As it turned out, Jake Brown never had to determine what to do without college basketball.
The former JB Hoops and Wallenpaupack High School player finished his playing career at Middlebury College in Vermont in March. Months later, he has already begun a college coaching career after accepting a position at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
“I tried out for the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Brown, who was looking for other playing options, “but then this came into fruition real quickly.”
Brown played for his uncle, Jeff Brown, at Middlebury. Now, he follows him into coaching.
“I’ve always been a basketball guy,” Jake Brown said during a September stop at Backcourt Hoops in Scranton to visit his old program and see potential recruits for his new job. “When I got to college, I played for my uncle, who’s been a coach for 21 years. That really fostered my passion for it.
“The last two summers, I coached at Global Squad in Pottstown. That kind of gave me the experience and exposure and I really liked it.”
The Pottstown-based program brings in more than 100 players from more than 50 different countries. Brown said Global Squad enters teams in AAU tournaments on weekends, “but during the week it’s all skill development and team practices.”
That work gave Brown his first taste of a job in which his uncle earned the two most recent New England Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors.
Brown earned his own honors at Middlebury where he wrapped up his career with an appearance in the NCAA Division III Elite Eight. He was the conference assist leader and a second-team all-star as a senior.
Kevin Hopkins, who earned national titles as a player and assistant coach at Amherst, another NEAC member, landed the head coaching job at Muhlenberg in April. When Hopkins began searching for an assistant, Brown applied.
His JB Hoops roots are a help as he begins a new phase of his life in basketball.
With recruiting a large part of his responsibility, Brown expects to be in contact with JB Hoops director John Bucci.
“It’s nice having coach Bucci,” Brown said. “I trust his opinions.”
And, when it comes time to pass along knowledge of the game to his players, Brown said he will draw from lessons learned at Backcourt Hoops, Wallenpaupack and Middlebury.
“Looking back at it, there was an awful lot that I learned, from the basics, here in AAU, and in high school that still translated to how I played in college,” said Brown, who played at Backcourt Hoops from fourth to 12th grades. “So, I can share those things as a point guard and show what I did and what worked for me, what worked for teams I played on.”
Brown, who earned a degree in economics, will be similar in age to many of his players.
“I’m not that far removed from it so that I can relate to players,” he said. “I have that young, fresh perspective. I just played for a very competitive Division III team, so I know what it takes to get there.”
Brown had 552 assists in his Middlebury career, one short of a school record. He was second on the team in scoring as a senior, finishing with 906 points in 106 career games, including starting every game for the past three seasons.
The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 assists and 1.4 steals on a 27-4 team as a senior. He shot 43.3 percent from the floor, 35.7 percent from 3-point range and 74.5 percent from the line.