Chris Richards/Special to Inside Carolina

2019 UNC Basketball Target Intro: Christian Brown

Tar Heel staff already keenly tracking South Carolina rising sophomore.

During his freshman season at Columbia (S.C.) A.C. Flora High School, Christian Brown knew something had to change.

To complement his game, which his high school coach Joshua Staley describes as “high-motor, high-effort with a good skillset,” Brown needed to improve his jumper.

Defenders had gotten so used to the 6-foot-7 Brown taking the ball to the rim on every play, they started backing off of him from the three-point line.

And with good reason.

“Coming into the season I couldn’t shoot a beach ball into the ocean,” Brown admitted.

So, for the rest of the season, he dedicated himself to becoming a competent shooter.

Shots in the morning. Shots in the afternoon. Shots after weightlifting. Shots before practice. Shots after practice. Shots in his sleep.

Running with the Georgia Stars 15U squad this spring and summer, Brown showed the results of his hard work.

Mixing his motor, with his effort, with his skillset, with his body type and his jump shot made Brown one of the breakout stars of this spring and summer AAU season.

“He’s very receptive to coaching and you teaching him the right way and the right path,” explained Staley, who led A.C. Flora to the 2016 South Carolina 3A Boys' basketball state championship. “I think he’s going to give himself an opportunity to be very successful in the future because of those characteristics… they separate him from a lot of people.”

As a freshman playing a key role on state title team, Brown had a steep learning curve. He had to fully integrate himself into the team, all while continuing to progress as a player.

“We think he’ll be a perimeter player in the future, so improving his jump shot was really important,” said Staley. “He had to take his bumps and learn to be mentally tough. Most kids, if you work on something more than twice a week they act like they’re bored. But he was mature enough to really dial in and work and bust his tail in the weight room to get stronger and faster.”

“He took his bumps with a program that had just gone to two state championships and who had extremely high expectations,” continued Staley. “He’s just mature, and mature doesn’t mean you make all the right decisions. It means you’re able to adjust and learn from your mistakes.”

His play this summer has garnered attention from a host of schools. He has offers from Western Kentucky, Tennessee, College of Charleston, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia State, Georgia, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Clemson, as well as interest from South Carolina, Kansas State, Virginia, N.C. State and North Carolina.

The Tar Heels have watched Brown several times during July. Assistant C.B. McGrath caught the majority of the Georgia Stars’ games in Orlando this past weekend. Two weeks ago, McGrath and Roy Williams saw him at the Champions Classic in Marietta, Ga., and three weeks ago assistant Steve Robinson watched him at the Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga.

Brown has taken notice.

“Honestly, it makes me play a little harder when I see them in the building,” said Brown. “I want them to know who I am and hopefully they’ll keep watching me throughout my career until I make my decision. North Carolina is a great school. I’m really glad they’re showing interest in me and hopefully they’ll watch me in the high school season too.”

Playing a little harder is difficult for Brown, since that’s one of his attributes coaches and observers rave about.

“On the court, people say I have an unstoppable motor and that I go 110 percent and that I play hard all the time,” he said. “I crash the boards and I slash. My mentality is different because I go for 50-50 balls and I don’t care who is in the way… My mindset is good for basketball, people say, because I just keep going and don’t take any plays off.”

Staley thinks Brown’s skills mesh well with Williams’s up-tempo system.

“When programs like North Carolina start to recruit your kids, it’s an honor,” he said. “It’s an honor to be recognized that way and Roy Williams is the master of transition and secondary break offense. His guys do an unbelievable job at getting out at running and that’s what we like to do. Christian is unbelievable in the open court – he’s a great finisher and just the fact that his jump shot is getting better that’s going to make him more valuable to a school like North Carolina.”

Last year while in North Carolina for the 2015 SE All-Freshman Invitational Camp, Brown and his mother, Melody Davis, toured the Carolina campus. It was a fun moment for Brown, who said he grew up liking the Tar Heels.

“My father is a real big UNC fan, so he’s been talking about UNC from Michael Jordan to Vince Carter and all that,” said Brown. “I’ve been looking up to UNC since I was little because of my father – Carolina was always around me.”

South Carolina has been fertile recruiting ground for Williams’s program the last few years. In 2012, UNC signed All-American Brice Johnson. In 2016, UNC signed Seventh Woods, the state’s top-ranked player. In 2017, Carolina has a commitment from Jalek Felton, the state’s top-ranked player. In 2018, UNC is heavily involved in the recruitment of Zion Williamson, the state’s top-ranked player.

Brown could be next.

“Everybody sees South Carolina as a football state, so they don’t recognize how good of talent we have in basketball,” he said. “We’re trying to let people know that we have great players here – me, Zion (Williamson), Juwan (Gary) and Khalil (Robinson). We don’t want people to overlook us.”

Christian Brown


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