Derek Brown departed the Wichita State basketball team after the 2007 season. Quitting the sport, however, never entered his mind.
Two years later, he is back as a walk-on and happily making jumpers and running hard on the scout team.
"When you get to game days, you feel good because you know what you've done throughout the week," he said. "You know you've been up at 6:45 in the morning lifting. You've gone through film sessions, practicing. To have the opportunity to get to put this much time at this stage of my life into something you love really makes it special."
Brown, a 6-foot-5 junior guard from Pleasanton, stayed in school at WSU working on his sport management degree. He played pickup games with the Shockers and watched from the Koch Arena student section.
When coach Gregg Marshall needed a body this season, Brown tried out and made the team.
"That never really left my heart," he said. "Sitting there watching their games, as a regular fan, it hurt knowing I wasn't doing anything to help them out. It's nice to be back, getting to battle with them every day in practice and do whatever I can to help make the team better."
Brown walked on for Mark Turgeon during the former coach's final WSU season and played in three games. With Marshall bringing in his own players the next season, Brown concentrated on his studies. He missed the locker room, the trips, the jokes and the celebrations on the bench.
"I like that team camaraderie feeling where everybody is together and working hard together," he said. "At this level, it's all about team. Even if you have a standout player, everything has to be about team."
Brown approached Marshall before the season, thinking he wanted to take a year to get in shape and join the Shockers in 2010-2011. Marshall, who lost walk-ons Brett Steven and Reggie Britton to small schools, needed him right away.
"He was always around," Marshall said. "He just happened to ask me at the right time."
Brown got into shape quickly. He regularly leads the Shockers during sprints. He shows little problem picking up WSU's system and his shooting touch makes him a practice player who needs to be guarded. Brown wants to coach in college, so he soaks up all the information he can.
"He's very studious, a very bright kid," Marshall said. "He seems to be a great teammate."
Loving the Eighties — WSU's "Bringing Back MTXE" game will feature an auction for throwback jerseys and a dinner party after the Jan. 3 game against Bradley.
Former WSU coach Gene Smithson and former players such as Cliff Levingston, Xavier McDaniel and Cheese Johnson are expected to attend.
The jerseys will be sold in a silent auction during the game and replica jerseys will also be available. The action will close 20 minutes after the game.
Tickets for the dinner in the Champions Club are $100.
For information, call 316-978-3267.
Proceeds benefit the Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization.
Killer brains — WSU volleyball player Emily Stockman made the Missouri Valley Conference's Scholar-Athlete team for the second straight year.
Stockman, a senior, carries a 3.30 grade-point average in exercise science. Sophomore Mary Elizabeth Hooper, with a 3.69 GPA in health science, made the team for the first time.
Senior Kim Wadsworth, with a 3.50 GPA in business administration and biological sciences, earned honorable mention.