The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 28, 2013

Joplin's Charlie Brown making his mark in Nike Elite league

It’s been common for Charlie Brown to look into the stands this summer and see the likes of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Kansas’ Bill Self.

Brown, who will be a senior for the Joplin Eagles basketball team in 2013-14, is spending his summer playing with and against some of the best high school basketball players in the nation.

 The 6-foot guard from Joplin is competing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League for the MOKAN Elite. His team will begin play in the prestigious 24-team Nike Peach Jam on July 11 in North Augusta, S.C.

“This is the NBA of high school basketball,” MOKAN Elite coach Jim Huber said. “There’s nothing better. It’s the best of the best week in and week out competing against each other. There’s nothing like it.

“You’re going to be watching these guys on Saturdays. Some are going to be All-Americans. You’re going to be watching some of these guys in the NBA in a few years.”

Teammate Lourawls Nairn, a 5-10 guard from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., is considered the No. 61 recruit in the nation on Rivals.com and has already received offers from Kansas, Kansas State, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Justise Winslow, a member of the competing Houston Hoops, is rated No. 16 in the country and is being courted by the likes of Duke, Arizona, Florida, Kansas and North Carolina.

Team Penny, which will face MOKAN Elite on the first day of the Peach Jam, boasts 6-foot-9 forward Skal Labissiere, who is the No. 6 recruit for the class of 2015. Before playing his junior season, he already has offers from Kansas, Kentucky and Memphis.

Past EYBL players include Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Last year’s field included current KU prize recruit Andrew Wiggins.

“Playing against those type of guys is good,” Brown said. “There are future NBA guys out there. You see how good they are, and it pushes you to get into the gym and get better.”

Brown has held his own against the top-flight competition.

He comes off the bench for MOKAN and has been utilized as a scoring two-guard.

“My role has really been that of a combo guard,” Brown said. “For MOKAN, I’ve been more of a scorer and asked to provide instant offense off the bench. I can play point guard, too, if needed.”

Over 17 games, Brown has averaged 5.2 points in 11.1 minutes per game.

“In the first session, Charlie struggled with the level of play,” Huber said. “In the second session, he was bothered by a hurt knee a little bit. But when he came back for the third session, he was really good. He hit shots and played the way Charlie is capable of playing. His confidence came back, and his knee felt good. He was a big part of our 7-2 finish down the stretch.”

Brown flourished in the instant offense role during the third session. He scored 13 points in 12 minutes during a 65-54 win over Team Scan. He dropped in 12 points in 18 minutes during a 69-57 loss to Houston Hoops on May 24. Brown is third on the team in 3-pointers made with 14, making 42 percent of his attempts.

His play helped MOKAN finish league play 11-7 and qualify for the Peach Jam. The team, which also includes Waynesville’s Juwan Morgan and Kellieon Williams and Willard’s Chris Kendrix, will play pool games July 11, July 12 and July 13. A champion will be decided on July 14.

Huber said MOKAN will need Brown to perform well in order to have success in South Carolina.

“Charlie’s a kid who can score,” Huber said. “When confident, he can really shoot it. He can put it on the floor. He can get to the rim. He’s a pretty good decision maker. He’s a good defender. He has solid intangibles. I like finding team kind of guys who can accept their roles. He’s that type of guy.”

Joplin coach Jeff Williams said the competition will only make Brown better.

“These are elite AAU teams playing against some of the best players in the United States,” Williams said. “This is only a plus for Charlie.”

Williams said Brown has dedicated himself in the gym this summer.

“Charlie’s a gym rat, and that’s why he’s got his ability to where it is,” Williams said. “He’s really matured physically. He’s up to 180 or 185 pounds now.

“He’s got the best midrange game of any player I’ve coached in 30 years. He’s getting better at his outside shot. He’s working on his floaters over taller kids. I haven’t seen a kid in our area who can hold him one-on-one. He’s working to get better everyday.”

Brown already has received interest from Missouri State and other Missouri Valley Conference schools. He hopes the exposure of the Peach Jam will lead to more interest from NCAA Division I schools.

“Charlie’s a Division I player right now,” Huber said. “Charlie is continuing to get stronger. He’s continuing to get better.”

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