Hoops Recruiting: Brown, Peabody Are 33-0

Travis Ford has said recruiting talented players who fit his style of play is important but he also wants winners. The Oklahoma State head coach has struck the jackpot with four players who signed in November as their teams are a combined 104-11 entering Friday night's games. Markel Brown has led Peabody Magnet High School to a 33-0 record and the No. 1 Class 4A ranking in the state of Louisiana.

The 6-foot-4 Brown has been the leader of a Peabody team that has surprised longtime head coach Charles Smith, who has won five state titles during his tenure and coached players who went to Connecticut (Eric Hayward), Alabama (Reggie Rambo) and USC (Marcus Simmons).

"He really has surpassed (my expectations)," Smith said Thursday afternoon when asked about Brown, who is averaging 32 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 3 steals and about 5 dunks a game.

"I really didn't see us being undefeated at this point," Smith continued. "By far he has surpassed my expectations with his leadership of this team. He basically has put the team on his back because we're still young. Last year (when the Warhorses finished 31-4 and advanced to the state tournament quarterfinals) we were basically freshmen, and this year we're still just sophomores, so he's put this team on his back and carried us so far."

Smith said that Brown was at his best when the team traveled to the Lee College Tournament in Baytown, Texas in early December. "We played against some good (Class) 5A schools over there and he just totally dominated the entire tournament," he said.

Brown scored 35 points in Peabody's 68-48 victory over Lee High School from Tyler, Texas, and then dropped 37 on Clear Lake in Peabody's 64-59 victory in the tournament's championship game. "The last two games (at Baytown), they went to a box-and-one on us to try denying him the ball and he ended up with 35 in the first game and 37 in the championship game," said Smith.

Brown is far from a one-man show for the Warhorses but Smith admits that the future Cowboy is the team's catalyst.

"He's not out there looking to be the high-point scorer every game. He's trying to get all the guys involved, and has done a good job of that. I've got two or three guys that are averaging in double figures. If he stays around the 25 to 30 point range that helps our team," the Peabody coach said.

Smith said that as the regular season nears its completion (Peabody has just three regular season games remaining, beginning with tonight's home contest against Leesville High) he sees no signs of the Warhorses getting complacent.

"They approach each game one game at a time. They are working real hard in practice trying to improve on the things that we're not doing well, so I really don't think right now they feel the pressure of being undefeated. We're so focused on winning state this year that I really don't think they're concerned with the undefeated record," said Smith.

Here are the records of the three other OSU signees from November (J.P. Olukemi, the fifth signee, is redshirting this year and enrolled at Oklahoma State in January for the spring semester):
Darrell Williams (Midland College), 26-0 and ranked No. 1 in NJCAA
Brian Williams (Glen Oaks High, Baton Rouge, La), 26-5
Michael Cobbins (Palo Duro High, Amarillo, Texas), 19-6

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