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St. John’s lands 2017 C Zach Brown of Miami, bouncing back from mistakes

Brown decommitted from UConn and had landed in legal trouble.

St John's v Xavier Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It’s the middle of the summer and St. John’s has their first 2017 recruit, an elite center by the name of Zach Brown of Miami High School in Miami Beach. He’s a highly rated center with elite size, a decommitment from UConn... and some legal issues.

Brown is a 7’1”, 260 pound center who left his high school after an on-court altercation with opposing players after a fight. And earlier this spring, he was arrested on robbery charges, which have been supposedly been dropped.

He writes on Twitter in response, noting that Coach Chris Mullin has also faced adversity and is building a family at St. John’s:

Obviously, this commitment is a big deal for St. John’s - not just because of the talent added to the center position along with Yankuba Sima and Tariq Owens - but because of the scrutiny invited by this move.

Innocent or not, Brown’s past is tumultuous, from deep poverty to a wealthy guardian who has kept his life closer to on-track to the on- and off-court incidents. And it’s likely that some fans will make comparisons between Brown and the incident that Rysheed Jordan was arrested for.

For more on his past:

We will learn more about his status for his last high school season and college later in the summer.

It’s important to note that Brown has what seems to be a stable guardian (ed. note: NY Post reports he is back living with his mother), has few reasons to stay near home in Miami, and seems to be looking for a fresh start after coming very close to losing a chance to capitalize on his size and gifts.

A talented risk for Chris Mullin

But Zach Brown is a talented risk - and is proof that a team affiliated with Under Armour can still snag a Nike-affiliated prospect.

On 247 Sports, the predictors thought he would either go to the University of South Carolina or return to commit to UConn. St. John’s was pursuing Brown, but this is a surprise.

Brown was rated in the top 30 by some recruiting sites. His long-term potential is intriguing. Of course, this means that some player will need to leave St. John’s, with 13 scholarships possibly committed for the 2017-18 season if Darien Williams applies for a fifth year of eligibility.

Brown addresses what looks to be an issue for the Red Storm - rebounding in the paint. Yankuba Sima offers interior defense and shot blocking, as does Kassoum Yakwe, but neither looks to be a dominant rebounder as yet (and more help inside is always welcome to end opponent possessions). Marvin Clark Jr., who also came from a tough background economically, will also help add toughness inside.

Zach Brown evaluation

ESPN calls Brown a imposing physical presence who combines size, length, an already big frame that should have no problem continuing to add muscle mass, and a good motor”, who is still raw and unrefined.

From the Hartford Courant:

"Zach's extremely quick for a 7-footer," [Putnam Science coach Tom] Espinosa said. "He moves extremely well. He has got to work on his defense. He closes, no space, and he fouls constantly. He has got to be a better shot-blocker. Defensively, he's kind of way behind.

"But offensively, he's quick, he keeps the ball high, he has got great up-and-under moves.

From as a sophomore:

He stands 6-11 and uses his wide frame and pure strength to seal off the opposition and score easy buckets. He has a nice set of hands and good touch inside. He'll need to continue develop his low post game because right now he's able to bully defenders. He's a very good rebounder, has a long set of arms and plays hard on both ends of the floor.

More early evaluation is available from Peach State Basketball as well.

Zach Brown highlights