March 10 Derby basketball vs. Topeka (Tyler Brown)

Tyler Brown has always had an eye on the Ivy League.

Basketball quality was never the issue; however, university acceptance rates that routinely sit 15 percent or lower didn’t make the process easier and sometimes made it feel “far-fetched.”

That dream has now become a reality for the 2018 Derby High School graduate, committing to Brown University with two years of eligibility remaining.

“The thought was there … but I didn’t know how much they recruited JUCO players, so I didn’t know,” Brown said. “Whenever I got that first call from assistant coach [TJ Sorrentine], the reality set in that it was actually a possibility.”

Brown finished 15-12 in 2019-20, tying for fourth in the Ivy League with Penn. Its 35 wins over the last two years is also a school record.

Following one season at Derby, Brown played the last two years at Hutchinson Community College under coach Steve Eck. He started 30 of 31 games last year, averaging 12.8 points per game.

“It was that stepping stone I needed to get my name out there,” Brown said. “I had a much better recruiting process than I did in high school and Coach Eck has a lot of connections.”

COVID-19 did keep Brown from being able to make visits this spring, but a scholarship

to Brown University helped make up for the lull that was March, April and May.

Even with those obstacles over the last three months, coach Brett Flory said his former guard has a found the right home in Providence, R.I.

“He’s the perfect fit for that league,” Flory said. “As good as he was in our program, he was equally or even better as a student … I remember he was taking an Advanced Calculus class as a senior and [teacher Anita Curtis] was raving about him all year. Tyler and the Ivy League is just a match made in heaven.”

While offense has never been in question for Brown, his former high school coach praised the progress he has made defensively under Eck at Hutchinson. The guard often went up against the opposition’s best player.

“He came to Derby because he wanted to prove that he was more than a shooter and that he could be a point guard and defend,” Flory said. “Shooters have reputations that it’s all they can do and you want to break that … he proved himself [defensively] in the Jayhawk Conference that he can guard guys that are as athletic as anyone in the country.”

While there are unknowns circling the 2020-21 athletic and university calendar, Brown is taking solace in reaching the highest level of college basketball.

“I got to the D-I finally and I’m ready for that next step,” Brown said. “Playing JUCO was a different animal, but I’m ready for the big show and I’m super excited.”