Back in May, Sean Miller said Jordan Brown would be a double-figure scorer in his first season with the Arizona Wildcats. Thanks to a 19-point outburst against USC, he is oh-so-close to doing so.
The sophomore forward has now scored 229 points in 23 games, literally one point shy of Miller’s benchmark. Brown still has two more games to increase his average, but there is no guarantee he will do it. What you get from Brown one game could be drastically different than the next. Saturday was the first time Brown has scored in double figures in his last six games.
In fact, the former McDonald’s All-American has only scored in double figures eight times this season, but those performances have included big scoring totals of 25, 17, 15 and 19 (twice), hence how he’s basically averaging double figures even though he’s scored in single figures twice as often.
Ideally, Brown would be more consistent, someone the Wildcats can pound the ball inside to game in and game out. What will it take for him to become that kind of player? Brown has put up almost identical numbers as a starter and reserve, so probably not a lineup change. Just more time on the court.
“He just has to get older, he has to get experience, more experience,” Miller said. “Jordan, by the standards of the game, isn’t a very experienced player. His freshman year at Nevada, although he had a role, he was on a very veteran team and his role wasn’t great. A year ago, although he practiced with us, he never played in a game last year. And then COVID affected him about as much as anybody.
“Not only does he not play for an entire year, but we didn’t see him until August. The last time I saw him was in early March, and then next time I saw him was in August. We didn’t have that opportunity to keep working, so this is his real first year of playing college. He’s had some great moments. He’ll keep getting smarter on the court. He will keep getting better. As you know, he can really score with his back to the basket. Now rebounding, being a better defender, just learning (to) being a better passer. JB is a really unselfish guy, but sometimes he’s into his move and he doesn’t recognize the pass out.”
Brown has 24 turnovers to just 13 assists, only more than defensive specialists Ira Lee (7) and Christian Koloko (6) and less than half as many as fellow forward Azuolas Tubelis (29).
“He’s starting to do that a little bit, so I just think that experience, a great offseason, more games, and I think you’ll continue to see a more polished, more improved, just a better overall player in Jordan,” Miller said.
Brown, whose 55.8 field goal percentage is tops on the team, is one of many underclassmen on track to return to Arizona next season, creating a young core that would provide the Wildcats with some continuity for the first time in a long time.
They could also have one of the best frontcourts in the Pac-12 if Brown and Tubelis can build off what they did against USC, when they combined for 35 points and 28 rebounds, outshining a Trojans frontcourt that features potential No. 1 pick Evan Mobley.
Tubelis has been consistent, now scoring in double figures in six of his last seven games and 12 of his last 15 games. Imagine if Brown starts to follow suit.
“I thought it was a one-two punch,” Miller said of the USC game.