From Coast to Claws

By Michael Tolvo

Athletics

On the heels of carrying his dunk-happy team to the Sweet Sixteen and playing the most inspired basketball of his life, Sherwood Brown was flying high, to say the least.  A feature on the front page of ESPN and shaking hands with NBA legend Reggie Miller were a few of the perks that went along with being the face of the first-ever 15 seed to win multiple NCAA Tournament

The magical run for the newly-minted Dunk City squad led by the high-lobbing Brett Comer, thunderous-slamming Chase Fieler, and cold-blooded Sherwood Brown didn’t end completely after a heartbreaking loss to upstate rival University of Florida.  Brown and Co. were invited to walk the red carpet at the ESPY’s in Los Angeles en route to winning the award for “Best Upset.”

The madness of March eventually came to an end for the Eagles.  As the basketball team eventually bid farewell to coach Andy Enfield who took over at USC and the rest of the team reloaded in hope of another deep run in 2014, Brown was graduating with aspirations of playing basketball for a living.  While most experts thought it unlikely, a few NBA draft pundits believed it was possible for a team to draft the man affectionately known at FGCU as “Woody.”  Even after his name was not called during the 2013 NBA Draft, Brown hoped to get an invite to an NBA training camp as an undrafted free agent.

The call never came for Sherwood.  Despite his outstanding performance in the NCAA Tournament, not a single NBA team showed an interest in signing Brown.  Instead of playing alongside the best in the NBA, Sherwood was forced to look elsewhere, ultimately accepting an offer from the top team in Israel’s elite league.

It never worked out between Brown and the Maccabi Haifa, whose name is nearly as difficult to pronounce as Brown’s former teammate, Filip Cvjeticanin.  He was released in late October and returned to the States to seek a better opportunity.

His chance finally came when on Jan. 8, the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-league extended Brown a contract.  The Red Claws, who are affiliated with the Boston Celtics, were 6-11 at the time of the Brown signing.  The 6-4 guard has helped the team play .500 basketball (6-6) in the 12 games since then.

Sherwood is shooting an efficient 52 percent from the floor, including 39 percent from behind the arc, while averaging just over 16 minutes a game for the Maine squad.  His marquee performance came Jan. 25 against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.  In 25 minutes of action, Brown stuffed the stat sheet for 25 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal.  The Red Claws took the game by the score of 115-104.

Earlier in the season, the Boston Celtics assigned dynamic point guard Rajon Rondo to Maine to get him some final rehab before he made his eventual return from a torn ACL.  Brown had the good fortune of sharing the floor with the four-time All-Star and NBA Champion Rondo.  Recently, Brown has also had the privilege of watching Brazilian Center Vitor Faverani dominate the court for the Red Claws.  Under contract with the Celtics, Faverani has averaged 13 minutes of play for the Celtics off the bench this season.

In his time with the Red Claws, Brown has already been able to watch and learn from two current NBA players, including a consensus elite NBA point guard.  In addition, Brown is playing alongside four teammates with NBA experience.  Running the floor alongside these elite athletes will give Brown the continued opportunity to grow as a playmaker and individual.

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