Chaundee Brown, newcomer in a new role, making most of his shot at Michigan

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Juwan Howard believed his eyes more than the numbers.

That’s why he wasn’t deterred and went hard after senior guard Chaundee Brown when he entered the transfer portal this past offseason, despite making 32.8% of his 3-point attempts during three years at Wake Forest.

"I watched a lot of film on him and I knew that he was a knockdown shooter,” Howard recalled of his recruitment of Brown after Sunday’s 80-58 win over Central Florida.

Through four games, guard Chaundee Brown Jr. (15) is Michigan's leading 3-point shooter.

When the coaching staff met remotely each week during the spring, Howard told the assistants he felt Brown was a better long-range threat than his percentages indicated.

“We talked about one of the things that he provides is something that we can truly enjoy as a staff, but also as a team, is his outside shooting,” Howard said. “It was a big reason why we were high on him.”

The early returns have backed that up. Through four games, Brown leads Michigan in every 3-point category — makes (11), attempts (25) and shooting percentage (44%) — and more than half his made field goals have come from behind the arc.

That doesn’t come as a shock to Howard or Brown, who said after Sunday’s triumph — with a big grin — he’d make every 3-point shot if given 100 attempts in an open-gym setting.

However, Brown admitted he didn’t expect to be averaging six 3-point attempts per game when he came to Michigan. He averaged 2.6 attempts last season at Wake Forest and 4.3 attempts the year before that. But he’s taking and making more than ever before.

“I just went out there and played my game,” said Brown, who never shot 35% from deep or made 45 3-pointers in a season at Wake Forest. “I believe in my shot. I work on my shot for hours and hours in the gym before the game, before practice, after practice.

“I feel like I've been getting good looks. Can't turn down a good look. Coach Howard always tells us if you pass up an open shot, it's like a turnover to us. All the open shots I get, I try to take them.”

Brown has ridden the deep ball to a pair of team-high scoring performances and his long-range shooting has already helped the Wolverines break open two games.

In the opener against Bowling Green, he went 5-for-7 from long range — all five makes coming in the second half and four within a 5:25 stretch — en route to 19 points. Then on Sunday against Central Florida, he racked up 18 points and finished 4-for-6 from deep, with three deep balls coming during a 20-0 second-half run.

It was the third and fourth time in his career he made at least four 3s in a game — a mark he reached twice in 84 contests at Wake Forest. The two displays were sandwiched around an Oakland outing where he struggled to dial it in and missed nine of 10 shots from 3-point range. Yet the rough showing didn’t discourage him from pulling the trigger.

"I felt like and the coaches felt like I was taking great shots versus Oakland. They just didn't fall,” Brown said. “It's not always going to be your night. I've realized that playing this game for years now. You're not going to have a good shooting night every night. It's the life of a shooter.

“Coach Howard told me to keep shooting and having that confidence from a coach like that makes me stay aggressive and confident in my shot. I know I have a nice shot. They know I have a nice shot. I've been working all summer and all fall on it.”

As a result, Brown is shooting the ball better than ever while filling a different role. After spending most of his three years at Wake Forest in the starting lineup, Brown has found himself as the first guard off the bench.

But just like Howard knew what he was getting in Brown, the transfer knew what he was getting into at Michigan. Howard, who described himself as a “straight shooter,” told Brown there was no guarantee he’d be a starter if he came to Ann Arbor.

That didn’t matter to Brown. He has accepted the sixth-man job — “He’s perfecting it," Howard said — and has no qualms about it. Brown noted he and Michigan’s other bench pieces could be stars or starters elsewhere, but they’re willing to take on reserve roles on a winning team.

“I feel like Coach Howard always talked about sacrifice and a lot of people are not going to get the minutes they want because we have so much talent,” Brown said. “I know that in myself, Eli (Brooks), Franz (Wagner), we all have to sacrifice for each other — minutes, shots. That's why I came here. I knew I probably was going to come off the bench here. I had no problem with that. I just wanted to win. That's all I wanted.”

And so far, Brown is providing the type of shooting the Wolverines have needed and Howard had envisioned.

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins