming and unprecedented rates.

 This is, without debate, the era in which kids stuff their bags and transfer at the 11th hour, without a tinge of trepidation.

 They fend off any thoughts of checking the blind spot. They rarely bother to even glance through the rearview mirror.

Calusa Prep's Zach Brown is without a doubt one of the most well-traveled recruits, in a current game rife with well-traveled recruits.

 Brown played at Miami Beach High, where he averaged 18.4 points, 17 boards as a sophomore.

Those numbers catapulted the 7-foot-1 Center to ESPN's top-5 of national prospects, as he was widely regarded as one of the country's most menacing shot blocker and premier defensive presence.

Brown also spent time at Miami High and half of a semester at Putnam Science (CT), where the one-time UCONN-commit cited a need to get out of Miami.

Brown also attended Elevation Academy in Sarasota, where he worked diligently under Matt Hiller.

Brown enjoyed his stay at Sarasota, but he had to relocate to the Miami area to handle his probation sentencing. Brown was booked on charges of armed robbery, robbery by sudden snatching and credit card fraud back in May.

So, attending Calusa Prep in the Kendall area of Miami (about 45 minutes from the hardscrabble, unforgiving, and crime-laced Miami Beach streets where he was raised) was the most logical way to culminate his commendable but troubled high school career.

Brown grew up in poverty and unfortunate surroundings, moving from household-to-household and even living with several families along the way.

At Calusa, the enigmatic and humble big may have finally found the stability that's been so lacking.

Now Brown, who entertained thoughts of converting to Judaism last year, is at a small Christian school.

 He's developed immediate rapport with head coach Derrick De La Grana, the former Florida Christian High Star and overseas professional.

De La Grana, who is the son of Miami Heat assistant coach Octavio De La Grana, has made Brown's conditioning and skill development a commitment of highest order.

Brown on his new surroundings

I just got here. Everybody's been real cool. Since I've been here, they've been teaching me things. Even if it's on the board or on the floor, they've been teaching me things to add on to my game. It's just great I got a new team, new people that I can start a new life with and a new basketball world for me. I'm starting to work on my right hand. Also, my role is to get my teammates better and for my teammates to get me better. Because we have kids from all across the country and stuff like that. So, we're a family. Stay together, pray together, we're here together.

On His Relationship With Chris Mullin

You know, I've been to jail. I've been on drugs. I've been on alcohol, everything like that. So, basically we had a sit down for the first time. We talked about it. He opened up to me, I opened up to him. So we was kind of quick on that understanding aspect.

He knows what I been through. I can't just go with anyone that's just like "Oh yeah, OK, you've been through this, you've been through that.

He actually talked to me, he told me everything about what he's been through. It was kind of similar to me. Ever since then it's been great. 

He been dealt with me. Even if I need help with anything, I'll just call him up and he'll talk to me and calm me down and everything like that. We're really close.

On His Support System

I'm really, really close with coach Matt from St. John's the assistant coach. 

We're really close. He touches based with me everyday, because you know coach Mullin have a lot to do. He's kind of like coach Mullin's back up man, the same way (coach) Derrick (De La Grana) is to me. Once I get there, things are going to get really close and from there we will be even better.