Preview: 2016 St. Joe's commit Charles Brown

In May, Philadelphia wing Charles Brown became St. Joe's first commitment in the 2016 recruiting class. Brown, who was then a senior at George Washington High (PA), was just seeing his recruitment blow up. As it was, he ended things, committing to the Hawks. I spoke with St. Joe's assistant coach Geoff Arnold about his constantly-improving incoming freshman.

Charles Brown was St. Joe's first commitment in the 2016 class, committing to the Hawks back in May. At the time, he was a senior at Philadelphia's George Washington High School. Brown, who is every bit of 6'6 with a wingspan that far exceeds that, is currently doing a post-grad year at Connecticut's Saint Thomas More Prep. The Chancellors are currently the number one ranked prep school in the country, and Brown plays alongside Villanova commit Omari Spellman, UNLV commit Christian Vital, and more there.

Brown played his AAU ball for Philly Pride, which is the same program that current Hawk freshman Chris Clover played for. That's essentially where Charles Brown's story, as it pertains to St. Joe's, begins. Hawk assistant coach Geoff Arnold was the lead recruiter for Charles, and he broke down Brown's recruitment and game for Hawk Hill Hardwood.

"A friend of mine told me about him when he was a rising junior at George Washington," Arnold began. "I invited him to a game, he came with his family and enjoyed it. This was before I'd even seen him play. I saw him as a rising senior on Philly Pride, but Charles sort of blends in. He's not a super look-at-me type of kid. Played his role."

All of this was under the assumption that Charles was a member of the 2015 class, where the Hawks already had a shooting guard in Chris Clover, a point guard in Lamarr Kimble, and a combo forward in Pierfrancesco Oliva. The Hawks were not looking to add any other pieces. When Charles decided to add a prep year after graduating from George Washington, it changed things.

"I found out that Steve Black (former Overbook High and La Salle Explorer) was working with him, then I saw him last December and was like 'wow,' I called Steve up and he said what I'd heard, that he was an unbelievable kid from an unbelievable family. His father (Charles Sr.) actually played at Overbook with Steve," Coach Arnold explained. "I called Phil up and said 'I think we found what we're looking for.'"

According to Arnold, all of the assistant coaches and Phil Martelli saw Brown but the staff was in a holding pattern. "I told him and his family that we wanted to help him get a scholarship, if not here, somewhere. That's the main goal. So we just stayed there," he continued. Charles played the April Live Period with Philly Pride once again, this time a year older with a newfound toughness and more experience. Arnold credited Philly Pride head coach Sean Colson for that newfound toughness. "He (Charles) played tougher when Phil saw him in Louisiana. With attitude and effort. We offered in April were able to get it done."

Charles saw his stock absolutely explode in a matter of weeks in April. He went from zero Division 1 scholarships to over a dozen, with James Madison, VCU, Rhode Island, George Mason, Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra, St. Joe's and more all jumping on board with offers. He has been described by many, including ESPN's Adam Finkelstein, as a classic late bloomer. What exactly does Geoff Arnold think he has in Charles Brown?

"He's an evolving player," Arnold stated. "He gets better every time I see him. He can do so many things; he can handle, can put it down, can create for himself and others, and can obviously shoot it from deep. That's his strength. With his length and size and mobility, he will be a good defender as he gets stronger. He's a kid that I don't think is going to back down from anyone. He's at St. Thomas More now, so he's playing at a high level."

Even though Brown is prepping at St. Thomas More, his family is still in Philadelphia, and Charles is making the short trek over to Hawk Hill when he's home. "He's over at our place whenever he's home. Just working out by himself. To be great is a lonely existence, and there he is shooting for hours. His parents come and get him hours later."

Player comps are always risky, because oftentimes fans expect the player to live up to the comp, instead of simply using it as a reference point. According to Geoff Arnold, Charles does remind him of another Philadelphia native. "He reminds me of a young Rasual Butler. He moves like Rasual did and the first time I saw him, that's what I thought of. He's the closest thing in body type, length, ability to shoot the ball, and athleticism. Like Rasual back then, Charles is getting better every time out. Of course he's got to continue to develop and grow, but he's got a chance to be a good, really good, player for us. He's also going to be a great ambassador for not just St. Joe's basketball, but St. Joe's University."

Now, Rasual Butler was drafted in the second round out of La Salle back in 2002. He's still in the league, currently on the San Antonio Spurs. At 6'7, 215-pounds, Butler's body type is what Charles could grow into. The 36 year old is a career 36% three-point shooter, a player who has made a living off of his ability to shoot, his versatility. It's your best-case scenario for Brown.

Charles Brown will be another Philadelphia native on next year's St. Joe's roster, alongside current freshmen Chris Clover and Lamarr Kimble, and current sophomore Jai Williams. Brown's grandfather grew up just blocks from Hawk Hill. His father played down the street at Overbook High School. Geoff Arnold got St. Joe's foot in the door early with Charles before his stock skyrocketed. And if he hadn't committed in May when he did, it would have continued to soar is July. The Hawks are getting a steadily-improving late-bloomer who can shoot the ball from deep, defend, and has a desire to be great.

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