Chicago high school basketball star, Kezo Brown, has been a household name in prep hoops since his freshman year. He began his high school career at Simeon Academy, which is the alma mater of other former high school basketball stars, such as the late Ben Wilson, Derrick Rose, and Jabari Parker. All were considered top prospects in their respective classes and for Brown’s name to be brought up in conversations that include players of that caliber speaks for the potential of the young star.
Jabari Parker is the only other freshman to play more minutes than Brown in a season at Simeon, thus creating the hype for him to be great early on. Even so, he says the pressures of being a young star and playing for a powerhouse like Simeon have never phased him.
“I’ve never felt the pressure,” said Brown, “I come from the bottom for real. I’m from the gutter. I’ve been in the gutter my whole life, I’ve been the underdog my whole life, so I just come at people’s head. I’ve been at the bottom, so there’s no pressure for me to reach the top, I just know that I’m blessed when I do get there.”
Following his freshman season, schools such as Duke and Kentucky were building relationships with Brown as they saw him to be the next big star out of Simeon. Yet, as his sophomore season rolled around, he was sidelined the entire year due to a health issue. Many of the schools recruiting Brown started to back off, but he would eventually return to the court for his junior year.
During his junior season, Brown came back as good as ever and helped lead Simeon to the 4A state championship game against Whitney Young. While they weren’t able to capture that championship, Simeon and Brown seemed to be back on the right track.
As he prepared for his senior season, Brown suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the upcoming summer circuits. Thus, creating another bump in the road for the recruitment of the talented point guard. Much of the recruiting in high school basketball is done during the summer, as college programs are playing their season at the same time as high school programs, so he wasn’t able to display the improvements in his game in front of as many schools as he wanted.
One school who never backed off of Brown despite his health issues and injuries was Chicago State. He eventually committed there in July of 2017, the summer between his junior and senior year, citing the opportunity to play early on with the Cougars.
Brown added, “I just wanted to go somewhere that I’ll be able to play early. Not that I couldn’t do that at schools like Duke and Kentucky, because they were recruiting me when I was a freshman, but Chicago State is a good college for me. I know I’ll go in there and get a lot of playing time.”
With speculation regarding whether Brown would play for Simeon during his senior year or not, fans and teammates of the talented guard started the #KezoBrownChallenge on Twitter. The challenge included hitting a left-handed shot with a short message from participants of the challenge for Kezo Brown to “get right.”
“The Kezo Brown Challenge came from the fans,” said Brown, “I was grateful for it. I was going through a tough time then. I had to check into the hospital to check up on my health, but I’m just really glad that I’ve got fans that are so supportive.”
This challenge stemmed from a video where Brown claimed to have quit playing basketball due to “falling out of love” with the game. Once the video was posted, many questioned the future of Simeon’s rising star. He would later announce that while he wouldn’t play his final season with Simeon, he was still committed to Chicago State and continued to work on his game.
“Right now I’ve just been focusing on getting stronger and getting myself ready for the next level,” claims Brown, “We’ll be playing against top schools like Wisconsin, so it’s an opportunity to take my school to the next level and put them back on the map.” As for what he’s doing to polish his game, Brown said, “I’ve been working out with guys who play overseas and I’ve been playing in open gyms, just working on being a point guard. At Simeon they weren’t letting me run the point and I’m a point guard, so they weren’t preparing me for the next level.”
With all the controversy, twists, and turns to the story of Kezo Brown, it will be interesting to see how he plays once taking the floor for Chicago State. The Cougars are receiving one of the nation’s quickest, pure point guards, and a guy who loves to attack. Despite only being rated as a three-star prospect, those who have followed his story know he is one of the best prospects in the Class of 2018 when focused. Chicago State fans will be in for a treat over the next four years.