CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Boston native and Patriots fan Bruce Brown is also a freshman guard for the Miami Hurricanes, so at the moment he’s focused on only one game — Wednesday against No. 15 Florida State.
The Patriots and the Super Bowl can wait.
“We’re going to take care of the Falcons,” Brown said. “I’m not worried right now about that game until Sunday comes.”
A more immediate cause for concern is Florida State (18-4, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which will be eager to bounce back from back-to-back losses last week at Georgia Tech and at Syracuse.
The Seminoles must slow down Brown, who’s coming off a breakout game Saturday, when he scored a season-high 30 points to help Miami upset then-No. 9 North Carolina .
Brown’s point total was the highest by a Hurricanes freshman since they joined the ACC in 2004.
“He’s the real deal,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He’s athletic, a fearless competitor, takes you off the dribble and can get to the basket. If you don’t defend him, he’s going to score points in bunches.”
In the past five games, Brown has averaged 16.6 points while shooting 29 for 49 (69 percent). That includes 10 for 17 (59 percent) from 3-point range.
For the season he’s averaging 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He’s living up to his billing as a top-50 recruit, and part of a talented freshman class that also includes forward Dewan Huell, shooting guard D.J. Vasiljevic and center Rodney Miller Jr. All but Miller have played significant roles this season for the Hurricanes (14-6, 4-4 ACC).
Coach Jim Larranaga raves about Brown, and not just because he’s coming off his best game. In at least three interview sessions since, Larranaga has described Brown as “lovable.”
“He smiles all the time,” Larranaga said. “He’s very friendly. He enjoys the competition. He enjoys being with his teammates. He enjoys watching film with the coaches. He asks questions. He wants to improve. He’s a very special individual.”
When told of Larranaga’s remarks, Brown responded with — no surprise — a grin.
“I’m a happy guy,” Brown said. “My mom always told me, `Stay positive and keep a smile on your face.”‘
And then there’s his basketball. He’s 6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan and the strength of a former football player — he was a member of the Brookline Patriots in Pop Warner and played receiver and safety in high school. He bench-presses 275 pounds, and has been dunking since the eighth grade.
Brown showed his versatility with a triple-double less than a month into his college career. He has seen significant playing time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward.
“He doesn’t really have what I would call weaknesses,” Larranaga said. “He plays every aspect of the game. He’s a hard-working defender and a very good defensive rebounder. He’ll block shots. He runs the court extremely well. He’s capable of driving and dunking the ball on you, but he’s always got a feathery touch from 3. He’s a young man with a very, very bright future.”
Brown’s immediate goal is to build on his performance against the Tar Heels. Facing Miami’s biggest rival, he’s eager to give the anticipated capacity crowd lots to cheer about.
“It’ll be insane — I know the students will be loud,” he said. “It’s giving me goosebumps right now. I can’t wait to play.”
How about a prediction?
“The Patriots,” Brown said, “will win by two touchdowns.”
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