Recently I had the opportunity to attend an NBA pre-draft workout and watch a few top prospects prepare for their upcoming team workouts. Following the workout I conducted interviews with a couple of the prospects. The first interview I conducted was with former Cal-State Fullerton guard Bobby Brown (no not that Bobby Brown).
Although relatively unknown, Bobby is a spectacular basketball player. He's a quick, explosive 6'1" guard with the ability to shoot from long range as well as slam it home with power. During the workout I attended he routinely nailed shots from behind the three-point arc and easily slammed home highlight reel dunks in the drills. Fans of Monta Ellis will love watching this guy play (see: Bobby's 47-point outburst from this past season).
I've seen tons of pro prospects work out before, and after seeing Bobby work out it's obvious that he should be able to find a place in the league. Last year he tested the waters and attended the Orlando pre-draft camp. After failing to have a good showing at the draft camp last year, Bobby went into the camp this year hoping to make a splash. Initial reviews of Bobby's performance have been mixed. But as others have mentioned recently, it's obvious that the draft camp isn't really the best tool for evaluating talent (I mean, some are trying to knock Kevin Durant for not testing well in some silly drills there).
Bobby's main issue with scouts right now is his lack of size and his perceived lack of playmaking ability. Although he is more than capable of scoring, scouts doubt that he has the ability to set up others. But with the guys like Monta Ellis and Leandro Barbosa (shooting guards in point guard bodies) flourishing in up-tempo styles of play, it shouldn't be that difficult for Bobby to find a home in the league.
Anyhow, here's the interview I conducted Bobby just before he left for the pre-draft camp in Orlando:
Nate Jones: Talk to me about Westchester. That school is known as a high school basketball powerhouse. Who are some of the guys you played with during your days there?
Bobby Brown: Brandon Heath (SDSU), Trevor Ariza (UCLA/Orlando Magic), Hassan Adams (Arizona/NJ Nets), Marcus Johnson (of UConn).
NJ: What about Amir Johnson? Did you play with him in high school?
BB: No, I was already gone by the time Amir and Gabe [Pruitt] arrived.
NJ: And what about guys from other high schools? Did you play against any top prospects we might be familiar with?
BB: We played against LeBron and Carmelo Anthony in a couple of tournaments.
NJ: Really, what was that like?
BB: It was fun, but they were calling all of the calls for them.
NJ: I know you attended Cal-State Fullerton. What type of system did they run there?
BB: Up and down, run and gun like the Phoenix Suns.
NJ: Obviously the only reason you were at Cal-State Fullerton was because of your lack of height going into college. When you graduated high school you were only 5'9", right?
BB: Yeah I was undersized coming out of high school.
NJ: So when did you have your last big growth spurt?
BB: Freshman year of college I had my growth spurt. I went from 5'9" to 6'1".
NJ: And once you established yourself as one of the top point guards on the west coast, did you have any offers to transfer from Fullerton? If so, why did you decide to stick around?
BB: I had the opportunity to transfer, but out of loyalty, I wanted to stay with the only school that supported me out of high school.
NJ: What were some of the schools that you had an opportunity to transfer to?
BB: UConn wanted me to transfer ... DePaul, and Oregon State ... they all wanted me to transfer.
NJ: Wow! So you definitely had the opportunity to transfer to a big time program, but out of loyalty, you stayed with the team. You have to respect that. One of Fullerton's most vocal alums is none other than ESPN's Marc Stein. Have you ever met Marc before?
BB: Yeah, I met him for a sec during one of our bracket buster games.
NJ: I always get upset because I've been hearing about you for a while. Yet he always throws out shout outs to Bruce Bowen and Cedric Ceballos in his chats, but never throws love your way. So start showing Bobby some love, Marc. Speaking of Ced and Bruce, have you ever met either one of those guys? If so what were they like?
BB: Yeah, I met Bruce this year when we were down playing in San Antonio. He came to the hotel late at night. They had just flew in from playing Miami. I also met Leon Wood.
NJ: Isn't he a referee now?
BB: Yeah, but he played at our school and in the NBA before he became a ref.
NJ: How was it playing in the Big West Conference? What do you think some of the benefits were in playing for a smaller school?
BB: It was competitive. Not really any cakewalk games. Every game was pretty tough and competitive. It was also fun to be the underdog when we played against some of the bigger schools from the Pac-10.
NJ: Who was your toughest match up in the conference?
BB: I have to say Long Beach State, they were just a good all around team.
NJ: There's a video of you out there on You Tube where you scored 47 points in a game. On the video you were jacking up threes from NBA range.
BB: Yeah, I was feeling it man.
