Brandon Brown attended Wilson High School in Tacoma, Washington. His high school career was anything but “stellar”. Brown was an undersized point guard on a sub par team. His recruitment was limited but he found a roster spot at Highline Community College. After two seasons at HCC, one spent as a redshirt, Brown moved on to NAIA Montana Western. It was at Western where Brandon flourished. When his college career ended Brown was the school’s all time leading scorer, two time All-American, two time Frontier Conference Player of the Year, and known as the player that turned Montana Western into a perennial NAIA D1 Top 25 program. Brandon is currently in his sixth season of playing professional basketball overseas. We had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon and discuss his path to Poland, how important finding your fit is, and living with a chip on your shoulder.
“To be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become”
Midwest Elite Basketball: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us Brandon. First off tell us where are you currently at as we speak?
Brandon Brown: I am currently sitting in my apartment in Tarnobrzeg, Poland
MEB: You have been playing professional basketball for quite some time now. Was being paid to play always a goal or was it an unexpected result of your success?
BB: Definitely pre-calculated going into college, at some point between my junior and senior year of high school I made a very distinct decision with a ton of conviction that I would put everything I could into the game and becoming a professional was my goal.
MEB: Let’s go back a few years to when you were an undersized, under recruited point guard at Wilson High School in Tacoma, WA. Tell us about your high school career.
BB: Personally I felt like my high school career was very insignificant, it may have played a role as fuel down the road, but in the moment, I lacked so much skill and IQ of the game it was borderline comical. As a player, my game didn’t have anything definitive about it that I felt like set me apart from others. Being quick, fast and having passing ability, at some point, just won’t cut it. Then you add in the fact we didn’t win many games. High school basketball was definitely tough for me overall. It was very stagnant.
MEB: After high school you went to Highline Community College to play. Were you heavily recruited by Coach Dawson? How did you end up there?
BB: Only a couple people know my CC recruitment and signing story but here it is. I actually verbally committed to South Puget Sound CC before we were allowed to sign. They are in the same league as Highline. Coming out of high school, it was a breath of fresh air to hear a college coach tell me how good I was, how much I would have the ball in my hands and how free I would be. Who wouldn’t want to hear that. I verbally committed immediately. I spoke with my father, and my best friend, and we agreed to take the Highline visit regardless. I thought I wasn’t going to be swayed. My Highline visit pretty much went like this. We played with ten other incoming freshman because the team returned one player from the following year. We competed at such a high level. Everybody was at each others necks trying to prove how valuable they were but it wasn’t unhealthy at all. We sat down after, and Coach Dawson told us nothing was going to be given to us, that we would have to work for anything and everything. He would hold us accountable, help us grow up and let us earn things the right way. At that moment, something told me to call South Puget Sound and apologize, as much as they told me what I wanted to hear, what I needed to hear was far more valuable. Coach Dawson is a special coach, mentor and man. I ended up at Highline because of him and he played a role in where I’m at today.
MEB: After redshirting as a sophomore you signed with NAIA Montana Western in Dillon, MT. How did a kid from Tacoma end up in Dillon? Was it a culture shock? What were the driving factors in that decision to become a Bulldog? What were your thoughts on playing NAIA?
BB: How did I end up in Dillon? I asked myself that a couple times. I played at Highline with Cody Thueringer who helped me make a personal connection with Coach Keller. He left after our freshman year at HCC to Western. Once I got out there on my visit, it’s hard to explain but I was all in. I really wasn’t concerned about them being NAIA. My school would be paid for which held precedent over the other factors I was weighing. I just felt like it was the right place for me. I had the opportunity to play three years instead of two. The team was competing and felt like on the verge of being very competitive. At the time, Colby Blaine was an assistant coach and he helped with my decision as well. All the sophomores at Highline were moving on to their respective universities and I felt it was time to move on with that group. It was as much of a culture shock as it can be going from the city to the country pretty much. I almost felt like deep down I was looking for that. Something different, away from the norm, away from home. I felt like I would have a chance to really grow and mature and take the next step in pursuing my goals.
MEB: Do you feel like the move to Montana pushed you out of a comfort zone and in turn made you a better basketball player?
BB: Absolutely. Dillon was the exact opposite of what I was used to. I grew up and really matured those three years in Montana. In turn my game really evolved as well.
MEB: I still remember when you came in as a sophomore. Athletic, quick, great passer, but couldn’t shoot to save your life! However, you possessed a work ethic like I have never seen before. You finished your career as a two time All-American, two time Frontier Player of the Year, and developed sniper like shooting ability. How did that happen?
BB: Like you said, work, straight up day in and day out. I lived in the gym, extra workouts became normal. I changed my shot. I just was fully invested in myself and my value to the team. I had team goals and personal goals written on a sheet of paper on the door of my room and would read them everyday and really try to will them into a reality. The bottom of the paper read, “To be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become”.
MEB: We talk to our guys a lot [MSU-Billings] about focusing on the process, committing to the process of becoming a better team, a better player, a better program. We preach there is no short cuts or magic formula it’s consistent effort. What kept you motivated and focused on becoming the best version of yourself?
BB: What kept me motivated was being doubted and my inner belief in myself. For a long time I was told I was too small and not good enough. Because of that I had a chip on my shoulder. When people ask I always say I would bet on myself, every time. I believe in who I am and I am always authentic and genuine to myself.
