Literally and figuratively, Thomas Brown is the big man on the Greenbrier High School campus.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Brown towers over most classmates as he roams the halls of his school, but his physical presence on a basketball court is where he is the most intimidating, said Greenbrier boys head basketball coach Casey Heckathorn.
“He blocks a little over three shots a game, but he changes probably 15 shots a game,” Heckathorn said of Brown. “The other teams’ awareness of his presence in there certainly affects what might (otherwise) be easy opportunities for them.”
Brown is one of the top scorers, rebounders and shots blockers in the area, with 14 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. He also steals an average of three balls per game.
Currently, Brown said he is considering a scholarship offer to the Air Force Academy and is a focus of other college recruiters, but not for his basketball skills.
With his size and speed – he runs a 4.59 40 – Brown also is a football star and is getting a lot of looks for his potential as a safety.
“I think my first love is football, but I also love basketball,” Brown said. “My dad taught me how to play and I grew up watching my uncle play (in high school), so it’s always going to be a part of me.”
In an age when many high school athletes tend to focus on a single sport in an effort to improve their college recruitment chances, Heckathorn said he certainly is glad that Thomas continued his basketball career.
“When he’s down, we’re all a little down,” Heckathorn said. “But when he’s up, man, all our kids are up and that’s when we play our best basketball.”
But Heckathorn said that Brown’s athletic skills pale in importance to his good nature.
“So many kids with his skills get such huge egos and attitudes,” he said. “They don’t respect their teachers, or their coaches, or their teammates.
“That’s not Thomas at all. I’ve never heard him talk bad about anyone. He’s respected because of the person he is, more so than as a competitor.”