Boys Basketball: Proviso East’s Sterling Brown picks SMU

Story Image Proviso East junior Sterling Brown (right) drives to the basket next to Oak Park-River Forest junior Tacourrus Mattox during a varsity basketball game at Proviso East in Maywood on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

Updated: October 15, 2012 11:54AM



There were a whole lot of factors working in SMU’s favor when it came to the recruitment of Proviso East star Sterling Brown.

The factors were too many and too strong to look past as the 6-foot-5 senior committed to the Mustangs and coach Larry Brown on Sunday after taking just one official visit.

Brown, who led Proviso East to a 32-1 record last season and is the No. 4 prospect in the Hoops Report’s Class of 2013 player rankings in Illinois, chose SMU over offers from the likes of Miami, Missouri, Xavier, Memphis, Northwestern, Providence and DePaul. Brown had a visit scheduled to Miami this coming weekend.

“This was just the best fit for him,” says Sterling Brown’s father, Chris Brown. “He feels he can learn, grow and develop as a player under Larry Brown. He’s comfortable there. It’s a great atmosphere there and a great opportunity for him.”

A number of personal connections to the coaching staff put SMU in a favorable position. Aside from being a legendary coach, SMU’s Larry Brown coached Shannon Brown, Sterling’s older brother, in the NBA while in Charlotte. That previous relationship helped speed up the recruitment in trying to land one of the top 150 players in the country, who is ranked as high as the No. 76 player in the country by Scout.com.

In addition, there was a familiarity with assistant coach Jerrance Howard from his days recruiting the city and suburbs while an assistant at Illinois. Howard may have moved to Dallas, but his ties and connections to the state of Illinois and the Chicago area remain strong. Sterling Brown’s relationship with Howard grew during the recruitment.

Plus, SMU’s Director of Player Development, Eric Snow, was a teammate of Shannon Brown while playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Snow, like Shannon Brown, played at Michigan State, and became a mentor to Brown while looking after him during his rookie season in Cleveland.

Combine all the personal relationships with the staff, along with the fact Sterling Brown has several family members who live in Dallas, and the picture became clear while on his visit this past weekend. He will have the opportunity to play in the Big East, in a large, vibrant city and will have a chance to flourish as part of the rebuilding of SMU basketball.

Brown, who is also a terrific student, instantly becomes one of the bigger SMU recruits in the history of the basketball program. And he’s now one of its most important, especially in putting SMU basketball in the minds of Chicago area prospects going forward.

Brown, who hails from a high-profile high school basketball program at Proviso East and played AAU with the Mac Irvin Fire, moved himself from prospect to player prior to the July evaluation period.

There aren’t many players in Illinois more versatile than Brown, who when analyzed closely is a jack-of-all-trades. With his size and length on the perimeter, he will be able to defend multiple positions. He’s become more aggressive and more comfortable with the ball in his hands, both in the fullcourt and in the halfcourt. While he won’t be labeled a “shooter” by anyone, he’s progressed in this area as well.

Brown, who averaged 13 points, 9.7 rebounds and nearly 3 assists a game as a junior, shined last March in leading Proviso East to a state runner-up finish. He had 13 points and 15 rebounds in a semifinal win over Rockford Auburn. And he was magnificent in the state-title matchup against Simeon, scoring a game-high 25 points every way imaginable, including a couple of three-pointers.

SMU is hoping to strike twice in Illinois in 2013 as Bolingbrook’s fast-rising senior Ben Moore has narrowed his list to SMU, Colorado State and Illinois. Larry Brown and assistant Howard are in to see Moore at Bolingbrook Monday.

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