Terrell Brown doesn’t set number goals. He says he just wants to play basketball.
The Seattle University 6-foot-1 junior guard is doing that at a very high level, putting up numbers that made him one of five players on the All-Western Athletic Conference first team and was a top contender for player of the year.
Brown, from Garfield High School, leads the WAC in scoring (20.7 points a game), is third in assists (4.9) and tied for fourth in rebounding (6.4) and steals (1.6). He leads the conference in minutes played at 36.0 per game.
“He has had a sensational junior year and many nights he has also graded out as one of our best defenders,” Seattle University coach Jim Hayford said. “He’s always a threat for a triple double … and he’s a joy to coach.”
Brown’s only goal entering the season was to reach the NCAA tournament, and that remains possible for the Redhawks (14-15, 7-7 WAC) as they play this week in the WAC tournament in Las Vegas, with the winner earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.
The Redhawks are the No. 3 seed and will open against No. 6 seed Utah Valley on Thursday night, a team Seattle U beat twice in the regular season.
“I think we’re coming together at the right time,” Brown said. “We have a great group of guys and we’re motivated to do something special.”
The Redhawks come into the tournament without playing for two weeks because Missouri-Kansas City and Chicago State elected not to travel to Seattle last week because of coronavirus concerns.
“I’m going to be positive (about the unplanned break), and say we’ll have fresh legs and we’ve got a healthy team,” Hayford said. “I am excited to go play and see what we can do.”
The Redhawks have been playing well recently, even without big man Myles Carter, who was dismissed from the team.
Two weeks ago, the Redhawks won a pair of home games against Grand Canyon and Cal State Bakersfield, then lost 88-87 in overtime on a shot in the final seconds at Cal Baptist, the WAC’s second-place team.
Brown scored his team’s final 16 points, including 10 in overtime. He had given his team the lead on a jump shot with 22 seconds left, but the home team won a shot with three seconds left.
“I didn’t realize it, until (teammate) Aaron Nettles told me,” Brown said of scoring his team’s final 16 points, giving him a career-high tying 31 for the game. “I had no idea. Coach Hayford got on me during the game and he said, ‘You can get by this dude.’ “
He got by his defender, over and over, scoring time and time again.
“It was one of those elite college games that you watch, back-and-forth, and whoever has the ball last wins the ballgame,” Brown said. “Our confidence after that loss did not waver. We know we can compete against any team and we are not afraid of any team.”
Brown isn’t afraid of anyone, not after competing with and against NBA players in the summer.
“That helped me a lot,” he said. “Now, I analyze the game way slower. Everything is coming at a slower pace and you see moves two or three steps ahead of time. I understand the game more, defensively and offensively.”
Brown’s goal is to play in the NBA and he is confident he can get there. He is a redshirt junior and said he is too focused on this year to give next year more thought.
He is certainly headed in the right direction. He took 20 credits in the spring of 2018 and 25 in the summer to get eligible to play at Seattle U last year after transferring from Shoreline College.
He led Seattle U in scoring at 14.8 points as a sophomore, a sign of things to come this season.
Brown was looking forward to taking a spot on the bench for Saturday’s scheduled game against Missouri-Kansas City so the team’s five seniors — guards Morgan Means, Mattia Da Campo and Delante Jones and forwards Jordan Dallas and Anand Hundal — could start on Senior Day.
That didn’t happen when the game was canceled.
“It was a real bummer, but in the grand scheme of things and when you look at what’s going on in the world, you just have to sports in perspective,” Hayford said.
The seniors still have a chance to go out in style by earning a bid to the NCAA tournament, which would be Seattle U’s first since 1969.
New Mexico State was 16-0 in the conference and the big favorite to win the tournament. Seattle U lost twice by eight points to the Aggies, with both games being close much of the second half. The teams could meet again in the WAC tournament title game, and Brown is confident in his team if that happens.
“That’s always been the goal, to have the seniors go out with a blast,” he said.