Scouting St. John’s: Are Justin Burrell and Justin Brownlee ready for the NBA?

According to St. John’s Sports Information Director Mark Fratto, five graduated former members of the Red Storm currently have “representation” and are, assumedly, looking to play professional basketball. Here Johnny Jungle takes a look at how the first two may fit into the pro game in the first installment of a three-part series, Scouting St. John’s:

Justin Brownlee

Indications are that Brownlee will go undrafted, but he could be a good, versatile fit for an NBA team. (Photo: Icon/SMI Select)
Adam Zagoria of reported Thursday that Brownlee would work out for five NBA teams in the coming weeks: the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 8th, the Atlanta Hawks June 13th, the Charlotte Bobcats June 15th, the Miami Heat June 17th, and the Los Angeles Lakers June 19th. During the season, he was mentioned in a number of NBA Mock Drafts, but has since slipped off.

Brownlee averaged just over 12 points and 5 rebounds for the Red Storm last season and, more importantly for his professional aspirations, showed impressive versatility for his size.

To his credit, he passes very well for a forward and has showed that his fall-away jumper within 12-feet is solid. He was also the most consistent finisher at the rim for the Red Storm last season. He is more athletic than some scouts give him credit for, as we saw from his junior college days. The biggest thing he would bring to an NBA team would be his versatility offensively, where he could work in the post or on the perimeter.

At 6’7” tall and 215 pounds, he is still working on the polished handle that would make him a true NBA small forward, and is a bit undersized to be a true power forward. This would hurt him mostly on the defensive end, where he may not have the quickness to defend some small forwards, but not large enough to body-up larger forwards in the post. He most likely will not get drafted, but could work his way onto a team as a free agent. Also, playing European basketball for a few seasons could be an option.

Justin Burrell

Justin Burrell has an NBA-ready body and a solid set of fundamentals. Will a team take a chance on him? (Photo: Icon/SMI Select)
Earlier this month, Burrell announced via his Twitter page that he would be working out for 20 NBA teams at an event showcasing athletes signed to the agency that represents him, BDA Sports Management.

If there is one thing that is undeniable about Justin Burrell, it is that he has an NBA-ready body. Not only is he 6’8”, 244 pounds, but he has learned how to use his bulk to impact a game in the post.

Winning Big East Sixth Man of the Year this past season, Burrell reemerged in full force from the facial injury he suffered his sophomore season and showed the promise that he first showed as a freshman.

Burrell was the big-bodied enforcer off the bench who stood in contrast to the lanky starter Dwayne Polee II in 2010-2011, and he could play a similar role on an NBA team in the future. His rebounding instinct and toughness are building blocks that scouts will look for in the process of evaluating him.

The past three seasons, he was never truly dominant in the post, but showed flashes of strong play down low. Against Pitt at the Garden this year, as part of a 15 point, 8 rebound performance, he capitalized offensively every time Gary McGhee came out of the game. Steve Lavin began running the offense through Burrell and he outplayed Pitt big man Dante Taylor on multiple possessions.

The intangibles are in line for Burrell, too. He is well-spoken and handles himself with class in the media, which teams should take notice of. It looks like he, as well, will not be drafted, but could get some looks from teams as a free agent. If he does not play in the states, he could find a good fit overseas, where his size would be even more attractive to teams.


Check back to, as we profile two more aspiring professionals from St. John’s Class of 2011, Dwight Hardy and Paris Horne.

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  • Coach T

    mark my word Justin Brownlee will get drafted once the teams work him out individually they will see his tremendous upside technically he is better than some of the forwards projected to go in the first rd he just had to fit into a system that was guard dominated at St John’s he can defend, pass, has great court vision, is very atheletic, can handle the ball like a point, and can make the 15 to 18 foot jumper on a consistent basis he needs to work on the three ball but there really isn’t much weaknesss in his game trust me he will be a diamond in the ruff for those teams that pass on him I know him personally and I know I may sound biased but he’s a complete and very skilled player TRUST ME don’t sleep on him 

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