It is his name, SirValiant Brown, that first catches everyone's attention. Then his game takes over and suddenly the name seems appropriate.
Brown, who was known as Val when he played at Lee High School in Springfield, has had a remarkable start to his freshman season with the George Washington men's basketball team. The 6-foot-1 shooting guard leads the team in scoring at 26.8 points per game. He has been named Atlantic 10 Conference rookie of the week twice in two weeks and was selected to the all-tournament team at the Top of the World Classic last month in Fairbanks, Alaska.
This weekend, he and the Colonials (2-3) will take on Seton Hall in the BB&T Classic at MCI Center.
Brown's distinctive first name derives from his father's fascination with King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table and his love of comic strips such as Prince Valiant. Robbie Brown persuaded his wife to name their son SirValiant. Brown's younger brother is named SirLancelot.
"It was different, unique," Robbie Brown said. "I guess I got kind of carried away a little bit."
Brown resented his name growing up. Teachers thought it was a joke. His peers teased him.
"At first, of course I hated it because everybody was picking on me," Brown said. "Then toward the end of my senior year [in high school] I really started to like it. I started to write it on my papers, assignments and stuff."
As he embarked on his college career, Brown decided to revert to his full name.
"It's a new Val, a new person," Brown said. "I just wanted to end what I did [in basketball] in high school and have a new beginning."
Brown doesn't lack the confidence to shoot, but he does lack accuracy. He has taken nearly 23 shot attempts each game, but has made only 33 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.
In George Washington's game against South Florida on Saturday, Brown missed his first nine shots before finishing with 33 points. He went 7 of 22 from the field, including 3 of 15 from three-point range. He followed that performance with another 33-point game against Ohio on Tuesday night.
Coach Tom Penders said he can live with Brown's shot selection.
"The worst thing you can do to a talented kid is make him think about it," Penders said. "You also like the fact that he's not afraid to take them. He hasn't taken a bad shot when the game has been on the line. It's early in the game, when he's trying to get going. He's trying to get hot."
The difference between Brown's shooting in the first half and the second half is dramatic. Except for the Houston game, when he had 17 points in the first half and 14 points after halftime, Brown has on average doubled his scoring in the second half.
"I have to be real careful not to put too many demands on him and pressures on him early," Penders said. "But I'm happy with the intensity level he's playing at and how physically he's playing. . . . Some of these kids get too much attention, too many accolades in high school, AAU ball and summer leagues that they come and expect everything to be given to them. Val expects nothing and just goes after everything."
Although Penders wants Brown to cut down on his turnovers--18 in five games--he sees a bright future for him. Penders said the mistakes Brown makes are correctable and are due to being a freshman more than anything else.
"He's just scratching the surface," Penders said. "He's going to be an outstanding player as long as he keeps that work ethic. I don't see that changing. He's a good kid. He comes to play. He's coachable. He's a lot of fun."
Because of his name and how much he is scoring, Penders has warned him to expect taunts from opposing fans on the road. But Brown seems to welcome the attention and respect his name brings.
"I'd like that," Brown said. "I would like it if they called me Sir."