After a sometimes-stellar, sometimes-blah first two months of the season, Brown has found what is a very happy middle ground for Georgia's basketball team. In the last week, he has overtaken Mike Mercer as the Bulldogs' leading scorer and Sundiata Gaines as their leading rebounder. He is averaging 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds and has three double-doubles, two in SEC play and one against No. 2 Wisconsin in the final game before league play began, and Georgia has won five of its last six games.
"I always expect (a double-double) from myself," Brown said, "but I just try to do what I can."
The Bulldogs (13-6, 5-2 SEC) play Tennessee (14-7, 2-4 SEC) tonight at 7:30 in Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia has won just twice in 11 years in Knoxville, but all sorts of things are beginning to change for this team with Brown in the fold.
"Not to downplay any of our post players, but Georgia's posts haven't always been the greatest, so…," Brown said.
Getting the 6-foot-8, 250-pound junior out of Southeastern Illinois Junior College, where he was a third-team junior college All-American, was as big a key to the Bulldogs' success this season as anything. A native of Michigan, Brown was the recruiting apple of many a Big Ten school's eye, but he never seriously considered any of them.
"I was sick of the Big Ten," he said. "I watched it and watched the teams. It seemed so slow to me. I like watching the teams like Cincinnati, teams that run and gun. I kind of like that. Our game isn't really run and gun, but that's our offense. I feel like I fit in here."
He is fitting in better and better, and his steadily improving offensive numbers actually are a result of his improved defense, Felton said. Better defense means more minutes, and Brown has averaged 30.3 minutes in SEC games.
"He's still far from perfect (on defense), but I'm not aggravated as consistently," Felton said.
Brown's uneven start was a holdover, he said, from an season-opening academic suspension that kept him out of two games and two weeks of practice. He was given a course load that included 17 hours when he arrived in Athens, he said.
"They were like, 'Here's your schedule,'" he said. "I was new here, so I didn't want to object to anything."
The workload, though, was too much. Brown fell way behind, leading to his suspension, but eventually got himself back on solid academic footing, thanks partly to and he the fact that he dropped an African American Literature course that required reading nine books. The time away from the team hurt.
"When I left, I really didn't have a good hold of all the stuff we were going over, and then I got back and there were new things in, so I had a hard time coming back," he said. "They kind of had to slow things down for me."
Everything is full speed ahead now for Brown and the Bulldogs. Brown is 11th in the SEC in scoring and 14th in rebounding in conference games, and the attention he's drawing in the frontcourt a key reason Georgia has been able to shoot 40.4 percent from behind the 3-point line, the second-best average in the league.
"It's been gradual growth," Felton said, "and he certainly hasn't plateaued."