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It’s official: Union City’s MJ Brown going to be a Skyhawk

It’s official: Union City’s MJ Brown going to be a Skyhawk

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 7:45 pm
By: Mike Hutchens Messenger Sports Writer

By MIKE HUTCHENS Messenger Sports Editor The suspense concerning MJ Brown’s college destination is over. Finally. And for sure. Brown, a two-time Class A Mr. Basketball and one of the most-decorated players in the illustrious history of Union City High School, ended months of speculation and countless rumors by telling The Messenger Monday he would enroll later this month and play at UT Martin. The long-awaited decision is final, according to the star Tornado point-guard, who slumped in a chair and said softly, “I’m just glad it’s over,” of the conclusion that was four months in the making. Brown’s well-documented plight featured countless bizarre twists of possible destinations but came down to his convincing his parents that the Skyhawk program was where he wanted to be all along. “If I had it to do over again, I’d have signed with UTM back during the season and gotten it over with then,” Brown continued. “It kept going on and on and getting later and later, and I finally just sat down with my parents and told them that I didn’t want to ride the bench, and I thought I would in Knoxville. “I think I can get on the floor and play at UTM next season.” Brown, who helped the Purple and Gold to a pair of state championships during his storied prep career, had talked of walking on at the University of Tennessee as well as committing to a number of other schools. He finalized his decision to become a Skyhawk, however, after he and his parents met with head coach Bret Campbell Monday. “I didn’t want to disrespect my parents and I know they only wanted the best for me, to see how I stacked up against the best,” the six-foot playmaker added. “They thought Martin was too close, too. “In the end, I think they just saw where my heart was, and it’s always been at UTM. My family’s signed on for this now, and I believe they’re going to be supportive. It’s important to me that they’ll get a chance to see me play a lot.” Brown had earlier in his recruiting process turned down scholarship offers from four other Ohio Valley Conference schools, including Southeast Missouri State and Murray State. He reportedly also had similar chances at three other schools. He’d also openly talked about walking on at Western Kentucky during the saga. Instead, he’ll join fellow UCHS graduate and former backcourt mate Marquis Weddle in the Skyhawk program. Weddle, who became the Tornadoes’ all-time leading scorer his senior campaign two years ago with Brown often feeding him for scores, was the Freshman of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference last season after averaging 17 points per game. “Obviously, we’re very excited about MJ being a part of the UT Martin basketball family,” Campbell said Monday night. “We think he can have a bright future here and we look forward to his career as a Skyhawk.” Brown averaged 20 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals per game while leading the Golden Tornadoes to a perfect 37-0 campaign last year that was capped by a scintillating state championship game victory over Memphis Manassas during which UC rallied from a 17-point deficit with 10 minutes to play. Union City head coach Shane Sisco said he was glad Brown was allowed to make his own decision. “Being around MJ as much as I was, I figured out UTM was where he wanted to go from the very beginning,” Sisco claimed. “In the end, I’m glad it was his call. And I think it’ll be one that he’s satisfied with. “Personally, I’m thrilled that he’s going there. That’ll give us two kids in a program that’s only 15 minutes from home, and I think they’ve got a chance to have a really good club that people around here will rally around and support.” The Skyhawks lost just one senior off last year’s team that won a game in the OVC Tournament for the first time ever. Among the returnees will be Lester Hudson, the league’s reigning Player of the Year who pulled his name from NBA draft consideration after being invited to and participating in the pro draft camp in Orlando in late May. Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 8.12.08