Basketball / BJ-League

Former NBA forward Andre Brown joins Sendai 89ers

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Andre Brown’s professional basketball career can be best described as a global odyssey.

The 32-year-old power forward’s latest stop brought him to Tohoku to play for the Sendai 89ers, who released James Hughes earlier this week to make room for Brown on the roster.

Brown’s signing was announced by Sendai (12-14) on Thursday. The 89ers return to action on Feb. 1 against the host Shimane Susanoo Magic.

The 211-cm Hughes averaged 8.3 points and 6.5 rebounds plus 30 blocks in 26 games for Sendai.

In his most recent overseas action, Brown had a two-game stint in Uruguay in November, suiting up for Atletico Atenas Montevideo and contributing 16.0 ppg.

Brown played 38 games for the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2006-07 season, 33 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007-08 and four games for the Charlotte Bobcats the next season. In those 75 games, he made one start (for Memphis) and averaged 8.0 minutes, 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds.

Brown becomes the second NBA veteran to sign with a bj-league team this season. All-Star Edwin Ubiles, the Kyoto Hannaryz’s leading scorer (16.1 ppg), is a former Washington Wizard.

Starting in 2004, the Chicago native’s career has included stops in Italy, Montenegro, the Philippines, South Korea, NBA Development League, Turkey, China, Puerto Rico, Syria, Greece, Australia, Dominican Republic, Iran and Uruguay. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Development League draft.

His last official work with an NBA-affiliated team came in 2010, when he competed for the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League squad.

Former Saitama Broncos head coach Dean Murray has served as an assistant coach for Anyang KGC in the Korean Basketball League. While in South Korea, he saw Brown play for KCC Egis in 2012.

“He is a very solid player and should make a contribution on his team as a player and leader,” Murray, now an assistant for the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends, wrote in an email to The Japan Times.

“Obviously, a lot depends on how his game-shape conditioning is at this point and how quickly he gets in game shape and the adjustment period with his teammates and coaches. I know him to be a true professional who comes to work every day and is a good teammate. Those attributes alone should make an impact on his team.”

Ex-Tokyo Apache head coach Bob Hill, who was the Sonics bench boss in the 2006-07 campaign, was asked to recall Brown’s time in Seattle.

“Andre was great to coach,” Hill told The Japan Times. “He was very professional and always played hard all over the court. We were not a very good defensive team, but he helped us improve (at) that end of the court.

“If Andre could have shot the ball better, he would have played in the NBA for a long time. I enjoyed my time with him…”

In January 2007, after seven games with the Sonics, the Western Conference club extended Brown’s contract until the end of the season. In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that month, he reflected on what the contract extension meant to him by saying, “It’s a great feeling. Now I can call this place home.”

As an NBA rookie at the time, the then-25-year-old Brown had already competed for pro teams in five countries, including a banner performance (22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in 16 games) for the Sioux Falls Skyforce at the outset of the 2006-07 season. That effort caught the Sonics’ attention and earned him a 10-day contract with the club.

And his global odyssey continued.

All-Star notes: Sunday’s bj-league All-Star Game, which is slated to tip off at 1:10 p.m., will be the eighth annual league showcase in Akita. The West takes a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s contest.

The Eastern Conference’s starters, voted in by fans, are Akita guards Yuki Togashi and Shigehiro Taguchi, Akita forwards Richard Roby and Ruben Boykin and Sendai big man Wendell White. The Western Conference’s starting five are Kyoto guard Hikaru Kusaka, Fukuoka guard Cohey Aoki, Kyoto swingman Edwin Ubiles, Shiga forward Marshall Brown and Ryukyu forward Anthony McHenry. … Akita’s Kazuo Nakamura will patrol the sideline for the East, while Oita’s Yukinori Suzuki is the West’s head coach.