BARRINGTON — In basketball recruiting parlance, city native Terrell Brown is “blowing up,” literally and figuratively in the eyes of his mentor at the St. Andrew’s School, Mike Hart, as well as coaches from some of the top college programs locally and across the country.
About to enter his junior year at the Barrington private school, Brown, the 6-foot-10 grandson of East Providence hoops legend and former University of Rhode Island standout Victor Soares, is quickly becoming the force many projected he would be when he was still a young child.
Brown, always known for his ability to shoot the ball particularly well for a player of his size, has added pounds and muscle to his once wiry frame. With those extra LBs has come an improvement in his low-post game and rebounding. His rim-protecting, shot-blocking capabilities have also gotten better as he continues to mature.
“You’ve got to remember, he’s only 16-years-old,” said Hart, now entering his 21st season as the Saints’ head coach, responding in part to thoughts of Brown being “soft.” “People have to understand that. He’s just a kid and he’s still learning how to play basketball. He’s going to get better and better. He’s always in the gym. I really, really like his enthusiasm. I really like it.”
“The great thing about Terrell is he listens,” said Hart’s long-time assistant and confidant John O’Shea. “You tell him something, try to teach him something, and he does it.
“He’s also gotten a lot stronger. See those two post-ups he made,” O’Shea continued, referring to a pair of back-to-the-basket buckets Brown hit during Monday night’s scrimmage. “He wouldn’t have done that last year or the year before. He’s growing into his body, learning the game. He’s eating like seven or eight meals a day. He works out with his grandfather. That’s no joke. Vic (a State Corrections officer) is hardcore.”
It’s often difficult for budding sports standouts to deal with the dreaded “p-word,” potential. Hart believes Brown’s talents are limitless, though he is still just scratching the surface.
“He has so much potential. He’s 6’10.” He’s long. He shoots the ball really well. He blocks shots at a high level. And he is now learning how to use his body in the post,” Hart said. “He really, really has improved. I think it was unfair judging him the last two years because he was such an unfinished product. He still is, but now you’re starting to see what everyone has believed about him.”
College coaches like Chris Mack, Fred Hoiberg, Herb Sendek and Danny Hurley have already seen enough of Brown to offer scholarships. Providence College’s Ed Cooley is likely the next to quickly do so.
“Xavier (Mack) has offered him to add to Iowa State (Hoiberg) and Arizona State (Sendek), URI (Hurley),” said Hart. “The Friars, I believe, will offer him soon. Eddy Cooley had him last week during their elite camp. Everything is going good. He’s just got to keep playing hard, working hard.”
Not only is Brown performing on the court, he’s also doing what’s necessary in terms of his studies.
“I don’t think he’s going to need a fifth year. I like his frame now. He’s putting weight on. But, if that’s an option, we’ll help him out. Academically, he’s on track. He’s a very hard worker in the class room. He just has to keep doing the right things, and he’ll be fine,” Hart said.
Brown’s rise will not only benefit himself, but also a Saints team in the process of retooling. Nine players from last year’s St. Andrew’s NEPSAC Class AA tournament semifinalists departed for college, one other player from the Saints’ Varsity II team is also continuing his career at the next level, totaling four at Division I, two at D-II and four others at D-III.
“It’s kind of funny, he and Nate Duda (6’5″ guard), both easy Division I players, didn’t play much last year,” said Hart. “They were both sophomores. Now they’re both going to start for us. They’re becoming great players and more importantly they’re great kids. They’ve paid their dues.”
By this time next year, Brown, invited the last two years to the USA Basketball Under-17 team tryouts, should be well on his way to becoming one of the next St. Andrew’s greats, a list that includes current NBA Rookie of the Year and former Syracuse star Michael Carter-Williams.
“I think if he has a big fall in the weight room and continues to develop through our personal instruction, which we’re allowed to do in NEPSAC now, he’s going to be where everyone expects him to be. He should be one of our best players, one of our top scorers and rebounders,” Hart said.