CHICAGO – His legacy on the court is certainly cemented in the city along with the State of Illinois.
Dee Brown was a star at Proviso East High School and an Illinois Mr. Basketball selection, then moved to Champaign where he helped a historic run for the Illini men’s basketball team. When that was over, he enjoyed a career in both the NBA and international professional basketball.
But the native of Maywood is now starting to build his next chapter in the game as a coach, and his biggest step in that chapter came this week.
Roosevelt University named Brown their men’s basketball head coach, the first time that the former college All-American has had the chance to lead a program in his coaching career.
“It means the world to me,” said Brown on WGN News Now Sports Talk on Wednesday. “It’s such a blessing.”
The journey for Brown isn’t a long one since he was already in Chicago the last five seasons as an assistant coach for UIC under head coaches Steve McClain (2017-2020) and Luke Yaklich (2020-2022). That was preceded by a stint as the Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations for Illinois basketball and then as a coach in AAU in 2017.
Now Brown takes the biggest step of his coaching career to date as he takes the reins of the NAIA program that was under the leadership of John Griffin.
“First it was just the people; leadership, the administration was great when we met. They have a great vision for the program. The academics and, of course, the location,” said Brown when asked about what appealed to him about the job at Roosevelt. “Right in downtown Chicago, fits everything about me – me being from here.
“It’s just really attractive and a place I felt like I could come in and really just start my career as a head coach.”
With this new opportunity comes the chance for Brown to establish a program’s overall identity, from the players that take the floor for the Lakers, the style they play, and the attitude with which they carry themselves.
To set that, Brown reflects on his playing days and what mattered the most for him from high school to the professional game.
“I’ve always been a ‘We’ guy, ‘We, ‘Us,’ ‘Together.’ We do everything as a team. When people walk up to me, they say ‘Yeah, Dee was a good player, but those teams you played on.’ They’ve always got to speak about the teams I played on,” said Brown. “I played with really good players, I had really good coaches, and it was about us, we; everything we do is going to be together.
“It’s a brotherhood and with a style of play that people appreciated because it wasn’t just one player, it was a group of guys coming together, believing in one mission, one goal, and that was to compete and win championships, play the right way, love each other.
“So for me, I’m a team guy, and that’s what I want to build here at Roosevelt University is a team, a group of young men that’s unified, that when you watch us play, we play the right way, we play hard, we play together and we’re all chasing one goal, one dream, and that’s to compete and win championships.”
You can watch more of Brown’s interview with Larry Hawley, click on the video above.