View Full Version : Ira Brown Profile

Angelo Roncalli
10-11-2007, 08:14 PM
From tomorrow's Bulletin:

Newcomer, 25, brings pro attitude to Gonzaga
After five years of professional baseball, Ira Brown comes to Gonzaga with a renewed appreciation for basketball
Travis Lucian
Issue date: 10/12/07 Section: Sports

For five seasons Ira Brown trudged through baseball's minor league system, compiling individual statistics hoping to fulfill his own personal goal of making it to the big leagues. Now, as a junior sports management major at Gonzaga, Brown, 25, has the luxury of playing on a team that is less interested in personal statistics and more concerned with collectively winning basketball games.

"Basketball is family, baseball is more individualized. It is all about your personal stats," Brown, a Conroe, Texas, native said.

In 2001 the Kansas City Royals selected Brown in the eighth round of professional baseball's amateur draft. Brown, a starting pitcher in his first four seasons, compiled a record of 8-12 in 35 starts with a 5.01 ERA. The right-hander tossed for the Spokane Indians (Single A) in 2002. Other stops included stints with the Gulf Coast Royals (Rookie League), the Arizona Royals (Rookie League), the Shreveport Sports (Independent League) and the Burlington Bees (Single A).

The Royals released Brown in July 2004, and the Mariners signed him the following September. Brown converted to a relief pitcher prior to pitching independently for the Edmonton Cracker Cats of the Northern League in 2005. Brown, who had set a five-year limit on making it to the big leagues, turned down a two-year minor league contract from the San Diego Padres and opted to return to basketball. Although Brown suffered from elbow tendonitis in his pitching arm, the ailment was not the deciding factor in his choice to play college basketball.

"I love [basketball], I always told myself I would come back and play," Brown said.

Subsequently, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound forward attended Phoenix College and started playing basketball for the Bears. Brown, who often felt that baseball limited his ability to showcase his athletic capabilities, was finally able to make use of his athleticism.

"In baseball my ability to be a natural athlete was restricted, especially as a pitcher," Brown said.

As a freshman, Brown was named a Second-Team All-American. Additionally, Brown was named to the ACCAC first team and NJCAA Region first team. Last year, Brown garnered NJCAA Division II first team All-American accolades as he averaged 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Brown also recorded 17 double-doubles.

Brown chose to continue his basketball career at Gonzaga.

"I wanted a big time program, but a small school. I did not want to deal with the whole big school thing," Brown said.

Having spent five years toiling through the minor leagues on sleeper buses, Brown immediately proved to his coaches that minor league baseball had molded him into a professional.

"He is a pro, he is a pro at the way he approaches everything. He has done the grind of minor league baseball," associate head basketball coach Leon Rice said.

In addition to becoming more professional, Brown felt like life in the minors made him more mature.

"Minor league baseball made me become more professional and mature. It also gave me a harder work ethic," Brown said.

Brown's hiatus from basketball left him rusty in many areas of the game. He spent countless hours shoring up his game with ball handling drills - he even tinkered with the mechanics of his shot. Above all else, though, Brown had to learn to play in a systematic offense, something that he was never required to do at Willis High School in Houston.

"I had to learn to play within a system. The only thing I knew how to do was be an athlete and dunk over people," Brown said.

Before, Brown was expected to carry his team, both in high school and at Phoenix College. Now, with Division I talent surrounding him, Brown will be called on to be merely a contributor.

"They just want me to rebound the ball, run up and down the floor and shoot the wide open shot," Brown said.

Following five years in the minors, Brown has grown to appreciate the idea of a team something that minor league baseball seemed to lack.

"I think he really likes being part of a team, and part of a good team that could be heading somewhere good," Rice said.

A systematic offense, however, will not prevent Brown from displaying his explosive athleticism. Brown jokingly said that he hopes to makes SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays at least four or five times this season.

"He will come up with some [plays] that will be eye-popping," Rice said.

Brown, who has one more year of eligibility left after this season, hopes to continue playing basketball professionally following college. If he doesn't make it to the NBA, Brown said he would likely play overseas if he had to, suggesting that he would play as long as he physically could.

"I will go wherever basketball takes me," Brown said.

10-11-2007, 08:21 PM
I think Ira will really be a contributor this year.

10-11-2007, 11:30 PM
I like hearing that he is leaning on maturity and focus. I can appreciate what Few & Co. see in Ira! Sounds like he might be bringing some Erroll-esque energy.

10-12-2007, 09:22 AM
"They just want me to rebound the ball, run up and down the floor and shoot the wide open shot," Brown said.

Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Oh yeah, they probably don't mind if he does this either:

Brown jokingly said that he hopes to makes SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays at least four or five times this season.

Do you really think he was joking?

I don't!!


10-14-2007, 06:06 PM
I hadn't seen this linked here - it's puff, but it's a puff-piece about Ira!