Norman Brown Jr., 28, is the new head boys basketball coach at Providence Christian. The Georgia Tech and Redan graduate joins Providence after spending the past two seasons as an assistant at Druid Hills.
In this installment of "Getting to Know..." Brown chats with staff writer Ben Beitzel about not playing high school basketball, getting a liberal arts degree from Georgia Tech and going to high school with MLB All-Star Brandon Phillips.
BB: You didn't play basketball at Georgia Tech, what did you study?
NB: I started out in engineering and then I switched to history. I was in college for about six- and a-half years. I realized I didn't want to do engineering, so I picked something I was a little bit better at.
BB: Not many people have a history degree from Georgia Tech.
NB: I don't know (laughs). The funny thing is you'd think the history classes are easy, but they are hard just like the other classes. I wouldn't have known, unless I went to the school, that they had history. They have a school of liberal arts.
BB: Well, you're the first person I've ever met that had a liberal arts degree from Georgia Tech.
NB: Everybody always assumes. I think my mom still thinks I have an engineering degree. (laughs) I think she does.
BB: Glad you switched?
NB: I am really glad. I have been coaching since my first year out of high school and teaching and coaching kind of goes together. I am really glad. I am not the most talkative, but I am more of a people person than I am a computer person.
BB: I assume you played basketball at Redan.
NB: No, I didn't. I tried out for the team when I was in 10th grade but I hurt my ankle. I didn't make it that year. The next year, we went to the Final Four with like four or five division I players. I was the camera man on that team. But I never played at Redan.
I played AAU all the way up, so I played, but I never played at Redan. They were really good. I was always a student of the game.
BB: Do you regret not playing high school basketball?
NB: Not really. I was OK (with it). I was a year younger than everybody (after skipping kindergarten) and that kind of hurt me. I didn't get good until maybe my senior year or my freshmen year in college. I used to play against some of the guys at Georgia Tech. I could stay on the floor with them. I was a late bloomer.
BB: Did you play any sports?
NB: Nope, just went to school. I was a student. I played AAU all the way through high school, but I never played for the school. I did do cross country one year.
BB: I am disappointed you didn't play baseball with Brandon Phillips.
NB: (laughs) I knew him. I was pretty good friends with one of his buddies. He was great. You always hear those stories about those kids that you just know are going to be good. I think he knew it. I think his dad knew it. He used to get up at 5 o'clock (a.m.) and go running and work out every day, not even in baseball season. He worked hard and he had talent, too. I didn't think he was going to be an All-Star calibre, but I guess if you keep working and you have talent you'll get there.
BB: With your AAU and now high school experience, what's the biggest difference between the two?
NB: High school, the games are more defensive, because you do get a chance to scout. You get a chance to see the team before you play them. AAU is more, if you have some talent you are probably going to win the game. Or if you have some talent and you have some decent coaches you can make adjustments on the fly. In an AAU game, you are playing just one game, so you are trying to figure out what the the team is doing in the first quarter and by halftime, if you aren't too far down you might be able to come back and figure them out. A lot of times AAU is who is more talented. Depth plays a role. You are playing four or five games in a day. In a high school game, you can go out and tell your kids to give it everything they've got. In AAU you have to substitute and play the numbers game to keep everybody fresh. But just defensively, the level of intensity throughout the game is higher in high school. You get bigger crowds. You are playing for your school. There is a little more pride involved.
BB: How'd you meet your wife, Deidra?
NB: I met her out in Buckhead. I was with one of my friends and she was with one of her friends and we just so happen to meet. We talked for a couple of months. I was living here and she was living in Tennessee, going to Tennessee State, she didn't like me at that time. Four years later, I saw her on Facebook and I sent her a message. She liked me then.BB: Better the second time.
NB: Better the second time around. It's worked out great. We've been together for going on six years, we've been married for two and a half.
BB: Your older son, Wesley, is 6. Does he plays basketball?
NB: He plays everything. He plays basketball, soccer, he played T-ball one time. His best sport is football. He loves football. He played last fall and then he played in the spring and this is his second season playing a real season. He's played 20 games now. I wanted to get him in (early) and see if he liked it. If he didn't you could ween him off of it and make sure you keep his head right. He likes it. He's pretty tough. He's pretty big, too.
BB: This is your first head coaching job. What's it been like at Providence getting ready for the season?
NB: It's a great school. It was just by God's grace that I made it here. I didn't get hired until July. They have different candidates that they talked to. It was a great opportunity. The people are great. They have a system already in place. They were playing in two summer leagues and a fall league. They had everything rolling. I'm excited because I really haven't coached any of the kids yet. I have watched them play. I haven't really gotten my hands one them.