MISSOULA — The Montana men’s basketball team is getting the outside shooting threat it’s been seeking in Freddy Brown III.
Brown, a 6-foot-2 sharpshooting senior at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, committed to the Griz on Thursday night.
He's the grandson of former Seattle Supersonic standout “Downtown Freddie Brown" and the nephew of former Griz great Delvon Anderson, who played with current head coach Travis DeCuire and died in August.
“Coach Travis is like an uncle to me,” Brown told 406mtsports.com about why he committed to Montana. “My uncle Delvon Anderson actually played with coach Travis and so did my dad (Fred Brown Jr.) in high school. I’ve just always had that family connection with coach Trav.
“I remember when I was in eighth grade going to be a freshman, coach Trav was at Cal and he gave me my first unofficial visit at Cal. I’ve always just wanted to stay close with coach Trav. I’ve been calling him my uncle. When I went on my visit (to Montana), this coaching staff treated me like family.”
He added: “When (Delvon) told me he played college basketball at the University of Montana, I always kept that as an open option to go to. Once Travis got the job, I knew that there’d be a connection right there.”
Brown, the 14th player on the Grizzlies’ roster for the 2018-19 season, isn’t just coming to Montana because of his connection to the program and DeCuire. He has some credentials to back up the opportunity to play on the Division I level.
As a high school junior, Brown was a part of the undefeated national champion team at Nathan Hale. He was primarily a knockdown 3-point shooter, playing alongside Michael Porter Jr., a McDonald’s All-American and potential NBA lottery pick this month.
“That’s another reason why I chose Montana,” Brown said. “I want to be in a winning environment. My junior season was my favorite and best season.”
Brown was the only returner from that 29-0 team, which also included current Missouri Tiger Jontay Porter and four-star prospect PJ Fuller. He took on multiple roles as a senior and averaged 28.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.4 steals, he said, as the Raiders went 5-17, according to MaxPreps.com.
“My senior year, my athleticism got way better attacking the hoop and playing defense,” Brown said. “This year, I had to play all-around everything because I was the only returner at Nathan Hale.
“I knew this senior year was for my uncle Delvon. I decide to wear No. 24 in his honor. This one was just for him.”
Brown, who has played AAU basketball with Seattle Rotary EYBL and Team LaVine, is quick to point out his 3-point shooting is his biggest strength.
“I saw that (Montana) got zoned a little bit last year,” he said. “When teams zone, they’re going to pay when I go into the game.”
That outside shooting is something he says is a mix from his bloodlines going back to his grandfather and from hard work, crediting time he spent with Anderson.
“When I was younger, he would rebound for me when I couldn’t even shoot on a 10-foot hoop. He would push me to actually shoot on a 10-foot hoop growing up,” Brown said, adding that he does the same thing for Anderson’s two children. “That’s how I think I got my range was just always being pushed by him and having him rebound for me and giving me pointers.”
Brown described himself as a point guard who can shoot the ball and said he expects to play one of the two guard positions while at Montana. He wants to continue working on his leadership skills and speaking up when he needs to, he said, as he transitions into that role.
Brown is part Native American from the Makah Tribe, and his family has placed an emphasis on education. His parents are teachers. His aunt Jolene Grimes Edwards, who is his mom’s sister and was married to Anderson, is an assistant principal at Nathan Hale.
“They’ve been strong academically on me. I wanted to go to a school and not just rely on a basketball scholarship,” Brown said, adding that he’s coming to Montana on an academic scholarship. “Being able to get accepted into a university was one of the best things I’ve done, knowing all your hard work in the classroom paid off.”
He finishes up high school on June 18 and will be in Montana on June 23 ahead of summer school.
When he comes, he’ll continue to carry with him a saying his dad has told him numerous times over the years.
“Opportunities do not go away. They go to someone else,” Brown said. “It means just taking the opportunities, and if you don’t take an opportunity, someone else will.”