Las Vegan Troy Brown returns home to prepare for NBA career

May 2018

Las Vegas Review Journal(Sam Gordon)

There’s a photograph of Troy Brown Jr. at his childhood home.

Well, there’s probably several.

But one in particular captures the soon-to-be NBA basketball player as a 1-year-old, dunking on one of his family’s toy hoops — oozing with passion for his future profession.

“He was always one of the kids who wanted to be good,” said his father, Troy Sr.

Turns out he’s a little better than good.

Brown, now 18 and one of the most accomplished high school basketball players in Las Vegas history, is back in his hometown preparing to play in the NBA after a brief detour at Oregon.

The 6-foot-7-inch Centennial High graduate has spent the past several weeks solidifying his skill set with nationally renowned Impact Basketball, where NBA hopefuls practice under the direction of the country’s best trainers.

He attended the NBA draft combine in Chicago last week — impressing 15 teams in interviews with his uncanny maturity and versatility — and heard he could be drafted as high as No. 12 on June 21.

The majority of his individual skill development concludes in Las Vegas next week, and he’ll spend the subsequent weeks touring the country to meet with prospective employers.

“Vegas isn’t one of the places that gets a lot of love or recognition for basketball,” Brown said. “I’ve always kind of been determined to make that happen. Just being able to do it and do it the right way … It’s really been a big thing for me. I’ve been enjoying it.”

Brown’s lifelong dream materialized once upon a time in his family’s backyard.

His parents were college athletes at Texas A&M-Kingsville, and his older sisters, Jenae (track) and Jada (basketball), earned scholarships to UNR and Kansas.

Sports came easy to Brown at his uber-competitive household.

Especially basketball.

“Who doesn’t know Troy Brown? We started recruiting him when he was in the fifth grade,” said Las Vegas Prospects club basketball director Anthony Brown, citing his exceptional size and court vision.

“I didn’t know he was going to be a first-round pick. But I did know that he was a very good basketball player, and we wanted him to be a part of our program.”

So Brown proudly represented Las Vegas and the Prospects on a national level in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League.

He attended his neighborhood school, Centennial, and, as a natural point guard, was a three-time all-state honoree and a member of USA Basketball’s world championship under-16 team in 2016.

The totality of his prep career turned Brown into a five-star recruit, and he committed in the fall of 2016 to play collegiately for the Ducks.

Brown averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists while playing mostly off the ball at Oregon, declared for the draft in April and returned home to address his perceived shortcomings.

“He started pretty early, and that’s a credit to him and his family, getting home to Vegas,” said his trainer, Andrew Moore. “We’ve kind of used what we saw on film and used the feedback we got from NBA personnel to formulate a plan.”

The two committed to rebuilding Brown’s body by strengthening his core and base and building lean muscle. Now at 6 percent body fat, he glides around the court effortlessly, with more explosion than ever before.

His new body helps his jumper, too, and he shoots confidently from NBA range during scrimmages and individual workouts. Brown shot 29.1 percent from 3-point range at Oregon, but Moore said his mechanics were solid and have improved under his tutelage.

“It really boils down to his work ethic and his character. They’re second to none,” Moore said. “He was open-minded to expanding his game, trying new things and challenging himself.”

Brown is relishing the predraft process.

A month from now, he’ll be a professional basketball player in the world’s best league. But right now, he’s doing what he’s always done — playing in his backyard.

Rather, his proverbial backyard.

“I feel like I can make a difference (in Las Vegas) because of my platform right now,” he said. “I’m embracing it and trying to make it better than it was when I was young.”