MEB: The Western Montana Men’s Basketball program has grown into a consistent NAIA D1 Top 25 program. You are known as the player who changed the program, best player in program history, and one of the best players in the history of the Frontier Conference. Did you foresee that kind of impact when you first signed with Western?
BB: Honestly coming in, I set the bar so high for myself personally. However, I’ve always been more proud of the records of our teams in those three years. Along with the national tournament appearances. There was no way of foreseeing that type of investment by the players to a common goal. We were also led by a great coach.
MEB: The right group of guys can turn around a program or take a program to another level. During your recruitment to Western, did you look at the pieces there and think this is a squad that can do something special? How important were the current players in the recruiting process?
BB: Absolutely. A winning atmosphere is just something different. Winners have a different mentality through the ups and downs. It’s a different vibe. The team at Western was middle of the pack but there was an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction among the players. I could tell the guys hated losing more than they loved winning. When you chose a school that’s going to be your family for the rest of your career. So recruits have to ask themselves, are these the guys I want to go into the grinder with day in and day out? Current players play a huge role in the recruitment process.
MEB: Breakdown those first couple years after your college career ended. You were trying to play professionally. How did that process work? What did you learn?
BB: Immediately after the national tournament, I remember going to the gym and doing my regular shooting routine. I knew I would never play a college game again, but is was business as usual. I signed an agent pretty soon after our last game and signed in Australia fairly quick as well. Everything moved so fast. I had some unaccomplished feelings even with a good college career behind me. I almost felt like I was a freshman all over again, but I welcomed it and was excited for what was next. When I came back from Australia, I played well but I dealt with my first experience of an agent who wasn’t the greatest. I struggled to find work for about 5 months. I’d be lying if I said I never had any doubt. Some days were tougher than others but I was convinced I would get another job, and when it came I’d be over prepared and the chip on my shoulder was bigger than ever. Hired a new agency and that was all she wrote.
MEB: Tell us about the international game. How is it the same as basketball in the States? How does it differ?
BB: The game abroad has a couple little rule differences but nothing too crazy. The game is very physical, fast and players are smart. Pros are often more productive while being more efficient.
MEB: Speaking of the physicality, you are very cognitive of your body and your health. What measures do you take to stay on the court?
BB: I’ve learned so many things about my body over the years and I’m still learning. Body maintenance and nourishment are very important to me. Massages, ice baths, compression therapy, Yoga, plyometrics, pool work are some of the things in my regime. On the nutritional side, I have a couple dietary restrictions I stay away from, and try and put as much good fuel in me as possible and consume lots of water!
MEB: You recently started an Instagram profile to share your nutritional habits. What led you to do this?
BB: I’ve been thinking of doing it for awhile now. I have a lot of down time overseas and I follow a lot of healthy eating pages on Instagram and thought I could do the same. I eat healthy and workout daily and can share what I do with others and build a following.
MEB: What are your future plans and goals? Both with basketball and after.
BB: Me and my agent have talked about continuing to play at the highest level possible in Europe while just continuing to grow parts of my game. After basketball I will have some seeds already planted so the transition to commercial real estate and a couple other business ventures will be smooth. Who knows maybe some coaching, I can’t see it at the moment though. Other than that I’m a family man and having a family is a big priority for me.
MEB: What advice can you give young players trying to earn a college scholarship?
BB: I’ve talked to a couple players recently about this and I always ask them if they would bet on themselves. They always respond something like “In what? Basketball, in a dunk contest, in a different game, in school?” Whatever it may be. If you don’t believe in yourself in whatever you’re doing from the jump, you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage. You are capable, the question is how bad do you want it? That’s just the mentality side of it. On the academic side, don’t put yourself at a disadvantage by not taking school seriously. Don’t be that player that’s a liability because you have to be babysat when it’s time to do homework. Nothing is wrong with needing help, but skating by doesn’t put you in a good spot. On the court, try and separate yourself, put in extra work, strengthen your weaknesses and figure out what you’re good at and find ways to master those even more. Finally, be smart. In today’s world, social media can turn around and bite you in the rear end if you aren’t careful. At the college and pro level, there is people watching you trying to see what type of person you are. Be smart, be genuine.
MEB: Thanks for your time Brandon. Look forward to following your journey further. Proud to call you a friend and a former teammate.
BB: I appreciate you guys having me so thank you. I enjoy these type of things so anytime!
Brandon Brown’s Career Accomplishments
High School: Narrows League 2nd Team
College: Two time NAIA All-American 1st Team, NAIA National Championship All Tournament team, two time Frontier Conference Player of the Year, Montana Western all time leading scorer, Frontier Conference Regular Season Co-Champion
Pro: Brasil – Copa Sudeste Champions, Paulista League Champions, 2013
2012 – Australia – Mount Gambier Pioneers
2013 – Brasil – Rio Claro Sport Club
2013-2014 – Brasil – Sky Basquete Cearense
2014-2015 – Brasil – Rio Claro Sport Club
2015 – Cyprus – Omonoia
2015-2016 – Poland – King Wilki Morski
2016-2017 – Poland – Siarka Tarnobrzeg