Q+A: Sherwood Brown
SLAMonline sits down with Florida Gulf Coast’s star and leader of the Dunk City revival.
by Daniel Friedman / @DFried615
When the buzzer sounded, bringing the second-round of the NCAA Tournament matchup between No. 2-ranked Georgetown and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) to a close, the Eagles had just completed one of the biggest upsets in Tournament history. That game was also the official coming out party for Sherwood Brown, the Eagles’ star player and the leader of the high-flying underdogs from Fort Myers, FL.
After tallying a game-high 24 points in that brilliant performance against G-Town, Brown followed it up by leading the Eagles to another exhilarating victory against San Diego State University in the third round. With the win, FGCU became the first ever No. 15 seed to make it all the way to the Sweet 16, exemplifying the madness that envelops college basketball every year.
As the glow of the March Madness spotlight fades, Sherwood Brown begins preparing himself for life after college hoops. By his own account, Brown has dramatically improved his game since taking the world by storm. For the past few months, he’s been participating in NBA pre-draft workouts and individual team workouts with clubs like the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.
Sherwood Brown has flew under the radar for most of his career. In a recent interview with SLAMonline, we took it all the way back to the beginning, talking on what it was like to play against Washington Wizards star John Wall in high school, how life has changed since FGCU’s historic tournament run, the upcoming NBA Draft and more.
SLAM: So where did it all begin—how’d you get into playing ball?
Sherwood Brown: Well, I was born in Georgia and that’s where I lived before I started high school. But when I lived there, I was really a football player. It wasn’t until I started school in Orlando that I started playing basketball.
I played football in high school until my sophomore year, but you know, I was in a position where I had to decide whether I wanted to play football or basketball and really be good at one sport.
SLAM: What was your skill level like in high school?
SB: We had a really good team. Six players went on to play Division I basketball. So I felt like I was pretty good, our team was pretty good, and we were competing every day. So I really compare myself to those guys and I felt like I was pretty good in basketball coming out of high school.
SLAM: How’d you end up at Florida Gulf Coast University?
SB: When I was in high school, I wasn’t really highly recruited. I had a couple of offers in the early signing period, and I didn’t take any of those offers because I wanted to wait until the later signing period. And I didn’t really have the senior year that I had hoped for.
The only team that really showed interest in me at the end of the year was FGCU. I took a visit down there and really liked the campus and the area so I was excited to go there, but they didn’t have any scholarships open. The coach said that if I did good in my freshman year, then the next year they would give me a scholarship.
It was a risk, but I was confident in my skills, I just had to be given the chance.
SLAM: Did you think you’d have the chance to play in big games like the NCAA Tournament when you first enrolled?
SB: To be honest, I never imagined anything like that. Those were things that I was dreaming about, but I never thought it would become a reality. The thing that I thought we would be able to do—our school was a pretty new program—so I was just trying to make it to a conference tournament and maybe a championship, and I felt like I would have had a pretty good college career if I could make it that far.
SLAM: Your junior year there was a significant jump in your stats, including your minutes and contributions. What changed going into the season?
SB: Well, we had a coaching change with Coach (Andy) Enfield coming in, who’s a great coach. He gives you a lot of confidence when you play and he really helped me develop more as a basketball player, making more one-on-one moves. Also, he basically told me that I was going to be a leader on this team for the [next] two years, so I had to embrace the role and act like it.
SLAM: Did you notice a change in the culture at FGCU when Coach Enfield arrived?
SB: Definitely. Coach Enfield is a great coach. When he came in, he was basically telling us that he expected for us to be in the NCAA Tournament the next year. He brought in some really good players. Our team had that goal in mind. My junior year was actually our first year of eligibility to be in the Tournament, but we came up short of that goal, making it to our conference championship and we lost, so we didn’t get the automatic bid.
The next year, we knew what it took to make it that far, and so we just played off of last year and really pushed. We won our conference championship, which gave us an automatic bid, and we knew we had a really good team because early in that year we beat Miami, and Miami went on to have a tremendous season. So we knew that we had the type of players that it took to make it and do some damage in the Tournament, and we just had to be on the same page and believe in ourselves. And so I kind of took it upon myself to help us and make sure we had that confidence.
SLAM: In general, how do you try and improve your game?
SB: Well, you know, Coach Enfield is a really good shooting coach. He teaches his players how to shoot really well. He helped me with my form a little bit and made my shot a little bit more consistent. He also helped me with moves in the lane, getting the ball to the basket, and finishing around the rim.
SLAM: What do you think the future of the FGCU program will be now that Enfield has left the school to coach the University of Southern California?
SB: He’s a really good coach and he was ranked as the No. 4 recruiter in the NCAA last year. So they got a really good coach and I’m sure that he can take them beyond where they were last year.
SLAM: How did it feel to be named the A-Sun Player of the Year?
SB: It felt really good. I felt like I worked really hard and it was kind of like a little trophy for me, but I wasn’t really satisfied with that. I also wanted to big things in the NCAA Tournament. So it just basically helped me get confidence in thinking, OK, I did it here, so there should be no reason why I can’t do it on a bigger stage.
SLAM: How has your day-to-day life changed since you became known as the leader of the Dunk City revival?
SB: Well, I was actually in Chicago for the past week and I was working out and I’d go out to dinner and stuff, and people in Chicago would recognize me. I really had no clue that things had gotten to be such a big deal. I was just playing and we didn’t really watch too much TV, so when I was in Chicago and people were recognizing who I was, it really started to hit me.
It’s really cool, you know. I kind of like the feeling. So it just makes me want to work harder because if you want to make people recognize you like that, it means you really have to be good at something. So I feel like I need to continue to get better.
SLAM: What was it like on campus after you led the Eagles to the Sweet 16?
SB: Campus was totally different. My first day back from making it to the Sweet 16, we got back on Monday morning and we had class that day. I went to my first class and I was kind of late that day because it was a late night for us. The teacher stopped class and everyone gave me a round of applause, and that felt really good. Then all throughout the day, people were just congratulating us, so it was great.