Charlie Brown, Jr., always wanted to be like his father.
Charles Brown, Sr. has been providing strong, constant basketball guidance ever since his son began playing basketball in their backyard at age four.
“Every time [my dad] played basketball, I sat there, and I was just amazed at the stuff he could do,” Brown said. “The stuff he's teaching me now is the same thing, so I keep listening to him and getting advice.”
The elder Brown, a former small forward, was a member of Overbrook High School's 34-0 team in the late 1970s, and went on to play two seasons at North Carolina A&T. Through their late-night and early-morning practices, the younger Brown developed and modeled his playing style after his father's.
“I probably shoot a little bit better than him, though,” Brown said with a laugh.
The 6-foot-7 forward grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and attended George Washington High School. Brown averaged 16.4 points, and 18.4 points in league play, in his final season at George Washington en route to being named the MVP of the Public League B Division.
Following his senior year, Brown, encouraged by his family and Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli, attended St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Connecticut, to better prepare himself for collegiate basketball.
“I didn't play my freshman year of high school or my sophomore year,” Brown said. “After my senior year, I was like, ‘I don't think I'm ready,' so I went to prep school just to brush up on some things and get more experience on the court.”
When the time came to commit to a college, Brown had no doubts.
Brown loved St. Joe's from the first time he visited. It was close to home, so his family could come to games at Hagan Arena. He loved the campus, people, and environment. And the size was perfect.
“If I went to a big school, I would have gotten lost,” Brown said. “[Here], you're known, but you're not that known. All your teachers know you, and the classes are small.”
The transition from St. Thomas More to St. Joe's wasn't as difficult as expected, primarily due to similarities between Martelli and St. Thomas More head coach Jere Quinn. According to Brown, both Quinn and Martelli focused on running players hard, which made the adjustment easier for Brown.
With his family in the stands, Brown made his collegiate debut as a starter in the sold-out season opener against Toledo last season.
“It was beautiful,” Brown said. “[Fans] were screaming my name. I was like, ‘Oh my God,' I was so overwhelmed. I was pretty nervous. The second half, I was fine.”
A three-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, Brown led the Hawks in three-point percentage (.384) and free throw percentage (.819), and scored double figures in 25 of his 31 games. He was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team after averaging 12.8 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, and 1.1 assists per game.
With his freshman season behind him, whispers of his NBA potential started. Brown knows there's buzz, but doesn't like to think about it. Under his father's guidance, Brown keeps working toward his goals.
“I don't listen to all the outside stuff,” Brown said. “I don't listen to what Coach Martelli says about me. I don't want to surround myself with it. It's on my mind, but I don't bring it up. It's something I'm working towards, but I don't really talk about it because people might assume it's cockiness, and I don't want that.”
Instead, Brown is focused on improving himself this season, with one of his main goals being to become a better teammate. He admits he wasn't sure what to expect from his first season of college basketball, and feels he didn't help his teammates as much as he could have. Now, though, he better understands the game and commitment, and shares his insight and advice with freshmen Taylor Funk and Anthony Longpré.
Brown believes the Hawks can be the best team in their conference, given the determination, dedication, and hard work he sees from his teammates every day.
Backed by a summer spent working out, studying film, and constantly focusing on basketball, Brown is also determined to be the best player in the A-10.
While his ultimate goal is the NBA, Brown knows he won't play forever. So what comes after basketball?
“I want to be a special education teacher,” Brown said. “My senior year of high school, my basketball head coach gave me this gym class – it was special education children and I loved it. The children loved me. I loved everything about it. I just want to help them.”
Despite his busy schedule, Brown, an elementary education major, finds time to volunteer at local schools. In addition to reading to and talking with the students, Brown also spends time with teachers to work on developing lesson plans.
“[The kids] are my favorite,” Brown said with a smile. “I bond with them the most. I just love little kids.”
Brown isn't quite sure what ages he'd like to teach, though he's leaning towards three- to six-year-olds.
Whatever the future holds for Charlie Brown, he'll remember his father's advice:
“You know where you need to be. You know where you want to be. Just work towards it.”