As the basketball offseason continues and we move into the fall, Land-Grant Holy Land will continue to put out our basketball player and team previews. There will be two previews per week leading all the way into the start of the season, starting with player previews.
We have now made it to the four returning Buckeyes, starting with rising junior Eugene Brown.
Name: Eugene Brown
Weight: 195 pounds
High School: Southwest Dekalb
2021-22 stats: 3.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 9.5 APG, .351 FG%, .280 3FG%, .500 FT%
Eugene Brown is one of the only four returning Buckeyes to the team now that Seth Towns has medically retired. Brown is a junior that played in 26 of 32 Ohio State games last season and started in 10 of them.
In that 2021-22 campaign, Brown averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game on an average of 17 minutes played. He played a lot more during conference play than he did during non-conference play because of injuries and some depth issues the Buckeyes ran into later in the season. He struggled shooting the ball on the season, hitting just 35 percent from the field, 28 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line.
He did legitimately win a game for the Buckeyes against Indiana, blocking a layup attempt at the buzzer to force overtime and giving the Buckeyes a chance to win the game in the extra period, as they did. Brown finished with 10 points and six rebounds in that contest.
“That’s something I used to be known for in high school actually was going and blocking shots like that,” Brown said when asked about the play last season. “So, it just felt good to kind of relive that and bring that side back out. Blocks like that always give your team a great boost of energy, especially off of a turnover that it happened on. So, it was just great.”
Unfortunately for Brown, he dealt with multiple injuries, including a concussion early in the season that forced him to miss four games.
“Gene, I’ve been disappointed for him because he’s had stretches where he’s got in a rhythm, played really,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said last season. “He’s probably played as well in this stretch as he has all season, and then he has a little injury. But he’ll bounce back from it. He’s had a go of it. He had a concussion along with some other illnesses and now this that’s been kind of interrupted his time this year.
“His performance at Purdue was as good as he’s played in a Buckeye uniform,” Holtmann added. “And I’m excited about his continued growth and the evolution of his game. I’m excited. He’s a young player that I think continues to get better and will with increased time and certainly will have a major role for us moving forward next year.”
When injuries keep popping up for a player, it is hard to get into a nice groove and tempo in the season. Brown has proven himself as a valuable member not just on defense, but shooting the ball and crashing the boards as well.
“He rebounds. He really pursues the balls, and we miss that impact on the glass when he’s not in the game at the wing spot,” Holtmann said. “We don’t have another wing that really gets to the glass quite like he does. So, it’s an important part of his game.”
With the depth of this team and Brown now being in the rotation for two seasons and entering his third, he should be able to take a more solidified and more comfortable role on the team. With that, he can utilize his strengths more and really focus on being the defensive stalwart that he can be and was his freshman season and at times last season.
Brown is no stranger to the starting lineup, as he started in 10 contests last season. But with the transfers and freshman they have coming in, it is more likely that Brown will come off the bench.
He has proven himself valuable of playing time, however, and will see the court, as his defense would be wasted on the bench. Since he isn’t as aggressive on offense as other guys, I would expect to see him in lineups with guys who can score the ball well and are versatile, like Tanner Holden, Justice Sueing and Sean McNeil, as he can really be a defensive force sharing the floor with guys like that.
I would expect him to play anywhere from 15-25 minutes per game off the bench, depending on the game situation and scenario.