I have seen the future of the Kentucky basketball athlete…and the future is Jaylen Brown. For the first time tonight, I saw 2015 recruit Jaylen Brown play, and I believe Brown is the best perimeter athlete UK could get since John Wall. His explosiveness is amazing. He has an unbelievably quick first step and his ability to leap to the rim and throw down with power is as good as I have seen. Jaylen Brown is the type of player that when you watch, you get excited….not for what he is (although he is immensely talented) but for what he can become. He has athleticism that made one college coach look at me and shake his head and go “wooooooo boy, now he is something.” There is plenty for Brown to work on with his game (he isn’t a great ball handler, makes the occasional poor decision and his mid-range game needs work). But with his ability to dominate with athleticism, steady outside shot and explosive rise to the basket, he will be a star and the perfect Calipari player.
The last trait is the one that I couldn’t stop focusing on Thursday night. If you were to draw up a perfect wing player for Calipari, you would get Jaylen Brown. He is an explosive leaper like MKG, long like Liggins and has a decent outside shot like Darius. He plays look effortless on the court and in a Calipari system where he would get penetration lanes (and foul calls which don’t happen in these AAU “Showcase” events) that would make him unguardable. I imagine Calipari salivates at the thought of him in a Kentucky uniform, which is why he is such a priority
After the game, I spoke to Brown and he said that while he has a number of schools, he is hoping to narrow it to three by the time his the fall rolls around. He is visiting UCLA unofficially in August and then plans on taking official visits to Kentucky and Kansas in August/September. Those three schools, plus home state Georgia and Georgia Tech seem to be the early leaders. When asked about Kentucky, Brown says, “Kentucky I like because of Coach Cal. He is a great guy. He always has a lot of things to say to me about my game because he watches me play. At Kentucky it is a great basketball environment.”
While he likes everything he has seen from Kentucky, Brown also notes that many people don’t want him to go to UK and that others trash the program. He said that coaches of other teams note that UK could have too many players, an issue that he is following because it is important to him. “I am a guy that wants to work for everything I get but I want to play right away,” Brown said, “I don’t want to have to sit my first year.”
But while he understands the questions about the roster, the negativity he hears about UK goes beyond that. And Brown wants to correct them. “There are a lot of misconceptions about Kentucky as well, about things they do and how they work. They say those boys out there don’t go to school, they don’t go to class, all they care about is basketball, they don’t care about education. But that’s not true. They are just like the rest of the teams in college.” When I asked if he hears more negative about Kentucky than other places, he said, “It is absolutely more about Kentucky than other schools. Some people just don’t like Kentucky. They say, I don’t like that place, they are shady.” He says however he isn’t worried about such comments because, “I know what they aren’t true”
One thing he does believe is that he is the best player in America. When asked if he sees himself as the most talented high school player, he replied, “Absolutely. I feel like I have a lot of stuff to work on still but in my eyes, there is no one better. There are a lot of good guys that I give a lot of respect to, but I don’t feel like they can do what I can do on the floor.”
After watching him, I think he may be right. Ben Simmons is the best player in the land and Malik Newman has out of this world talent. But when it comes to athleticism and the “Wow” factor, give me Brown. He could be special in Lexington.