Brown poised to prove worth to Bobcats

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 6, 2009

By Mike Cranston
Associated PressCHARLOTTE ó Derrick Brown doubted himself when he was a gangly, too-thin freshman at Xavier.
After being ignored until late in the NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats’ second-round pick began a similar, non-guaranteed road to professional basketball Monday in the Orlando summer league.
Brown is still skinny, but this time he’s full of confidence.
“I want to prove to a lot of people, two or three years down the line when they look at this draft, that they got a real good player that a lot of teams missed out on,” Brown said. “I’m not mad or anything like that. I’m just ready to get this thing going.”
Brown has begun the process. With the Bobcats not fielding a summer league team to save money, Brown is a member of Utah’s entry in Orlando this week.
While many mock drafts had the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward as a late first-round pick, Brown had to wait late into the night on June 25 at his home in Dayton, Ohio, before finally hearing his name called ó 40th overall ó by the Bobcats.
That means no automatic millions, no guarantee of a roster spot come the fall and questions if Brown should have returned to school for his senior season.
“I’ve never been given anything. I’ve never been a highly touted recruit,” Brown said. “Everything I got I earned. I don’t expect it to change now.”
The athletic Brown entered Xavier known for his entertaining dunks in high school ó and for being only 185 pounds. As he redshirted his first year, Brown knew he faced long hours in the weight room and cafeteria if he wanted to compete in the Atlantic 10.
“When I came to college, I didn’t think, to be honest with you, it was going to happen,” Brown said. “But eventually I realized I had potential. I wanted to work hard.”
Brown became a fan favorite as a redshirt freshman for his rim-rattling dunks, but he had holes in much of his game and averaged only 6.3 points.
He made strides his sophomore year, becoming a full-time starter and more well-rounded player.
The improvement continued last season as Brown was second on the team in scoring at 13.7 points. While he was the team’s top rebounder at 6.1 per game, he was quick enough to play on the perimeter and shot 43 percent from 3-point range.
A good student, Brown graduated this spring after four years and decided to enter the draft a year early. He eagerly agreed to almost every workout request, totaling 19, including two with the Bobcats.
He said Charlotte coach Larry Brown told him they brought him in for a second workout in case they traded down in the first round from the No. 12 pick.
“We had him No. 20 on the (draft) board,” Larry Brown said. “He’s long and he can handle it. He can shoot it a little bit.”
The Bobcats didn’t pull off a draft-night trade but were surprised to see Derrick Brown still on the board when the prepared to use their second-round pick. So even though they needed a power forward, they took Brown, who has the height but not bulk to play there.
“He can be versatile enough with our system, as he gets stronger, to maybe play some of that position,” general manager Rod Higgins said. “Probably not early.”
So that leaves the 21-year-old Brown in an odd position. He knows he has to bulk up and learn two positions. He knows there are whispers he should have stayed in school. He knows he’ll have to fight for a roster spot and minutes in the NBA.
“Three years from now you can come back to this chair and we’ll talk about what happened,” Brown said. “I’m convinced. I’m convinced.”