Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Lance Brown had choices when he left Quinnipiac last season.
He could transfer, for a second time, to a Division I school and sit out two years.
He could head to a Division II program and sit one year.
Or he could go the Division III route and play immediately.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Teaneck, N.J., chose the third option by picking William Paterson and things have paid off in a big way.
Brown was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year, the Pioneers won the NJAC tournament title Saturday night over Richard Stockton and later this week they begin play in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“Coming into D-3, I set goals for myself and one of my goals was to win Player of the Year, which I did, and another goal was to win a conference championship and an NCAA,” Brown told SNY.tv Monday by phone.
“So far everything is going into place now, so hopefully we get this national chip.”
Led by head coach Jose Rebimbas, No. 13 William Paterson (24-3, 11-2 NJAC) will host the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament Friday and Saturday. The Pioneers will face Becker (23-4, 16-0 NECC) in the first round Friday night. The other first-round game will pit Messiah (20-6, 12-2 Commonwealth) against Scranton (20-7, 11-3 Landmark). The winners will advance to the second round March 3.
“Going into the championship we’re really excited,” said Brown, who played on a loaded Paterson Catholic team that featured current Seton Hall standouts Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin. “We’re really confident, too. We feel that we can make a real good run. We’ve been playing good the past couple weeks and we’re just ready. We’re just anxious.”
Brown averaged 19 points and 9.5 rebounds this season, while former Rutgers guard Corey Chandler led the team, and was second in the conference, at 19.4 points a game. He added 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
Both players have a year left and hope to play professionally somewhere after college.
“I think [Rebimbas] is waiting for the season to end to let me and Corey know about contracts, whether to go overseas or here if we will be able to get some tryouts in the league,” Brown said. “But I think it’s definitely a possibility…I’m interested to hear about that, too, myself.”
Meantime, Rebimbas was named NJAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. He is taking the Pioneers to the NCAAs for the eighth time, including spots in the 2001 national championship game, the 1999 Final Four and the 2006 Elite Eight.
Brown said he and Chandler are motivated to get their coach his first NCAA championship ring.
“We definitely want to win one for Jose,” Brown said, “because he got close a couple times and he’s won a few conference championships, but he’s never got the national chip, so we want to work hard for us and especially him, too.”
Photo: Willy P Athletics
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.