Standing tall and talented, the singular presence of Javonte Brown is enough to make opposing teams change their whole gameplan… and opposing guards to think twice when heading to the rim.
At just over 7-feet Javonte is the tallest player in the OSBA with perhaps the highest ceiling, leading to a commitment from the big man to suit up for the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies in the NCAA next season.
There, the Pickering, ON native will use what he’s learned in Canada’s top prep league and try to put it all together, making consistent dominance out of his flashes of brilliance.
“There’s a few moments where he catches the ball and you think it’s a bad situation because there’s four guys on him but then he just rises up and just dunks it over everyone and you’re just like ‘holy – that was pretty great,” says teammate Ben Li. “Those moments spark us. We go on huge runs after he makes plays like those.”
Javonte finished the 2019-20 regular season for Thornlea S.S. averaging 18.9 points, on 61% shooting which would rank him first in the OSBA among players with over 50 field goal attempts.
He’s also averaged 9.8 rebounds and leads the league by a wide margin in blocks averaging 2.6 per game, which has put him firmly in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion.
UConn is excited about Javonte’s development (like his Dec. 4 game where he dropped 27-15 with 4 blocks) and what he could bring to a perennial March Madness contender.
“Once they tap into that potential, it’s going to be scary,” says his Thornlea coach Shane James. “I think the biggest thing for him is getting his body stronger. Once he does that he’s going to be a different player and have a chance to play at the pro level. He has a chance to be the leading shot blocker in the country with the way they play. Sky’s the limit.”
“The UConn visit was great,” Brown said according to ZagsBlog. “The whole vibe was different over there. You could tell the vibe is different. Those guys are ready to win. I could tell they had a couple bad years before but all those guys are ready to win and they’re ready for a big up-coming.”
“They’re saying I could be a big-time energy player – block shots, get rebounds finish in the paint and around the rim and all that.”
Brown enters college early after just four years of high school eligibility meaning he’ll be a young 17 on campus where he’ll spend a full six months going to summer school and hitting the weight room before basketball season tips off.
His time spent in the OSBA has him feeling ready to grow at the next level.
“I wanted to play in probably one of the best leagues in the whole world,” says Brown. “Everyone knows that the OSBA has produced a lot of high caliber ball players. Probably more than most American high school leagues and I wanted to play against the best competition in Canada and so people could see I’m one of the best and I can bang with ‘em.”
His return to Canada after playing at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore was to have his family see him play more before going off to college, and also to return to play for Shane James who coached him growing up, and who has known him since he was a kid given their distant family relationship – “His grandmother is married to my grand-uncle,” laughs James.
“He was tall, awkward, could barely run in a straight line. When he officially joined our program and he started to take basketball serious he was in grade 9 – so, three years ago – and he didn’t know how to run so he’s come a long ways.”
You still see some of that with Brown, but other times he draws an entire team’s defence into the paint creating looks for teammates like Ben Li who finished second in the OSBA in scoring. His talents have led Thornlea to play more of a traditional inside-out game on offence and really encourage teammates to look to feed the ball into Brown on the block, knowing they’ll get it back.
Make no mistake, Brown is a team-first player who really cares about “good vibes.” A fun-loving, caring guy without a selfish bone in his body.
Just ask a former high school teammate, Nick Brown (no relation), who played with Javonte when he was just starting high school and calls him the funniest guy on the team by far.
“There’s some guys that can be a chemistry killer but he was a chemistry-builder and for a Grade 9 to be like that you kind of take a step back and say ‘wow he has some leadership skills’ you can tell they’re going to go somewhere with that attitude.”
With high school nearly in his rear-view Javonte is definitely going somewhere. And he’s not thinking twice.