ATLANTA — Finally, an athlete wearing a shooting sleeve with a golden patch in his hair playing for the Atlanta Hawks.
Everything about rookie guard Charlie Brown Jr. screams confidence, whether he’s dawning a 90’s jumpsuit while performing “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song for the team’s rookie talent show or not even taking a second to second-guess any three-pointer that’s available to him on the floor, Brown carries himself like he knows he belongs in the league.
His name is an alias for the public to know.
“My dad’s nickname was Charlie Brown playing basketball,” Brown said. “He always said the basketball side of me is Charlie Brown, and the personal side of me is Charles Brown. That’s how I look at it. It’s like my alter ego. You can’t be the same person on the court.”
This past season at St. Joseph’s, Brown became the second player in program history to win the A-10 scoring title by putting up 19 points a game. The first player to do it was Hawks wing DeAndre’ Bembry.
“He’s similar to me in ways,” Bembry said of Brown. “He can do more than one thing. He’s long, he can defend, but one thing for sure is he can shoot the ball at his size. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow because when you make it here, that doesn’t just keep you here. You’ve got to keep getting better each year and that’s one of the things that he’s going to have to learn.”
Standing at 6’7, Brown was St. Joe’s primary scorer. His high targets made it difficult for his smaller defenders to prevent him from getting the ball and nearly impossible for traditional guards to effect his jumpers. At the 4:05 mark of this highlight, you can also see his size allowing him to see over St. Louis’ defense to make the crisp cross-court pass to Lorenzo Edwards.
In the preseason, Bembry stood off the bench after almost every three-point attempt that Brown has taken. Outside of Atlanta’s duo, Detroit Pistons guard Langston Galloway is the only other active St. Joseph’s player currently in the league, according to RealGM.
“I remember when I was in college, he used to always work out with me when he was in high school,” Bembry said. “He and his father used to always come up and just work out with me. It’s crazy to see how he’s followed my lead and got here. I’m just thankful that I was able to show him the ways.”
Bembry isn’t the only Hawk that Brown has had a previous relationship with. Back in middle school, he played on the same AAU team as De’Andre Hunter in the two rookies’ hometown of Philadelphia. It was a coincidence that Hunter couldn’t believe.
“[The possibility] never crossed my mind,” Hunter said. “When I saw that he signed with the Hawks, I was like ‘that’s crazy.’ It was crazy when I saw him because we grew up together, so it was weird. It was weird.”
“Not a lot of people from Philly get to have this opportunity so [we’re] just trying to be motivation for the kids there now that had the same dream as [we did]. [We] were once in their shoes.”
Brown shared similar sentiments about the impact of how far his career has gone has on the city.
“To all of the people back in my area and where I came from, I inspired people to push their limits,” Brown said. “They’ve seen me grow up, they’ve seen what I had to go through, some of them did at least, and they know what it takes. They look at me now and I just give them motivation. I hope that I give everybody motivation.”
Brown said that he had at least three teams who were interested in him immediately following this summer’s draft. Atlanta was his first choice among the cluster.
“I’ve never been here, this is my first time here,” Brown said at Media Day. “They have a great coaching staff. We have players’ coaches so they’re in-tune with the players and how they feel. They just want us to be better people. That’s their top priority here, so I appreciated that for sure.”
Brown had one of the more impressive Summer League showings in July for the Hawks, showing off his ability to read coverages and drive offensively when his shot wasn’t necessarily falling.
Brown is the Hawks’ other two-way player this season alongside hometown point guard Brandon Goodwin. The two will headline the inaugural season of the College Park Skyhawks. Fellow rookie guard Tahjere McCall’s G League rights also belong to the Skyhawks.
The bond between the three players was established early in the preseason, as Goodwin and Brown joked together at media day before Brown sat down at his media day table and FaceTime’d McCall, who was on the other side of the facility.
“It’s a blessing to have that opportunity,” Brown said. “2 Chainz did an amazing job. They’re still building the facility now, I still haven’t been there, but just to see all of that come full circle for him and the community around it is amazing.”
Brown said he looks forward to bringing his leadership qualities, work ethic and his ability to be a great teammate to whatever team he’s with this season, whether it’s in College Park or Atlanta.