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Brown returns for final year

Alec Dopp, Sports Writer
May 8, 2013
Filed under Sports

Will he, or won’t he? That was the question many Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball fans asked about junior center Alec Brown’s potential return to the team for his senior 2013-14 season.

But now, the questions can be laid to rest.

Brown officially announced his intention to return to the Phoenix via press release to various media outlets April 23. The announcement came more than a month after his team finished up its 2013 season.

The 7-foot-1-inch senior-to-be said he is excited to see what Green Bay can accomplish next season, especially after his team finished 10-6 in the Horizon League and came within a buzzer-beater of making it to the conference’s tournament championship game in March.

“It’s my senior year — my last go at it — and I’m excited to see what our team can do,” Brown said. “We have our core guys coming back We’re going to be a really fast and athletic team, and it’s going to be exciting to play with these guys.”

Brown also noted another reason for his decision to return to the program.

“It’s a huge goal of mine to play in the NBA,” Brown said. “I will be working on it as much as I can this offseason and do whatever it takes to be prepared heading into next year’s season and next year’s draft.”

Phoenix head coach Brian Wardle is well aware of the NBA’s interest and mentioned that had a big impact in the decision for his star center to return for his senior season.

“After the season, I talked with Alec and his family and decided to gather as much information as possible regarding Alec’s prospects for this year’s NBA draft,” Wardle said. “I spoke with a number of NBA general managers and scouts who had seen Alec play this past season to gauge their thoughts.

The majority of the GMs and scouts were consistent in what they said and projected later second round pick if he were to enter now.

NBA scouts have kept tabs on Brown since his freshman season in 2010-11, in which he started all 32 games and averaged 25.1 minutes, 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game and shot 48.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.

But it was the following 2011-12 season, Brown vaulted into national prominence.

That year, Brown didn’t miss a game for the Phoenix and improved his inside game by leading the conference with 3.1 offensive rebounds per game, while finishing second in blocks with 3.0 and scoring 13.8 points per game. His outside production curtailed, however, shooting just 21.1 percent on three-point field goals.

But Brown rededicated himself the following offseason in preparation for his junior year, and in turn, had one of the best seasons of any center in the nation. Starting every game for Green Bay, he finished the year shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point land and averaging a career-best 14.1 points per game to go with 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 assists per game.

It was that commitment to improving his outside shot that Brown said will give him a chance for success in his senior season with the Phoenix, and will also put him in ideal position to be a high NBA draft pick next summer.

“One thing people were excited about was that my 3-point shot has improved a lot and they were excited to see I could do some more things off the dribble,” Brown said. “I really worked to try to get more well-rounded as a player.  I was able to do that this past year by adding a 3-point game. It was good to see that pay off in games.”

Wardle agreed, saying Brown’s ability to shoot effectively from long range makes him a strong prospect.

“The consensus is that there is a lot of interest in Alec due to how his skill level translates to today’s NBA game, which features big men who have the ability to shoot and face the basket,” Wardle said. “He’s in a very select group of seven-footers out there, and a lot of NBA teams are looking forward to watching him during his senior season.”

Brown, a two-time All-Horizon League selection, is one of two players in conference history to surpass 1,200 points, 600 rebounds and 200 blocks in his career, according to the Green Bay Athletics website.