On Thursday afternoon, Kentucky fans (and fans of a bunch of major college basketball programs) got some updated transfer news, as Evan Daniels gave the latest on the recruitment of Nevada big-man Jordan Brown. Since putting his name in the transfer portal a week ago, things have been quiet in Brown’s recruitment. But as Daniels reported, there are a number of schools who have already reached out, and Kentucky is indeed one of them. It’s something I hinted would happen in a post earlier this week.
So now that we know that Brown is indeed available and seriously considering a transfer, what do you need to know?
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 18, 2019
As someone who knows the Nevada program well, here is what I’ve heard about Brown from sources close to him, and where his recruitment stands. This is what you need to know, and what I expect to happen next:
Who Is Jordan Brown?
Brown was one of the most coveted big men in the class of 2018, a player who appeared in the McDonald’s All-American Game and as a member of Team USA In the Nike Hoops Summit. He finished his high school career ranked among the Top 20 players in the class of 2018.
And prior to committing to Nevada he was recruited by, quite literally, every big-name school on the West Coast including UCLA to Arizona, Cal and Nevada. According to some people I trust he was actually set to commit to UCLA until Shareef O’Neal decommitted from Arizona last winter. At that point, UCLA had just one scholarship for the two front-court players and told both that whoever committed first had the spot. O’Neal grabbed the scholarship and Brown was forced to look elsewhere.
Ultimately, after a long, drawn out process that saw him as the last major recruit to commit last spring, Brown chose Nevada. He was just the second McDonald’s All-American to ever commit to the school, the other being local high school start Luke Babbitt back in 2008.
To put it simply, Brown is the biggest recruit Nevada basketball ever signed.
Why Did He Struggle So Much in His First Year in College?
Although Brown was the most decorated recruit ever to sign with Nevada, his first year was a struggle. He averaged just three points and two rebounds in 10 minutes played per game.
But while that would appear to be a bit alarming on the surface, it shouldn’t be. The bottom-line is that Eric Musselman is a coach that – like Jay Wright and others across college basketball – simply prefers older players to young ones, and Brown got buried on the depth chart behind more experienced players. Nevada started three fifth-year seniors in the front-court and at the end of the day, it was probably the right decision, considering that the Wolf Pack went 29-5 overall and ended up in their third straight NCAA Tournament.
Still, the buzz out of Reno was that as the season went on, Brown gained some confidence. As a source close to him told me, Brown has “looked like his old self” the last couple weeks and was due for a big season next year.
Is It Too Early to Guess Where Brown Might Be Leaning?
Short answer, yes. As Brown’s father Dion told Daniels, a host of schools have reached out besides Kentucky, ranging from Arizona, to Oregon, Ohio State and others. And honestly, that might even be downplaying it a bit. The same source close to Brown told me that since he put his name in the transfer portal, “every major program in America” has at least reached out to gauge interest. Pick a school and they have at least called to gather details, according to the person I spoke with.
Other intel I've gathered on Jordan Brown the last few days: I don't expect him to stay at Nevada. Lot of staff turnover and not the greatest relationship with Steve Alford from his HS days. Would be somewhat surprised if went to Arkansas too. Hunch is he lands somewhere new
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 18, 2019
With that said, here is what I can also tell you: Steve Alford’s arrival at Nevada will have no impact on Brown’s decision to stay or go in Reno. If anything, it might hurt it.
I know that sounds strange considering that Brown nearly committed to Steve Alford’s UCLA Bruins were in high school, but the bottom-line is that from my understanding, Alford had little role in the recruitment process. Brown’s father in fact confirmed that to a Reno area newspaper, admitting that former UCLA assistant David Grace (who just joined Jerry Stackhouse’s staff at Vanderbilt) did most of the work in his recruitment. Also, it doesn’t help that – according to people I trust – Alford doesn’t plan on keeping anyone from Musselman’s staff on board in Reno, and that Brown was especially close to that staff.
Point being, despite the fact that Alford actively recruited him out of high school, the relationship isn’t as strong as you might expect.
After speaking to the same person who is close to Brown, my hunch is also that he won’t be following former Nevada coach Eric Musselman to Arkansas. I don’t feel quite as strongly on that one, but my gut feeling is that if Brown does move on he’ll want a fresh start.
If Brown Elects To Transfer, Can He Play Right Away?
Since this is a question I’ve gotten quite a bit, let’s just nip this right now: Barring some unforeseen waiver from the NCAA offices, no, Brown won’t play next season. Yes, he’ll have to sit out the season.
And if anything, that’s the only reason I could see him remaining at Nevada (although as I said, I think it’s unlikely at this point). As a former McDonald’s All-American who is watching a lot of other friends get drafted, does he really want to sit out another season?
Again, in my mind, that’s the most likely reason he would stay at Nevada.
Here’s Why Sitting Out a Season Can Be Good However
Regardless of where Brown chooses, I actually think sitting out a season could be good for all parties involved. At the end of the day, it would give him a full year to get used to his new school and program, head coach and teammates. Every kid wants to play, but there are benefits to sitting out.
Still, let’s say Brown did ultimately choose Kentucky – and to be clear, that’s not my prediction. It’s way too early to speculate.
Still, let’s say he did. It would give him a year to get used to campus, and also give Kentucky a former McDonald’s All-American and potential future NBA pro to lead the scout team every day. Can you imagine the value it would give a guy like Nick Richards or E.J. Montgomery to go against that type of player every day?
From Kentucky’s perspective (or whatever school he picks) there is no downside.
If He Chooses Kentucky What Kind of Player Will They Get Down the Road
In addition to getting a great practice player in 2019-2020, if Brown were to choose Kentucky, I think he could be a difference-making power forward/center prospect come the 2020-2021 season. While Brown did struggle to adjust to college life this year, he is still 6’10 with over a 7-foot wingspan and crazy athletic. Nevada tried to play him almost exclusively in the post this season, but he has the skills to step 15 or 20 feet away from the basket and hit shots from there as well. Think that with a year to sit out and develop, he could be a monster two years down the road? I’d say so. And when I say “monster” I mean like “All-SEC First Team” type guy.
Again, it’s way, way, WAY too early to speculate where Brown will end up.
But if the Wildcats were able to sign Brown, he could be the first big puzzle piece already locked in for the 2020-2021 season.