STANFORD, Calif.- Anthony Brown remembers the one-on-one games against his father like yesterday. Call it tough love.
Quentin Brown was a high school basketball star and named CIF Central Valley Player of the Year in 1977. A shooting guard/small forward, he played for four years at UC Irvine.
After college, Quentin and his wife, Rachel, had Anthony. Quentin became a high school basketball coach and Anthony practically grew up in a gym.
“I went to games when I was one or two years old, sitting on the sidelines,” said Anthony, a slender 6-foot-6, 215-pound junior guard/forward. “I’ve always loved the game.”
By the time Anthony was nine, Raquel would drive her son to watch his father’s games and he would sit behind the bench and eavesdrop during timeouts.
“I didn’t realize how much he was listening,” Quentin said. “I could see him a couple rows up and I’d wink at him, but I didn’t realize how intensely he was listening to what I was sharing. He’s kind of a sponge.”
Soon, Anthony was sharing his father’s defensive strategy with friends. And then, father and son started competing in the family driveway, often twice a day. As you can imagine, the 6-7, 230-pound Quentin got the best of him for many years.
“Now that I look back, that kind of drove me to keep working on my game,” said Anthony. “He would always tell me, ‘No matter the situation, if something is not going right, never quit. Never let anyone take the passion for the game away from you.’ So I just kept fighting.”
The rules were simple: first to score 11 baskets wins, must win by two. And by age 13, Anthony was pushing his father. His uncle often urged Quentin to ease up on his son and let him win, but he never did.
“There were a couple of times when his uncle’s quote would pop into my mind because Anthony was so driven to beat me,” said Quentin. “One time the score was tied and I remember him shooting this shot, and had he made it, he would have won. But I didn’t want him to win because it wasn’t time yet. Luckily for me, he missed the shot. It took him another year-and-half to beat me.”
Anthony will never forget the day.
“I might have been 16,” he said. “I used to get so frustrated, we didn’t even talk. It used to get bad. He stopped playing me after I won.”
“We had some real battles,” said Quentin, now a high school principal in Long Beach, Calif. “We didn’t talk only because he was upset. Of course, I wasn’t upset. I was just letting him grow into the person he is today.”
Quentin also taught him sportsmanship.
“You have to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser, but Anthony doesn’t like to lose,” Quentin said with a laugh. “He’s very competitive. He was so excited after he beat me, he tells the story all the time now.”
A 2010 graduate of Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., Brown was a four-star recruit by Scout.com and selected the CIF Southern Section Player of the Year and first-team all-state as a junior. He made the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team in 2010-11, averaging 8.7 points and 3.2 rebounds, and ranked second on the squad with 42 treys.
As a sophomore, Brown started 21 games for the Cardinal and averaged 8.1 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 39.6 from the field, reaching double figures 13 times. Again, he drained 42 three-pointers.
But four games into his junior season, Brown developed problems with his right hip and missed the rest of the season, undergoing surgery in April of 2012. He had additional surgery on his left hip in December.
“It’s kind of a genetic thing my mom has,” said Brown, whose mother is a leadership consultant. “Just the way the hip bone is molded into the socket.”
Brown’s scoring, defense and ball-handling were missed last season, but he gained valuable insight watching from the bench.
“The biggest thing is that the game slowed down for me,” he said. “I saw how many plays you could make on the basketball court that didn’t have to with scoring or shooting the ball. When you’re on the outside, you get to see team chemistry and how the team handles adversity. It was a blessing in disguise.”
Johnny Dawkins, The Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball, is thrilled to have him back. Entering Saturday’s home game against UC Davis, Brown is averaging 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds and has shot 57.1 percent from the field. He has been deadly from deep, converting 19-of-32 three-point shots (59.3), the seventh-best percentage in the country. Brown is the only Cardinal player to score in double figures every game.
“He’s such a versatile player for us,” said Dawkins. “He’s been our secondary ball handler, he’s been a terrific shooter and he’s been our best perimeter defender.”
“I think he’s added quite a bit to our team with his presence. He’s bigger and more mature now with the year he had sitting on the bench watching. I think all of those things have helped him improve as a player. If he doesn’t have a shot, he’s a facilitator and willing passer. He’s a very unselfish ballplayer and I really enjoy coaching him.”
Dawkins was quick to remind that Brown was only 17 when he arrived on campus and was “thrown to the wolves. He was probably 180 soaking wet at 6-6 in a conference where you have 20-year-old freshmen,” he said. “He’s really had to grow and adjust.”
Dawkins smiled when told of Brown’s one-on-one games with his father.
“I remember that from my dad and me as well,” said Dawkins. “Same exact story, so I get it. That’s what helps you. In this life, you have to earn what you get. I think that’s carried over to how he’s performing now.”
No one is prouder than his father.
“Anthony is WAY better than I was,” Quentin said. “I could shoot and play defense. Now when I watch him bring the ball up under pressure and go between his legs and the fluidity of the way he handles the basketball, I enjoy seeing that. I’m very envious.”