Sterling Brown's claim to fame in the past has been through his brother Shannon, now in the NBA. But he stepped out of his brother's shadow in the Illinois State championship game against heavily favored Chicago Simeon.
"It felt good. I tried to get it done for my team. We came up short, but overall it was a great season. We played good, and I played good. I couldn't have done it without my teammates."
A frequent observer noted he hadn't seen Brown take over a game like that before.
"I had to. We came out a little sluggish, and I had to pick up the slack. I had to come out more aggressive. I did that, but we just came up short."
Going head-to-head against Simeon star Jabari Parker, rated by many the top 2013 prospect in the nation, Brown made shot after shot. Whether a three-pointer, midrange pull-up or drive to the hoop, Brown had Parker scratching his head in disbelief. The experience did a world of good for Brown's confidence.
"Yeah it did, especially going into AAU. You have to have a lot of confidence for the EYBL. There's a lot of great athletes, so you need confidence to perform well."
Brown sometimes gets mislabeled as someone who lacks a hunger to score. He often defers to teammates rather than trying to take over games. Perhaps he should be judged more on his unselfishness and desire to win than on individual accomplishments.
"The bottom line is, I want to win. If I can win, that's what I'm going to do. If I have to pass the ball, I'll do it. If I have to score, rebound or whatever, I'll do it because I want to win."
Fortunately, he has enough game to score when needed. Any coach would appreciate having a silent assassin waiting to take over when others fail. He hits a high percentage of his shots and can create when needed. At 6'-5", he has the size and range to defend on the perimeter and battle on the boards. He has noticed major improvement in his game.
"I've stepped up a lot. I'm more aggressive and more consistent. Playing in the EYBL is just like playing in college, so I can tell I'm better than last year."
Illinois has noticed.
"They saw me in a couple open gyms. One was a former Missouri coach (Isaac Chew) who was recruiting me there. He's at Illinois now. They're very interested in me."
New head coach John Groce employs an attacking style on both offense and defense. Brown likes that approach.
"Oh yes. It would fit my game."
Obviously, Michigan State has an advantage because Shannon went there and praises the school and its head coach Tom Izzo. They are recruiting the younger Brown but have not yet offered a scholarship. He presently sports offers from LaSalle, USC and Minnesota.
Brown has an idea what he wants in his college choice.
"I what a school with a great history, good coaching and knows how to win."
His Midwest roots appear to favor the Big 10.
"The Big 10 is one of the best conferences around right now."
It will be interesting to see where Brown ends up. He has tremendous potential. He's an excellent team player and has the intelligence to adapt and learn. Now it's a matter of finding the best fit for his services. If Michigan State doesn't offer, it is open season.