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Defensive-minded Brown becoming complete player at Manhattan

Brooklyn Daily

Brooklyn’s own Rhamel Brown has learned how to score — just not how to boast.

Brown, who grew up in Brownsville, prefers to operate in the background as a rebounder, defender, and uncanny shot blocker. The junior has always been comfortable staying out of the spotlight, but injuries to guards George Beamon and Michael Alvarado have forced Brown out of that comfort zone and into a scoring role.

“He’s a different young man,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said. “He doesn’t want the limelight. He wants to be in the background. He doesn’t want the ball. I said, ‘Rhamel that’s tough, because you’re getting the ball and you’re going to be in the limelight now.’ ”

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound powerhouse has thrived in his new role. He is averaging 12.3 points per game and 7.1 rebounds. The reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year had the finest game of his career in a loss to Iona on Jan. 6. Brown had 16 points, nine rebounds, and a career-high seven blocks. Performance like that and the 21-points he earned against Sienna last month show how complete a player he is becoming. Not surprisingly, Brown isn’t interested in taking credit.

“I’ve always been a defensive player,” Brown said. “I never really had an offensive mind set. My teammates and my coaches always put that belief in me.”

Brown’s development makes Masiello believe he has a chance to play in the NBA down the road. He doesn’t buy into the fact that Brown is too small to survive as a power forward at that level, citing players like Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz and DeJuan Blair of the San Antonio Spurs for examples.

“He can definitely [play] because he is a high-character young man,” Masiello said. “He plays so hard and he can defend multiple positions. It’s all about the [right] fit.”

Brown said he isn’t thinking that far ahead right now. He is more concerned with executing his increased role to best help a short-handed Manhattan team that is 5–10 overall and 3–2 in conference play. Brown has practiced creating space in the post, improving his footwork, and using his speed against bigger defenders. Masiello said one of the reasons for his big numbers is fair play — his lack of foul trouble keeps him on the floor.

But in his mind he is still a defensive player first. On the other hand, he understands he is proving himself to be an offensive force.

“I didn’t mind being labeled as a defensive player,” Brown said. “But I feel like my game has grown to the point where I could be labeled more of a complete player, not just a defensive player.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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