Brown eager to play in home state vs. Pokes

Dec 21, 2012 The Associated Press

To say Taran Brown is excited about Friday night would be an understatement.

The Gillette product and redshirt freshman forward for the UC-Santa Barbara men's basketball team returns to his home state when the Gauchos (4-6) play at the University of Wyoming (11-0).

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium.

"There are going to be a couple of hundred Gauchos fans there," he said.

Brown is thankful that coach Bob Williams set up a home-and-home this season with UW so he could return to his home state. He also hopes for a better outcome than the Nov. 28 game in Santa Barbara when UW won 68-40. Brown, who is the Gauchos' second-leading scorer (13.6 points per game) and rebounder (5.8), fouled out in that contest and finished with just nine points. But he has scored in double figures in eight of his team's last nine games and hit 20 or more twice. At 6-foot-8, Brown is a versatile player. He has taken the second-most shots on the team and also the second-most 3-pointers.

He shoots 40.5 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point range. He leads the team with 2.5 assists per game and with 11 steals and is second with 13 blocked shots.

Santa Barbara assistant coach Matt Stock said, "He's a great kid with a great work ethic and a very high motor."

Stock is from Cheyenne. He graduated from Central High, where he was a standout basketball and soccer player.

"What we love most about Taran is he's aggressive and plays hard, no matter what," Stock said. "When you have that, it is a lot easier to work with kids to develop their skills." Brown was Wyoming's top prep player and earned McDonald's All-America status as a senior at Gillette. He averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, two steals and 1.9 assists per game. So why didn't he end up at UW?

Brown said he was recruited by the Cowboys and former coach Heath Schroyer. He and his high school team often attended camps in Laramie.

But the summer before his senior year, Brown played AAU basketball and made an all-star team in the Los Angeles area. That opened a lot of coaches' eyes in that area.

It also helped that he and Stock formed a good relationship during the recruiting process.

"I love Wyoming and I'm proud of where I am from," Brown said.

"But I thought there were more opportunities for me in California. I love it here.

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