From Baltimore to Atlanta to Iowa to Texas, Shakir Brown has been a well-traveled man over the past four years. Starting this summer, the former Patterson star will finally get to spend more than a year in one place. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward is headed to Harrisonburg, Va., after committing to James Madison on Monday.
"It's been a long road just to get to DI," Brown said Tuesday. "It was frustrating sometimes. Sometimes I was like, 'I don't want to be doing this.' But my mother told me to never quit something you start. She told me about how I can become something out of nothing."
Brown, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, chose the Dukes over offers from Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Morehead State and Wagner.
A West Baltimore native who moved to the east side in eighth grade, Brown spent the first three years of his high school career at St. Frances. He transferred to Patterson for his senior season, teaming up with Aquille Carr to help the Clippers win the Class 3A state title. Brown scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the championship win over Thomas Stone.
Brown said he had plenty of college interest coming out of high school, but without a qualifying SAT score he headed to Atlanta for a post-grad year at Action Sports Academy.
"I went to prep school and got my SAT score and wanted to go to Ole Miss," Brown said. "But [an online] class I took at Patterson [was flagged by the NCAA]. It was pretty disappointing, but I got over it."
Brown landed at Iowa Western Community College, where he averaged 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds as the team's sixth man. He mostly played the 4, behind a fellow freshman who is now headed to St. John's. Looking for a more up-tempo offense, Brown moved on to Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas for his sophomore year.
The move proved to be a good one; Brown averaged 20.3 points and 10.8 rebounds, leading the Roadrunners to a 21-10 record. Needless to say, college coaches took note.
Recruiting "was very different because … coaches [were] calling me every day," Brown said. I didn't really like all that attention. I just wanted a couple schools I could choose from. It was like 30, 40, 50 schools calling every damn day."
Brown narrowed his list to five and set up visits. On every trip after Harrisonburg, Brown said he thought to himself, "James Madison is better than this."
"The campus was cool," he said. "People were nice, welcomed me to the family. I just fit in. It's close to home. My mother and grandmother can come to the games. That was another factor in the decision."
For the Dukes, he'll play the 3 and 4, depending on what matchups dictate. Brown is joining a JMU squad that made the NCAA tournament in 2013 and came up just short in the CAA tournament championship in March, falling to Hofstra with a tourney bid on the line.
"I feel like I can get them over the hump this year," Brown said. "It's the same team coming back this year that tied for the conference championship. I feel like I can go there, jell with the team during the summer and then we'll be good during the season."