Next up in our Michigan Wolverines basketball player profile series is Chaundee Brown, who transferred to Michigan after three seasons at Wake Forest. He spent much of the last five months waiting on word from the NCAA about whether he would be immediately eligible this season, but on Oct. 30, Juwan Howard broke the news that his waiver was approved during practice.
Here’s a breakdown of Brown’s career and how he fits into the Wolverines’ roster this year.
The story so far
When Brown committed to the Demon Deacons back in October 2016, it was considered a major addition for a program on the rise. Brown was a consensus four-star prospect out of Orlando, Fla. in the class of 2017, checking in as the No. 36 prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings. As he geared up for his freshman season, Wake Forest was coming off a 19-14 season — an eight-win improvement from the previous year.
Brown enjoyed a good deal of individual success in Winston-Salem. He started 74 of the 84 games he played, averaging 10.4 points and 4.7 assists. Brown was at his best on the big stage, especially as a junior. He scored a career-best 26 points in the Demon Deacons’ upset of Xavier last year and added another 24 in an overtime win over No. 7 Duke. A lower body injury held him out for eight games last season, yet he took a step forward in almost every major statistical category when healthy.
But as a team, Wake Forest posted a combined 35-58 record over Brown’s three years, tumbling to the bottom of the ACC standings in the process. Just before head coach Danny Manning was fired following the 2019-20 season, Brown entered the transfer portal and submitted his name to the NBA Draft pool. Michigan didn’t emerge as a suitor in his recruitment until late in the process, but Howard made it clear that he wanted Brown in Ann Arbor.
And so, on May 19, Brown committed to the Wolverines, solidifying a roster in flux following a few unexpected recruiting twists. With his senior season set to tip off Wednesday, he could be the missing piece that propels Michigan to a deep tournament run.
How he fits into 2020-21
At Michigan, all Brown wants to do is win. The fact that his play style complements the rest of the roster well could help him do just that.
At Wake Forest, Brown established himself as a bruiser at his best while playing downhill. His 6-foot-5, 215 pound frame adds a valuable dimension of physicality to the Wolverines’ backcourt. He’s shown an ability to finish consistently around the rim and get himself to the free throw line — an added benefit for a team that relied heavily on 3-pointers at times last season.
Though Brown hasn’t shot above 35 percent from 3-point range over the course of an entire season yet, he’s shown an ability to stretch the floor when necessary. Speaking to reporters on a Zoom call earlier this month, Brown claimed he’s a better shooter than the numbers show. Now that he’s fully healthy, his percentages could see a bump.
In no way does that mean Brown will transform into a spot-up shooter. The fact remains that he’s at his best when attacking the rim, and during the pre-draft process, NBA front offices told him they’d like to see improvement in his ball-handling and passing. If Howard opts to use him as one of the team’s ball-handlers in Michigan’s screen-heavy offense, Brown will have every chance to showcase improvement in that aspect of the game.
Playing alongside reliable 3-point shooters like Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers will only help Brown flourish. Because perimeter defenders won’t be able to help off Michigan’s wings, Brown should see less traffic on his way to the rim. And if double-teams ultimately come, it would leave him with open passing lanes to two of the Big Ten’s top shooting threats.
On the other hand of the floor, Brown’s combination of size, physicality and quickness allows him to guard multiple positions. Even when taller opponents bring him down to the low post, his strength allows him to hold his own around the rim. If Brown proves himself as a reliable defender in the Big Ten, that’ll only pave the way for more minutes.
The bottom line is that Brown’s inside-out style and roster fit with the Wolverines should allow his game to translate well from the ACC. And if it does, his goal of winning will be well within reach.