ATLANTA – Christian Brown doesn’t like it, but the realist in him won’t allow him not to understand.
He’s atypical of most elite high school basketball players in that regard.
Once upon a time, Brown was a do-it-all, five-star prospect with a limitless ceiling, but after a less than productive summer, Brown took a steep dive in most of the national rankings including USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25.
“I get it,” Brown said. “I… Yeah, I mean I get it. I… I do.”
Still, from the head-shake to the slight smirk, it’s clear that a shade of unrest is still clouding Brown’s understanding facade.
RELATED: USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2020
Two things become clear in this moment: Brown has a reason for his lackluster play and the competitor in him won’t allow him to give that reason for fear of coming off as an excuse maker.
“I don’t make excuses,” Brown said. “All that means is that I have to work harder.”
When pressed further, Brown finally revealed a little-known fact about his health.
“I’ve had turf toe since the beginning of my junior year,” Brown said. “I had just been playing through it and that wasn’t making it any better. I don’t like to say that’s why I didn’t have a great year because injuries are a part of the game, but that’s just the truth.”
Turf toe is a sprain to the ligaments around the big toe joint and can require more than a month of consistent rest; Brown’s insistence on playing led to him reaggravating the injury in April, which sidelined him for two months.
He had a brief return to the court in June but didn’t see any improvement with the injury and finally sat out for good under strict orders from his doctor.
“It was hard to sit out,” Brown said. “But it’s more annoying to be out there playing, knowing what you’re normally capable of doing but not being able to do it physically because of an injury. That was the worst.”
This summer, Brown transferred from Lower Richland (Hopkins, S.C.) to national hoops powerhouse McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) “for a fresh start.”
“I just felt like I wanted to step everything up,” said Brown, who averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists last season at Lower Richland. “McEachern is a great school academically and it’s one of the top basketball programs in the country so I felt like this move would benefit me in every way.”
If his recent play at the Super 64 was any indication of what he’ll display this high school season, buy stock in Brown.
The 6-foot-7 athlete was more fluid, played with his trademark motor and displayed his all-around game effectively.
“This summer made me appreciate this game so much more; that’s the good thing that came out of it,” Brown said. “Turf toe can be career-ending so it’s important to take care of your body because this game can be taken from you just like that.”
McEachern point guard Sharife Cooper has worked out with Brown every day since he came to Georgia and said that the addition of Brown may very well be what the Indians need to bring home the state title and more.
Norcross (Ga.) shocked the Indians 75-55 last season in the state quarterfinals.
“He’s gonna bring physicality, versatility and a lot of energy,” said Cooper, who is ranked No. 5 overall in the Chosen 25 for 2020. “As a basketball player you love to play with guys like him because he just knows the game and he can do so many things on the floor. He’s a great addition for us.”
Brown said his experience over the last several months was also a blessing in disguise with the ever-so-difficult weeding-out process in his recruitment.
“Some schools stayed in touch and I saw some true colors from some schools too,” Brown said. “Both helped me. I’m at a good place now that I’m back to 100 percent. Now I’m focusing on getting my leg back stronger.”
Brown said that Clemson, Maryland, Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State and Georgia are currently applying the full-court recruiting press on him but added that he’s open to other schools getting involved.
As for the rankings and opinions, Brown’s mentality is less bitter more show and prove.
“I’m not mad that I dropped,” Brown said. “I’m motivated. I’ve gotta wake people back up now.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY