Coach Jeramiah “JB” Brown said he intends to elevate the San Quentin Warriors basketball team with skills that take the squad to another level.
“I love this game. I love basketball. To me it’s bigger than just B-ball though,” said Brown, 54.
The power and energy that takes place when guys get around that B-ball is dynamic and it brings people together, he said. Brown has players rallying around him and they believe in his coaching capabilities. He brings another element of coaching to the team that is undeniable, a player said.
“I bring that intensity to the team. I can spot talent in a player from the way they dribble and just simply how they pass the ball. It’s how their coordination flows,” Brown said.
“Basketball to me is like cooking gumbo. You need all the ingredients to hit and each one brings its own flavor. Just like in B-ball. You need a shooter, a dribbler, a defender and so forth. But, for a gumbo to come together you need that special seasoning to make it stick like glue. I’m that glue when it comes to basketball.”
He has 30 years of experience coaching some of the biggest athletes in sports today. It gives him that special edge and credence players believe they have been missing from their repertoire.
“Anybody who’s played B-ball before can tell real coaching ability when they see it,” said a player who wanted to remain anonymous. Some players want to remain anonymous from fear of retaliation from other coaches who may cut them from the team for speaking out.
“A player can be a good player on his own but, when a player has a good coach, he can be more than just a good player,” said the anonymous player. “A coach can strictly teach B-ball, but I believe that JB is teaching me about life as being a man.”
Brown spent most of his life training young men how to play B-ball, but he also groomed them to be respectful young men off the court by being that father figure most of the men were missing in their lives. His stature and his no-nonsense presence on the court earned him the respect of the players.
“Leadership starts with coaching. If you don’t respect your coaches, you don’t respect the team. In order to be a winning team, it takes leadership, organizing, unity and patience,” said Brown.
Guys on the team see that Brown is more than just a coach to them. He stops by and checks on them off the court, too, said a player.
“I can speak for most of the other players when I say that he is just real,” the player said.
Brown gave a list of names of some athletes he coached over the years before he came to prison; some of them have since gone pro: Damian Lillard, Leon Powe, DeMarcus Nelson, Aaron Gordon and his brother Drew Gordon, and even LeBron James.
“I remember when we put LeBron in the game during the third quarter and he jumped up and got the rebound. It seemed like he was gliding down the court. It looked like he was moving in slow motion compared to the other players trying to catch him. I saw something great in him back then. I knew he was gonna be something special,” said Brown.