Jaylen Brown is the most talented high school basketball in the eyes of Pope coach Patrick Abney since Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a former Wheeler High player who spent 12 seasons in the NBA.
Abney then compares Brown to LeBron James.
“I see him potentially being a point guard in the NBA, could be similar to Lebron,’’ said Abney, whose Region 5-AAAAAA runner-up team lost to Wheeler three times. ‘’He’s very unselfish, loves to pass and make his teammates better.’’
Brown, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s all-classification boys player of the year, is the consensus No. 2 recruit in the nation, the highest-rated Georgia player since Dwight Howard was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft after his 2004 senior season at Southwest Atlanta Christian.
• Girls all-class co-players of the year: Te'a Cooper and Asia Durr
• All-state boys basketball team
• All-state girls basketball team
A 6-foot-7 small forward, Brown averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds in leading Wheeler to its first state title since 2009 and sixth overall. The first Wheeler title came in 1994, when Abdur-Rahim was the team’s star post player.
Brown, who has become accustomed to such accolades, deflected the praise to his teammates.
‘’I had a great run in the state of Georgia,’’ Brown said. ‘’I'm extremely proud of my teammates. They really deserve the credit, not me. I'm just thankful to have the support system that I have. God has been more than good.’’
Abney assessed Brown’s skill set this way: “He’s most effective when he’s driving, loves to shot fake/jab and go left a lot, which is unusual for a righty. He’s an unbelievably quick leaper and incredible offensive rebounder. Has very quick post moves and is almost un-guardable when he gets it in the post.’’
Brown has not made his college choice. He has taken official visits to Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina and California. He has not visited Georgia or Georgia Tech but doesn’t rule out staying in state.
What he leaves behind is a pattern of poise when the stakes were the highest. In December, Wheeler (30-2) defended the consensus defending champion, Montverde Academy, 72-65 in the City of Palms Classic in Florida. Brown, the tournament most valuable player, scored 25 points and 12 rebounds. He was 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.
In March, Wheeler defeated Pebblebrook 59-58 in the Class AAAAAA championship game. Brown scored 22 points, had nine rebounds and again was 12-for-12 from the line. With 0.5 seconds left, his team trailing by one point, Brown was fouled. He made both free throws for the victory.
Pebblebrook coach George Washington’s scouting report was similar to Abney’s.
‘’Super athlete,’’ Washington said. “Loves to shoot the mid-range off the dribble. Can shoot the three-ball. He is a terror in transition. Loves to get his teammates involved early. Loves to have the ball in crunch time. Loves to defend the opposing team best player. Has great court awareness. High basketball IQ.’’
Washington met Brown again on Tuesday as they were seated next to each other at the Atlanta Tip-Off Club, where Brown received another state player-of-the-year awards. Washington found it easy to forgive Pebblebrook’s state-finals assassin.
‘’We talked about life, college and the game,’’ Washington said. “He is a great kid. I can’t wait to see him at the next level.’’
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