“It takes 20,000 hours to be great at something,” Brown said after practice on Thursday. “I’m going to put in 30,000.”
Brown said that his “uncles and aunties have PhD’s, et cetera, so my upbringing made us know that it was important for us to get our education,” and hard work is something with which he’s intimately familiar. He models his game after reputedly two of the hardest workers in recent NBA history – “Kobe and Jordan” – because of their approach to the game.
“I’ve got a long list of stuff I have to work on,” Brown said. “To be honest, I could start naming things, but I could be here all day. It might seem like I’m good at everything, but there’s a higher level past this, and I’m focused on getting there when I can, so I’ve got to develop.”
Despite his protests to the contrary, Brown has looked every bit the five-star, top-five player he was coming out of Atlanta (Ga.) Wheeler, at practice on Thursday, as the Bears prepare for a 10-day trip down to Australia.
He was in the gym early, shot three-pointers during the team’s mid-practice water break and stayed after practice – now having finished his Summer Bridge program – to shoot some more.
[IN-DEPTH: How Long Will Brown Stay at Cal?]
“Where I’m from, we didn’t really have water breaks,” Brown said. “Coaches might be being a little bit nice to us, right now. I’m just trying to get better. It’s a day-to-day process. For me, it’s about developing my jump shot, my perimeter game, so I’m going to put in as much work as it takes.”
“He’s a guy that competes,” Martin said of Brown. “He wants to be a good player, but he understands the process of what he has to do on a day-to-day basis to be the best he can become.”
In 10 days, Brown and the Cal men’s basketball team will face its first test – well, first four tests, really – when it travels to Australia for a 10-day sojourn. The Bears continued their 10-day crash course of practices at their practice gym in the Recreational Sports Facility on Thursday, and will leave on August 13.
“You have 10 days of practice, and that part is great,” said Martin, who begins his second season at the helm in November. “I love the practice piece, and just being in Australia, to experience something different, that’s the educational piece for our guys. Growing up in East St. Louis, I never had an opportunity to go to Australia, so our guys have an opportunity. What it does, from a basketball standpoint, our guys have four games to play against other competition.”
[NOTES: Practice Observations]
No, the NCAA men’s basketball season hasn’t started, and no, we won’t know if these Bears – particularly new additions Ivan Rabb and Brown -- will live up to the hype, which is substantial. What we will know, though, is how this bunch does under pressure, 12,000 miles away, against four professional teams full of 30-year old, full-grown men.
“The thing I welcome is maximizing our potential, whatever that is,” Martin said. “I don’t get consumed with where somebody is ranked. I don’t know if that really matters, because those are just preseason polls. Those things are great for our fans, but for our basketball team and for our program, it’s one day at a time.
“We were preseason one or two when I was in college several times, and it’s taking care of the business at-hand is the most important thing we can consume ourselves with,” Martin said.
Brown, for one, has a feeling about just what kind of team this is going to be.
“I think we’re going to be very fast-paced, and we can get up and down the floor in the Pac-12,” Brown said. “We have a lot of poise … I never really paid attention to rankings, even in high school. I guess I can just take it as it is – we haven’t done anything. It’s an honor to be ranked wherever we are, but I haven’t paid attention to it. We’ve got to win basketball games.”
The four teams Cal will play across three cities -- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – aren’t Arizona, or UCLA, or Duke or Kansas. But they are professionals. It will be a big leap for Brown, Rabb and fellow freshman Roman Davis.
“There’s a high school-level of competing and playing hard, and there’s the college level – the next phase,” Martin said. “They’re built to do it, but it’s a matter of going through it.”
“I think it’s winter over there, right now, so I’ve got to bring a coat,” Brown joked. “It’ll let us get a rhythm. A lot of us haven’t played together. It’s a brand new team, so a lot of us have to get a rhythm down and get a feel for each other before we go out to Australia and play in front of people. It’s a good way to get our rhythm down, and it’s just team bonding, to go to Australia. We get to know one another and bond before the season.”
Brown said his Australian accent is “not that good,” but he’s “working on it.”
“Australia’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to go – Australia, Zealand – so when I heard we were going to Australia, I was like, ‘Well, one marked off the list,’” Brown said. “I’m excited, and hopefully, we’ll have a good time there.”
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