If you have been following the Arizona Wildcats closely this offseason, you’re probably not surprised to see that Jordan Brown won the first gold jersey of the season, the award given to the best player in practice each week.
The Nevada transfer has packed on 30 pounds of muscle since arriving at Arizona last fall, now being listed at 6-foot-11, 240 pounds as a redshirt sophomore.
That extra strength will help the former McDonald’s All-American be a dominant force on the low block, an area he struggled in at times at Nevada, where he shot 50 percent from the field—a low mark for a guy who didn’t shoot 3s—and only averaged 8.4 rebounds per 40 minutes.
“I was a pretty skinny guy for a long time,” Brown told Brian Jeffries in an interview on Arizona’s YouTube page. “I think the first kind of jump I made was my senior year of high school when the season finished. I was at like probably about 190 and I jumped to 200. And then my first year of college, I kind of got up and I jumped to around 210. I got up here and I was 210. And then by the end of this [season], I was about 220. It just kind of gradually came along.”
Brown said his gains are the result of hard work with Chris Rounds in the weight room and a disciplined diet. Brown eats a lot of pasta now and less red meat, even if that means skipping on his father’s famous barbecue food.
“Eating the right foods, eating enough food and getting as many calories as I can,” Brown said. “Especially since I’m such a tall guy and I’m working a lot and I have to replace those calories that I lose.”
A Roseville, California native, Brown’s offseason regimen got disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented him from training in public gyms for several months.
Fortunately he had barbells and a bench press at home to help him continue his progress.
“So I made do with that and also just like running around my neighborhood, going to the park, finding hills and those sand pits and just doing what I can,” he said. “And then when the gym started kind of opening back up and we could get in the gym, we just took advantage of that and went to work.”
Brown knows this is a big year for him. He will likely start for Arizona after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules and head coach Sean Miller said he expects Brown to be a “double-figure scorer.”
“I think what he brings to the table is just an innate physical play and rebounding,” Miller said this offseason. “He’s a quiet warrior. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he plays very, very hard. I would say that if you polled last year’s team, each of them would have Jordan in the top three on our team of the hardest playing guys in our program.”
Brown couldn’t play in games due to NCAA transfer rules, but he was able to practice with the team, pitting him against the likes of Zeke Nnaji, Chase Jeter and Stone Gettings on a daily basis.
Brown said those matchups were “always a battle” and will prepare him for what’s to come.
“I think it was a really important year for my career development,” he said. “I’ve never really had time just to have a year just to kind of sit and focus on bettering my game, getting my body right and all those factors. So I felt like having that year to just focus on myself and develop was great for me.”