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THE TOP LOCAL SPORTS STORIES OF 2021: Culpeper native Maliq Brown commits to Syracuse

Brown 1

Blue Ridge School senior Maliq Brown (5) has orally committed to play basketball at Syracuse.

Sports editor’s note: On the very first Sunday of 2022, the Culpeper Star-Exponent’s sports department pauses to reflect on some of the top local sports stories of 2021. There were plenty of noteworthy moments over the past year, but we’ve narrowed it down to five in particular. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, and we look forward to bringing you another year in area sports.

Oct. 19, 2021

At long last, Maliq Brown can take a deep breath and focus on playing basketball.

Following a lengthy recruitment process that was drawn out due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown verbally committed to Syracuse University last Saturday.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Culpeper County native chose Syracuse over four other schools he’d narrowed his list down to early last week: Virginia Tech, Georgetown, N.C. State and Penn State. He also had offers from in-state suitors VCU, Richmond, James Madison and Old Dominion, as well as Texas A&M, TCU, Wake Forest, St. John’s and Murray State.

“I chose Syracuse because it felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus,” said Brown, who took an official visit to the school a few weeks ago. “It’s a place I can see myself enjoying and improving as both a person and a student-athlete over the next few years.”

Brown, who attends Blue Ridge School in Saint George, is considered a three-star prospect by the major recruiting services, including Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports. Rivals lists him as the 28th-best power forward in the country in the 2022 recruiting class, while 247 has him ranked 44th and ESPN 47th. He averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game last season for the Barons, helping them win their third consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state championship.

“Things are a lot less stressful now that it’s over,” Brown said of the recruiting process, which was drawn out due to an inability to take official visits to schools he was interested in during the height of the pandemic. “The process was very difficult, especially when I’d start to make connections with players and coaches at the various schools and then have to decide whether or not their school was the right fit for me.

“This was probably the hardest decision of my life, and the support and love of my family and friends means a lot to me,” he added.

Blue Ridge head coach Cade Lemcke told John Harvey of the Charlottesville Daily Progress that he’s enjoyed watching Brown develop over the past few years.

“It’s a pretty unique situation,” Lemcke said. “Maliq and his family are one of the first four-year boys that we’ve had in our program. It’s been a pretty cool and special treat to watch him grow from ninth grade all the way to this special day. I know he has big plans for his senior season as well.”

Brown backed up his coach’s comments about his upcoming senior campaign with the Barons.

“I’m going to take full advantage of it,” he said. “I’m going to use all the games on the schedule to keep improving my skills.”

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