Based on his first interaction with the Charlotte Hornets, High Point’s John Brown didn’t expect he’d get the chance to make a second impression.
His pre-draft audition with the Hornets was one of four workouts he did for NBA teams. It was by far his worst, he recalled Thursday.
“I got scored on constantly and was missing shots,” said Brown, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward. “Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. But you’ve got to stick with it.”
The Hornets must have seen something they liked because Brown is one of 14 players on the summer league roster. The Hornets play their first game in the Orlando Summer League Saturday at 11 a.m.
Brown had four strong seasons at High Point. Last season he was Big South Player of the Year after averaging 19.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shooting 60 percent from the field.
Despite that resume, Brown had no expectations of being selected in the 60-slot NBA draft last week. He knew his chance would come in a summer-league situation like the one he’ll experience over the next week.
This isn’t the first time basketball has tested Brown’s patience. Coming out of high school in Jacksonville, Fla., he didn’t have the core curriculum classes to be immediately eligible to play college ball. So he detoured to a prep school for a year and then red-shirted his first season at High Point to firm up his academics.
“That was a real whammy, but High Point stuck with me through the whole process,” Brown said. “And red-shirting was the best thing that could happen to me – I got stronger and more ready mentally. I matured a lot.”
Brown excelled quickly at High Point and briefly considered transferring to a school in a bigger conference.
“It (crossed) my mind for about two seconds,” Brown said. “But High Point stuck with me when I couldn’t (initially) go to college. I wanted to show the same loyalty to them.”
Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing coaches the summer-league roster. Asked if anything struck Ewing about Brown, Ewing replied in a single word.
Brown is a chatterbox, an extravert on and off the basketball court. As a longtime NBA center, Ewing appreciates players who don’t have to be coaxed into loud communication.
“I’m trying to establish that and hopefully it rubs off on other guys,” Brown said. “If you’re constantly calling things out, it makes a big difference. If another guy is playing defense on the ball, he can’t see behind him. But hopefully he can hear” warnings from teammates about screens.
Brown was a star at High Point, but he says he’s fine with a lesser role in Charlotte.
“It was my role to do all the scoring, plus the defense,” Brown said.
“Now my role has kind of changed. I’m not always going to be the scorer. So I need to play defense and get my rebounds consistently. Get my shots when I get them. And I’ll embrace that role.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell