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Expert analyzes new Arizona commit Jordan Brown

What should Wildcats fans expect from the Nevada transfer?

jordan-brown-nevada-wolf-pack-arizona-wildcats-recruit-transfer-2019-college-basketball Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats rounded out their roster by adding Nevada transfer Jordan Brown.

The 6-foot-11 forward was a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, but hardly played for the Wolf Pack, averaging 3.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 10.1 minutes per game.

Last week, we broke down what Brown brings to the Wildcats, but we wanted even more insight on the big man, so we caught up with Mountain West Wire’s Eli Boettger.

Here’s our Q&A with Eli.

Why didn’t Brown play much at Nevada?

Brown’s lack of playing time as a freshman has more to do with Eric Musselman than Brown himself. The now-departed head coach heavily favored a short rotation that consisted of almost entirely seniors, leaving Brown on the bench. Throughout the season, fans and media asked why Musselman sparingly used his highly-coveted big man. Nevada finished the season 346th in the country in bench minutes played and each of the five starters were seniors.

When Brown did play, what did he bring to the table?

Brown’s specialty, at least at this point of his career, is on the defensive side of the court. His rim-protecting ability is certainly above average already, recording a spectacular block rate of 5.5 as a freshman. He has long arms that can disrupt and alter shot attempts and make things tough on opposing offenses. Most of Brown’s highlights as a freshman were on the defensive end, but he did show flashes of potential offensively. Brown flushed down a handful of dunks and wrapped the season with an at-rim field goal percentage of 75.0 percent, per Hoop-Math.

Was it surprising that Brown left Nevada, knowing that he now has to sit out a year?

Ultimately, I was surprised that Brown opted to leave Nevada after spending such a long time in the transfer portal. Despite the coaching turnover, the bulk of the non-senior Wolf Pack nucleus is back, with Brown being the noteworthy exception. The key here—which I assumed would lead Brown to returning to Nevada—is the fact that the former five-star now has to sit out a season due to transfer rules. NBA front offices place a great deal of weight on age when evaluating draft prospects. If Brown flops in the ‘20-21 season with Arizona, it would be hard to believe the McDonald’s All-American would have much left in the tank in terms of draft stock after being three years removed from high school with very little college production.

Brown’s father said he was looking for trust at his next school, so how surprising is it that he chose Arizona, which is under NCAA investigation?

It’s a bit of a surprise that Brown committed to the Wildcats given where Arizona stands in terms of the NCAA investigation. However, so far it looks as if Arizona is going to come out of the whole mess relatively unscathed. As long as Sean Miller remains in town, Brown will be under the wing of one of the best coaches in the nation who has a track record of sending guys to the league, which is Brown’s ultimate goal.

What is Brown’s upside as a player?

The highly-skilled big man will always be a force defensively given his size and frame. He’s athletic and versatile and could be a special two-way player if he improves his offensive game. It’s a big if, obviously, but there’s a reason why Brown was such a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school. The potential is there for Brown to be a stud at the college level and productive role player in the NBA.

What should Brown work on during the year off?

Brown needs to begin by just finding his rhythm playing basketball again. After committing to Arizona, Brown’s father spoke of how his freshman season was tough on him mentally. A year of focus on improving his game and getting a feel for things again could end up being the best thing that could happen to him. If he makes the most of his redshirt season, Brown could blow up in ‘20-21 and be the player many thought he was coming out of high school. He has a long way to go offensively, but he can build upon a solid arsenal of back-to-the-basket moves and formidable at-rim abilities.