Demon Brown has traveled from the Murphy Homes projects on Baltimore's west side to a peaceful Southern academic setting on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Brown, who left the city for Baltimore County's Randallstown High in the 11th and 12th grades, is so content in his new environment that the love of his life, basketball, even pales a little in comparison with the new tension-free atmosphere.
Sure, the 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard for the always-strong 49ers (16-8 overall, 10-3 in Conference USA) is proud of his many on-court achievements. But he loves to talk about his new surroundings.
"Life was so rough in the city," said Brown, 21, who leads the 49ers in assists (98) and steals (38), is third in scoring (11.2) and tied for second in three-pointers (49). "You had to put up a tough front all the time. Here, everything is so relaxed and calm."
He chose UNC-Charlotte over Connecticut and Xavier after one year at prep school Maine Central Institute, where he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds. At Randallstown, he averaged 28.8 points and seven rebounds his senior year.
But rebounding hasn't come easily in a major collegiate conference.
"Defense and rebounding are the two things I have to work on to improve my overall game," said Brown, who averages 2.7 rebounds a game.
"I've spent most of my life shooting the ball," he said. "So I don' t worry about that part of my game."
Ryan racks up 25 points
Senior Ryan Olkowski (Calvert Hall) just keeps on piling up points and records for the Penn State indoor track and field team, prompting high praise from his coach, Harry Groves.
"Ryan has been a great leader for the team," said Groves. "He keeps working and it keeps paying off for him."
Olkowski scored nearly a quarter (25) of the team's 99.25 points two weekends ago, as the third-ranked Nittany Lions finished second to second-ranked Indiana (105.25) in the USTCA Collegiate Sykes/Sabok Challenge Cup at Penn State.
Olkowski broke Michael Timpson's school record in the 200-meter event with a 21.07 clocking for first place. Timpson, a former NFL standout, set the record of 21.11 in 1989.
Olkowski also picked up 10 points by winning the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 9 inches, and he added five points with a fourth-place finish in the long jump.
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