|Brown: 'I was born to play basketball.'|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 21 February 2013 18:34|
For Redbird fans and the Bloomington-Normal community, the name Tyler Brown is virtually synonymous with “slam dunk.”
The 6-foot-4-inch senior may not be the tallest guy on the Illinois State men’s basketball squad, but his vertical leap gives way to alley-oop, windmill, tomahawk, behind-the-head and one-handed dunks that have made a name for him in college basketball — most recently as a finalist for the State Farm Dark Horse Dunker competition where the winner will participate in the Denny’s Slam Dunk Competition on April 4 in Atlanta, Ga.
“I don’t know who submitted me for it. It’s just something that I saw on the Internet one day and people have just been voting for me, and that’s great,” Brown said. “I love dunking — dunking is part of my game. But if I’m chosen to be in it, I feel like I have a great opportunity to win.”
Hailing from Owensboro, Ky., Brown resides at the top of the Redbird scoring sheet in second place, averaging 16.8 points-per-game — just one point behind ISU’s Jackie Carmichael. Brown is also known for hitting key shots-beyond-the-arc, with a three-point shooting average of .351, making 59 out of 168 three-point attempts this season. The senior also sits at No. 4 in both scoring and three-point field goals made in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
However, while most know him for his offense, that is not what Brown wants his ISU legacy to be based on.
“I want to be known as just a hard working player, defensively and offensively,” Brown said. “I try to do both as much as I can. I know people probably see the offense more than defense, but I just want to be an all-around player.”
The 2012-13 Redbird squad, specifically its seniors, have drawn national attention from multiple sport networks, as well as multiple NBA scouts, but Brown does not let the extra attention affect his game on the hardwood.
“[NBA scouts being at the games] is something I really don’t think about,” he said. “I know people are watching, so that’s why I try to go out there and play the best I can every game, because I know somebody out there is watching.
“I would love to continue playing basketball at the next level. I want to play basketball as long as I can, and hopefully that’s a long time.”
As Brown’s time as a Redbird basketball player is drawing to a close, he sees both the negative and positive aspects of starting a new life chapter.
“It’s hit home that it’s almost over,” he said. “It’s bittersweet though. As far as graduating and finishing my college career goes, it’s a great feeling, but to know that my basketball career as a college player is coming to an end — I’d hate for it to happen, but it’s going to happen, and I want it to end the best way it can.”
However, Brown’s road to success at ISU has not been easily traveled.
Brown had to overcome the transitions of transferring from Morehead State to Marshalltown Community College, then transferring again to ISU, and has most recently surpassed the obstacle of a suspension from the team in early January for conduct that was detrimental to the team. But Brown has not let any of these setbacks get him down.
“I try to turn every situation into a positive, no matter how bad it is,” he said. “[The suspension] was something that happened, and it probably needed to happen, and since then everything’s been great. But it’s in the past, and I don’t even think about it anymore. I’m just glad that it’s in the past.”
Brown’s interest in basketball was innate, spawning from his father and his support system.
“My dad got me started playing basketball,” he said. “He played too. It’s just what I was born to do.
“I have a lot of motivation for playing basketball,” Brown explained. “Just the hard work that I’ve put into basketball and some of the things that I’ve been through in life motivate me. Just knowing my support system is behind me is a lot of motivation.”
While Brown’s future in basketball is still unknown, he does know that he will find a way to keep a grip on the big orange ball.
“In some shape or form, basketball will always be a part of my life.”