By BRIAN REED BAIOTTO, Sports Editor To some, Friday the 13th is regarded as an ominous or unlucky day, but for Pasadena High School point guard Darius Brown II, 4-13-18 will go down as one of the happiest days of his young life. DBII, who is without question the Pasadena area’s best point guard and […]
By BRIAN REED BAIOTTO, Sports Editor
To some, Friday the 13th is regarded as an ominous or unlucky day, but for Pasadena High School point guard Darius Brown II, 4-13-18 will go down as one of the happiest days of his young life.
DBII, who is without question the Pasadena area’s best point guard and offensive facilitator over the last two years, officially signed on the dotted line Friday afternoon at the Bulldogs’ statue on the PHS campus to play for Cal State Northridge.
He was surrounded by friends, teammates, coaches and family.
What makes today’s signing and this story so significant and special is that Brown overcame the lazy and ignorant perceived notion that one has to be over 6-foot-2 or so to be effective at the collegiate level.
While players with larger physical statures signed much earlier, DBII earned his scholarship the old fashioned way.
He allowed his skills, stats, leadership and production to do the talking, and in many cases, DBII’s finest moments came while dominating those same players who got more attention because of their size.
Brown will play for a Matadors program that is being revamped by first-year CSUN coach Mark Gottfried.
Gottfried, 54, is a proven winner over a 20-year career.
He’s tallied 401 victories, which includes time at Murray State, Alabama and North Carolina State.
Gottfried’s last stop was a six-year stint in the nation’s most successful conference, the ACC.
He went 123-86 while leading the North Carolina State Wolfpack, and against Duke icon and the winningest college coach in history, Mike Krzyzewski, as well as North Carolina legend Roy Williams.
A rebuilding mode takes time, but with Gottfried and the addition of a proven winner, CSUN is likely to see brighter days sooner rather than later.
In two years running Coach Tony Brooks’ offense and team, Pasadena went 52-15 overall, which was an area best for games won over the 24-month span.
Their 27-1 Pacific League record was the area’s most victories and most importantly, PHS had an area-high 11 (11-4) postseason wins.
Brown and his Bulldogs made back-to-back appearances in the CIF-SS title games and they also led the way with five wins in the CIF State playoffs.
In 2017-18, DBII averaged 15 points 11 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds per game.
Last year, Brown had 18 points and 7 assists each night, and one might wonder why his scoring went down during his senior year.
It’s a simple answer.
In 2016-17, the vast majority of shots were divided between Bryce Hamilton, the Pasadena Sports Now two-time Player of the Year, Darius Mason and DBII himself.
This past season, though, each of the three mentioned saw less shots and were fine with it, because it came with the addition of transfers Tavian Percy and Omari Moore.
Both Percy and Moore were invaluable and they combined for 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, and both added so much to an already stacked and well-coached program.
As good as DBII was in his junior season, his run in 2017-18 was extraordinary to watch.
He missed some time because of an injured ankle, and upon his return, PHS won the next 16 games and averaged a nearly 30-point margin over their opponents during that stretch.
In the 69 days between a Pacific League opening loss to Crescenta Valley and the end of the prep basketball season, the Bulldogs only two losses were to CIF-SS and CIF State champions from Chino Hills.
To those who only know DBII through headlines and stats, his positive traits go well beyond being Tony Brooks’ ‘coach on the court,’ as well as hitting buzzer-beating shots and breaking the single-school assists records twice in one season.
Aside from 20 assists in a game, it is pretty much inarguable that his biggest moment came on Feb. 23 at Maranatha in the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal against a very competent Rancho Verde squad.
Trailing most of the contest, PHS clawed back and tied the game at 46.
With approximately 45 seconds to play in a winner-goes-to-the-championship game scenario, Omari Moore had the ball inside and passed it back out to Brown.
DBII, drove to his right, lost a Rancho Verde defender with some nifty footwork and buried a jump shot with 33 seconds to play.
That shot and one defensive stand earned PHS back-to-back trips to APU and another chance to play for a CIF-SS championship.
DBII, thanks to a great family, including parents, Leah and Darius Sr., and brothers Davian and Drew, is a bright, mature and calculating young man.
He always seems to know, much like a quarterback, what’s going to happen a few seconds on the court before everyone else.
Cal State Northridge and Mark Gottfried got a diamond in the rough with today’s signing of DBII, as well as someone who would make any program proud to call their own.