Brandon Brown (183-PG-1989, college: UMW) is a 32 year old 183cm point guard from Des Moines, Washington playing his 10th professional season and first with U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca (Romania-Liga Nationala). He is what you can call a real basketball globe trotter as he has played in countries like Australia, Brazil, Cyprus, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia and France. He began his basketball career at Highline Community College and then had a stellar career at the University of Western Montana (NAIA) where he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the do or die Basketball Champions League loss against German team MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
Thanks Brandon for talking to germanhoops.com You suffered a tough 79-73 do or die loss in the Basketball Champions League quarters to the MHP Riesen. Do you feel like you would have won had you suffered 15 instead of 25 turnovers?
I definitely feel like that is one of their main strengths along with offensive rebounding. Ludwigsburg did a great job taking us out of our sets and forcing a ton of turnovers. It could have only helped us if we could have reduced those.
U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca played a great Basketball Champions League season. What won’t you ever forget from the season this special team gave?
I’m just proud of our group as a whole. I think people saw us as a team that maybe shouldn’t have got out of the qualifiers then shouldn’t have gotten out of the group stage or the top 16 and into the final 8. For us to have a chance to compete for the final 4 in the BCL our first time in European competition is special. I guarantee maybe 15 people believed we would be here in the final 8 back in the summer when the field was announced.
I will bet anything that you have always had a chip on your shoulder and that will never go way. Being an NAIA player and being in Australia and Brazil for your first three years, you finally came to Europe in 2015. Do you still feel like you have that NAIA label every season when you look for a new team?
I don’t know if the NAIA label is there as much anymore being in year 10, but I definitely am proud of coming from there and the journey
You have played in 8 countries since turning professional in 2011. Are you the ultimate basketball globetrotter?
I wouldn’t say ultimate. I’m sure there a ton of people who’ve played in more countries than me but I am on passport # 2 and for it to be mainly from basketball is pretty cool.
There must have been a very special reason for coming to U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca. After paying your dues in Brazil, Cyprus and Bulgaria you then finally made the next step to the VTB and France Pro A. Wasn’t it taking a step back going to play in Romania?
It’s easy to see it like that but I didn’t. After playing Eurocup last season and making top 8, then top 8 the year before in BCL with Nizhny, and a domestic title and top 16 fiba Europe cup the year before, I wanted to compete for a domestic championship again but play on a competitive European competition team. I really enjoyed BCL with Nizhny so when the opportunity came everything made sense basketball wise and I decided to go to Romania.
U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca is a very special club. Talk a little about the basketball culture and teammates. It must be some of the best that you have ever experienced?
It’s a great sports environment here. From the fans, to the organization, our team has a good group of older and young guys and it’s been able to help us have a special year.
Last season you played with Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) averaging 7.9ppg, 1.2rpg, 3.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 49.3%, FT: 77.5%; and averaged 7.5ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 93.3% in the Eurocup. You’re a very calm and controlled point guard. Do you feel like that is a big quality that all teams have respected most from you?
I think so. I think that along with outside shooting has been some of the main qualities teams have liked about me.
You were teammates with Archie Goodwin. He played many years in the NBA. What kind of thoughts do you get when you see his play and compare it to yours? Is it a fact that there are thousands of guards good enough for the NBA, but too little spots?
I think that’s exactly it. There’s only so many spots at the end of the day and there are more NBA players out there than there are spots.
In 2019-2020 you had your real break through with BC Nizhny Novgorod (Russia-VTB) averaging 13.5ppg, 2.1rpg, Assists-4 (5.9apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 48.6%, FT: 78.7%. You played against incredible teams and players. How did your game grow that season in the VTB and BCL?
That definitely was a special year. Coach Lukic gave me an opportunity to really be myself and push me to another level. I enjoyed that year and competing in both leagues. Unfortunately that was the first year of the pandemic, and we didn’t get to finish but that was definitely a break through year for me.
The first game against top Euroleague team CSKA Moscow was a wipe out, but the team played a lot better in the second match and you scored 11 points. What memories did you have playing against Mike James? How much of a challenge was it playing against him?
Mike is a very special player. I think everybody in the basketball world knows that. He is one of those guys that is an NBA player no question. We competed with everybody in Nizhny, Lukic does a great job of preparing us for anybody. Even though we lost it was always fun and competitive to play against those Euroleague and Eurocup teams in the VTB.
One guy I love to watch is your former teammate Darryl Willis. Is the best description for him ‘Sky is the limit’?
Absolutely, I love his game and his mindset, he’s another guy that Carrie’s a chip on his shoulder every time he steps on the court.
In 2018-2019 you won your first title with Balkan Botevgrad (Bulgaria-NBL) averaging 14.3ppg, 2.3rpg, Assists-3 (5.3apg), Steals-4 (1.7spg), FGP: 56.7%, 3PT: 46.8%, FT-2 (89.2%); and averaged 15.1ppg, 3.1rpg, Assists-4 (5.9apg), 1.6spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 49.3%, FT: 85.9% in the Fiba Europe Cup. You came back from 2-1 down to beat Beroe and beat Lukoil in the finals. You played incredibly well. Was this your best basketball in your career?
