TAVARES – Delivering the knockout punch on the basketball court is something Jaylen Brown (6-6, 215, Marietta, GA Wheeler) knows all about. Rated the #1 small forward prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Brown has one of the best all-around skill sets in the country. He is that rare combination of speed, quickness, elevation and court vision that allows him to put opponents out of their misery with the pass, the jumper or taking it straight to the rack where he dunks with thunderous authority.
In his spare time, Brown works on the fine art of knockouts – literally.
"Boxing is kind of a second hobby for me," Brown said Sunday afternoon after going off for 27 points, six rebounds and three assists in Game Elite's 88-75 win over Team Loaded North Carolina in the adidas Gauntlet Orlando event, played at the Big House in Tavares. "I do it to stay in shape. Nobody trains as hard as fighters. I do speed bag and all that."
All that includes the endurance work, which is why he gets up early in the morning and does the distance running, plus he takes his turn at the speed bag. Brown also takes his turn sparring in the ring although he does have some not so pleasant memories about the first time he ever tried that.
"First person I sparred with kind of beat me up because it takes awhile to get the endurance you need in the ring," Brown said. "The gloves get heavy and your shoulders start burning … an experienced fighter can see that in you and start taking advantage of it."
As if he needs another hobby, it's table tennis. He picked that up during summer visits to his grandmother's home in Michigan and although he's gotten good enough to put away most challengers, there is that one guy who takes the game to a whole different level.
"There is this guy who goes to my school – Shin Lee … he's on the 16 and under Chinese team and he's pretty amazing," Brown said. "When I play him it's simply to try to get better."
Boxing and table tennis are for fun. Basketball is very serious business. Brown has put together the kind of basketball resume that has the likes of Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, UCLA, Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, Georgia and Georgia Tech all making concerted efforts to add him to their 2015 recruiting classes.
Playing with Game Elite on the adidas AAU circuit, Brown is doing most of his damage at the high post where he takes an entry pass, turns and sees the entire floor. Teammates make wicked cuts to the basket and set screens for each other knowing that if they spring free, Brown will definitely get them the basketball in scoring position. Defenders who play him too tight risk that the ball will go on the deck and he'll blow by for a date with the rim. Sag off and he'll launch a jumper that is good beyond the 3-point line. In Sunday's two games Brown went 4-7 on 3-pointers.
Brown is that freak athlete whose hard work has allowed his skills to catch up to the athleticism. It's rare when he isn't the best player on the floor and that has something to do with a lengthy list of callers, all offering their school as the next stop past Wheeler High School in suburban Atlanta. He's lost count of the offers and the recruiting process has developed such a measure of insanity that he's begun limiting the phone calls.
"I want to stay focused so I don't answer my phone all that much," he said.
There are a few coaches whose calls he will answer, however.
"Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, Georgia and Georgia Tech and UCLA are the ones I talk to the most," Brown said.
Here is what he had to say about the schools that he hears from most frequently:
FLORIDA: "It's a great school, they win and I do like the coach. I talk to Billy Donovan, Matt McCall and Coach Rashon (Burno) a lot."
KENTUCKY: "There's a lot to like starting with Coach Cal (John Calipari) and Coach (Kenny) Payne."
OHIO STATE: "Coach (Thad) Matta has a string of putting players in the NBA for seven years in a row. He's a real down to earth guy."
GEORGIA: "There's a lot to like about Georgia starting with Coach (Mark) Fox. I like him a lot."
GEORGIA TECH: "BG – Brian Gregory – is a really good coach who I hear from about once a week."
UCLA: "Nobody can match them for championships."
Brown wants to let the recruiting process play itself out over the next three or four months. While he won't pinpoint an exact date in which he will make his final decision, he says he'd like it to be before basketball season starts at Wheeler High School in the fall.
"I'd like to have a decision by then and go into my senior year without that pressure," Brown said. "I think I'll know sometime around early signing in November, but who knows? Something might happen and I might decide it's time to do it before then."