In 2008, J'Covan Brown was a young guard with a bad attitude. He was suspended from his high school team and failed to qualify academically for the University of Texas. Now, three years later, Brown finds himself the elder statesman and de-facto leader of a Longhorn squad that has lost all of its starters. But his performance in Texas' season opener sent a clear message: J'Covan Brown is all grown up and ready to take charge.
The 6'1" junior had 28 points and 8 assists in the Longhorns' 82-46 win over Boston University on Sunday. The impressive display earned him the Big 12 Player of the Week award. Brown was also selected for the preseason All Big 12 team. Last year, he averaged 10.4 points and 2.1 assists from off the bench.
Brown isn't the fastest or the most athletic player on the court, but he has a creative, inherent feel for the game. He can also flat-out shoot. In his arsenal are a lethal long-range jumper and free throws that, at 87%, are almost a sure thing. In terms of playmaking, Brown thinks big. High-risk, high-reward passes are one of his hallmarks. When they work, they're visionary. When they don't... well, Rick Barnes pulls him out faster than you can say "dumb pass."
The good news is Texas fans are seeing less and less of those turnovers. Over the last year, Brown demonstrated improvement in both pass and shot selection. Barnes, whose relationship with Brown hasn't always been smooth sailing, lavished preseason praise on the junior, saying that he has what it takes to lead the team.
What Brown does not have is a poker face. When he's unhappy, even the nosebleed seats know it — a fact that has landed Brown in Barnes' doghouse on more than one occasion. Although Brown has become more adept at reigning in his temper, he's still a volatile player. The flip side of this is his passion. Brown lives and dies with the game. He's defiant when the Horns are down and downright joyful when they're up — something that should help galvanize this young team.
The most key new player for Brown is highly touted freshman guard Myck Kabongo. Whether or not the two guards are able to gel and run the team together will be integral to Texas' success this season. With one game down, it's so far, so good.
No matter how Texas fares against tougher opponents down the line, Brown — with his passion and unpredictability — will be a blast to watch.