SMU has an impressive trio of freshmen on the roster this season that are showing the coaching staff they are ready to make an impact right away.
Although Keith Frazier is the All-American of the group, the freshman with the chance to play the biggest role on the team this season might be Sterling Brown.
Brown is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard from Illinois and was ranked as a four-star in the Class of 2013. One of the main reasons he chose SMU over other major programs was because of his close relationship with former assistant coach Jerrance Howard.
This summer, Howard left the program to join Kansas' staff under Bill Self. Brown, however, isn't bothered by the coaching change because he has enjoyed his time with the other coaches.
"It's been pretty cool," he said. "I had a relationship with the other coaches, as well as Jerrance, so it wasn't that hard trying to fit in. We got a great staff, so I'm really excited to be here."
Off the court, Brown has had to adjust to living on his own and being a better student in the classroom. On the court, he is working on getting used to the nuances of the college game.
"It's been a lot different this year," he said. "I'm getting used to playing on the perimeter and getting adjusted to the speed of this game. I think I'm doing a pretty good job, but I still got a lot of work to do."
Brown, who compared his game to Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, has enjoyed his opportunity to learn under a Hall of Fame coach. He says he wants to be a better all-around player and ‘The Godfather' can help him accomplish all of his goals.
"I just have to listen to him and do what he says," Brown explained. "He has won at every level, so he is really not telling us anything wrong. At certain times it does get a little bit frustrating, but we just know that what he is telling us is the right thing to do."
Brown has also built a strong relationship with all the assistant coaches on staff. He says each one brings a unique perspective to the game, which has helped him develop his skills.
"I really couldn't say coach does more for me than the other," Brown said. "They all help me with every part of my game. Coach Jankovich helps me with my footwork and jump shot. Coach Ulric has helped me on defense. Coach K.T. also has helped with my jump shot. All the coaches have really done a lot for me."
Brown has also learned a lot from his older brother, Shannon Brown, who is currently an NBA free agent. Their relationship has taught him a lot about how to be professional and appreciate his opportunity.
"He has a big influence on me," Brown said. "He says to go out there and play as hard as I can to represent for my family. That's his main thing, just go out there and play hard."
Although Brown has been around NBA players for years, he was still star-struck when he got a chance to meet guys like David Robinson, Allen Iverson, Milt Newton and Avery Johnson in practice the last few weeks.
"It was real, man," Brown said. "Just listening to them talk and give us advice was really special to me. For those guys to take time out to come talk to us was a really good experience for all of us."
Brown couldn't specify one teammate that has impressed him the most so far. He says, ‘everyone from Keith Frazier to Nic Moore to Nick Russell has made great improvements since the summer'
Brown also isn't exactly sure what his role will be on the team this season with the intense competition for minutes. But he plans to do whatever he can to contribute and help the team win games.
"I just want to play as well as I can and help my team accomplish big things," he said. "My goal for the team is to get to the NCAA tournament, and I think we can definitely do that."
Hoops Feature: Sterling Brown
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