Next Cats: 2015 prospect Jaylen Brown not satisfied after 48-point night

broberts@herald-leader.comMay 17, 2014 

INDIANAPOLIS — Ask anyone who has seen Jaylen Brown play on the AAU basketball circuit over the past few weeks, and the responses come back in the form of superlatives.

Ask Brown about his own game, and it's a different conversation.

The 6-foot-7 small forward is one of the best players in the class of 2015, but he's also his harshest critic.

After his first game at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Indianapolis on Friday night, Brown said he needs to improve his jump shooting and his ball-handling. He wants to be more active on defense and make smarter passes to teammates. He'd also like to get bigger and stronger.

"It's a long list," he concluded.

Brown said all of these things after scoring 48 points in a 32-minute game that he finished on the bench because his team had built such a large lead. He made 15 of 22 shots from the field and six of 10 three-point attempts. He grabbed eight rebounds, he made five steals, and he threw down several highlight-reel dunks that had already made their way to YouTube before the game was even over.

Sounds like he's chipping away at that to-do list.

"I think I've gotten a lot better," he acknowledged. "I've been working on a lot of my weaknesses. I still have a lot of work to do, despite what everybody says. I still have a long way to go. It's a process. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I'm just trying to get to where I want to be."

He's already in a pretty good spot.

Brown has arguably been the most impressive college prospect so far this spring. He's certainly generated more buzz than any other player in the class of 2015, and it's resulted in even more attention from college coaches.

Scout.com ranks him as the No. 9 overall recruit in the class, and his list of scholarship offers was impressive long before the end of his junior season. Brown mentioned Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Ohio State as some of the schools that have been in contact with him recently.

In fact, he said he's spoken to the head coach and every assistant from each of those programs in the past few weeks.

UK assistant coach Kenny Payne dropped by Brown's home in Georgia on Easter Sunday to visit with the recruit and his mother.

"It was humbling," Brown said. "I know Kenny Payne probably had a lot of things to do on Easter, and it shows a lot that he came down to visit me. I appreciate that."

A few days later, John Calipari watched Brown play at an Adidas event in Texas. The UK coach extended a scholarship offer on the spot.

Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels called Brown an "elite-level recruit" and said it's possible — the way he's been playing — that he could move up even higher in the rankings in the coming months.

"He's a big wing with a strong body," Daniels said. "He's a very good athlete, and he's a natural scorer. He's a guy who can really score going to the rim. He finishes well around the basket and has great body control. He just has elite physical tools and tremendous athleticism.

"To be honest with you, this class isn't that impressive overall. And Jaylen has been impressive."

Many have compared Brown to former UK recruit Stanley Johnson, who will play for Arizona next season. Daniels said that was a decent comparison, though he noted that Johnson is probably a little more skilled while Brown is stronger and more athletic.

He's also more electric.

"Doing what I do, I see impressive dunks all the time," Daniels said. "But Jaylen always comes up with something that makes me get out of my seat a little bit."

Brown said he hasn't come up with a "top five" or "top 10" list just yet and is still very much open in his recruitment. His list of favorites "switches up from day to day," but it's clear that Kentucky is one of the schools most on his mind at the moment.

"What's not to like about that program?" he said with a smile. "I know going there would be tough. Everybody's going to hit a wall going there, but you have to have the will to push through. I like that about Kentucky. (Calipari) said it's probably the hardest place you're ever going to work. And if you're ready for it, you're welcome."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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