Park University junior Xavielle Brown isn’t all that surprised about the accolades that are coming his way.
That confident attitude isn’t meant to be arrogant, but this is exactly why the former Wayne standout has put in the all those hours of hard work and why he decided to stay on the Parkville, Missouri (near Kansas City), campus last summer instead of coming home to Fort Wayne.
"This is what I have worked for all my life, putting in the extra work, staying after, coming in the gym early," Brown said. "I have learned how to stay humble with all of the accolades that are coming now, which is another thing that I am proud of but at the same time it is something that I expected. I expect myself to reach high levels and do great things."
Brown has already racked up four American Midwest Conference Player of the Week awards this season, one NAIA Division I Player of the Week honor and was recently put on the watch list for the inaugural Bevo Francis Award, given to the best small-school player in the nation.
The 6-foot-2 forward leads all of NAIA Division I in scoring with 26.9 points per game, while also getting 7.6 rebounds for the No. 20 Pirates (11-5). Brown has a season high of 38 points, which he has hit three times, and has scored at least 30 points in five of his last six games. His 167 free throws lead NAIA Division I.
The process to Brown’s emerging stardom began Oct. 13, 2014, when he stepped on a teammate’s foot going for a rebound and broke his right foot. Brown heard the pop and knew right away it was broken. He just waited to see how long he would be off the court. As it turned out, he missed the entire 2014-15 season.
"I had to understand that everything happens for a reason, and everything was going good, ... then the foot injury happened and the rehab process," he said. "My biggest problem was cutting and explosiveness and coming off that. That’s basically what we focused on, cutting and turning and speed, just the power in the foot and getting the balance back because in basketball you have the stop-and-go and have to do all those things. Your foot is basically the base of everything.
"The main thing was where and how to be effective coming off a broken foot. I wasn’t sure how the speed of everything was going to be, sitting out the whole year."
Brown said missing the season gave him a new perspective on his game.
"It made me understand things from the outside-in," he said. "I had to understand how coach (former Indiana Tech coach Jason Kline) wanted things done, and how different players did things, so it really gave me an understanding of my game, myself and basketball as a whole. It allowed me to understand more about myself, and that motivated me because I was able to see different things that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I was in the game or playing it at the time."
A chance at redemption and team bonding were important reasons why Brown spent last summer in Missouri training and working out with his Pirates teammates.
"The core of the team decided to stay here over the summer, and basically our goal was (get to the national tourney), so whatever it took for us to get this ‘journey to the tourney’ started that’s where we put everything together and now everybody has jelled because we were together for such a long period," he said. "Everybody understands each other off the court, which helps with the performance on the court."