Basketball: George sets his sights on flying high for Sharks

George Brownell is one of the Sharks rising stars. Pic: Dean Woolley.
George Brownell is one of the Sharks rising stars. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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Sharks youngster George Brownell says he’s determined to force his way into coach Atiba Lyons’ plans.

The 20-year-old from Walkley, Sheffield, enjoyed one of his longest run outs of the season on Sunday evening in Sharks 93-75 victory over Birmingham Knights at the EIS.

And with Lyons keeping to his promise that he’ll give opportunities to players who come through the Junior Sharks programme, Brownell, as the elder statesman of the group, wants to lead the way.

Combining a Bio-Chemistry degree at Sheffield Hallam University and playing with the Sharks, Brownell said he’s pleased with his progression.

“This is my second full season and it has been good this year because I’m playing regularly with the university team in BUCS matches,” he said.

“They’re against other university teams who are pretty much BBL squads, so that is helping me.

“It’s tough coming on late in matches to get into the flow of the game but against the Knights I was put in late in the third quarter and then had nearly all the fourth.”

Brownell has been training regularly with Sharks senior squad for a number of years.

He said it has been invaluable for the development of his game: “It’s a big step up. When you’re with the juniors I could pretty much get the shot I wanted.

“But with the main squad the standard is so much higher.

“Obviously their strength and speed is there but it’s their basketball knowledge that gets you. They’re in the position you want to be in before you. They read the game so well.”

Brownell, as he demonstrated with a three-pointer against the Knights, has an excellent shooting technique.

However, he explained that Lyons sees him in a different role to one of just being a spot-up shooter.

“I’m a shooting guard but Atiba wants me to shoot and handle the ball,” he said.

“Handling the ball has always been one of the weakest parts of my game because when I was coming through the juniors we had about seven point guards.

“He says that with my athleticism I can do that role.”

He added: “When I’ve finished university I should be a lot stronger so I’ll be aiming for the starting five or at least first off the bench.”

Brownell’s younger brother Eddy, aged 17, is one of several under 18 players to be given court time this season by Lyons. Older brother Joe, 22, and sister Grace, 15, are also talented players in their own right.

“I think Eddy will be a better player than me eventually,” said six foot two inch Brownell.

“He’s taller than me now! The crowd used to go mental when I scored but when Sam (Junior Sharks Sam Thompson) scored against Birmingham I was going mental too from the bench.”

Lyons said it’s a big year for Brownell: “He needs to start getting as much court time as possible because after two or three years he should be getting to a level where he’s playing a significant role for us.

“I try to sneak him as many minutes as I can and work on his game and see what he’s doing right and wrong.”

The former Notre Dame school student is moving in the right direction.

But as he says, he’s now in a man’s world: “I’m no longer the ‘young one’ in the squad.”