Taran Brown is much more than one of UCSB's finest student-athletes. He is a tall man from a small town with even bigger dreams.
The 6-8 Sophomore hails from Gillette, Wyoming, a small town in the Northeastern part of the state. He attended Campbell County High School where he was named Wyoming Player of the Year and was named to the McDonald's All-American Team. In his senior year, Brown set records for his high school in career points (1,175), field goals made (453), rebounds (540), and blocks (148). As if these achievements weren't enough, he was a two-time First Team All-Wyoming selection.
Brown didn't grow up with the same basketball opportunities as most players who reach the higher levels of the sport. Wyoming lacked the requisite amount of interested players to form an Amateur Athletic Union Basketball league, a program in which many of today's professional NBA players got their start, such as UCSB's own Orlando Johnson (now a guard with the Indiana Pacers). Instead, Brown's hometown friends' parents started a team.
"My friend's dad started a travelling team that I was on," said Brown. So we would travel to these tournaments since middle school, and that's kind of how I got started"
Due to this lack of an organized league to play in, Brown practiced every chance he could in the community recreation in order to perfect his game so that he could get out of Wyoming to play college basketball.
"I've always want to play division one basketball," Brown stated. "I knew my parents didn't have the funds to send me off to college so I knew I had to get a full ride. I knew I had to go to camps and do well."
During his junior year of high school, Brown attended the Double Pump All-Star Camp in Los Angeles, where he made the top-25 All-Star Team out of the 400 plus athletes there.
"There were coaches sitting around the court watching us, and that's ultimately how I got to Santa Barbara," Brown remembers.
Assistant Coach Matt Stock attended that camp and also happens to be from Wyoming.
"Knowing that Coach Stock was from Wyoming helped me a bit in making my decision," Brown said.
Brown also gives credit to UCSB head coach Bob Williams for helping him reach Division I basketball. Williams has helped Brown craft his game since coming to Santa Barbara, resulting in one of the most illustrious freshman seasons in program history, including double-digit scoring figures in 20 contests.
"Coach Williams is a great guy," said Brown. "He actually came in and did an in-home visit for me, which really meant a lot to me for him to come out all that way"
Williams admires Browns drive to fulfill his dreams.
"He's committed to become a better player," Williams said. "He knows that it can be tedious at first, but he's working diligently at it every day."
Williams also admired Brown's uncommon athleticism, which prompted him to visit Brown in Wyoming.
"He is such an incredible athlete. He shoots the ball well, he set the school record for most three-pointers made as a freshman, and continues to improve on the fundamentals of other aspects of his game".
Brown's ultimate dream is to play in the NBA. Being the go-getter that he is, he has already taken steps to accomplish this dream by participating in NBA training camps, in which he practiced and trained with current NBA players and trainers.
"At the beginning of this most recent summer, I was working out with three NBA guys who would help me with working out and scrimmaging," said Brown. "We also worked on basketball IQ stuff, giving us paper tests and helping me understand the game.
However, Brown knows that he must focus on the moment and has a dream to fulfill for this Gaucho Basketball team.
"I hope to get some Big West tournament Championships," he said. "We've got a deep bench, we have one of the top post-men in the league, we have shooters, and we are much more experienced than last year. I hope we go out and surprise some people this year".
He has set goals, accomplished them, made it to the college basketball level, and has made steps towards playing professionally. This is what makes Taran Brown is a great example for someone who dares to dream big.