Before St. John’s, he’s played on home courts in Georgia, across country in San Francisco, to Florida, and now in New York. He has enjoyed recruiting attention with offers from Memphis and Kansas and more. Justin Brownlee has been a nationwide attraction, despite his laid-back nature. But his family roots are what he cherishes the most.
“Growing up I looked up to my brother, Stan. He taught me to work hard, be passionate about what I do and just helped me grow up in general,” Brownlee told me, speaking about how he became a coveted basketball player from his start in Rec Leagues.
He was highly touted by Division 1 programs but he spent time at two Junior Colleges, Chipola Junior College in Florida and City College of San Fran in San Francisco, maturing into a man and becoming a more consistent student. “I know a lot of people want to say Junior College is like two more years of high school, but it really isn’t. You are away from you family and have to fend for yourself,” Brownlee said.
The Tifton native played his last year of Junior College ball at Chipola on a stacked squad of Division One players in the Panhandle Conference. He still averaged 10 points per game along with 6 rebounds, earned first-team honors in his conference, and his team finished the season 34-2. He scored a game high 20 points in Chipola’s third place victory over Connor State, Oklahoma.
Brownlee then came up to the bright lights of New York to join St. John’s under Norm Roberts, where he played in 32 games, scoring nearly 7 points per game in 18 minutes per contest. Last year, against Fordham, Brownlee scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. New Coach Steve Lavin knows Brownlee’s potential, stating that “he’s capable in a given game to get a double-double.”
Under Coach Lavin, Brownlee has been asked to be more aggressive on both ends of the court, whether it’s driving to the paint or cleaning up the boards.
Coach has had a lot of other good things to say about Justin. He expects him, along with Dwight Hardy, to have big seasons for the Johnnies in their chase for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“We’re going to need players to step up and have their personal-best seasons and I think Justin Brownlee is capable of having a breakout season for us,” Lavin said. “He is as gifted as a player as we have on our team in terms of talent. He needs to be mindful that he is capable of imposing his will on the game offensively and defensively.”
In the first exhibition game of the season against Westmont, Brownlee certainly imposed his will scoring 18 points and grabbing 4 rebounds as the team’s starting center.
“I want to go out every night swinging. Fight every game to the finish and never let up.” Brownlee exclaimed.
Brownlee may be sweet like a Georgia peach by nature, but the Big Apple has made him hungry to win.
“We want to win the Big East. It’s our conference. I don’t know how many years its been since we won it but we want to bring it back to St. John’s this year.”