When Michigan coach Juwan Howard broke the news to his team that transfer Chaundee Brown had been granted immediate eligibility for the upcoming season, pandemonium ensued.
The senior guard’s new teammates mobbed him under the basket, Howard did a little jig and assistant coach Saddi Washington and Director of Basketball Operations Chris Hunter chest bumped. It was a display of both relief and excitement — for both Brown and the Wolverines.
After transferring from Wake Forest in mid-May, Brown had to spend all offseason waiting for the NCAA’s decision. He could still train and practice with Michigan, but whether he’d be able to contribute right away was in limbo. With that uncertainty cast aside, now the question is how will he contribute?
The 2016-2017 Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Florida, Brown showed promise in his three years as a Demon Deacon. He started 29 of 30 games as a freshman and steadily improved his scoring every season. As a junior, he averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 46-percent shooting. Despite missing eight games due to injury last year, Brown finished with five 20-point outings, two of which came in wins over then-No. 23 Xavier and then-No. 11 Duke.
Given his offensive versatility, Brown will likely be a key member of the revamped Wolverines. The Daily broke down some of Brown’s best attributes and where he can take his game, and Michigan, to the next level.
Brown is a 33-percent 3-point shooter in college, but shot just under that mark a season ago. Though Brown is better at creating his own shot than in purely spot-up situations, this clip shows he’s a capable deep threat when called upon.
As his teammates quickly move the ball around the arc, Brown sets up shop in the left corner. When he receives the pass, Brown doesn’t hesitate and releases it just as the defender is getting out to contest the shot. He didn’t take very many threes a season ago — averaging just over two a game — and likely won’t need to significantly increase that tally with Michigan given the team’s established deep threats in Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner. However, if he can knock them down more frequently than he did as a junior, it would open up the Wolverines’ offense even more.
“I didn’t show it as much last year, but I feel like I’m a really good shooter,” Brown said earlier this month. “And even the Wake Forest coaches, they knew I was a better shooter than what my percentage looked like. Not making any excuses, but I played basically half the season last year with injuries, aches and pains, tore my calf muscle up. So I feel like it was hard for me to get a rhythm.”
Should Brown hit at a respectable clip from beyond the arc, he’ll have ample opportunity to use his most polished offensive skill — his mid-range jumper.
Brown finds himself again in the corner, but after getting the pass, instead of shooting a contested three, he pump fakes and steps inside the arc as the defender glides past him. He’s left with plenty of time and space to pull-up along the baseline for a jumper.
Brown’s mid-range game is strong enough that he can score even with defenders draped over him, but creating space with a pump fake only makes him more dangerous from 15-feet.
This clip from Wake Forest’s win over Xavier in December shows Brown at his best. He receives a handoff from guard Torry Johnson and immediately dives into the lane, and even though Brown’s defender fights through Johnson’s screen to reposition himself, Brown elevates just in front of the rotating big and shoots a one handed jumper over both Musketeers.
With his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, Brown is taller and bigger than most guards, allowing him to get his shot off in a variety of ways. He has both a fadeaway and a pull-up mid-range jumper in his locker. On a Michigan team that already has multiple prolific three-point shooters, if Brown gets around the first defender, he should have room to operate.
Just like he did in the NC State game, Brown uses a pump fake in the corner to ditch the defender on the wing. This time though, he attacks the rim instead of pulling up. While not quite as bouncy as someone like Livers, Brown displays the same slashing tenacity, adjusting his layup attempt to avoid two of Duke’s paint defenders.
Brown showed glimpses of his driving ability at Wake Forest but given his size, could’ve shown more of. In half-court sets, whether he’s coming off ball screens or setting them for other guards and looking for a return pass, Brown could be more aggressive getting to the hoop.
It’s no secret that Howard wants his teams to push the ball in transition. The Wolverines’ other new transfer, graduate student point guard Mike Smith, possesses all the skills to lead the fastbreak offense and set up scoring opportunities for the likes of Brooks, Livers, sophomore Franz Wagner and now, Brown.
In this clip, Brown does it entirely alone, picking up the rebound on one end and finishing at the other with a nifty euro-step.
Handling the ball in traffic is another area of his game that Brown knows he can improve on. Here, he’s able to push the ball out in front enough to avoid being stripped and is just able to collect it in time to enter into his move.
“Just showing that I can handle the ball really well,” Brown said. “I’ve been really practicing that before and after practice, handling the ball. (While) testing the NBA waters, they told me that’s something I need to work on. Coming off ball screens as well, making the right decision, making the right play, not forcing it.”
In Howard’s fast-paced scheme, Brown will find himself either leading the charge or running alongside the ball-handler. Given his athleticism, he should flourish in that role and score a number of easy baskets, just as he did en route to a career-high 26 points against Xavier.
Brown is a multifaceted offensive player with the touch to hit a turnaround jumper and the toughness to blow by the primary defender and attack the rim. At Michigan, he’ll be playing alongside the most talented group of teammates he’s ever had and won’t necessarily have to be the go-to option. Instead, he should be able to pick his spots, giving the Wolverines another valuable offensive threat.
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