Another one of Coach Tom Izzo’s players will get a chance to play professional basketball in the NBA.
On Thursday night, Michigan State senior wing/forward Gabe Brown did not hear his name called during the 2022 NBA Draft. But, a short time after the draft was completed, it was announced that Brown has agreed to sign a partially-guaranteed free agent contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to basketball insider Adam Zagoria.
Brown will participate in the NBA Summer League for the Thunder.
Gabe Brown @_Going_Pro_ of Michigan State has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the OKC Thunder and will play Summer League, per League source.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) June 24, 2022
Brown is one of three Spartans to be drafted or signed by an NBA team on Thursday night. Max Christie was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 35 overall pick. Following the conclusion of the draft, fellow departing senior Marcus Bingham Jr. signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Dallas Mavericks as well.
The 6-foot-8 and 215-pound Brown arrived at Michigan State in the summer of 2018 by way of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Brown played in a total of 32 games as a true freshman and averaged close to eight minutes per game off of the bench for the Big Ten Championship squad. He averaged just 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, but shot over 37 percent from three-point range.
The highlight of Brown’s first year was when he came off the bench in the NCAA Tournament and hit four of his six shots from deep during the Sweet 16 contest versus LSU. Brown scored 15 points that night and helped the Spartans to blow out the Tigers, 80-63. That win set up the Spartans’ epic Elite Eight game against Duke and eventual trip to Coach Izzo’s eighth Final Four in 2019.
Brown saw his role expand during his sophomore year. He appeared in all 31 games and started 16 times during the 2019-2020 season. Brown’s production increased to 9.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as he earned the team’s Most Improved Player Award. He scored in double figures a total of eight times and contributed the another Big Ten regular season title before the season ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a junior, Brown found his niche as a sixth man sniper off of the bench. His overall production dipped slightly. Brown averaged 7.2 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game, but led the team in three-point shooting at 42 percent. His productivity was certainly affected by an almost month-long pause due to COVID in January of 2021, including a stretch where he missed three-straight games.
Brown entered his final year with the Spartans as a team captain, along with junior Malik Hall. He started all 36 games as a senior, and led Michigan State in scoring at 11.6 points per game. Brown scored in double figures in 16 of the Spartans’ first 17 games. He hit a shooting slump in late January for close to a month. However, he ended his career by scoring in double figures again in eight of his final nine games wearing the Green and White as he helped to lead Michigan State to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
For his play in his final year, Brown earned All-Big Ten third-team honors as voted by coaches and an honorable mention nod from the media. Brown had the option to return to East Lansing for a fifth and final year due to the COVID-19 pandemic blanket waiver granted by the NCAA. But, he opted to instead explore a professional career.
Over his entire career with Michigan State, Brown scored a total of 880 points in 124 total games (7.1 points per game). He also averaged 2.9 rebounds per game. Brown will perhaps best be remembered by Spartan fans as a high-energy gym rat who flat-out loves the game of basketball. His energy on and off the court was infectious. Brown was also known as streaky shooter. He finished his career shooting 43.5 percent overall and 37.9 percent from three-point range.
Brown will be coached by Mark Daigneault in Oklahoma City. He joins a roster that currently includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, fellow rookie Chet Holmgren and others.