Alec Brown, 7-foot-1 center, Wisconsin-Green Bay
2013-14 stats: 15.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.1 BPG, .476 FG%
With both rim protection and stretching the floor being dwelled upon so much these days in the NBA, Brown holds some intrigue as the rare prospect who can do a little bit of both. A 7-footer with three-point range, Brown is more of a finesse player than a physical behemoth, while possessing defensive potential that matches his size. On the radar of professional personnel since early in his college career, Brown will have to convince teams that his inconsistent play against mostly mid-major competition isn’t reflective of what he can bring to the table at the next level.
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Career highlights: A little-known recruit, Brown was a four-year starter at Wisconsin-Green Bay, averaging 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game as a freshman. As a sophomore, he truly blossomed, averaging 13.8 points, 8.2 boards and three blocks a contest, en route to winning first team all-Horizon League honors in a season that featured his signature game, a 22-point, 14-rebound, five-block effort against in-state foe Marquette, as well as a career-high 11-block game against Wright State. Brown expanded his offensive game to include three-point range in the second half of his career—averaging 14.1 points, six rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range as a junior, then winning the conference’s defensive player of the year as a senior (he set a school record for blocks in a season, ending his career with the most in both school and league history), posting per-game averages 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks, along with 42 percent three-point shooting, again being named first team all-league.
Strengths: Brown has an excellent shooting touch for a player his size, making him a great fit for the pick-and-pop game and putting him at the forefront of the coming “stretch five” trend of centers, in addition to power forwards, increasingly launching shots from three-point range. He’s also a legitimate shot-blocking force, using his blend of size, timing and agility to make an impact on the defensive end. His ability to run the floor in transition and defend face-up big men at either post position are also unique skills, and despite the relatively underwhelming competition he regularly faced in college, Brown held his own when participating in summer camps featuring a majority of players from high-major programs.
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Weaknesses: Brown’s lack of strength, combined with his skill level and good feet, might actually make him better suited to play power forward at the professional level, but more concerning was his inconsistency as a collegian, which could easily be interpreted as not possessing assertiveness or much of a physical nature, when examining how he didn’t fare well in most matchups with better competition. He certainly didn’t showcase a back-to-the-basket game that inspires confidence in him as a post-up player on the next level and his rebounding was similarly mediocre. Although he gained significant recognition from early in his college career, Brown seemingly wasn’t comfortable in a prominent role—he ceded the responsibility of team leader to a player a foot shorter than him, explosive point guard Keifer Sykes, a Chicago native who is a fringe NBA prospect himself entering his senior year—and while that in itself isn’t necessarily negligible, not imposing his will on the game may have detracted from team success.
Draft projection: Due to his uncanny skill set, Brown will receive consideration as a second-round pick, at least from teams that can envision him fitting into their systems offensively, while also having a need for his defensive abilities. The domestic big-man crop in the draft isn’t the most formidable beyond the higher-rated prospects, so if he isn’t drafted, he will surely have the chance to show off his strengths in summer league, though if he isn’t successful there, it’s easy to see Brown taking his talents overseas to begin his professional career. Whether or not Brown is on an NBA roster or not next season, adding strength, becoming more assertive and defining his game even further as a jump-shooting, shot-blocking hybrid is likely necessary before he can make the desired impact in the league.