Brown adds toughness, muscle to Eagles’ front line

RANTOUL — When Angelo Brown did not go out for basketball for his junior season, it left Rantoul coach Brett Frerichs without a key rotation player and potential starter for the 2017-18 season.

Brown, however, has returned in 2018. Five games into the season, the senior forward has already made an impact for the Eagles, earning his way into the starting lineup.

“Angelo’s like our muscle man,” fellow senior LJ Lewis said. “He comes in, and he comes up big for us. He brings rebounding, and I feel like if we would’ve had him last year, he would’ve had a big impact. But I think he’ll have an even greater impact for us this year.”

He brings extra intensity down low on defense and toughness on the boards, and the athletic Brown, who starred for Eagles football at quarterback, has emerged as Rantoul’s second-best rebounder next to 6-5 senior forward Latavius Winston.

“He still takes some plays off, but once he comes in and works hard every play, he could be a double-double guy,” Frerichs said. “We talk about Latavius being a double-double guy, but Angelo could be that double-double guy, especially once we get into conference play. He’s big, and I don’t think he realizes how good he could be.”

The 5-11 Brown had his best performance of the young season Saturday night, tallying nine points and nine rebounds in the Eagles’ first win of the year, 75-59, over Chicago Longwood.

He used his size to bruise down low and outbox the Panthers, giving Rantoul some critical possessions and second chances.

“Angelo helps a lot with boards and stuff, especially when Latavius isn’t in or when he’s in foul trouble,” senior Hayden Cargo said. “Angelo is a very aggressive player, and he gets after it. Having that extra big guy is huge. We have Maycoll (Ramos), and he’s pretty good, but sometimes he gets lost and things. Angelo’s a little bit better since he’s a senior and has that extra year of experience.”

Brown has still struggled with foul trouble in the season’s first two weeks. If he can correct that and shake off any rust that may remain following a year off from basketball, he could see his game continue to ascend.

“We’re not going to see the best out of Angelo until the second half of the season,” Frerichs said. “It affects a varsity basketball player, probably more than any other sport, when you take a whole year off. I think once the new year rolls around, he’s going to be really good. Right now, he’s good, but I think the best is definitely yet to come.”

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

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