The 2017 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, June 22nd. As the stars of the college game get ready to find out where they will begin their NBA journey, CBS Local Sports’ “My Life As” series will give them an opportunity to talk about how they got to this point and what they expect from the future in their own words.
Today, we hear from SMU senior guard Sterling Brown. Brown spent all four seasons with the Mustangs and improved each season posting a career high 13.4 PPG 6.5 RPG and 3.0 APG this past season as a senior in helping to lead the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament. His older brother, Shannon Brown is an NBA veteran and Sterling discussed his battles with his older brother, the advice he had for him in this draft process and more as he gets ready for the draft.
We have a basketball family. My father played in college and of course Shannon played in the NBA, so just being around the game all the time growing up and watching those two really got me into playing basketball. My battles with my older brother growing up were good battles to me because he never took it easy on me. I still haven’t beaten him to this day. But, I always gave it my all and I got better with every game that I played against him. It’s still a challenge for me and I look forward to getting that first win under my belt.
I knew that I was going to be making this journey to the NBA when I was young because I looked at my brother and watched him do it at the highest level and that’s something that motivated me to want to get to the same place. I’ve wanted to get to the NBA since I saw him start playing in the league. I knew I just had to keep putting in the work and I knew that I was going to make it happen.
The reason I decided to go to SMU was to play for coach Larry Brown. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that to play for a legend. He reached the top at both levels and I felt like it was a great opportunity for me. There are a lot of connections for me in the city of Dallas, I have family down there, so I felt like it was a good fit for me.
I learned a lot from Coach Brown, he put me in the position that I’m in right now. He taught the NBA game at the college level. A lot of our sets and plays were pro-style and I felt like that give me quite an edge when it came to preparing to play in the NBA one day.
This past year, getting back to the NCAA Tournament after not being able to play in it in 2015-16 due to NCAA sanctions felt great. The group of guys that we had, we stuck together and worked our butts off every day for the last two years during the summer and it felt great to see that hard work pay off with a trip to the tournament. Our goal of course wasn’t just to make it, but to make a run. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it past that first game against USC, but it’s something that I’m definitely proud of as I look back on my career there.
There are a lot of good memories from my time at SMU. We won the conference championship twice (2014-15 and 2016-17) and both times it came the year after we had a sanction or, we weren’t able to get to the tournament. Both of those titles came after some adversity for our team which is why those two seasons are my best memories because we fought through that adversity and proved we were the best in the conference.
As I get ready for the NBA, I’ve been working on my body to make sure that it’s in world-class shape, tightening up my handles and getting used to knocking down the NBA-range three. Those are just a couple of the things that I’ve been working on, but they’re definitely a few areas I’ve been focused on as I go through this process.
I think I can fit in well at the NBA level because I can come in and knock down the three (45.1% at SMU) and play good defense. The defensive side of the ball is something that I’ve valued throughout my entire career and I feel like that’s going to help me on the next level. That I think is the key for me in getting out on the floor for a team, playing good defense. If I do that, then I can show off my offensive game later on, but playing good defense is what will get me that shot at proving myself.
The whole process of getting ready for the draft has been cool for me. I’ve gotten to meet some of the legends of the game in going to team workouts. Whether it’s Magic Johnson or Pat Riley and getting the chance to show them my skills and show them what I can do, it’s all been really cool for me.
When it comes to my game, I try to pick up different aspects of various players’ games and incorporate them into what I do. I don’t model myself after any one player in particular but, I try and take bits and pieces from different guys’ games and implement them into mine. I like Kawhi Leonard, the way he does it on both ends of the floor, Russell Westbrook, the motor that he’s had. LeBron, how he gets all his teammates involved. KD with how he scores the ball. It’s not just one person, it’s the game of basketball that I love watching and trying to pick up different elements that I can add to my game.
I hope, as I get ready to start my pro career, that I can stay healthy, being able to play as much as I can. I feel like as I grow, I will be able to hopefully win a championship, that’s the ultimate goal of mine. Outside of that, I hope that I can continue to grow as a player and be able to earn some of the individual accolades like 1st team All-NBA, appearing in the All-Star game. I feel like I can get to those levels if I just keep working. The sky’s the limit for me, I’ve got a great work ethic, so once everything comes together and I get the opportunity, I’m definitely not going to take it for granted.