As the clock ticked down on the Northwest College men’s basketball team against Casper College, coach Jay Collins moved to take guard Kyle Brown out of the lineup.
The scorekeeper nudged the assistant coach, who elbowed Collins, who spoke to Brown and the 6-foot-2 guard played the last three minutes of the 110-90 loss.
The whispering tree message was this: Kyle has 48 points, why don’t you let him go for 50? Collins did and Brown did too.
Finished things out with 52 points, the greatest single-game output in Trapper history.
Brown’s box score line was 19 field goals on 32 shots with nine out of 10 free throws made. Five baskets from the floor were three-pointers.
“They were from all over,” Brown said of his shot selection. “I’m very good at finishing.”
So the Thunderbirds discovered during the Region IX game.
Brown shoots well from outside, and has the combination of court vision and quickness to identify soft spots in defenses.
He is quick off the starting blocks, but leaves fans wondering how the heck he makes it safely through the maze of arms to the hoop to score.
A trademark is Brown slashing through the lane, protecting the ball from taller defenders with his left arm, and then gyrating the ball off the glass.
“I practice angles on the backboard,” Brown said. “I know how to put the correct spin on it.”
The former school record was 46 points, set by guard William “Nicky” Desilen on Jan. 2, 2015.
Previously, three Trappers each hit for 45 points.
For Brown, this 52-point performance symbolizes a high-water life mark, not merely a basketball statistic. This school year has been a renaissance, marking good health, good play and good grades.
Collins views Brown as an all-around solid young man, as a person, player and student.
“He had a big smile because he had over a 3.0 grade point average,” Collins said of Brown’s first-semester grades. “He has got his head on right.”
The record game was notable, but not really an aberration. This season Brown has also scored 43, and stopped the pinball machine in the 30s several times. Game after the 52, Brown went for 36.
Brown has been in the top 10 in National Junior College Athletic Association scoring all season and last week was at No. 2, hovering around 27 points per game.
The last time a Northwest player made such a significant individual impact was 6-9 Chris Boucher during the 2014-15 season and who now plays for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA.
Brown was born in Harlem, N.Y., but played high school ball in Middletown, in the Hudson River Valley. His favorite NBA player was Allen Iverson, though his style does not resemble the ex-Philadelphia 76er’s. He then played at a prep school in Charlotte, N.C. for a year. Brown briefly attended another junior college, but injury prevented him from playing.
When he was the basketball coach, current NWC athletic director Brian Erickson recruited Brown to Powell.
“I didn’t know nothing about Wyoming,” Brown joked. “And I don’t really like cold weather.”
Last year was a trial. Brown’s minutes were limited and he averaged 8.0 ppg. Then the interim coach and most teammates departed, leaving Brown a sort of elder statesman.
Now this. Big numbers. Big attention. NCAA Division I college coaches already had Brown on speed dial. In the 24 hours following his 52-point effort, Collins’ phone blew up, word traveling at the speed of the internet.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook since last night,” Collins said at the time.
All of them were coaches calling wanting to know more about this guy. Good student, leader on the court, never eases up in practice, is the message Collins imparts.
Basically, it took Brown most of four years to become an overnight sensation, but he said he always trusted things would work out this season.
Those pursuing DI coaches? Kyle Brown patiently plans to listen to what every one of them says before making a decision on his next destination after Northwest’s season ends. It’s just comforting to know he has a future in hoops.