An Interview with JU Hall of Famer Dee Brown - Part Three
Last month, JU Hall of Famer Dee Brown talked with about his college, NBA and coaching careers. In the conclusion of our interview, Brown discusses his new position as Assistant Coach for Player Development with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings began training camp on Tuesday and open the regular season on October 30 at home against the Denver Nuggets. Sacramento will also be making a swing through the Southeast in December, playing road games at Atlanta (Dec. 18), Miami (Dec. 20) and Orlando (Dec. 21).
You were just hired by Sacramento in July. What responsibilities will you have with the Kings?
I’ll be overseeing the development of all the players on the team. Skill development in the gym, video analysis of players on the team and around the league, pretty much just trying to make sure that our players are given the ability to get better every day. If they come in at midnight to get shots up, I’m working with them. If they want to come in at 6 a.m., I’m working with them. I’ll also put together skill packages for the other assistants if I notice something a player should be working on. Everyone is assigned different roles with this coaching staff, but my responsibility is to make sure that each player is improving offensively and defensively every time they step out on the floor.

This won’t just be your first year with the Kings, but the first year for the new head coach, Mike Malone. What kind of system are you trying to put in place?
I think one thing is that Coach Malone is known as one of the best defensive minds in this league. Every team he’s been on as a lead assistant has picked up their numbers on defense, so I think that’s his main focus. This team has shown they can score baskets and be very good on offense, but you’ve got to put emphasis and make defense a staple of what kind of team you’re trying to be.

You’ve got tools on this team with players like DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore and Luc Mbah a Moute. So we’re getting the pieces there, and defense is a process, every guy has to be committed to it. Offense is easier because it’s a self-serving side of the ball. Defense is a very selfless act. You don’t get a lot of accolades playing defense and you have to really trust your teammates. Those things we have to really work on daily. The Western Conference is tough, there are a lot of really good teams out there, but we feel like if we can improve our defense we can start to work our way up and we’ll see what happens.

Obviously Sacramento was in the news a lot last season with rumors about a possible move to Seattle. In the two months you’ve been close to the situation, what have you learned about the connection between the team and the community?
It’s really the city’s team. There’s not a whole lot going on here in terms of professional sports other than the Kings. Now, with the fans knowing that the team isn’t moving, there’s a big jump in season ticket sales and they’re investing in the team again. People are excited here and the best thing we can do is put a good product out on the floor that they’ll want to continue to support. I think in a few years they’ll have a new arena downtown and that really solidifies the fact that this franchise will be here for a long time.

Q: What are your impressions of how Cliff Warren has rebuilt the Jacksonville program in his time in charge?
DB: I think Cliff has done an excellent job of bringing back the pride and passion to the Dolphins program. He has rebuilt the program thru great recruiting of student-athletes and made JU a respected program. The thing I like the most about Cliff is that he reaches out to the former Dolphins and keeps us in the loop with recruiting, progress of program and his vision on moving the program forward.

Last question. You have a daughter who is about to begin her freshman season on the basketball team at Maryland. What advice would you give to her or any college athlete?
To really just enjoy your time. It’s a lot different for females and males. If my daughter progressed as a player and became good enough, it would still be four years that she would be in school before she could go pro. With a lot of male athletes, you see them make that jump whenever they think their stock is high enough.

But to any athlete, I would never trade my four years of college for anything. I just thought I grew up from a teenager to an adult in college. I got a chance to be off by myself and learned how to manage my time and make the right decisions as a young adult.

I think the biggest thing is to just absorb it. Engulf yourself into the university. Support the other student-athletes on campus. Go to watch volleyball, soccer, football, whatever it is. You hope the student body supports you, so give back and do the same in return. Go support the theater; watch one of the plays that are being put on. Don’t just be an athlete, be a student-athlete and be a part of what’s going on. I think a lot of college athletes are pulled in so many directions that they forget about the college experience. The support system is there in place for you, so go and enjoy all the aspects of being at a university.