Lake Norman & Mooresville

Junior gets back on track for rising Vikings

Junior Rashaan Brown had a promising start to his North Meck High athletic career.

As a freshman, Brown became a standout for the Viking junior varsity football and basketball teams. He established himself as top playmaker for the football team at wide receiver and the leading scorer for an 18-1 JV North Meck basketball squad.

After working his way up both varsity teams as a sophomore, Brown became known for his constant work in the gym, on the field and in the weight room, according to former North Meck football coach Mike Bradley.

After registering 36 catches and five touchdowns for the Viking football team and playing a key reserve role for a 22-win North Meck basketball squad, Brown lost focus at some point in the offseason.

Brown said he not only hung out with the wrong people but also wasn’t as committed as he had been to the games he loves.

After working his way back into the good graces of both Bradley and North Meck basketball coach Duane Lewis, Brown says he is back on the right path – both mentally and physically.

“The difference between me now and then is that I’m just focused on what I need to do on and off the court all the time,” said Brown. “I know this is big year for me, and I want do whatever I can to help my teams. I know that will also be good for me.”

After a solid end to the football season, Brown, 16, has flourished as one of the top players for a Viking basketball team (13-2, 5-1 in the I-Meck heading into Jan. 13’s game against Hopewell) that has already established itself as not only one of the best teams in the Charlotte area, ranked No. 5 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, but also the top team in the I-Meck conference.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound forward is averaging 11 points, five rebounds and two steals per game in his first year as a starting forward for the Vikings, but Brown’s play can’t just be measured by statistics alone.

“Rashaan is really coming into his own this year,” Lewis said. “He is a freakish athlete who can play inside or outside on the floor, but I think he likes playing inside because he is so much quicker than most forwards, he has really used that to his advantage in making plays, whether it’s key baskets, rebounds or hustle plays.”

Brown has fully bought into his coaches’ words.

“Most of the guys inside can’t guard me, because I am too quick,” Brown said. “I try to keep moving all the time and get them frustrated, tired and sloppy. That’s when (they) get in foul trouble, and I can get them out of their game.”

Brown emergence on a younger front line, which also includes 6-foot-5 junior Tahjai Watt and 6-foot-7 senior transfer Josh Stepoli, has helped take some of the heat off senior point guard Shivaughn Wiggins, who has established himself as one of the top players in the state while averaging 24 points and five rebounds per game.

“I love my point guard and we work very well together,” Brown said. “He is the leader of this team, but we all have got the same goal, and we play as a team. That is what makes this team so good.”

Brown had his best game of the season in a 67-51 win against Mooresville last week, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds, dominating his bigger and stronger Blue Devil counterparts Dre Howell and Ralph Montgomery, as his team took sole possession of first place in the conference.

Brown also helped frustrate 6-foot-3 Mooresville guard Shawn Lester in the process, limiting the UNC Charlotte signee to 10 points.

“Brown was really impressive against Mooresville,” Lewis said. “He really kept us in the lead early with his baskets and in a variety of other ways with his hustle and motor. He is so active, it is really hard for most high school big men to stop him.”

Brown, whom Bradley called a potential Division I athlete in football and basketball, is focused on building upon his momentum the rest of the way.

“I’m just focused on working as hard as I can on my game and for my team for the next two years,” Brown said. “I’m all the way in and focused on the prize, which for me right now is a state championship. I really believe that we can win it all, and I want to do whatever I can to help us get there.”