Chaundee Brown played some of the best basketball of his Wake Forest career in the last few games of the 2018-19 season, and he did so with torn cartilage in his left knee.
His recovery after postseason surgery to repair the issue has made for a summer of his patience being tested.
Brown hasn’t been cleared to fully return to action as the Deacons go through summer practices — although it could become a reality in the next couple of weeks.
“Just being patient, just understanding what God is doing,” the junior guard said Wednesday afternoon. “I think that’s been my struggle, you know, the past couple of weeks I’ve just been down and depressed because I want to hurry up and get back, help my teammates, show the coaches I’m being more of a leader this year.
“So, just being patient, that’s the thing. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, they’ll clear me.”
In Brown’s two seasons in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest has posted identical 11-20, 4-14 ACC records. He averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds over the final seven games last season, and he figures to play a central role in whatever success the Deacons could achieve this season.
More importantly, Brown posted consistent numbers throughout that stretch at the end of the season — something that Coach Danny Manning has frequently mentioned as a task for Brown to accomplish in his first two years.
“We’re expecting a huge jump, especially going into his junior year. But I can’t tell you for sure because he’s out here at practice doing the same thing I’m doing,” said Manning, who underwent knee surgery this summer, too. “Everybody is different, everybody’s rehab takes a different turn, different twist. When he gets the clearance, he’ll be ready to go. Hopefully that’s as soon as possible.”
Being a spectator at practice isn’t an accurate description of the entire scope of Brown’s role for the team this summer, though.
“I’ve just been doing therapy every day, been helping the guys out with drills and basic coaching, and doing a lot of stretching, trying to get back,” Brown said.
“Yes sir. It’s good, it’s different seeing it from the sideline perspective,” he said. “Seeing what the coaches really see, what we see on the court, so … it’s good rest for my body, but it’s also good for me to help my teammates out, especially the freshmen.”
That’s the benefit Manning sees, too. It’s not like Wake Forest is playing North Carolina next week and Brown has to rush back — so if Brown can come through his rehabilitation healthy and with a nuanced understanding of what the Deacons want to do offensively and defensively, it’ll only help the team take the step that Manning pledged after the season.
“You talk to him and he’s like, ‘Coach, I see it differently now.’ Like yeah, this is what we see and you guys think that when we’re correcting you and we’re coaching you, that we’re just sometimes being really hard on you,” Manning said. “Well, sometimes we are hard on you. But now you guys understand the angles, now you understand the assignments that sometimes we don’t always get right.”