Markel Brown can easily recall the first time he pogo-sticked high enough to throw down his first clean dunk, enjoying the benefits of a vertical leap that has reached 451/2 inches.
"In ninth grade in high school," Brown said on a conference call Friday, a day after being selected 44th overall by the Timberwolves and traded to the Nets for cash considerations. "It was probably the weakest dunk of my life, but I was so happy when it happened. It just started something big for me.
"I take pride in my athleticism. It's a very huge part of my game. I just have to channel it and use it in the right way. But I feel like going into the next level, I can transition into a player like Russell Westbrook."
The 6-3, 183-pound Oklahoma State product believes he's straight from the Westbrook mold, possessing some of the attributes that have made the Thunder star one of the top point guards in the league.
He feels he has the same mindset of attacking the basket and looking for his shot, which -- paired with having a frame similar to the 6-3, 200-pound Westbrook -- gives him visions of emulating the Thunder guard. Hey, there's even a little bit of Westbrook's brashness in him.
"I do think I play bigger than my size," said Brown, who has met Westbrook on a few occasions and has received advice from him. "I'm way [more] athletic than other guys and I also have a 6-9 wingspan. So being at the shooting guard position at Oklahoma State, I had to guard bigger guys, and I think I did a pretty good job of that. Going into next year, the next level with Brooklyn, I feel like I'm going to be more of a combo guard. I see myself being like a Westbrook type of player."