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2020 Cal Hoops Player Review: Joel Brown

June 9, 2020

Joel Brown was largely considered the Class of 2019’s most heralded recruit. Originally recruited by Wyking Jones, the 6-2 point guard from Ontario ranked No. 195 in 247 Sport’s composite ranking stuck to his commitment and joined the Bears in Mark Fox’s first year.

Brown had the epitome of a freshman season. He had some very promising and solid games like at home against Utah when he scored 11 points in 15 minutes on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. And then he had clunkers like at USC when he had one point in 23 minutes and went 0-of-4 from the field (all three-point attempts) and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.

There were brilliant games like against Wazzu in Berkeley when Brown notched a career-high four assists to zero turnovers in 26 minutes. And then there were games like the one at Utah in which Brown had three turnovers and zero assists in 20 minutes. Such is life as a freshman in a power conference.

Player 2PT% 3PT% FT% Reb Ast Blk Stl TO Points
Joel Brown 35.60% 30.80% 40.00% 2.0 1.8 0.1 0.4 1.1 2.4

But overall, Brown proved to be a potential building block for the revival of Cal’s hoops program. According to multiple sites, Brown is up to 192 pounds from the 180 his recruiting profiles say. At 6-2 and nearly 200 pounds, he’s got a good frame and size to be a solid Pac-12 point guard. 

In conference play, Brown improved in many categories. His average offensive rating in conference-only games was 83.6 compared to 77.7 over the entire season. Brown’s assist rate climbed from 18.4 as a season average to 18.9 in Pac-12 games. And his turnover rate dropped from 26.7 for the overall season to 21.8 in conference games. Those are all encouraging stats for the greenhorn.

Of course, Brown also has some areas in which he needs to improve if he wants to move to the next level. Shooting is the main culprit. Overall, Brown shot 35.6% (21-of-59) for two-point shots and 30.8% (8-of-26) from three on the season. His free-throw shooting left quite a bit to be desired as he went 12-of-30 (40%) from the charity stripe. 

Brown also struggled against Tier A opponents. His average offensive rating against Tier A opponents was just 63.7. He shot 16.7% from the free-throw line, 33.3% from inside the arc, and 12.5% from three against Tier A competition. The good news? Brown played his best as a true point guard against Tier A opponents, averaging an assist rate of 23.9 — much higher than his overall season average of 18.4.

Player Minutes/Game %Poss %Shots 247 Ranking
Joel Brown 19.0 12.70% 10.80% 195
Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee) 30.3 23.80% 21.90% 191
Ford Cooper (Missouri State) 12.0 12.20% 10.20% 188
Jeremiah Francis (North Carolina) 13.6 21.30% 19.90% 179
Caleb Grill (Iowa State) 13.8 10.80% 11.80% 175
Jordan Rawls (Western Kentucky) 27.6 18.10% 19.70% 200
Tre Jackson (Iowa State) 21.6 12.80% 13.10% 210
Isaiah Thompson (Purdue) 18.7 16.60% 19.30% 211
Scotty Pippen (Vanderbilt) 29.8 24.90% 21.00% 213
Average 20.7 17.02% 16.41% 196

This is a small sample size — and each situation is different at each school in terms of rotation and need — but I like to compare how freshmen do compared to those that were ranked around them in high school recruiting rankings. As you can see from the chart above, Brown was pretty similar in minutes played per game compared to the average of his peers. But his possession rate and shot rate were both lower.

This is likely due to at least two factors. First, Brown played the majority of the season — especially from mid-season on — behind senior point guard Paris Austin. His shot and possession rate didn’t need to be as high. He also wasn’t the focal point of the offense. That was Matt Bradley, Kareem South, Grant Anticevich, and Andre Kelly. And, of course, Austin when they were on the court at the same time.

Player ORtg eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate FTRate 247 Ranking
Joel Brown 77.4 38.80% 39.30% 1.00% 11.60% 18.4 26.7 35.3 195
Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee) 90.8 47.90% 52.80% 2.10% 10.30% 25.9 29.2 30.2 191
Ford Cooper (Missouri State) 88.8 42.70% 47.00% 0.70% 8.80% 16.1 31.0 22.9 188
Jeremiah Francis (North Carolina) 72.2 25.80% 33.20% 0.50% 9.60% 20.9 23.5 39.4 179
Caleb Grill (Iowa State) 83.8 40.70% 41.60% 2.30% 11.40% 7.1 21.0 10.0 175
Jordan Rawls (Western Kentucky) 92.8 45.20% 47.80% 1.10% 4.60% 15.3 19.0 18.7 200
Tre Jackson (Iowa State) 88.5 46.10% 48.00% 1.00% 8.00% 10.2 24.6 13.8 210
Isaiah Thompson (Purdue) 97.6 46.30% 48.40% 1.00% 6.00% 7.1 15.4 18.9 211
Scotty Pippen (Vanderbilt) 98.6 45.50% 52.60% 1.90% 9.20% 25.2 20.8 68.7 213
Average 87.8 42.11% 45.63% 1.29% 8.83% 16.2 23.5 28.7 196

Overall, Brown had one of the lower offensive rating averages compared to his peers. Only North Carolina’s Jeremiah Francis had a lower average at 72.2. Brown did have an above-average assist rate and above-average free-throw rate. Although, that was basically negated by his 40% average from the free-throw line.

This all shows what many likely saw this season with the eye-ball test. Brown’s season was good at times and not good at others. But overall, it was a pretty average freshman season. That’s not to take anything away from Brown. He didn’t need to be great as Austin had the best season of his collegiate career. 

But now it’s time for Brown to take the reigns. He’ll be counted on to play a lot of minutes this season as he’s the team’s only true point guard. The good news is Fox has done a decent job at plugging in some scorers around him and Brown won’t be relied on for large scoring volume. 

Discussion from...

2020 Cal Hoops Player Review: Joel Brown

4,689 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 3 yr ago by calumnus
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Brown must improve his shooting, because, absent this trait, defenses will back off and that will negate his ability to drive and hand out assists. At this juncture, he is a rotational recruit who needs to improve his shooting before he can be a starting guard in this league.
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helltopay1 said:

Brown must improve his shooting, because, absent this trait, defenses will back off and that will negate his ability to drive and hand out assists. At this juncture, he is a rotational recruit who needs to improve his shooting before he can be a starting guard in this league.

Brown had a rough freshman season. Based on the advanced statistics, Brown was our least effective player (includes offense and defense) last year per minute played, I thought it didn't make sense to play him so much with him struggling but hopefully all the minutes he got was a good investment and pays off in great improvement this year because we are going to need him. The potential is there. Definitely rooting for him.
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