Gilbert Brown isn't usually one of the Pittsburgh Panthers that comes to mind when someone asks me about former players. His five-year career (2006-2011) at Pitt was overshadowed by teammates who were the "premiere" players while they wore the blue and gold.
As a true freshman, Brown went to the Sweet 16 on a Panthers team that featured seniors Aaron Gray and Antonio Graves; they also had juniors Mike Cook and Ronald Ramon. Two years later, seniors Levance Fields and Sam Young, along with sophomore DeJuan Blair, led Pitt to the Elite Eight. Gilbert finally became a starter his senior year, but the overall play of fellow senior Brad Wanamaker usually stole the headlines.
To his credit, Brown increased his three-point percentage each and every season: going from 24.4% his redshirt freshman year to 41.3% by his senior year. He also increased his rebounds per game every season, and was an underrated passer. Brown was a very good average athlete, although, I hesitate to say elite. At 6'6, 215lbs., Gilbert had prototypical size for a college small forward, and at times, looked like a guy who was built more for the pro game.
Brown has played professionally since leaving school after the 2010-2011 season. With stops in Germany, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (2x), Turkey, Venezuela, and the NBA D-League (2x), Gilbert is certainly well-versed in playing the professional game, as he's played all over the world.
He now finds himself as a member of the Canton Charge, the D-League affiliate for the Cleveland Cavaliers. An injury to start the season prevented him from getting minutes, but since cracking the starting lineup on January 2nd, Brown has been one of the best players on the roster.
He erupted for 30 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 40 minutes of play in his first start. His four three-pointers were a game-high, and he has either led the Charge or tied for the lead in makes from beyond the arc in all four of his starts. He is also averaging 5.5 assists per game in those four games, and is shooting a very efficient 55.6% from the floor.
In front of NBA GMs and scouts on Tuesday, as part of the NBA D-League Showcase in Nevada, Brown scored 24 points and led Canton with eight assists. Former West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks came into the game as the top-ranked prospect in the D-League. At times, Brown out-dueled Ebanks, and it was fun watching an old rivalry rekindled on the professional level.
The Cavaliers were in desperate need of a small forward before they recently traded for Luol Deng. For a team looking to make the playoffs, Brown can contribute in limited minutes, whereas Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix are a few years away from contributing.
At 26-years old, Gilbert is in the prime of his professional career. Unfortunately, he isn't viewed as favorably as younger players like Karasev and Felix. Having watched the Cavs for the entire season, I think you could swap Brown for Alonzo Gee and the production would be about the same. Although, I think Brown would make more than 30% of his triples, particularly, the three-pointers from the corner.
Is Brown going to play in the pros, probably not. However, he certainly has put himself in the best position possible. NBA teams can offer 10-day contracts now, and given Deng's recent injury history coupled with the teams need for a backup small forward (who can produce), Gilbert might get lucky enough to finally get his name on the back of an NBA jersey.