MU’s Jabari Brown ready for NBA draft

06/23/2014 7:24 PM

06/23/2014 7:24 PM

The longest road trip of former Missouri shooting guard Jabari Brown’s life has come to a close.

Since declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday on ESPN, Brown has crisscrossed the country on a months-long job interview that included the NBA Combine in Chicago and private workouts with 15 of the NBA’s 30 teams.

He’s eager to settle in at his family’s Oakland home and find out where the next leg of his basketball odyssey takes him.

“It’s been a long ride, but I’m enjoying the process,” Brown said by phone Friday from San Antonio, where he was preparing for a workout with the NBA champion Spurs. “It’s tough with all the flying and stuff, but I’m blessed to be in this situation and having that many people want to see you.”

Brown, of course, has done all of this with a heavy heart. His father, David, was diagnosed with Stage IV adenocarcinoma of the stomach in December.

“I wouldn’t say it’s bittersweet,” Brown said. “It actually makes it better with my family situation and some of that stuff. I just want to sit back on Thursday with my family and be there with my dad when I get drafted, hear my name called and have that dream come true.”

Brown said his father is doing well. David lost weight during the course of treatment, but some of those pounds have returned along with his appetite the last few weeks.

“He’s getting some strength back, so he’s doing all right,” said Brown, who admitted that he’ll be nervous during the NBA Draft.

“I’m not nervous yet,” said Brown, who transferred to Missouri from Oregon during his freshman season. “I’m still focused on workouts, but I’ll probably be a little nervous come draft day.”

Brown, who averaged 19.9 points as a junior last season with the Tigers, said the process has been a welcome distraction for his family.

“It’s definitely a great time and my family obviously is proud of me,” Brown said. “We talk about (the draft) a lot. The other stuff is still there, and it’s always going to be there, but we’re taking the good with the bad. That’s life. Everything’s not always going to be 100 percent great.”

Brown, who has been working out in Los Angeles, said his agent told him he could get drafted anywhere from 18th to 40th, though most mock drafts have him going later than that.

The NBA Draft analysts at CBS Sports have Brown going between 49th and 55th, while Draft Express is a bit more generous, slotting him 46th to the Wizards.

“I just want to go somewhere I can come in and compete for minutes as a rookie,” Brown said. “Hopefully, it will be a good team. But anywhere I go, I want to make the best of it and the most of it. I’m not too picky.”

Brown met Derek Fisher the day he was hired as the Knicks’ coach and also met team president Phil Jackson. He bumped in NBA All-Stars Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard along the journey, too.

It was a thrill, but Brown insists that he wasn’t star-struck at any stop along the way.

“I definitely respect what they do and what they’ve done, but they are just regular people like me at the end of the day,” Brown said. “You can’t have that awe factor, especially if you’re going to try to compete against them and last in the league.”

Ultimately, that’s Brown’s goal, so Thursday — wherever he lands and with whatever pick — isn’t a destination. It’s merely another step on an already long road.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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