Friday, July 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville alum to play in Argentina

Leader sports editor

Former Jacksonville Red Devil Tirrell ‘Tee’ Brown signed last week to play professional basketball in TNA League in Argentina. Brown was a two-time Division II All-American at Ouachita Baptist University the last two season. He was the Great American Conference Player of the Year after his junior season, when the Tigers won the regular-season conference championship. He was named the GAC Tournament MVP after leading the Tigers to the 2016 conference tournament championship.

As a 6-foot-6 post player, he’s slightly undersized for the NBA, but has known foryears he could go overseas to play professionally.

“I pretty much knew my freshman year at UCA,” said Brown. “College coaches were telling me then that I could go somewhere and play. I’m real excited to have a chance to go to other countries and see how different things are. I’ve never been out of the country before, so this is pretty exciting for me.”

Although Brown had an idea he’d play somewhere overseas for a while, the opportunity to play in Argentina was somewhat of a surprise.

Someone still unknown to Brown got hold of his game films from OBU, prompting them to reach out to an agent, who contacted Brown with the offer.

“I still don’t know how they got all my game film,” Brown said. “But the agent is from Argentina. He lives here and everything, he’s just from there originally. So he knew who to contact and stuff. He said there were like three or four other teams that were interested in me.”

Brown signed with Atletico Echague, a team based in Paraná, the capital city of the Entre Rios province in the northeast portion of Argentina. It has a population of about 250,000.

“Basketball is real popular there from what I’m told,” Brown said. “There are a lot of little basketball leagues, but the TNA is the big one in that country. The major cities play in this league. I think it’s going to be good competition.”

TNA, in Spanish, stands for Torneo Nacional de Ascenso, which translates into National Promotion Tournament.

Much like the NBA, the league is divided into two divisions, the North and South, with 13 teams in each division.

Echague finished eighth overall last season.

Brown reports to the team in mid-September. He will play a seven-month regular-season and another month if Echague makes the playoffs.