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Fort Hill's Brown wins area basketball Player of the Year

Jun. 5—CUMBERLAND — When the lights shined brightest during the 2023-24 boys basketball season, so did Fort Hill senior Deshaun Brown.

The guard finished within the top 10 in the area in nearly every statistical category, and he led Fort Hill to a 20-5 season and a second consecutive Class 1A state semifinal appearance.

For that, Brown was the runaway pick for area Player of the Year by the area's head coaches.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me," Browns said, "teammates, coaches and most importantly, I want to give glory to God for allowing me to be gifted at the game of basketball.

"It feels great to receive Player of the Year."

In his final season in South Cumberland, Brown scored 483 points and was fourth in the area in scoring (19.3 points per game), tied for fifth in steals (2.5 spg), sixth in 3-pointers per game (1.84), seventh in assists (3.5 apg) and seventh in free-throw percentage at 72.5% (95-131).

Brown makes it two straight Fort Hill standouts to win the honor after Mikey Allen, now playing football at Division 1 Southern Utah, won it a year ago and the school's 10th overall.

Allen was the first Sentinel since Jordan Brooks won it back-to-back in 2007-08. Other Fort Hill winners include J.P. Warner (1982-83), Geoff Karlen (1986), Jonathan Stubbs (1997), Jamie Kline (1999) and Jeremy Snyder (2001).

The area Player of the Year is selected by the area's head coaches, of which 14 nominated players and 10 returned ballots.

Brown received seven votes, while Rodion Horbasenko of Bishop Walsh, Jordan Teets of East Hardy and Braylon Ward of Union received one each.

"Well deserved," Fort Hill head coach Thad Burner said. "He was best in some of the bigger games of the year. He really solidified himself down the stretch as the Player of the Year."

His signature scoring performance came Feb. 22 at Southern. Fort Hill, needing to win to clinch home-court advantage in the West Region I playoffs, found itself in a dogfight against an improved Rams side.

Brown poured in a season-high 36 points to catapult Fort Hill to a 63-51 victory in a game that was close until the fourth quarter.

"He's super competitive," Burner said. "He really willed the team. We knew how bad we had to win that basketball game to get home court advantage. He really put the team on his back in the fourth quarter. There wasn't a shot that Deshaun took that he didn't think he could make."

The senior guard was consistent too, scoring in double figures in 24 of 25 games and he topped 20 points 11 times.

Brown had another signature performance in Fort Hill's stunning 19-point comeback against Baltimore City power Lake Clifton. He scored 12 points in the final quarter and 20 for the game to help the Sentinels win 51-40.

It was the first time an area team has ever beaten a Baltimore City school in the state tournament.

Brown was a complementary scoring option on Fort Hill's 2022-23 team, though he gave area basketball fans a glimpse of the future with a scintillating 29-point outburst to lead Fort Hill to a 66-51 victory over Allegany in the region finals.

"He's always played with confidence," Burner said of his leading scorer. "If you go back to his junior year, Allegany chose not to guard him, and he hurt them pretty bad in the playoff game. His desire to want to win. He's always been a skilled basketball player."

Brown improved nearly every facet of his game his senior year, which may have been impacted by his decision to play football.

He was the starting quarterback on Fort Hill's unbeaten 13-0 state championship squad, throwing for 788 yards and nine touchdowns. In his first year starting at the position at the high school level, Brown didn't throw an interception.

Brown earned All-Area honorable mention honors after the fall season.

"He was in better shape, especially since he played football," Burner said. "He had an incredible football season. His belief that he's the best player on the floor every time he stepped on it."

Brown will now return to the gridiron, where he will continue his football career at Albright College, a Division III school in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.