2018 NBA Draft: Bruce Brown to stay in draft, hire an agent

Bruce Brown drives toward the UNC basket. (Getty Images)

Bruce Brown drives toward the UNC basket. (Getty Images)

Bruce Brown is not returning to the Hurricanes.

UM coach Jim Larranaga confirmed Monday that Brown will hire an agent and stay in the NBA draft, ending his UM career after two seasons. The Athletic’s Michael Scotto first reported the news.

After Miami’s first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament, Brown declared for the draft and said he wouldn’t hire an agent. Players who declare for the draft without hiring agents can return to school.

 

Larranaga said he congratulated Brown on his decision.

“He’s a terrific kid,” Larranaga said. “We were fortunate Bruce decided to stay another year. He would have gotten drafted last year. He decided to stay and work on his game and help us get back to the NCAA Tournament.

“The impact he’s had on our program will continue. Now we can tell high school prospects, we’ve had Lonnie Walker who’s one-and-done, we’ve had Bruce Brown who’s two-and-done, and if you’re 6-5 and skilled, we can help you get to the NBA, too.”

The departures of Brown and Walker leave Miami with a big hole in its backcourt. Walker, who led UM in scoring (11.5 points per game) as a freshman, hired an agent last week. Walker is widely considered a potential lottery pick, ranked 15th by ESPN’s ratings. Sophomore forward Dewan Huell — projected to go undrafted — declared for the draft, but retained his college eligibility.

Miami’s backcourt, which also loses graduating senior Ja’Quan Newton, has at present three scholarship players: sophomore-to-be Chris Lykes, junior D.J. Vasiljevic and sophomore Miles Wilson, who sat out last year after transferring from Mount St. Mary’s.

Larranaga said he would explore all options — grad transfers, junior college players, international prospects and high school recruits, the latter of whom may sign beginning Wednesday — to fill out his roster.

How’s recruiting going?

“I can’t really answer that until we get players on campus and put them through a practice,” he said. “Ask me in September.”

Brown’s former AAU coach, Boston-based Leo Papile, had not yet spoken to the standout guard. But Papile was under the impression Brown’s decision must have stemmed from good news he received about his fractured left foot, an injury that caused him to miss the final 12 games of the season and put his draft stock in question.

Brown, 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, had Feb. 1 surgery to fix a stress fracture of his fifth metatarsal on his left foot. On March 13, he was not cleared for action, but wanted to be in uniform to show support for his teammates in their NCAA Tournament game against Loyola-Chicago in Dallas. UM lost 64-62 on a last-second 3-pointer.

If healthy, Brown could be a first-round draft pick. He is likely to be invited to the NBA combine, which is May 16-20 in Chicago. The NBA Draft is June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

NBADraft.net projects Brown, a Boston native and former five-star recruit, as the No. 55 overall player available. He was projected as a potential lottery pick before the season, in which he averaged 11.4 points and led UM with 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists. His shooting percentages dipped, a worry for scouts. Brown’s 3-point shooting regressed from 34.7 percent as a freshman to 26.7. His field goal rate sank from 45.9 to 41.5. He also made 62.9 percent of his free throws, compared to 74.4 percent in his first season. However, his average rebounding (5.6 to 7.1) and assist (3.2 to 4.0) totals rose.

He posted one of the best debut seasons in UM history in 2016-17, setting school reords for in points (391), field goals made (134) and minutes played (1,053) by a freshman. He scored a Miami freshman single-game record 30 points in a win over over No. 9 North Carolina and 25 of his team’s 55 points in a win over No. 10 Duke.

His triple-double in Miami’s 2017-18 season opener against Gardner-Webb (10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) was the second triple-double in his career, the third in program history and the 31st in ACC history. He is the sixth player in conference history with two career triple-doubles.

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