Sacrifice pays off for Brown

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By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News

Avery Brown of Beacon Falls is listed as a four-star recruit, the No. 97-ranked prospect in the class of 2022 and the 15th-rated point guard by the recruiting website 247Sports. -CONTRIBUTED

BEACON FALLS — The Beacon Falls Recreation Complex — everyone in town calls it the Rec — has always been a home away from home for Avery Brown.

So when Brown, now a four-star high school basketball recruit, and his dad took the two-minute ride down the street in mid-July to get some reps before playing in a national showcase tournament, he didn’t like what he saw.

“I went down to the Rec with my dad to take some shots before we went to Georgia, and all I saw was a blacktop,” Brown said of the delayed court replacement project. “Man, we’ve gotta get those hoops back up.”

Those rims might be down, but Brown’s recruiting stock has never been higher. 247Sports lists Brown as a four-star recruit, the No. 97-ranked prospect in the class of 2022 and the 15th-rated point guard. He’s in the midst of the busiest summer of his life, crisscrossing the country to play in tournaments and visit big-time universities.

“It’s an amazing experience,” Brown said. “Visiting places I’ve never been with my family is awesome. I’m trying to take it all in. It’s a little overwhelming because of how much they throw at you those few days, but my parents (Antonio and Joy) have really enjoyed it.”

It’s understandable if Brown’s name isn’t familiar to the local crowd. He played for just one season in the local rec basketball league — 6-year-old Avery played for Anthony DelMoro’s Red Raiders team in a league meant for 8- and 9-year-olds — and never attended Region 16 schools.

Brown went to elementary school at Davis Street Magnet School in New Haven, then spent a year at Blessed Sacrament in Waterbury, followed by two years at Hamden Hall, then his freshman year at Fairfield Prep. All the while, he played hoops with the New York Gauchos, based in the Bronx.

“There was a lot of back and forth between Connecticut and the Bronx,” Brown said. “Me and my dad spent a lot of time on road trips. As a young kid, I always used to beg my dad — when we started traveling to New York, I used to wake him up at 5 a.m. for morning workouts in the Bronx. I’m really blessed to have the support system and to be in the right situation. Every move I’ve made in this process, my dad has helped me through it and it’s made me a better person and a better player.”

After finishing his freshman year at Fairfield Prep in 2018, Brown transferred to Northfield Mount Hermon in Gill, Mass., and reclassified to the class of 2022. That was around the same time he switched club teams and started playing for the PSA Cardinals, who play in the nationally renowned Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

The regular school changes and frequent traveling forced Brown to forgo a lot of what a typical kid would experience.

“I really don’t know too many people back home at all,” Brown admitted. “I don’t have that real social side. Sometimes I wish I did, but I didn’t have a regular childhood. I missed a lot of things growing up traveling for basketball — parties, my little sister’s recitals, everything — but that sacrifice is needed. When I realized that those sacrifices would pay off, I was OK giving up those social things.”

Brown has great size for a point guard at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds. Alex Karamanos, who covers high school recruiting for The Circuit, recently tweeted that Brown is a “very crafty player who shoots efficiently. A true leader who is a dog on defense.”

Brown said he takes pride in being a leader, sharing the basketball and playing strong defense.

“I’m a good leader,” Brown said. “I can score the ball, but I love to get my teammates involved. As a little kid, my dad preached that defense would take me far. At the next level, a lot of kids don’t pride themselves on defense, they just want to score. I just want to make the right plays. I want to be someone that people enjoy playing with.”

He showed off his diverse skill set in July at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, S.C., just over the Georgia line. The tournament serves as the league championship and involves the sport’s biggest stars — teams sponsored by Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and Bradley Beal were there, and LeBron James dropped by to watch his son, Bronny, play in the same bracket as Brown’s PSA Cardinals.

Brown’s best showing came July 21 when he scored 23 points with four assists and three rebounds in a loss against a team from Seattle.

To that end, he said the pressure of high-stakes recruitment hasn’t impacted his game. In fact, he embraces that pressure and his growing status as a role model to younger players.

“There definitely is some pressure, but I put the pressure on myself,” Brown said. “I hold myself to a certain standard — off the court, too. Young kids look up to me, ask for advice, want pictures. I was in their shoes at one point, and that feeling of being inspired by someone — especially in Connecticut by someone like them — there’s pressure, but I like it. It adds fuel to the fire. I’m not just doing this for myself; I’m doing it for my family and those kids. I want to be a role model.”

Dozens of Division I college coaches are chasing Brown. He said he “lost track” of the number of scholarship offers he’s received, but he’s got about two dozen.

Brown took official visits to Nebraska and Colorado earlier this summer, and he will visit Arizona State in the near future. He also plans to visit Notre Dame and Georgia early in the fall, and more trips may materialize.

Brown, who plans on studying business to further his entrepreneurial dreams, said a couple of factors will determine where he ends up playing. He hopes to make a decision before his senior season begins at Northfield Mount Hermon.

“I really want to be comfortable,” Brown said. “I want to be in a space where I can call it a second home. I want to be in a place where I can see myself flourishing. I want to be around winning people and be in a great culture of brotherhood. I’m working on my body and making sure I’m college-ready whenever I step foot on campus. I want to play right away.”

No matter where Brown ends up in the fall of 2022 and beyond, he’ll always trace his roots back to the small-town courts on Pent Road.

“I’ve always had the inspiration to play at the highest level,” Brown said. “All the early mornings and late nights I spent at the Rec, me and my dad and my brother (Austyn), we spent thousands of hours dedicated to basketball. I knew one day it would pay off. My dad and mom really believed in me. That faith has really carried over. It’s just taken a lot of sacrifice and dedication. I always had that urge to want to be great.”