Surrounded by family, Mikeal Brown-Jones makes the call
Mikeal Brown-Jones had already made his mind up well before Thanksgiving Day.
The reclassified Class of 2020 prospect, rated three stars by Rivals.com, had chosen the Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions as his college destination weeks ago. A Philadelphia transplant spending his final three high school seasons at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., though, Brown-Jones wanted to wait to make his announcement to be surrounded by his friends and family.
“I wanted to do it while I was home with my family and that's why I chose to do it yesterday,” said Brown-Jones. “It was everything to me. My family knows the hours that I put in. They were there when things weren't going so well and things were at its best. So them being there, for me to make that decision to the public, it just meant the world to me.”
Back in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving break since Wednesday, with plans to return to his Florida teammates Sunday, the 6-foot-7, 210 pound prospect made his announcement via Twitter video Thursday afternoon.
In making his announcement, Brown-Jones ended early a process that has steadily taken off since his true freshman season at Roman Catholic. Transferring to Girard College High for his sophomore season in which he helped propel his team to a PIAA Class A title game berth, Brown-Jones then left the Philadelphia area to play his high school ball at IMG Academy, but has maintained tight connections with his hometown.
In fact, Brown-Jones narrowed his choices to five schools including La Salle, St. Joe’s, Temple, and Villanova, each of whom had granted scholarship offers.
It was with Chambers and the Nittany Lions, however, that Brown-Jones said he felt a tight connection.
“We just had a relationship since I went to high school,” said Brown-Jones. “I just really like Penn State. I feel like it's the best fit for me. It's just a great place up there. It's not too far from home but it's far enough so I can really focus and lock in on what I need to do.”
That direction appears to be one grounded in a hard work ethic and versatility on the hardwood.
Beginning his playing days at the forward positions, Brown-Jones said he’s tried to model his game after NBA stars Paul George and Kevin Durant, able to adjust to whatever situation or position his team needs him to play. More recently, that has meant a concentration on improving his guard skills and ball-handling, intent on creating his own shot and, more important, having the handle to initiate his team’s offense from any spot on the floor.
“I’ve never been a one-dimensional or two-dimensional kind of player. I always was able to be versatile and do what I had to do on the court,” he said. “It's just to help my team when we're in need of a situation, with some ball-handlers getting pressure, get the ball out of his hands and let me do it.
“I’ve trained and I've worked on just about everything in my game, from when I was younger with post moves up until now, where post moves have stayed with me as well as the guard training that I'm doing. Everything just works out.”
Now, with his college decision settled, Brown-Jones will keep an eye on the Nittany Lions as he continues to play alongside his IMG Academy national teammates, including Villanova signee Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
“I know Penn State is on the rise,” said Brown-Jones. “I know that the coaching staff there has a pretty good understanding of what they want to achieve in their future. And their plan just sounds bulletproof to me. It was just a no-brainer, and I know that I can contribute to what they're trying to do.”