Having not yet visited the UGA campus in an official or unofficial recruiting capacity, it’s generally thought the Georgia Bulldogs don’t have much of a chance of landing Jaylen Brown, the state’s latest super-prospect in basketball. But at least one person close to the Wheeler guard believes the Bulldogs do have a shot, and he’s in a position to know.
Patrick Hamilton, who starred as a guard for the Bulldogs in the late 1980s, is a teacher at Wheeler High and an assistant coach for the Wildcats’ recently-crowned Class AAAAAA state championship team. So he knows Brown well and has closely monitored his recruitment.
In fact, Hamilton said he talked to Brown this week about where the Bulldogs fit in.
“I asked him if Georgia was still in the hunt or not in the hunt,” Hamilton said. “He said, ‘oh, yeah, they’re still in the hunt.’ So I do think we have a shot.”
The timing of my conversation with Hamilton is interesting. He and I spoke by telephone early in the day on Thursday. This was before either one of us became aware of Brown’s arrest for misdemeanor traffic offenses Thursday. But that doesn’t give me any reason to doubt Hamilton’s assessment of Brown’s character, which was glowing.
“I’ll tell you what, as well as he performs on the court, and he’s a McDonald’s All-American and a No. 2 player in the country, but he’s just as good as a person as he is an athlete,” Hamilton said. “And whoever gets him, they’re going to get a better kid than they are an athlete. He is the most humble guy. He goes out of his way for anybody and everybody. We have to pull people off of him at games because he’ll sit there and sign autographs all night if you ask him to.
“He’s just a tremendous kid, well-grounded, great student, very polite. I know nobody’s perfect be he darn near is.”
Brown’s recruitment thus far doesn’t hint at a likelihood for staying close to home. The 6-foot-7 wing, who averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds at Wheeler this past season, most recently took visits Michigan and Cal. He has also had officials with Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA.
By all accounts, Brown hasn’t made even an unofficial visit to Georgia (or Georgia Tech, for that matter). But it has always been his intention to do that before the month-long late signing period for basketball begins on April 15.
But Hamilton did quash the notion that Brown might go to Europe so he could immediately play professionally.
“I heard that,” Hamilton said. “But coming from him, he will play a year of college ball. Now where that will be, I don’t know at this point.”
Naturally, Hamilton ever-so-gently has tried to sell Brown on the merits of his alma mater.
“We’ve had some very interesting talks,” said Hamilton, a four-year letterman who captained the Bulldogs in 1989 and averaged 12.7 points that season as the team’s point guard. “I try not to push it one way or another. I don’t want to be involved to the point where it looks like I’m trying to persuade him to go to Georgia. I just don’t want to be in that line of people. But I’m telling things he needs to look into in life beyond basketball and so forth. Those are the kinds of talks I have with him.”
Hamilton said he personally would like nothing better than for Brown go to Georgia and be the “program-changer” he knows he could be. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to get in the middle of what will surely be a dramatic final decision.
“I love the program and I love what Mark Fox is doing right now,” Hamilton said. “I just don’t want to be involved in all that he-said, she-said business.”
As for Brown’s on-going recruitment, Hamilton said it’s intense, but not in an out-of control way.
“The NCAA has stipulations so it’s not as much of a circus as you might think,” he said. “We do have our share of times where we need to block them and keep certain people out. I’m sure it will be that way when we go to New York (for the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals) next week. When we travel, you’d be surprised the lengths some people go to to get things signed. They’re sending kids and toddlers up to . It’s crazy.”