By Jared Talbot | firstname.lastname@example.org
As Flagler College Men’s Basketball gets into its new season, two players have reunited. Damerit Brown joined the Saints as a sophomore and transfer student from Shorter University, and although he is trying to get used to an unfamiliar city and school, not everything is unfamiliar.
Brown, 20, is rejoining former high school teammate Vaughn McCall, and for the first time in three years, the pair will be playing together again. “We met in middle school,” McCall said. “Our schools actually played each other in the championship game because we were rivals. We eventually went on to play with each other in high school and after some time apart we are back here.”
Last season, Brown played at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia, and was second on the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game. He said changes within the Shorter basketball program led to his departure. “Once the coach had left for a Div. I school, I could tell the team was going in a different direction and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of it anymore. I knew Flagler was interested and once I visited and called up Vaughn, I decided to come be a part of it.”
McCall, 21, is in his third year now with the team and is coming off a season in which he led the team in scoring averaging 17.2 points per game. Going into a season led by a new coach, he is encouraged by the team unity thus far. “My first two years were filled with a lot of ups and downs and it was a bit of a roller coaster. The team wasn’t too good, but we were all very close. Now we seem even closer and things are looking very promising,” he said.
Unlike Brown, McCall knew what it was like to play underneath storied Flagler Basketball Coach Bo Clark, who retired at the end of the spring season. When asked to compare newly hired Coach Chad Warner to Coach Clark, he touched upon how they are both very passionate, but different. “Coach Clark was a great guy. He was always full of jokes and I learned a lot from him, but now Coach Warner has brought in a new energy and a new culture,” he said.
Brown, on the other hand, has only gotten to play under Warner for the past few months, but can tell how passionate he is. “He had known of me before I came here, but I could instantly tell how passionate he is and how he has a high motor, too,” Brown said.
With a new coach and culture comes hope from both that more fans will show up, and both seem confident that it will happen. McCall believes that, “fans will come out and be more engaged this year” while Brown believes winning will help bring in more fans. “I feel like in general, the more you win, the more fans will come out and I feel like this year we are going to win a lot of games.”
Now over eight years removed since they first played together, both have seen a lot of growth in each others’ games. Brown has seen McCall truly develop his game over time. “In middle school, he was more of just a shooter, but he got quicker in high school and when I came here and saw him play again I thought to myself “wow.” He has gotten smarter and can do pretty much anything on the court,” he said.
For McCall, he sees the same mindset within Brown that he’s always had. “He’s still got that shooters mindset. When he is on, he is on and he isn’t off very often.”
Now playing together again, they both have big aspirations for this season. McCall believes his personal success is tied together to the team’s success. “I feel like you can’t truly get noticed without the team playing well and a lot of teams don’t really know what we have in store. We have new pieces ready to contribute and I think we can make some noise,” he said.
For Brown, he wants to make sure that people know who he is and what he is capable of and he hopes the team can stick together regardless of how they perform. “I want to make some noise and let people know I am here. I just want to make sure we stick together without butting heads when things get tough,” he said.
With years left of college basketball left in both two players, the love for the game is something they don’t take anything for granted. McCall still loves the process of it the most. “I love the process you have to go through to get better. As I continue to grow I fall in love with that process,” he said.
Yet for Brown, it is hard to pick one thing he loves the most about this game. “I love pretty much everything about basketball,” he said. “You can do so much with it and I love the stepping stones you must take to get better.”