A month ago, Chaundee Brown didn’t know whether or not he’d be able to take the court this season.
After transferring to Michigan from Wake Forest in May, the senior guard’s eligibility status remained in limbo for much of the summer and fall. As other transfers around the country got their waivers approved with each passing day, Brown was left in the dark.
That is, until Oct. 30. During a Friday practice, Michigan coach Juwan Howard broke the news to Brown that the NCAA had deemed him immediately eligible. His teammates reacted accordingly.
And on Wednesday, Brown erupted for 18 second-half points — including five 3-pointers — in the Michigan men’s basketball team 96-82 win over Bowling Green. He finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench, including a 5-for-7 mark from beyond the arc.
Wednesday’s box score might leave many thinking Brown is a 3-point sniper. But during his first three seasons of college basketball, that wasn’t the case. He’s never shot better than 35 percent from downtown in a single season, though some of that can be attributed to injuries.
“Been in the gym all summer, just working on my shot,” Brown said. “I knew (given) the offense that coach Howard ran and Michigan ran, I knew I had to be able to shoot the ball way better than I shot it last year. All I could do was get in the gym and just work on my shot and I’ve been doing that before, after practice, all the time, just working on my shot, it showed tonight.”
When three outgoing transfers left the Wolverines’ roster in flux last spring, Howard looked to the portal to fill voids. There, he saw Brown’s name listed and “jumped on it right away,” Howard told reporters after Wednesday’s game. A few phone calls later, Brown was heading to Ann Arbor.
When he arrived on campus, Howard and his staff didn’t change anything about Brown’s shooting mechanics. Instead, they asked him to focus on his movement without the ball — particularly his ability to catch passes ready to shoot.
“They knew I had good form, good shot,” Brown said. “Just being shot-ready, move into the open spot when people drive, stuff like that. Just got to shoot the ball with confidence, they knew I could shoot the ball, they saw it in practice and workouts all the time.”
The fruits of Brown’s labor were on display against the Falcons. The Wolverines’ 96-point output was the team’s third-best scoring total since Howard took over last year, and much of it was a result of Brown’s strong night from the field. He stepped into his jump shot with balance throughout the game, allowing him to sink 3-pointers from all over the perimeter. As each shot fell, he became more confident on the next.
For Brown, the most difficult part of overcoming his prior shooting woes had nothing to do with his shot itself. Rather, it was about preparation.
“Coming from Wake Forest, I’ve been running the same plays three years in a row,” Brown said. “Now for my last year, I have to switch up to a whole new NBA playing style offense, so I had to really switch my mind over and forget those old plays and learn about these. It was hard, but I never made any excuses. I knew it was something I had to do. And I’m still looking over the playbook, 20-30 minutes before I go to sleep.”
That preparation paid off on Wednesday night, to say the least.