There was a time in Proviso East senior guard Sterling Brown’s childhood he would have accepted a scholarship offer from Michigan State in a heartbeat.
“It was definitely the school I liked growing up,” Brown said leading up to this week’s recruiting period. “Going to a lot of my brother’s (Shannon Brown) games, as a kid, I said I wanted to be a Spartan. I wanted to play for Tom Izzo.”
Brown, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, could still end up playing for Izzo, but the Spartans will have to recruit him like every program pursuing him as his stock continues to rise in July.
Brown’s list of suitors has grown in recent weeks, and he now names Colorado, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Memphis, Miami, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon State and USC as schools who are recruiting him.
“Everyone is in the picture right now,” Brown said. “Right now, I don’t have any set schools. Any school looking at me, I’m interested in also.
“Michigan State is still recruiting me, too. They’re talking to my dad and my brother. They attend all the games. We’ll see where that one goes. If they come with an offer, it’s not a done deal. There are other schools looking at me. If Michigan State comes with an offer, they’re going to be right in line with everyone else.”
Brown’s club coach Mike Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire said he wouldn’t be surprised if they began hearing from even more high-major programs after July because the way Brown has performed.
“He’s been playing unbelievable,” Irvin said. “He’s playing like one of the top guards in the country. He’s doing it at both ends of the court. He’s definitely stepped up. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. His confidence is out of the building.”
Brown’s confidence began to build back in the high school season. In Illinois’ Class 4A state championship game, Brown matched up against Simeon’s Jabari Parker, the country’s No. 1 senior, and Brown was arguably the best player on the court that day.
Brown scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, hit two 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and had one steal and one assist. Parker had 15 points, though his team did defeat Proviso East.
“It just gave me confidence that any way I needed to help my team I was going to do regardless of who I was playing against,” Brown said.
Brown also recently went up against Julius Randle, the nation’s No. 2 senior, at Nike’s EYBL Peach Jam, and according to Irvin, Brown held more than his own despite giving up five inches. Randle had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Brown had 16 points and five rebounds.
ESPN senior recruiting coordinator Dave Telep has been impressed by Brown this summer.
“He's a solid high-major level player who is the type that could start 2-3 years at a big program and contribute all four,” Telep said. “He's a versatile kid, solid outside shooter who can get to the rim. Different player than his brother, but a guy who will wind up in a big conference."
Brown doesn’t mind being different than Shannon, who has been in the NBA since 2006. Brown’s been working all of his life to separate himself from his older brother.
“That’s what it’s all about being a younger brother or a son of someone who previously played,” Brown said. “You want to get out of their shadows. You want to make a name for yourself. That’s what I’m striving to do. Anytime in the paper, I read I’m Shannon Brown’s little brother. I try to get out there. I do feel I’m getting there.”