Welcomed in a new home

Kentucky Christian’s Kobe Brown drives to the basket against Milligan. Brown finished with 19 points to lead the Knights to the win on Jan. 15.

Star’s basketball career took unexpected detour but is back on track at Kentucky Christian

By John Herndon, 110forChrist.com

GRAYSON, Ky. — One simply could not miss Kobe Brown’s smile as he checked into the Kentucky Christian lineup last Wednesday night.

On their home court, the Knights were locked in a battle with Milligan, a team that had handed KCU a 22-point conference loss a month earlier. Before donning a Kentucky Christian jersey just two weeks earlier, Brown had not come off the bench since early in his freshman season of college basketball, but that was before life dealt him what could have been a devastating blow.

Instead, Brown is grateful, happy and fortunate to be running the court. He led the Knights with 19 points in an 82-63 win. It was the third time Brown has paced the Knights since joining the team over Christmas break. He’s averaging 19.5 points and countless smiles in those six games.

Coincidence or not, Kentucky Christian is 6-0 over that span.

Kobe Brown shoots during the first half of Kentucky Christian’s win over Milligan on Jan. 15. (All photos by John Herndon)

And there is no questioning that Kobe Brown’s smile is genuine. He’s ecstatic to have the opportunity after his basketball world came crashing down on Oct. 28. Just two days earlier, Brown, a 6-foot guard, had scored 20 points for Cincinnati Christian, but the Eagles fell to Indiana-South Bend, 92-84 in overtime, to open the 2019-2020 season.

Two days later, the CCU trustees announced the school would be closing at the end of the fall semester. In the aftermath, the Eagle basketball season was immediately canceled.

After. One. Game.

“I kind of went into shock,” Brown recalled. “I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’”

But it was real. The school, located on the west side of his hometown, would be no more. Brown, his teammates and coaches would be going their separate ways with unfinished business on the court and in the classroom. 

“I was wondering what the next step was,” Brown says. “I went there for three-and-a-half years. It was the only school I went to.”

Kobe Brown drives to the basket against Milligan.

And that timetable made Kobe Brown’s plight much more serious than shooting threes or locking down an opponent. When CCU ceased academic operations in December it meant that Brown would be one semester short of earning his degree..

“It really wasn’t as if I would never play again,” Brown says with a smile. “It was a matter of finding the right fit.”

Most basketball programs at any level could find a place for someone who could provide some instant offense. And, given the circumstances surrounding the CCU closure, the NAIA declared that any Eagle athlete who was in good academic standing would be immediately eligible upon transfer. 

But with only one semester to go, things got tricky. He inquired at several schools but learned the reality of finding a new school in the middle of a college basketball season. With small college seasons at the midpoint, most coaches don’t want to run the risk of upsetting the delicate balance of team chemistry.

“A lot of schools wanted me to sit out and take an extra year of schooling and sit out this semester,” Brown says.

To some, it would seem like a good deal but Brown sees it differently. “My goal is to go overseas and play basketball,” he says, noting that a former CCU teammate, Blake Walsman, is playing for pay in Iceland. “I wanted to go on and finish this semester and get my name out there.”

In stepped Kentucky Christian coach Akeem Scott, who had seen Brown light up the Knights for 58 points in three games. While KCU won two of those three contests, Scott remembered the guard who needed a new home.

“We played Kobe my first year coaching (2017-18),” Scott says. “He had 22 in one game and 24 in another.”

While his scholarship money will not equal the full ride he was enjoying at CCU, Brown gladly accepted the offer to relocate two hours away. 

Kobe Brown dribbles out the final seconds of Kentucky Christian’s 82-63 win over Milligan. It was the fifth of six straight wins for the Knights.

“Kobe brings a ton of experience from the last program,” Scott says. “He’s a scoring threat option. He brings leadership and overall, Kobe is just an awesome teammate. He can score, can handle the ball and do whatever you ask him to do. He asked me, ‘Coach, what do you want me to do?

“I said, ‘Whatever the team needs.’”

Through the first six games Brown has been with the Knights, Scott has not given Brown a spot in the starting lineup, a role he had filled at CCU for more than two years. “It’s been different for me but I am just grateful to be back on the court,” he says. 

Kentucky Christian accepted all of Brown’s credits and he says he is still on track to graduate with a business degree in May. Brown says he will have the option to go into accounting if the dream of playing professional basketball does not come through.

It’s simply a case of Christians reaching out in a time of need. “I am thankful to be here,” Brown says of his new home in Grayson. “There were a lot of schools trying to work things out but KCU was a better fit for me. Everyone has been very welcoming and accommodating. It was very tough when CCU closed because we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as a senior.

“A lot of schools were like, ‘We will take you and we will work with you but you may not graduate in May.’ KCU has worked with me and put me in a great position. It’s been a blessing from God.”

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