NJ: Were you intentionally doing that to show off your NBA range to some of the NBA scouts in attendance?
BB: No. I didn't really even know where I was shooting from. I didn't even see the line. I just felt really good.
NJ: So you were feeling it right from the jump?
BB: Yeah, one of my teammates, Scott Cutley, was injured, so I knew I needed to step up my game a bit. I hit my first few shots and got hot, and my teammates kept finding me. That was a fun game right there.
NJ: Last year you played in the Orlando pre-draft camp. What are some of your thoughts on that experience?
BB: The experience was good. Going up against the guys you see on a daily basis on television. The hardest part was getting to know the guys and their tendencies as early as possible.
NJ: Yeah, they expect you to come out there and run a team when you haven't even played with a lot of the guys before. But at least you're a guard handling the ball, so you always know you'll get to show of your skills a bit. I always feel bad for the big guys that are waiting for you guards to pass them the ball. What were some of the lessons learned from the experience?
BB: I'd just learned that I need to be myself and be more aggressive. Come out there and be more aggressive on defense and offense and take advantage of the opportunities I have out there to showcase my skills.
NJ: In preparation for your workouts, you're training with former NBA and UCLA star Don MacLean. I know you guys were working on shooting skills and conditioning today. But what else does he have you working on here?
BB: Just finishing with contact and elevating and not being lazy on my jump shot. The only time I miss is when I don't elevate enough on my jump shot. I'm also working on defensive fundamentals.
NJ: Which teams do you plan to work out for?
BB: I know I have an eight-team workout on June 5th. Also, I'll be working out for Golden State, New Orleans, the Lakers, The Clippers, the Kings and the Suns before the draft.
NJ: Do you know any of the players you'll be working out against?
BB: Acie Law, Aaron Brooks, Javaris Crittenton, Gabe Pruitt, some guard from Finland, and Taurean Green.
NJ: Is there a team you'd prefer to play for right now?
BB: Phoenix or Golden State.
NJ: So you like that up-tempo style that a lot of the teams in the league are currently playing?
BB: Oh yeah.
NJ: I think that type of system would really showcase your skills. With Don Nelson and Mike D'Antoni, you come out of the game if you don't shoot enough. I could see that being a really fun system for someone as athletically gifted as yourself. Obviously you're more suited for that style of play, but do you think you can play in a traditional system like the Lakers or the Spurs currently play?
BB: Yeah, I'm more suited for the up-tempo style, but if I have to, I can fit into any system.
NJ: When I hear your name tossed around you usually hear about both your tremendous athletic ability and the range on your jump shot. But what you don't hear so much is play maker. Do you think you're going to be more of a combo/scoring guard or more of a traditional point guard in the NBA?
BB: I think I can handle both roles. Once I get there, I'll be surrounded by players that can score and finish pretty good, so it will be easier for me to showcase those skills.
NJ: You probably didn't have an opportunity to showcase a lot of your playmaking skills because you played for a smaller school that depended on you to score.
BB: Yeah, that definitely was the case.
NJ: I see you and Jason Smith (the very athletic seven -footer from Colorado State) are pretty cool with each other. He seems pretty competitive in the drills. I know you're an athletic high flyer. Have you had a chance to try and dunk on Jason yet?
BB: (Laughs) No, I haven't dunked on Jason. I'm not trying to lose my teeth. But Nick's (Nick Young of USC) caught him a couple of times.
NJ: Speaking of Nick Young, I heard he dunked on Yi Jianlian in a recent workout. Is that true?
BB: Yeah I was actually playing on Yi's team when it happened. He caught him pretty good. Dunked on him twice.
NJ: What did you think of Yi?
BB: He was good. He's skilled, has good footwork, and can shoot pretty well. He's more of a finesse guy.
NJ: What current NBA player do you think your game most resembles?
BB: Allen Iverson. He's in attack mode the whole game. I'm trying to get my game to that level where I am constantly attacking you from all angles.
NJ: I know you're named after your Pops, right?
NJ: But you probably still get people throwing out Bobby Brown jokes your way all the time.
BB: All the time man. Someone is always trying to be funny...asking me where Whitney's at.
NJ: That's funny. Anyhow, Bobby, I think you're going to be very successful in the league. You have the body, the athleticism, and the skill to easily make a name for yourself. As proven by guys like Monta Ellis and Leandro Barbosa, I believe there is a premium on finding athletic guards that can penetrate and finish as well as shoot from deep. Good luck with everything.
Note to FanHouse readers: Be on the look out this week for an interview with USC standout and future NBA first round draft choice, Nick Young.