Hailing from Toronto, Rashawn Browne of the Bison men’s basketball team is excelling in his first year on the prairies.
The point guard leads the Canada West with 112 assists and is shooting at 41.3 per cent from beyond the arc, good for eighth in the conference. Browne previously played for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans, an NCAA Division II school in California, PA. Prior to that, Browne was with the New Mexico State Aggies, a Division I school.
Standing at six-foot-one, Browne is not the tallest guy out on the court, something of a change from when he started playing in his younger days.
“Basketball for me was kind of a mistake actually,” he said. “I was one of the taller kids when I was young and obviously things change, but here I am, it worked out.”
Browne stuck with the game, eventually transitioning from post to guard. It was his competitive drive and tactical know-how that kept him playing.
“I just love the game. For me if it’s water balloons, darts, anything – I want to win,” he said.
“The tactical side of it I was able to grasp pretty quickly. I’m able to make reads pretty quickly. The fact that I was able to compete at something that I was also good at, you naturally just love things that you’re good at it.”
Browne was messaged by Bison head coach Kirby Schepp on Twitter after being released from Cal U to arrange a visit. When he first visited the University of Manitoba, Bison football head coach Brian Dobie actually took Browne on a tour because Schepp was in the hospital after a knee injury.
“Coach Schepp, when I met him, he just seemed like a great guy,” he said.
“I’ve dealt with some pretty knucklehead coaches, so he seemed like a good guy and the system they had running with the ball-screens, I just loved it, so it seemed like the place for me.”
Browne said the level of play in the Canada West is comparable to NCAA Division II. There are a few adjustments Browne said he had to make upon coming to Manitoba – like getting used to the larger key and the fact that the three-point line is further from the net. He was helped out by two Bison seniors, Keith Omoerah and AJ Basi.
“I came in and they took me under their wing right away,” Browne said.
“Keith was a big part of it. He brought me into the gym a few times, AJ brought me to the gym a couple times, they just showed me kind of what the game was like.”
Out on the floor, Browne looks calm and composed. But in actuality, he said his mind is racing.
“That’s the way I’m portraying it [but] in my mind I’m a little bit more on the go,” he said. “I try to give that vibe to my teammates so they can remain calm.”
Browne and his new teammates have seemed to gel well after Manitoba had to deal with a significant amount of personnel losses due to player graduations at the end of last season.
“We just have a whole bunch of talented guys and everybody just kind of knows that ok ‘this is what I’m good at, this is what he’s good at’ let me do what I’m good at to compliment what he’s good at,” he said. “Nobody is really trying to overstep their boundaries and it’s just been working.”
After making the run to U SPORTS Nationals last March, there are some lofty expectations for the herd to make it happen again.
“They sky’s the limit for us. I mean anybody can beat anybody on any given day so we just got to not take anybody lightly but at the same time we got to know we can play with anybody,” Browne said.
“Earlier on in the season we went and played a scrimmage against Ryerson and it was a really competitive game and we can see that we’re at that level, we just got to execute.”