After being a back-up to the City Player of the Year, junior point guard Trey Brown is ready for a lead role.
Brown, who is also the starting quarterback and a standout baseball player at Shawnee Heights, enters his junior campaign on the court as the top-ranked 2017 prospect in Topeka after a stellar summer playing for SSA Elite.
Brown will be looking to shine when Shawnee Heights begins its season on Friday against KC Turner as home.
“I’m ready to roll,” Brown said.
Brown showed flashes last year averaging 3.7 points and shooting 45.3 percent while being a relentless defender backing up Tez Scroggins, who was also an All-State Class 5A first team selection.
“Tez is a really good player, really hard to guard,” said Brown of their daily practice battles last year. “He made me a better defender and going into games I kind of knew what people were going to do from playing against him.”
Brown is part of a new cast of characters at Shawnee Heights, which will be looking to replace all five starters and top six scorers from last year’s 20-3 state tournament team.
“I think we’re real excited,” Brown said. “We’ve been working hard these past couple of weeks and we’ve really been putting in a lot of team effort. It’s not all about one person, it’s about the team, and we’re all getting to know each other and getting to know our strengths and weaknesses. We’re just really excited.”
Senior forward Ahmad Winston and junior forward Poncho Freeman will anchor the frontcourt, which also features seniors Dawson Pomeroy and Connor Cummings.
Winston is a 6-foot-5 defensive-specialist who played in 13 games last season.
“He’s a very good rim-protector and so far this season he’s been looking really good,” Brown said. “Defensively he looks great and offensively he’s been stepping out and hitting some 3-pointers and mid-range. He’s been getting a lot of rebounds for us. I think he can have a really big season for us this year.”
Freeman is the team’s leading returning scorer averaging 4.1 points on 60-percent shooting in 22 games last year.
“Every year he just keeps getting better and better,” Brown said. “Defensively he’s been looking really good and guarding most of our guards and doing good on them and then you put him down on the post and he can guard down there too. And then with his offensive game I think he’s going to score more this year for us and I just think he’s going to have a really good season.”
Senior guard Dante Kahre and junior guards Michael Brooks, Jesse Moss, and Tyler Zentner will be in the rotation.
Junior guard Jerome McFalls has been someone that Brown has been impressed with.
“I think a lot of people are going to be really surprised with him this year,” Brown said. “He has really good hands. He knows where to be. He’s a really good rebounder, really good at defense, and just hustles everywhere. He just does his job and does it really good.”
The Thunderbirds also have new leadership with head coach Steve Wallace stepping in after being an assistant coach for the women’s team at KU last season. Defense is something that Wallace has been emphasizing.
“Defense wins games, defense wins championships,” Brown said. “The better we play defense the more we can push out in transition by getting more steals, more rebounds, and more blocks. Defense is our key to winning this year.”