Westinghouse's Jamaal Brown, UNC Greensboro signee, has led Westinghouse to a 22-5 record heading into
today's battle against Whitney Young in the second round of the Chicago Public League Playoffs.
JB Leads Warriors
By Frank Rusnak
Today, Tuesday, February 26th at Westinghouse High School in the second round of the Chicago Public League Playoffs, there will be a dual...one that Westinghouse's Jamaal Brown is impatiently waiting for.
"Jamaal is the best underrated guard in the state. Him signing early with North Carolina Greensboro was probably a steal for them."
Brown's host Warriors will take on fellow Red West rival Whitney Young in what will be the two teams' fourth meeting of the year. While Westinghouse won the previous three, that is of no barring on this game, because in the CPL games are played for today, not yesterday.
A 6'0" senior guard, Brown will lead his Warriors into action after having a first round bye; reward for winning conference. Young easily disposed of Austin 88-31 in the first round.
A three-year varsity player, Brown comes into the game averaging 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals for a 22-5 team.
With the game kicking off at 3:30 p.m. at The 'House, Brown feels the Warriors will have a decided advantage with the home turf. "We haven't lost a game at our house," said Brown, referring to in-state opponents. "We just choose not to lose at our house. The home games are most important to me. For one, you've got the crowd there, and also your family, so you try not to lose there. This is going to be the toughest game next to the [CPL] championship game if we win."
While this rivalry is always a heated one, there was a pre-match verbal dual when Brown went to pick up his younger cousin at Young over the weekend.
"I went up to their gym and I saw their players and they were talking crazy," said Brown. "Marcus (White, 6'7" forward) and Anthony (Harris, 6'2" guard) were just saying, "You know when we come over there we're ganna beat y'all. Me and Ant are going to do what we got to do."
But Jamaal takes all of the ribbing in stride, and even has a personal bout set with Harris.
"Personally, I just want to stop Anthony," said Brown, "that's their main player to me. That's who their team revolves around and if I could get into his head, then its over."
But for Brown, he has prepared all of his life for games like these.
Beginning basketball at a young age like many hoop addicts, it all started on the playgrounds for Brown.
Playing in his pre-high school days with nothing but older guys, he sharpened his knowledge of the game, soaking in all the wisdom that surrounded him. But it was not only a mental aspect that helped Brown hone his game.
"When I was in eight grade I used to play only with grown men," said Brown, who has signed with UNC Greensboro. "I never played with people my age. I figure playing with [the older players] will make me better. Once you go to the hole on them and get hit and bumped around, when I get to high school I won't be crying with little fouls. I think that helped me a lot and just being in the program that I'm in. What I like about Westinghouse is they teach you how to be disciplined and get you ready for the next level and teach you responsibilities."
Finishing high school with a wealth of knowledge, Westinghouse head man Chris Head is impressed with his leader and point guard.
Jamaal is the best underrated guard in the state, said Head. He's got a great future. He can shoot the basketball really well and that's a plus for a kid his size. And he's got a very quick first step, he's also a very good finisher and strong enough to guard a bigger guard. With those things, that makes a very good package for a very good basketball player.
Him signing early with North Carolina Greensboro was probably a steal for them.
Browns decision to opt for the Spartans was based on a liking for the universities' coach (Fran McCaffery) and the facilities, but for the most part he just wanted to get away.
I really just wanted to get out of Chicago, said Brown. Because the area that I'm around is kind of bad and I want to see how my life will be if I'm at another place.
However, leaving to the city will be especially hard being separated from a dear friend of his, former Westinghouse guard and star for Loyola (Chicago) University, David Bailey.
A 1999 high school graduate and leader of the Warriors Public League runner up squad his senior year, Bailey has developed into one of the nations top little guards at 58.
To me Lil Dave is my bigger brother, said Brown, affectionately referring to Bailey with his nickname.
The No. 11 scorer (21.7 ppg) in the nation for NCAA Division I, Bailey also ranks second in steals (1.8 spg) and top ten in assists (4.5 apg) with the Ramblers.
Still keeping close contact, it is not uncommon for Brown and Bailey to spend the day together playing intense full-court games of one-on-one or just shooting around at Loyola or Westinghouses gym for hours on end.
I see him all the time, said Brown. He comes through here or I'll go out there.
Even when Bailey is not physically around, for Brown, he's never too far.
To get me ready for games all I do is watch tapes of Lil' Dave when he was in high school, said Brown.
Before game time rolls around against Young, Brown will be sure to have game film of Bailey handy.
And if he has taken good enough notes, Jamaal Brown will certainly walk out victorious, just as Lil Dave had in the past.
|Editor's Note: Westinghouse went on to defeat Young and win the city title. They open up play in the Class AA Elite Eight versus Glenbard North.|
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