He’s been coaching at the college level since 1989, yet Oregon head coach Dana Altman has never had a one-and-done player. Five-star true freshman Troy Brown could change that this season.
Entering his collegiate career, the highly-touted prospect from Las Vegas was expected to be a superstar. We knew it would take him some time to get acclimated to the speed of the college game. But, not many people saw him being this good this fast.
In his debut on Friday night against Coppin State, Brown wasted no time welcoming himself to college basketball. The 6-foot-7 playmaker buried his first three shot attempts, en route to 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Playing 33 minutes in your first college game is no easy feat, but Brown handled it with class. He finished 50 percent (6-of-12) from the floor and was perfect from the charity stripe in four attempts. Brown made 2-of-7 (29 percent) from downtown in the win.
Against Prairie View A&M in his second start on Monday, Brown looked like anything but a freshman. The McDonald’s All-American registered a team-high 17 points and nine boards, alongside four dimes and a stolen pass in the 100-67 victory for UO. He led the team in minutes played (28), as well.
“He did a nice job,” said Altman. “I like the fact that he got nine rebounds. He got to the free throw line. No turnovers. He did some nice things.”
After two games, he’s averaging 17.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.0 SPG in 29.5 minutes per contest. His numbers should only grow with experience and comfort inside the offensive system.
“Personally, I felt like we did a better job defensively,” said Brown after defeating the Panthers. “Rebounding, I don’t feel like we did enough. Overall, I thought we brought a better intensity.”
I spoke with Troy following the game on Monday about getting used to the speed of the college game. After a long process that began in June, he finally believes he’s making a dent with his preparation.
“Getting adjusted to it, it’s a slow process. Coach Altman had us down here since June. When I first got here, it was really hard to adjust. The passes I was trying to make weren’t there. A lot of turnovers.”
As far as the nuances between the AAU game and college, the freshman is mature beyond his years. He understands that everything his head coach throws at him is for his benefit now and down the road.
“He’s helped me a lot from a point guard standpoint,” Brown replied. “Making the simple play and not always trying to make the spectacular AAU pass. Coach Altman always puts pressure on me about my turnovers and assist ratio.”
If you ask his teammates, they knew he was great well before he arrived on campus.
“Obviously, Troy is a special talent,” senior Elijah Brown said.
There will be some inconsistencies, as with any individual freshman athlete. Yet, Brown is so talented that even his slumps seem to last less time than others.
“There is still that gap between high school and college that you have to learn,” Elijah stated. “You got to adjust to the speed of the game, physicality of the game.”
For Troy Brown, his learning curve is expanded because he’s essentially playing a new position at small forward. He has to learn the intricate details of that position, even though he’s better suited as a point guard.
“As far as his attention to detail, he wants to be good,” Elijah Brown replied. “It’s still early in his career. But the one thing that’s encouraging, putting myself back in their shoes four years from today, they are just so much more mature. They’re willing to learn and know what it takes to be good. It’s going to come.”
Troy played point guard in high school and most likely will again at the next level. With his size and height at the college level, he can create mismatches all over the floor. Not to mention, Payton Pritchard is already assuming the starting PG duties.
“We get along with each other so well off the court, so it makes it so much easier,” said Troy Brown. “It’s coming along pretty nice. You kind of know who can do what with our personnel on the court. We have guys that can do different things.”
His versatility makes him critical to Oregon’s success. Nevertheless, his value to a team is immeasurable. Troy is approachable. He does the little things and understands the work never stops. It’s this mentality that keeps him sharp on the floor, always wanting more.
For a true freshman, he’s years ahead of most his age. Some could not handle the responsibility of being a leader as a first-year player in college. As some will learn over time, there isn’t much on or off the basketball court that this kid can’t handle.
At the end of this season, Brown could be the best overall prospect to lace them up for Altman during his noteworthy coaching career.
Dana Altman built his system in Eugene. Players like Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey demonstrated that the philosophy works. Nevertheless, it was Oregon’s success in March that enabled him the ability to sign a player of Brown’s talent and expertise.
The rest will be history.