Mocs' 6-10 freshman forward Justin Brown must be tough from the start

Mocs' 6-10 freshman forward Justin Brown must be tough from the start

October 4th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

UTC freshman Justin Brown defends James Lewis Jr. during practice Monday at the Brenda Lawson Student-Athlete Success Center at UTC.

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

There are a couple of things currently plaguing University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman basketball forward Justin Brown.

But the potential appears to be there for the Chicago native.

He started the preseason at 190 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame but has added 10 pounds since arriving on campus. The coaching staff thinks he has the potential to be a really good player, once he adds even more muscle to his frame and "stops overthinking" while on the court.

"I think he's shown some instincts, some things naturally to allow us to believe his ceiling is really high, and he's got the character to be able to get there," UTC head coach Lamont Paris said. "It'll just be a process; it's always a longer process for some than others.

"Some guys pick things up quicker, some adapt quicker, some physically mature faster, and so Justin has a longer way to go in some of those areas physically, but we've seen a lot of growth over the last few months with him as well."

Brown came from a competitive league in Chicago, where he averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a senior at Marist High School. Still, it was quite an adjustment to play in a college environment — especially guarding players such as guard Rodney Chatman and forwards Nat Dixon and Makinde London, three of the five returning players on the UTC roster.

"As soon as I walked in, they held me to a higher standard," Brown said. "There have been bumps in the road, but they've helped me get over them.

"They've stepped into that leadership role. Last year's team had a lot of seniors, so they learned a lot from them and have done a really good job of being leaders."

Brown is one of the "bigs" who will be thrown to the wolves this season from the start, as the Mocs have no interior depth behind London and Dixon. By the time his career ends, he could add another 15-20 pounds of muscle, but for now he must rely on his toughness to battle inside in a Southern Conference that has a number of talented big men.

"It'll make him or break him right away," Paris said, "but at the same time you cut a guy some slack because you know those guys have played college for a few years and he hasn't, and then physically he's not where he's going to be."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.


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