Jordan Brown — one of the top basketball recruits in the class of 2018 — didn’t think he would be here this week for the Team USA U19 training camp.
The 6-foot-11, 200-pound power forward from Roseville, Calif., won FIBA gold medals with USA Basketball junior squads the past two summers, but his name wasn’t on the list of U19 training camp invitees when that roster came out earlier this month.
The omission wasn’t that out of the ordinary. Only a handful of high schoolers received invitations to this training camp, which is made up mostly of players already in college and class of 2017 recruits who will start their college careers this season.
Brown had accepted that he wouldn’t be part of the U19 camp, and then things changed.
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A couple of players on the original roster dropped out, and Brown was picked as a last-minute addition.
“It’s another great experience, being able to play against all of the top competition from around the country,” he said here Monday. “It’s an honor … just being able to come out here and show what I can do and compete against the top guys.”
Brown, who would like to hear more from UK in his recruitment, also saw this week as an opportunity to make an impression on John Calipari, the head coach of the U19 team.
He’s already succeeded.
Calipari spoke to reporters after Monday night’s session — the third session of this training camp — and, unprompted, mentioned Brown by name.
“I’ll tell you who really improved was Brown,” the UK coach said. “From yesterday to today — he was better this morning and even better tonight.”
Scout.com ranks him as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2018, and he was one of the best players in high school basketball this past season, earning first-team junior All-American honors from MaxPreps.com after averaging 26.3 points, 15.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game and leading Woodcreek (Calif.) to a 32-3 record.
Brown said someone from UK’s coaching staff has been in touch with his father, but the Wildcats have yet to make him a priority in the 2018 class. He listed California, Nevada, Oregon, St. John’s and Gonzaga as a few of the schools he hears from the most.
A mobile post player for his size, Brown has played on the block for much of this week — showing good hands and a good offensive touch — and his game extends away from the basket. He can make jumpers. He can put the ball on the floor and create for himself. Defensively, he has the length and athleticism to cause problems for opponents.
Brown said he would like to set up some campus visits soon, but he’s nowhere close to a college decision.
He said he would “definitely” be interested in UK if they make him more of a priority in this class, noting that he watched ESPN’s recent 30 for 30 documentary on Calipari and liked what he saw.
“I remember he would go to places that not many coaches would go to and just check them out,” he said. “I thought that was really dope, just because they’re out there hooping and competing but not really getting looks.
“He’s a great coach.”