I definitely think that was some of my best basketball in those playoffs. I was in a great rhythm and my coach there who I’m still great friends with today, Nebosa Vidic helped my game and immensely. Winning there in that city was great.
Did a guy like ex Georgetown (NCAA)great Mikael Hopkins become like a brother to you?
Yes that is my brother! I’m so happy for him what he’s been able to show everybody this season in Italy l and Fiba Europe cup!
Was Losing the series to Holon in the Fiba Europe Cup one of your toughest ever? What memories do you have battling it out with Corey Walden?
This BCL loss was the toughest ever against MHP. I remember losing to Holon and that was definitely hard. We were big time underdogs and that Holon team was stacked, Corey was player of the year and defensive player of the year I think in Israel that year, so it speaks for itself. Tough tough guard!
In 2017-2018 you played with Trefl Sopot (Poland-PLK) playing 6 games averaging 13.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 5.5apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 93.3%. How tough was this season that ended in November? Did you gain anything positive from playing for this famous Polish team?
That year sucked from a basketball standpoint. Started so well and got hurt and had to sit the remainder of the season. Off the court I got a chance to just be home and Rehab and be with my family, it was really nice actually. It was humbling because I thought that was the end of my career after the injury.
In 2016-2017 you had your first full season in Poland with Siarka Tarnobrzeg (Poland-TBL) averaging 14.9ppg, 2.6rpg, 5.6apg, 1.9spg, 2FGP: 44.1%, 3FGP: 36.5%, FT: 77.4%, in Mar.’17 moved to PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-PLK) averaging 6.9ppg, 1.1rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 46.7%. What did you really cherish from your years in Poland the most?
Siarka I wasn’t winning a ton but I had a chance to play free and find myself a little on the court, I also met one of my really good friends Alex Welsh. Then finishing in PGE was a great opportunity to finish and compete for playoffs, enjoy a new city and finish the year on a good note. I think I’ll cherish some of the friendships I made there the most.
In 2015-2016 was your first season in Europe with Omonia Nicosia (Cyprus-Division A) averaging 16.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 6.5apg, 1.8spg, in Dec.’15 signed at King Wilki Morskie Szczecin (Poland-TBL) averaging 6.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 82.8%. What do you remember being your wake up call to knowing that you were very far away from home?
Lol I was making very little money there, I went there with a big chip on my shoulder because that was my first job after my injury that I thought I would never play again, so I went there hyper focused on getting back on the map and showing I could play the game at a high level.
What memories do you have of your first two years in Brazil? You played for three organizations ACBD Rio Claro (Brazil-Paulista) SKY/Basquete Cearense (Brazil-NBB) and Rio Claro Basquete (Brazil-Paulista). How important was this early development in your game? How much of a role did the physicality play in that country?
Brazil was fun, it was really eye opening. I felt far from home there but my progression was really nice. I played for a club that had a ton of history and we won some trophies then we went to the first division where I played well again and met some friends again that I still talk to today. Then it came full circle when my first club made the first division and brought me back. It was really great to finish my South America career where it started before leaving.
You got your first professional experience with Mount Gambier Pioneers (Australia-ABA) averaging 16.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 25.5%, FT: 77.4%. How vital was Aussie veteran Eric Burdon for you as a rookie? That guy just completed his 11th season with them and is still playing?
That team had a ton of vets like Kurt Russle and Eazy. I was jolted into that season but it was really fun and fast. They definitely helped me make it through the tough times. I would love to go back to Australia one day.
You began your basketball career at Highline Community College (NJCAA). Every guy I talk to say how important JUCO was and how they wouldn’t have missed it for anything. How was it for you?
One of the best basketball decisions I’ve ever made was playing for Coach Dawson at highline CC. We still keep in touch. He helped so many of us on and off the court, accountability and growing up and staying together was big there.
You played at the University of Montana Western (NAIA) from 2009-2012 and really stepped up your game in your last two seasons. You became an explosive scorer. What did you learn about yourself in those two years as a player?
I always knew I had that in me but the opportunity wasn’t there. My sophomore year we had 5 seniors and when they left I took the opportunity and ran with it and set some really high goals for myself and the team and coach Keller let me lead
What memories do you have of reaching the 2012 Sweet 16? Was this your fondest time at Western Montana?
Absolutely, we were underdogs and it felt great getting there every year on that stage and playing well against teams that thought a school from Montana couldn’t hang.
How did head coach Steve Keller groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
We still talk to this day, he loves winning and the game and gave me an opportunity to play, grow and be myself
Who won a one on one in practice you or Kyle Erickson?
You’d be surprised but we were spending more time having dunk contests back then haha, I don’t do those anymore lol
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in your life that was in the NBA?
Playing guys back home Isaiah Thomas and Jamal Crawford no question
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-.time?
Community college, Montana, pro, way too many great ones to only name 5 haha
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Thanks Brandon for the chat.