GREEN BAY - Alec Brown doesn't have to look up in the stands to see them.
"I tell my coach not to tell me if they're there, I don't really look for them," said the Phoenix senior center. "I know that they're there."
"They," in this case, are NBA scouts. Brown, a 7'1 junior with a soft shooting touch and penchant for blocking shots, is attracting NBA attention. One NBA draft-related site, NBADraft.net, listed Brown as a first round pick in a preseason mock draft (they now list him as a second round pick in their 2014 mock draft ).
Brown admits he hears the NBA-talk; it isn't just media that ask him about it, either: it's friends and people he meets around town. He says he isn't giving much thought to his pro future right now, but there is a chance he'll have to decide after this season whether to return to Green Bay or enter the draft early.
"Possibly," said Brown, asked if he'd have a decision to make after this season, "yeah, but we'll see how it goes, I don't know."
What Brown does know this season is that he has the attention of opponents. A preseason all-Horizon League pick, defenses have focused on slowing down the big man.
"[Defenses are] a lot more physical, he's seen a few more double teams," said Phoenix head coach Brian Wardle.
Wardle notes the Phoenix also returned several talented players, so preseason expectations of huge numbers for Brown have to be kept in perspective.
For his part, Brown insists he doesn't pay any attention to stats. Still, his have suffered since last year. He's points are down from 13.8 per game to 11.8, field goal percentage has dropped six points to 39.6% and his rebounding has gone from 8.2 per game last season to 6.6 now.
Being the focus of other team's defenses has worn on Brown somewhat.
"It gets frustrating at points," said Brown. "That might affect how I play also. I've just got to play through it."
Brown says the message he gets from Wardle is to stay positive.
"The more you commit, the more you care," said Wardle. "He's gotten frustrated a few times this year, visibly, I've seen on the floor, or in the locker room. I've said, 'you've just got to be Alec Brown.' Turn your head to that, have a short term memory, move on and play, have a smile on your face. That's what he's always done."
Wardle points out Brown had one of his best games of the year in Saturday's win over Cleveland State. The center had 14 points, missing just two shots and blocking six shots.
Brown and the Phoenix start a four-game road trip Wednesday night at Vaparaiso.
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