Jordan Brown, the second McDonald’s All-American in Nevada basketball history, put his name in the transfer portal Thursday and will pick his next school based on one major factor: trust.
That, according to his dad, Dion, who spoke with NSN on Thursday shortly after his son opened up the potential for a transfer by entering the portal. A return to Nevada has not been ruled out, although the Wolf Pack would have to beat several Power 5 programs to retain the five-star recruit.
“The thing of it with Jordan is a trust issue,” Dion said. “His confidence and trust got shattered this season. Not just him. Me, too, as well. We came out (to Reno) last week and we talked through it and this whole thing is trust. I hate to see that with such a young kid to where you learn what the world is about. It ain’t always good. But he’s going to be better for it. I know that. He hasn’t stopped working.”
Brown, a 6-foot-11, 210-pound forward, was expected to play a major role at Nevada this season. Instead, he placed eighth on the team in minutes per game, starting one time and appearing in 33 of Nevada’s 34 games. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds per game and shot 50.6 percent from the field, numbers that were tamped down due to the limited minutes, but his high potential was obvious.
While Brown was disappointed with his playing time, the community lived up to his expectations.
“One thing is he really likes the city, he likes his teammates, he likes the campus,” Dion Brown said. “We all do. That all came through just as we were told it would. We loved the people, how they supported the team, the sold-out stadiums. All of that was true. They supported him and wanted him there.”
Eric Musselman’s almost certain replacement, Steve Alford, helmed UCLA when the Bruins recruited Brown out of high school. Brown’s father said assistant coach David Grace did most of his son’s recruitment at UCLA, although Grace's contract was not renewed by the Bruins after it expired in June 2018 and he moved on to Cal. As a result, Brown and Alford haven't had a ton of contact.
Dion Brown said his son wants to “weigh all of his options and go from there.” Prior to Nevada’s NCAA Tournament game, Jordan Brown told NSN his season was hard given the expectations he entered the year with, but he tried to take learning lessons from it. He expressed great excitement for the future.
“I definitely have been pleased with how I’ve done when I’m out there on the court playing with these guys,” Brown said. “I know I can still do my moves. Whenever I get a move off, it’s, like, ‘OK. I can still do this, do that.’ It’s been good for me. I’ve also been able to see some improvement, like defensively being able to stay in front of people and stuff and making the right reads and slowing down the game.
“I know what I can do. I’m just excited for next year to show everybody what I can do.”
Dion Brown said his advice to his son during the season was to learn as much as he could. He didn’t want Jordan to disturb the team’s chemistry even though he wasn’t getting big minutes because the Wolf Pack was playing so well and appeared to be on a trajectory for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
“I told him to enjoy it, learn from these guys, learn from (Jordan) Caroline, learn from the (Martin) twins, take whatever you can from them,” Brown said. “I told him, 'The things they're telling you to work on, it’s not bad stuff.' You have to work on it, continue to work on it. And when you’re out there, whether it’s 2 minutes, 3 minutes, you play hard, because it was easy for a kid like that to lose it all, lose all his confidence and I thought he did pretty well for most of the season and there are times when it’s hard.”
“He stayed focused on positive stuff the whole season and you always wait for your moments and just enjoy it. I didn’t want him to be sitting around moping and depressed. I told him to enjoy the run. I was a little frustrated, but at the same time those guys around him could play and they had a good team, a good season.”
Alford, if he ends up being the coach, has a strong history of developing post players, which could suit Brown more than Musselman’s scheme if the big man sticks with Nevada. The elder Brown reiterated the school that eventually lands his son will be the one that earns the trust of him and his family. If he transfers, Brown would have sit out a season due to NCAA rules.
“With Jordan and with us, it just comes down to a trust factor,” Brown said. “It’s a trust thing. Sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you don’t. You never really know 100 percent whether it’s right or wrong. I know Jordan has learned a lot throughout this season and hopefully wherever he ends up, be it at Nevada or anywhere else, he can carry through all that he learned this season and be successful.”