Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Brazile making up for lost time defensively
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile (2) reaches to defend Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, as Gardner-Webb guard Caleb Robinson attempts to enter the lane during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for the photo gallery.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Makhi Mitchell was disappointed that Trevon Brazile was largely unable to lend a hand with rim protection during the 2022-23 season because of a torn ACL in the Razorbacks’ ninth game.
Mitchell led Arkansas with 49 blocks a season ago, the most by a Razorback since Connor Vanover’s 51 in 2020-21. Brazile had 11, including 3 in the loss to Creighton at the Maui Invitational and 2 against North Carolina-Greensboro, San Jose State and South Dakota State.
Brazile has been making up for lost time defensively in the opening week and a half of this season. He did not reject a shot in 22 minutes in the Nov. 6 season opener against Alcorn State, but he recorded 9 across 55 minutes in recent wins over Gardner-Webb and Old Dominion.
According to Sports Reference, Brazile is averaging 4.7 blocks per 40 minutes played and 6.3 per 100 possessions.
“Shit, he’s a freak athlete,” Mitchell said Monday. “He was supposed to be a part of the block party last year, but [couldn’t] due to injury. It’s nothing that I’m not aware of. I’ve seen that a few times on the foreign tour and in practice.”
The most impressive aspect of Brazile’s shot-blocking display is the fact he turned field goal attempts away at all three levels of the floor. Five of his blocks came on opponents’ layups, another was on a mid-range attempt and three were on shots beyond the arc.
Brazile blocked two Monarchs three-point looks in the first half of Monday’s 86-77 win.
Brazile’s nine blocks are his most in any two-game stretch in his career. And, as of Wednesday, they were the most among SEC players and tied for sixth nationally.
“He’s so long,” Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. “He’s got great anticipation on the ball, great anticipation off the ball….It’s hard to have that many blocks.”
Unofficially, Brazile has allowed 9 field goals on 28 shots (32.1%) defended in 3 games. Gardner-Webb players were 4 of 15 (26.7%) against him and Old Dominion’s were 4 of 9 (44.4%).
Following the win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs last Friday, Brazile said he felt 120% back to himself. Repeatedly in the preseason he noted that his goal in returning from injury was to reach 110%.
“Mentally, TB is confident, and he’s a unicorn,” Temple transfer Khalif Battle said. “God really took his time with TB making him tall, athletic, [able to] shoot the ball, can put the ball on the floor, can defend. He has a lot of God-given talent.
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“His mindset, he’s always focused when it comes to basketball. He’s a great teammate.”
KenPom data shows Brazile is 54th nationally with a block rate of 10.2%. Among SEC players, he ranks fifth.
“We see it every day in practice when you try to shoot it over him. He can get to it because he’s 6-10, 6-11 [with] extremely long arms,” Battle added. “At any given time he can get it up in the air. He’s just a different animal on the athlete side alone, not even talking about his skill.
“His skill is out of this world. As an athlete, he’s out of this world as well.”
The redshirt sophomore is off to an efficient start offensively, too. He has knocked down 7 of 9 two-point field goal attempts and 4 of 7 three-point tries, including 3 of 5 on the right side of the floor.
“There’s nothing that he can’t do as far as jumping, blocking shots and getting buckets,” Mitchell said.
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