Bruce Brown’s all-around game having huge impact on Miami early in the season

Freshman guard Bruce Brown (11) charges through a Rutgers player toward the net during the Hurricanes’ 73-61 win Wednesday night in the Watsco Center. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Edtor

At the University of Miami, freshmen have made an enormous impact across many sports this fall. On the hardwood, one Hurricane has already impressed fans and media alike.

Before the season started, UM coaches raved about freshman guard Bruce Brown’s ability to contribute in a multitude of ways on the court. He has shown that to this point in the season.

Brown, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound combo guard from Wakefield, Massachusetts – a small suburb just 30 minutes outside of Boston – has been nothing short of sensational, contributing game after game with his unique blend of athleticism, vision and playmaking ability.

Days after being named ACC Freshman of the Week, Brown put forth a spectacular performance in a game against South Carolina State last week. Playing with a heavy heart after hearing news of his uncle’s death, Brown recorded just the second triple-double in school history (the other by Anthony King in 2004) and only the 23rd in the 64-year existence of the ACC. He racked up 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 30 minutes of play.

“It was a very emotional day for me today,” Brown said after the game. “My uncle actually passed away this morning. The game was for him. I played every possession like it was my last. He was watching.”

Brown has seen success in his young career as a Hurricane, averaging 10 points, just under seven rebounds and three assists a game. However, he never forgets his humble beginnings.

“I started playing basketball when I was six years old,” Brown said. “I was learning the fundamentals of basketball: how to pass, dribble and shoot. I was good at defense, but I wasn’t very good on the offensive end. I always missed wide-open layups.”

Brown, who models his game after NBA superstar Russell Westbrook, elevated his skills at the middle school level and focused on his ability to drive to the basket. He got taller and longer, and would work on his game for hours, ultimately leading to his first dunk in the eighth grade. A four-sport athlete at Wakefield High School, Brown transferred to Vermont Academy after his sophomore season to focus on basketball.

“I continued to work on my shot and just worked hard during the offseason,” Brown said.

Competing for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club—an AAU team—and Vermont Academy, Brown developed into one of the best high school players in the country, drawing the attention of many Division I powerhouse basketball colleges including Indiana, Connecticut, Michigan, Louisville and Georgetown. However, Brown elected to pick Miami, largely because of the coaching staff.

“I’m learning from everyone: watching film with Coach Brunt, getting shots up with Coach Caputo,” Brown said. “Coach L lets us play. He lets us do us.”

Brown, who won the 2016 New England Prep School Basketball Class AA State Tournament and was named the 2016 NEPSAC Tournament MVP, has had a strong impression on his teammates.

“I think he has a chance to be a very, very special player in this league,” senior captain Davon Reed said. “He has an incredible athleticism about him, confidence, a knack for getting in the paint, finishing around the rim; defensively he can be a pest, and he can really make an impact.”

The Jordan Brand Classic All-American has dynamic skills on the court, but a big part of what makes him a special player goes beyond that.

“I think the greatest thing about Bruce is his personality, his enthusiasm, his smile, his energy that he brings to practice every day and brings to the court every game,” Head Coach Jim Larrañaga said. “He’s such a hard worker.”

While the charismatic, high-flying Brown has attracted some national attention, he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself. He continues to play basketball the only way he knows how.

“You always got to have fun,” Brown said.

Brown will look to lead Miami to its fourth consecutive victory when the team hosts FAU at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Watsco Center.