Corey Brewer is the real deal

I got my first look at Portland High basketball star Corey Brewer last Friday, and now I see what all the fuss is about. This guy can be something special.

Brewer, a 6-7 junior wing player, was playing for the Tennessee Travelers last weekend in the Smoky Mountain Shootout at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City. I stopped by to watch his 3 o'clock game and speak with him briefly.

Brewer told me that Southeastern Conference schools are recruiting him the heaviest. He specifically mentioned (in order) Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. He also said Illinois, Ohio State, Memphis, Western Kentucky and UT-Chattanooga are giving him a lot of attention.

There are persistent reports that he is leaning to Tennessee. When I asked if any school was in the lead, however, Brewer shook his head.

''Not really,'' he said. ''I like a lot of the schools but I haven't really got a top five.''

Brewer averaged 23.8 points and 5 assists per game last season, so I figured he's accustomed to taking a lot of shots and dominating a game. Not so. He took the floor shortly after our chat and fit very nicely into a team concept.

Brewer took the Travelers' first shot -- a 3-pointer from the right wing that rattled out -- but tried just one more shot the entire first half. That came when he glided along the left baseline and attempted a follow dunk. It also rattled out. In between, he made a nifty assist to a teammate that resulted in a three-point play and he blocked a shot.

Brewer got a defensive rebound to open the second half. A minute or so later, he caught an outlet pass, then raced upcourt to score on a finger-roll. The guy has excellent quickness and ballhanding skills for a 6-7 player. He also plays surprisingly good perimeter defense, using his long arms and quick feet to full advantage. And, as Travelers coach Charlie Benson assured me before the game, Brewer plays hard on every possession. I never saw him coast on offense or defense.

Brewer had just two points entering the fourth quarter but he was about to go to work. He drained a 3-pointer from the right baseline to put his team up 50-38 with 7:15 remaining, then blocked a five-foot turnaround jumpshot on the other end.

Moments later, he took an outlet pass and weaved through traffic, closing an acrobatic drive to the basket with an electrifying move that brought oohs and ahhs from the crowd and high-fives from his teammates. That put the Travelers on top 59-43 with 3:40 left and ended Brewer's night.

For the game, he was three of five from the field -- including one of two from 3-point range. His scoring total (7 points) wasn't impressive but the raw ability was. If this guy were an incoming freshman at UT, I think he'd start at the wing spot opposite Scooter McFadgon -- ahead of Stanley Asumnu, Jon Winchester and Justin Albrecht. He's that talented.

Skinny as a rail, Brewer is purely a perimeter player. Benson says he'll play the 3 spot (small forward) in college or maybe the 2 (shooting guard). Most 6-7 players lack the quickness and ballhandling skills to play the perimater. Corey Brewer is an exception to that rule. You'll be hearing his name a lot in the months to come.

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