Michigan State’s Gabe Brown put in the work and the miles in chase of NBA dream

HOLT – After a spring and summer spent on the road chasing his NBA dreams, Gabe Brown was back in front of a hometown crowd on Thursday night.

The former Michigan State star stopped by the Moneyball Pro-Am at Holt High School and suited up alongside his former Spartans teammates and others.

He was quickly back to his familiar antics from his time at Michigan State: throwing down big dunks, hitting 3-pointers and dancing during stoppages. He even grabbed the microphone at one point to provide some commentary on the officiating.

A 25-point game from Michigan State incoming freshman Tre Holloman feels Brown’s team to a loss, but that result couldn’t take the megawatt smile off of his face.

“I’ve been on the road for a long time, but it feels good to be back,” Brown said.

After finishing his Michigan State career in March as a team captain and the Spartans’ leading scorer, Brown hit the NBA Draft circuit and started working out for teams around the country in the hopes of impressing some and getting his shot at the NBA.

He ended up in high demand, participating in a total of 21 different workouts. The feedback from those workouts was mostly positive, Brown said.

“All the teams loved me, they loved my shooting, they loved the way I compete,” Brown said. “I brought the compete every time.”

That crowded schedule meant Brown spent weeks flying from city to city, trying to stay sharp for every new team and not show signs of fatigue or jet lag that would have been understandable.

“I was on the road one time for like a month straight, I didn’t get a chance to come home,” Brown said. “But that’s my life now, so I’ve got to get used to it.”

One of the last workouts was for Oklahoma City, a team that brought him in on two different occasions. And soon after last month’s draft, Brown signed with the Thunder as a free agent, something he said that didn’t surprise him.

“They loved me, Sam Presti liked me a lot,” Brown said.

That signing gave him a spot on the Thunder’s summer league team, where he was a double-digit scorer and shot 37 percent from 3-point range in Las Vegas earlier this month. He finished last week with a 23-point game in the Thunder’s finale that saw him hit five 3-pointers.

Brown said he found the next level of basketball easier than playing at Michigan State, primarily because of the spacing on the floor that gives him more room to operate. He hopes that will allow him to put the ball on the floor better, make reads and come off screens.

“It’s way easier than college basketball, trust me. Way easier than college basketball,” Brown said. It’s fun, a lot more space on the floor. I get to showcase a lot more of my ability that I didn’t get to show at Michigan State.”

Brown said he’s hopeful to join the Thunder’s training camp this fall as he works his way toward an NBA roster spot or a two-way NBA/G-League contract for his rookie season in 2022-23.

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