The Husky legends are watching and taking notice of Terrell Brown Jr., the latest applicant vying for membership into their hallowed hoops fraternity.
The 23-year-old Seattle native and fifth-year senior who starred at Garfield High is an amalgamation of many of the Washington men’s basketball greats who preceded him.
Brown, who is listed generously at 6-foot-3, uses guile, ingenuity and an assortment of herky-jerky moves, spins and quick bursts that keep opponents off balance, which is reminiscent of former Husky star Isaiah Thomas.
Washington’s newest sensation is adept at scoring inside and shoots an array of efficient midrange jumpers and high-arching floaters like Brandon Roy, whose retired No. 2 jersey hangs in Alaska Airlines Arena.
And coach Mike Hopkins has unofficially made Brown the Husky closer who takes over in the final minutes much like Jaylen Nowell, the 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year.
“With Terrell, it’s all about mindset and hard work,” Hopkins said. “He’s so determined on being the best he can be and he’s willing to put in the work. That’s why he’s gone from where he started to being one of the elite guards not only in our league but in the country.”
Still, it’s far too early to draw anything more than cursory comparisons between Brown and Roy, Thomas or Nowell, all of whom led their respective teams to regular-season or conference-tournament titles.
Heck, Brown has yet to encroach into territory occupied by past UW standouts Dejounte Murray, Terrence Ross or Tony Wroten Jr.
However, after just 10 games, Brown, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring and ranks seventh nationally at 21.4 points per game, is emerging as the next great UW guard in a pantheon that includes Andrew Andrews, CJ Wilcox and Markelle Fultz.
“I can’t even think about stuff like that now or even try to compare myself with those guys,” Brown said at the start of the season. “Of course, growing up in Seattle, I know what IT and B-Roy and many of those guys did at U-Dub.
“I mean, you let yourself dream as a kid and maybe that dream might help you get to where you want to be. … But once you’re there, it’s about going out every day and letting your work speak for you.”
From halfway around the world, Andrews has taken notice of Brown and remembers when they met in 2016 after Garfield lost to crosstown rival Rainier Beach in the Class 3A state semifinals.
“I talked to him a little bit after the game because he was beat up about it (and) told him that he was going to be great,” Andrews said during a phone interview from Bursa, Turkey, where he plays with the Turkish basketball team Frutti Extra Bursaspor. “Long story short, he’s at UW now and going crazy. I think he’s really good. He’s well-rounded. He’s got a good balance of scoring and assisting. And he has the UW grit.
“He kind of reminded me of myself in that sense. We kind of have had similar journeys. Obviously, he ended up at UW, and we’re kind of having similar senior years. I definitely see the comparison.”
Andrews ranks third all-time in scoring at Washington with 1,812 points, which is a triumphant culmination to an enduring collegiate career that began in 2011 when he redshirted as a freshman due to a hip surgery.
After playing behind Wilcox and Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrews took over the scoring load and tallied 712 points, which is the third-most in UW history, for a Husky team that finished 19-15 and 9-9 in the Pac-12.
“It was a perfect storm for me,” said Andrews who averaged 20.9 points as a senior. “I always felt I was capable of performing that way, but just with the talent level and everything, I was always kind of a supplementary piece. Once I was able to get the keys, it was kind of my turn to show what I was capable of doing.
“A lot of people think about the scoring, but we had an amazing team that happened to be young. Marquese (Chriss), Baby Boy (Murray), Matisse (Thybulle), David (Crisp) and everybody on the team, they all helped a lot. The addition of Will Conroy (to the coaching staff) was huge for us. It was really fun that year to be honest. I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I was just going out there playing basketball.”
Andrews led Washington in scoring 21 times, including a career-high 47-point outing March 2, 2016, against Washington State that ranks second in Husky history behind Bob Houbregs’ 49.
“Me and (former UW coach Lorenzo) Romar didn’t have a clue,” Andrews said when asked about the Husky scoring record. “I ended up coming out of the game for the curtain call because we were up 20 or something with seven minutes left. … I ended up going back in, but if I would have stayed in, I could have had 50 or 60. But I had 47. I’m good with that. Bob can hold the record. He’s got most of the records anyway.”
Even though this year’s Washington team (5-5) has a limited number of reliable offensive options — Emmitt Matthews Jr. is second in scoring at 10.9 points — Andrews advised Brown, who leads the team in assists (3.7) and steals (2.1), to trust his teammates and avoid the temptation of trying to score at all cost.
“I know exactly what he’s feeling,” Andrews said. “The scoring is there for him, but his goals are much bigger than that. He wants to be a pro. I don’t know if he’s focusing on scoring or anything like that, but I would tell him to try to impact winning as much as possible. … That’s the most important thing especially at that point guard position.”
Perhaps fittingly, Brown and Washington begin Pac-12 play against his former team, Arizona.
Monday’s 5 p.m. game at McKale Center was originally scheduled for Dec. 2 and moved due to COVID protocols with the Huskies.
The No. 9-ranked Wildcats (11-1, 1-0 Pac-12), which is No. 1 in the NET ratings, are undefeated at home (7-0).
Coincidentally, the Huskies nearly upset Arizona in their last meeting before falling 75-74 at McKale Center in the 2020-21 regular-season finale. Brown finished with just 2 points on 1-for-11 shooting in 24 minutes against his hometown team.
Brown, who starred for two years (2018-20) at Seattle University, where he averaged 17.2 points, tallied career-lows in points (7.3), assists (3.5), steals (0.9), minutes (25.7) and field goal percentage (39%) while starting 10 of 26 games for the Wildcats last season.
To announce his commitment to Washington, Brown tweeted a picture of himself over the Seattle skyline with a caption that read: “I’m back.” He also wrote, “Heart just turned purple” with a purple heart emoji.
“You definitely see he has that UW pride,” Andrews said. “He plays with a different level of grit and that’s what I love just because he has that old-school traditional UW grit, kind of like the Romar-era style of play.
“I would tell him to don’t ever lose that. Other than that, keep having fun. There’s going to be some ups and downs. Pac-12 play is definitely going to be a different beast, but he has all the teams and he’s equipped to handle it. Like IT says, just keep running the marathon.”