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’s now reached 45.5 inches.
“In ninth grade in high school,” Brown said on a conference call Friday. “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, someone that can be explosive and get to the rim. It's just going to be a huge factor for me playing above the rim at 6-3."
Selected 44th overall by the 76ers in Thursday's draft and traded to the Nets for cash considerations, the 183-pound Oklahoma State product truly believes he’s straight from a Westbrook mold, possessing some of the same kind of attributes that have made the Thunder’s star one of the top point guards in the league.
He feels he has the same attack-the-basket mindset and gets into the lane looking for his shot, which paired with having a body similar to Westbrook’s 6-3, 200-pound frame, gives him visions of emulating Kevin Durant’s tag team partner in Oklahoma City.
Hey, there’s even a little bit of Westbrook’s brashness in him too, apparently.
“I do think I play bigger than my size,” said Brown, whose 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 playing 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.”
Brown played four years at Oklahoma State, averaging 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes per game during his stint in Stillwater. During his senior campaign, he posted 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 35.3 minutes per game, which helped garner him All-Big 12 second honors for a second consecutive season.
In a few more months, he’ll find himself in Brooklyn, surrounded by the likes of Kevin Garnett and others. That’s why things had a pinch-me feel to them when Brown got the news he was bound for New York to write a new chapter in his life.
“It was crazy because I was sitting with my family and I got the call from my agent,” Brown said. “And it’s like my body froze. I didn’t know how to react. I was shocked, but it was so surreal it was probably the best feeling in my life, knowing I was the 44th pick to the Brooklyn Nets.”
“I have the perfect opportunity to play under multiple veterans,” he added, “and learn lot from them. So I was ecstatic when I got the call and I couldn’t be any more happier to play under some veterans who can also be in the Hall of Fame.”