IU basketball legend Isiah Thomas retired from the NBA in 1994. Class of 2022 Hoosier recruiting target Avery Brown wasn’t even a twinkle in his parent’s eyes at that point.
But Thomas had the attention of Brown’s father. And when the time came to teach his son about the game of basketball, studying the former IU All-American and NBA champion was on the curriculum.
Avery Brown never saw Thomas play live, but what he saw on film left an indelible mark.
“Isiah Thomas used to be my favorite player growing up,” Brown said on The Daily Hoosier sponsored episode of the Hoosier Experience Podcast. “My dad used to give homework assignments watching Isiah Thomas film. He played the game the right way. I learned a lot from him even though he wasn’t in my era. I think he was the greatest point guard of all-time.”
Brown’s early impressions of Indiana extended beyond Thomas. The program caught Brown’s attention as a young boy, even down to some of the more iconic details.
“Me and my dad, we watched Indiana and admired their red and white striped pants,” Brown said.
Brown’s appreciation for Indiana’s history meant that hearing from IU in connection with his recruitment meant a little more too.
“To say that they are recruiting me is a real proud moment, Brown said.
After hearing from head coach Archie Miller and former assistant Bruiser Flint for a while, IU’s recruitment of Brown accelerated when they offered a scholarship in late July.
That was a memorable moment for Brown.
“It was really a blessing,” he said. “I really can’t describe it. I was always watching Indiana from afar as a little kid, and to have a chance to go to Indiana and play for Archie Miller is really a dream come true.
“Getting that offer was really a big moment in my career. I was really excited, it was a blessing for sure. You could really see the progress, and how things have been going my way with my recruitment.”
Since offering, Indiana has been one of the programs pushing the hardest for Brown.
That includes regular conversations with the head coach as Indiana attempts to illustrate how the 6-foot-3 point guard will fit in with the anticipated offensive adjustments.
“Coach Miller talks about their practices. He sends me clips of what they’re working on this summer, in terms of like high pick and rolls, their offense for this upcoming season. He talks about how he sees me in that offense.”
Indiana’s offensive scheme is one of the big draws for Brown. He sees what IU does as a good match for furthering his development for the next level.
“I see myself fitting in perfectly,” Brown said. “I love the pick and roll. Mastering the pick and roll is something that I want to do because that’s what they do at the pro level.”
Already with offers from Penn and Yale, academics also plays a role in how Brown thinks about the next level.
Although the pandemic hasn’t allowed him to examine IU in person, Brown likes what he sees from the school so far.
“Indiana has a great network program in terms of business and sports,” Brown said. “It also has great academics, and that’s something that I need from a college for sure.”
After reclassifying back to the class of 2022, Brown helped lead Northfield Mount Hermon (Gill, Mass.) to the Final Four in the National Prep Championship, while winning the NEPSAC Class AAA championship.
Rated a 4-star and No. 101 nationally in the class of 2022 by 247Sports, Brown averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the 2019-20 season. He broke the school’s single game assist record with 17 in a December contest.
A pass first point guard, Brown is able to set the tempo with his downhill speed. He can score at all three levels. Brown shot 39 percent from three-point range on 56 attempts.
While his numbers don’t yet have the look of a high major recruit, Brown’s list of suitors tells the real story.
Along with Indiana, Brown has high major offers from Missouri, Penn State, and St. Johns, while Ohio State, Kansas State, Georgia, Stanford, Xavier and UConn are all involved.
Brown expects a breakout junior season, but getting all of this interest is his first confirmation that he has been doing the right things.
And that goes all the way back to studying Isiah.
“Everything I do is surrounded by basketball,” Brown said. “It’s a great feeling to know this hard work is paying off.”
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