Josh Brown barely had an opportunity to know his mother.
She passed away suddenly one night when Brown was just one-year-old. So when it came time to start his college search, the only school on Brown’s radar was the one his mother had attended: Temple.
“That was number one on my list,” Brown said. “I wanted to honor her in the best way possible. So I felt like coming here would be doing just that.”
Ranked 138th on the Rivals150 list for the class of 2013, Temple was not the only school that showed interest in Brown. Rhode Island, Penn State and Providence were also possibilities for the 6-foot-3 St. Anthony High School guard.
Brown committed to Temple early in his junior year. But after thinking more about his future, he wanted options. Most importantly, Brown says, he wanted to compare other schools to Temple. In June 2012, news broke that Brown had decommited.
“I think I was a little surprised when he told us that he wanted to open up his recruiting,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “But he’s such a good person, a good player and a good student that I said, ‘You’ll figure this out, and we’re not going anywhere. We’ll be right here if you need us.’”
According to Brown, Dunphy turned out to be one of the biggest factors in him recommiting to Temple last August.
“I learned that every school that recruited me tried to promise me things,” Brown said. “I couldn’t really trust any of those promises. The one thing I really respect about Coach Dunphy is that he didn’t promise me anything.”
“He just said I’m going to earn everything I get,” Brown added. “That made me think if I go out there and show him and prove myself, he’s going to give me a lot of time and let me do this on offense and this on defense. I respected him. That’s why I’m here now.”
Brown was coached in high school by Bob Hurley, who has garnered 26 state championships in his nearly 40 years with St. Anthony. Brown says that it was from Hurley that he learned the fundamentals of basketball and developed his skill set.
“He’s a terrific young man,” Dunphy said. “And he’s coming from one of the storied high school programs in all of America, coached by as fine a basketball coach as there is in Bob Hurley.”
Brown himself says that the coaching styles of both Dunphy and Hurley resemble each other in a number of ways.
“Coach Hurley is pretty similar to coach Dunphy,” Brown said. “Their philosophy on defense is the same. Coach Dunphy doesn’t have to teach me as many defensive principles as he has to do with other freshman. He depends on me to be in the right spot on defense.”
Brown, who is leaning towards a degree in business, has been practicing with the team throughout the month of July. He says he has one goal for his next four years on the court with Temple: win.
“Everyone is competitive and there is a lot of energy at practice every day,” Brown said. “One thing I’ve learned about college so far is that a lot of guys are stronger, quicker, move faster. But I’m adjusting. It’s been a great experience so far.”
Learning that Brown’s desire to attend Temple was rooted by a desire to honor his late mother, Dunphy says he became even more excited about the prospect of him becoming an Owl. But his recruitment was much more than just a feel-good story—Brown’s role with the team, even as early as this season, is set to be a significant one.
“He’s a talented player, he will get better and better as he goes throughout his college basketball career, and he will have an important role with us next season—no matter if that’s starting or coming off the bench,” Dunphy said. “As I look at it, very briefly, he is going to be splitting time with Will Cummings at that point guard spot. But they also can play together, as well.”
Now that he has arrived in Philadelphia and begun adjusting to college life, Brown finds himself now walking across the same streets and sidewalks that his mother once did. The feeling, according to him, is a comforting one.
“Being on Temple’s campus now, it feels like she’s always there with me,” Brown said. “I feel like every time I’m on campus nothing’s going to go wrong because she’s there watching over me.”
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.