On Friday afternoon, with the news that five-star forward Greg Brown III bypassed a G League opportunity and signed with the Texas Longhorns, head coach Shaka Smart landed arguably the program’s most dynamic talent since Kevin Durant headlined the 2006 class nearly a decade and a half ago.
And no, that isn’t hyperbole.
Smart has landed his fair share of top-tier talent since taking the reins at Texas, but the must-see high school phenom that is Greg Brown III comes equipped with more hype than any of his predecessors, and for good reason.
Now widely recognized thanks in large part to his ubiquitous dunk-dominated highlight tapes, Brown blossomed into a high-volume scorer throughout his final two seasons in the high school ranks, averaging 27.2 points and 26.1 points as a junior and senior, respectively. A substantial portion of those paints came courtesy of Brown’s abilities above the rim.
A hyper-athletic 6’9 stretch forward, Brown’s most notable trait is his remarkable leaping ability, which paves the way for points in a number of ways. Brown is at his best when he’s able to excel in open court, as he’s an excellent rim-runner who utilizes that space to explode to the rim. That said, Brown’s explosive ability is still especially evident in halfcourt, where he’s grown increasingly adept at creating for himself off the dribble to get to the rim.
Perhaps more notably, though, is that along with a developing ability to handle the ball, Brown’s jump shot has continued to progress. As a senior, featuring what’s now a fluid shooting stroke, Brown connected from the perimeter at a 38-percent clip, which becomes more impressive considering many of his looks came after creating for himself off the dribble.
That, along with the fact that even without the ball in his hands Brown is a factor offensively — he’s consistently a threat to soar in for putback jams — makes for an offensive game that was routinely jaw-dropping against high school competition.
“Whatever price they paid to get into the gym, it’s going to be worth it,” Vandegrift head coach Cliff Ellis told Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman.
Considering his 6’10 wingspan and explosive leaping ability, it’s not surprising that Brown is also a force on the glass and as a rim protector. In 121 games at Vandegrift, Brown tallied 99 double-doubles and averaged 13.2 boards and 3.5 blocks per contest as a senior, in addition to his 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Courtesy of such efforts throughout his senior campaign, Brown was honored as the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American.
Considering his skill set, especially on the offensive end, and the current roster landscape in Austin, it’s quite clear why Brown was such a tremendous addition to Smart’s next roster. Entering the 2020-21 campaign, Texas will feature a roster abundant with experienced guards and much of the same on the interior, but as it stands, the roster can greatly benefit from a high-volume scoring forward who’s not only capable of scoring from any level, but also boasts the confidence to shoulder the load offensively.
“Coach sees me as a very versatile player and if there’s a mismatch somewhere he’s going to use it,” Brown told Yahoo! Sports’ Krysten Peek. “If there’s a big that comes out on the wing then I’ll go by him, if a guard is on me then I’ll post him up.”
Of course, it would be unfair to expect Brown to arrive and produce at the level he did in high school, regardless of the immense offensive potential he possesses in the long term, the fortunate news for Texas is that Brown will be surrounded by enough talent that such efforts will seldom be necessary. He should only stand to benefit from that talent and experience around him as he adjusts to the collegiate game, and his presence and offensive assertiveness should benefit his teammates equally, if not more so.
As it was ahead of Brown’s decision, the Texas roster appeared to be in fairly excellent shape to produce at a much higher rate next season, returning every piece of a unit that finished the season on a high note and on the cusp of the NCAA tournament. Now, that roster will return even more experienced, and in the words of Brown, with Big 12 title aspirations after adding what was potentially the only missing piece.