West Johnston High School became the latest area high school to turn to a former NBA player as their next head coach. On Tuesday, the Wildcats named former NC State star and NBA veteran Chucky Brown as their next men’s basketball coach.
Looking around at the game and all the things going on in the world in general, Brown said he felt it was time to coach so that he could “provide (some) good” to student-athletes.
“I think that you play so long and you’ve seen so much you want to share it with younger people,” Brown said. “Why not now? I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here. I might as well do some good while I’m here.”
Brown replaces Scotty Williams. Last season West Johnston finished 2-23 overall and 0-10 in the Greater Neuse 3A conference. The Panthers’ last winning season came in 2009-10 when they went 12-10 overall and 8-3 in league play.
Since the 2010-11 season, West Johnston has won just 16 league games and has gone winless in conference play three different times. Having a player with the NBA experience like Brown should be the first step in a culture change at the school.
Enter Brown, who played professional basketball for 13 years and played on 11 NBA teams. Brown won an NBA championship with the Houston Rockets during the 1994-95 season. He was a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Draft. Brown played at NC State from 1985-89 under Jim Valvano.
One lesson Brown said he would take from Coach Valvano was showing his players that he believes in them.
“Coach Valvano, he always believed in us no matter what,” Brown said. “He made you believe you were better than you were.”
Brown was the head coach of the Raleigh Knights of the World Basketball Association during the summer of 2004 and was an assistant coach for the Roanoke Dazzle, an NBA D-League team, for two seasons. Brown also served as an assistant coach for the NBDL’s Los Angeles D-Fenders and was a pro scout for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The coaching bug, however, never left Brown. When he wasn’t scouting for the Pelicans he was holding individual workouts with players. That’s how he got on the radar of West Johnston athletic director Joshua Plisko. Brown was already working individually with some players on the team. When the spot became open, Plisko found out Brown was interested, and bringing in a former NBA player was a no brainer.
“It’s tremendous,” Plisko said. “It’s awesome that our kids can get that validation from someone who has been there, done that, immediately. Coach Brown is through and through here to help kids learn. He’s wanting to build relationships with the kids.”
Brown becomes the latest former NBA player to take over a local high school program. Former UNC forward David Noel returned to coach at his Alma mater, Southern Durham in 2017. Another former Tar Heel, Rasheed Wallace, was named the head coach at Jordan High School last month.
“I talk to a lot of older guys and we watch a lot of the NBA games, and really they are hard to watch,” Brown said. “You see a lot of bad shots, and we think that maybe if we can start at the grassroots, where basketball starts, we can help a player.”