Pacifica Christian Orange County High boys’ basketball player Judah Brown received substantial interest as a recruit in the class of 2020 before making his commitment to St. Mary’s College.
His list of suitors included the University of Nevada, which entered the week ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press top 25 poll.
For talented individuals like Brown, life can feel like living under a microscope. More than ever, every move made is tracked, including what they say on social media.
At a faith-based institution such as St. Mary’s, the standard for character can be even higher, but such expectations do not give Brown pause. He says his upbringing provided him with the foundation necessary to succeed in such an environment.
“My parents taught us really well, so a lot of the standards that are high for most people are things that aren’t demanding,” Brown said. “Simple things of etiquette like holding the door for other people when they are coming in, looking at people in the eyes when they are talking to you, just small things like that are just things that are natural.
“I don’t have to be very cautious … because those things are natural because of what my parents have taught me.”
What comes through loud and clear is that Brown is a man of the people. Although he has lived in three states — California, Texas and Oregon — he has managed to forge and maintain relationships with friends everywhere he has gone.
When the Tritons traveled to Hillsboro, Ore., for the Les Schwab “The Eight” Invitational, Brown said that a number of friends came out to watch him.
In his first season with the Tritons, Brown is averaging 16.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.8 blocked shots and 3.6 assists per game.
Last week, Brown averaged 12.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.7 blocks in wins against Ridgecrest Burroughs, Dana Hills and Lancaster Quartz Hill in the Division 4AA playoffs. He notched a near triple-double in contributing 19 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks in the semifinals against the Rebels.
“Judah is unique because he can impact the game in so many different ways,” Tritons coach Jeff Berokoff said. “No matter how well or how great he is playing, he is always impacting the game on both ends of the floor. You are always going to get something great from Judah. That makes him really unique.”
As the Tritons prepare for their second CIF title game in the last three seasons, Brown said that his motivations are twofold. He wants his teammates to have the experience of winning a championship as much as he wants a second title for himself.
Pacifica Christian lost to Riverside Carnegie 75-45 in the Division 6 final in 2017.
“I know that these guys have made it before, and they weren’t able to have that [championship] feeling,” Brown said. “Now, I have an even bigger hunger to not only let me have that feeling again, but to let them experience that. I don’t want to feel the other end.”
Second-seeded Pacifica Christian (23-7) will face top-seeded Fairmont Prep (24-7) in the Division 4AA final at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Godinez High. The San Joaquin League champion Huskies swept the league meetings with the Tritons this season, but both games went to overtime.
The other player on the Pacifica Christian roster with championship experience is senior small forward Solomon Davis. He helped Temecula Rancho Christian win the Division 5A title in 2016.
Davis endorsed Brown as a player whose personality is as impactful as the skills that he brings on the court.
“He’s very caring,” Davis said of Brown. “He cares about everybody that he comes across. He’s always smiling. He’s that kind of guy who will pick you up when you’re having a down day.
“On the court, he’s just a different kind of kid. He’s coming out to win. He’s not the nice guy on the floor, but I really love how he knows when to turn the switch on.”
Brown said he was home-schooled for a good portion of his education, but he added that he enjoys the connectivity that comes from studying in a small-school environment.
He said he cheered on the Tritons’ girls’ volleyball team when it played in the Division 9 final against La Puente at Cerritos College on Nov. 3. He expects nothing less than a big turnout from “The Wedge,” the Pacifica Christian student section, for Saturday night’s Division 4AA boys’ basketball final.
“Everyone has school spirit,” Brown said. “We’re all one big family. That’s one thing that I love about small schools is that everyone is involved. You know each other, so you genuinely care about each other.”
Born: April 12, 2002
Hometown: Bermuda Dunes
Height: 6 feet 7
Weight: 200 pounds
Coach: Jeff Berokoff
Favorite food: Orange chicken
Favorite movie: “Facing the Giants”
Favorite athletic moment: Brown was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter when he dunked on someone in a basketball camp at San Diego State.