Julius Brown was asked to do a lot last year as a sophomore.
What he actually did was produce, and he produced in bunches. Here are his conference rankings from last year:
Minutes per game (33.6) - 5th
Points per game (13.1) - 11th
Assists (167) - 4th
Remember, those were as sophomore starting point guard, which arguable the hardest position to play in basketball. Head Coach Tod Kowalcyzk played him a lot, and Brown made the most of it. He scored in double figures in twenty of twenty-eight games last year and hit the twenty point mark five times. What even more impressive is that Brown had seven or more assists in nine of the sixteen conference games.
Looking ahead to this year, Brown will have to keep his numbers up for the Rockets to take the next step. His scoring might take a bit of a hit with JD Weatherspoon and Justin Drummond joining the team this year, but his assist numbers should be way up. He'll likely lead the league in assists this year now that Alex Abreu and DJ Cooper are both gone. Adding the transfers to leading scorer Rian Pearson and solid role guy Matt Smith only increases the amount of options that Brown gets to go to.
If there's one thing for Brown to improve on, it's his three point percentage (26.7%). That's not very good for a point guard and should have been a point of emphasis this offseason. The Rockets don't really need him to shoot threes, but it'd be a big boost for the offense if Brown could even just get to 35%. He could also cut down on the turnovers, as he averaged 3.2 per game last year which was fifth worst in the league.
Make no mistake that this team will likely go as Pearson does. But, in the case that Pearson has an off night, Brown will have to look to score more. What's great about Brown is he can do whatever his team needs him to do, and he'll do it really well. If he's not feeling it or a teammate can't miss, Brown can get them the ball with ease. If other Rockets are having trouble scoring, Brown can pick it up a little and look to create opportunities to score. The way Brown plays this year will go a long way in determining how close the Rockets can get to toppling Akron for the MAC title.