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Posted On: 03/11/19 1:36 PM
When it comes to recruiting sometimes it pays to have a pipeline. Jalen Brown is the latest to follow an established one from Portland down south. After the athletic 6-foot-3 guard finished out this season with Jefferson, he decided there was no reason to wait anymore before making a decision on his future. Brown got together with his family and made the choice to follow the lead of those before him and head to Eastern Arizona College.
“Coach (Maurice) Leitzke is a really nice and he came and sat down with me and my family today and everything about the program I loved,” Brown said. “He kept it real with me saying that nothing was promised and that I need to put in the work and time and I’m up for that challenge. He watched me all last summer and spring and liked what he saw and thinks my style of play fits well in his system. I know that Amari Stafford is finishing up his last year there so it was cool to see someone else from Jeff there too and also how many guys he’s sent to the next level and the pros.”
Amari Stafford (2017 Jefferson) is just one of many Portland-area natives who have gone down to Thatcher in the past decade-plus. The most notable is of course Grant alumnus Mike James, but many others including Dontae Bryant (2006 Jefferson), Mario Gill (2008 Wilson), and Orlando Vance (2012 Parkrose) have utilized the Gila Monsters program as a springboard to the next level. In addition to Stafford, Amari Hale (2017 Central Catholic) is also currently at the campus in Thatcher and it’s through Brown’s conversations with them and others that helped him to commit to the program sight unseen.
“I know a couple of guys that go there and I’ve been talking to Coach Leitzke for awhile now so I’ve seen a lot of pictures of the campus and the facilities,” Brown said. “So I have a pretty good image for what it looks like in my head.”
Brown is an extremely athletic wing who can knock down deep threes but also take it strong to the basket and finish at the rim with authority. He admittedly struggled to find good footing his senior year at Jefferson but he’s trying to take everything as a positive and as a learning experience to help at the next level.
“This season was pretty frustrating because I wasn’t playing as much as I thought I should be but that is just what Coach Pat (Strickland) felt was most comfortable with and I guess that’s okay,” Brown said. “We were winning games and playing at a high level so I had to be there for my team as a senior leader and not so worried about my personal stats or accolades.”
“I think anyone in the state knows what I’m capable of but this season just taught me how to be a team player and to most importantly take advantage of every opportunity that I’m given whether in practice or in a game,” Brown said. “I had a fun year and it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would but I’m really excited about playing at Eastern Arizona for the next two years.”
A 4.0 student, Brown is a full qualifier and would have the ability to leave Eastern Arizona after one season with three years of eligibility remaining if the opportunity presented itself. Brown currently ranks as the #10 player in the PrepHoops Oregon Class of 2019 rankings.