HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – It always felt like a good bet that if Jayson Brown pursued athletics at the college level, he’d do so patrolling an outfield with a baseball cap pulled down over his frizzy hair.
That’s what happens after you slug an extra-inning home run on ESPN that helps send your team to the Little League World Series Championship.
But as time passes, interests evolve and Brown found himself drawn further and further into the grasp of a different sport. Baseball wouldn’t be his future. Basketball would.
Brown recently picked up his first college scholarship offer to play hoops beyond graduation from Beech. The same week he scored his 1,000th career high school point on the hardwood, Lindenwood University-Belleville near St. Louis validated his ambitions to play at the next level.
“He had a really good baseball career and found some fame with that, but he fell in love with basketball,” said Kip Brown, Beech’s boys’ basketball coach and Jayson’s father. “It’s a bit faster pace, get a good sweat going.”
The 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard hasn’t been afraid to put in the work since transferring to Beech from Pope John Paul II High after his sophomore year, a move that coincided with Kip Brown’s hiring at his alma mater Beech. It was at JPII that he stopped playing baseball.
Jayson Brown played the role as the Bucs’ leading scorer throughout this season but has turned up the heat lately.
“He’s gotten stronger as the season’s went along,” coach Brown said. “He’s learned how to play through contact better, finishing through contact down low.”
The evidence was in his 21 points in a win against Hendersonville on Friday. All came from inside the 3-point arc with a good chunk at the free-throw line. Brown shot 7 of 8 on freebies thanks to his work in the paint.
“I get a lot of my points from the midrange-and-in area and I can hit a couple threes, but I like to stick around the basket and back cut,” the junior Brown explained of his game.
There’s finesse and power to Brown’s game, not unlike his approach at the plate as a 13-year-old slugger for the Goodlettsville Little Leaguers. He batted .389 during the 2012 Little League World Series and added three moon-shot homers as eye candy for ESPN’s camera. His Tennessee team claimed the United States Championship, its run halting only upon meeting Japan in the LLWS finals.
Manning center field on the second best Little League team in the world, his time as a baseball super-star may have prepared Jayson Brown for his successful rise through high school hoops in another way too, he added.
“The interviews,”he joked. “I just remember being interviewed like every single day.”