Quentin Millora-Brown: the player we needed

Turn on any Vanderbilt basketball game right now, and you won’t have to wait three minutes to discover the biggest star on the floor. No matter how the game progresses, it won’t be long before the show mentions Scottie Pippen Jr. or his father, the NBA legend. This understandably irritates opposing fans, who just want to watch the game instead of hearing another story about SPJ or seeing another photo of his father supporting on the sidelines. Personally, I love the spotlight for Vandy’s program, which hasn’t had a reason in years to receive any national attention.

And while SPJ puts this otherwise mediocre team on the map and gives the Commodore basketball team a competitive edge they haven’t had in years, I want to divert our attention today just for a few minutes to appreciate another player whose name boasts a three-letter acronym: QMB, or Quentin Millora-Brown. While Scottie brings the spark and game-making ability you’ll see in the seminal films, QMB embodies the hard work, sacrifice and camaraderie that will ultimately take Jerry Stackhouse’s program to the level we all hope it will reach. .

Millora-Brown moved to Vanderbilt in 2019 after just one season at Rice. The son of a professional fencer, the Arlington, Virginia native actually played the sport alongside basketball for the early part of his athletic career. Realizing that his tall stature suited jumpers much better than swinging swords, Millora Brown hung up the sword to focus on basketball starting in college. He would eventually be named a POY for his high school division, which gave him enough scout attention to land him an offer from Rice after his senior year.

And although he had success in his freshman year with Rice, leading the team in blocks, QMB cited general fit and academics as reasons he chose to move to the Stackhouse program a while ago. a few years. As of 2019, NCAA transfer rules still required Millora-Brown to sit out an entire season before starting his Vanderbilt career in 2020-21. This first year of eligibility has presented an uphill battle for the big man, whose long wait has been rewarded by playing in front of zero fans and whose production has been battered by a tough battle with Covid-19.

Suddenly, QMB’s junior season was over. The team had gone just 9-16 overall, and Millora-Brown looked back on a weird season where he averaged just 13 minutes and 3 points per game. He had a near-completed Vanderbilt mechanical engineering degree, but the student-athlete had hoped for more success on the court when he moved to Nashville two years prior.

Just as Millora-Brown began aiming for a redeeming senior season, news broke in April that Vanderbilt had landed a stud trade to Liam Robbins of Minnesota. Commodore fans rejoiced that the 7-footer, who averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Gophers, would fill a void in the position for the guard-heavy team. With six months left until the start of the 2021-22 season, Millora-Brown’s role had suddenly changed from starting big man to at best a rotation player who would relieve the transfer if necessary.

In the current state of college basketball, most players would react to this news the same way we’ve seen many others do over the past few years: simply transfer. Surely there would be another school out there that needed a big veteran man to fill out their roster. Then, Millora-Brown could complete his eligibility seeing the playing time and recognition he’s longed for. And while QMB would have been justified in taking his talents elsewhere after the apparent upgrade to 5th place Stackhouse made, he decided to take the road less traveled in today’s landscape and stay put.

Moreover, QMB responded to this final hurdle not with apathy, but with newfound motivation. Coach Stackhouse praised Millora-Brown for continuing her steady work ethic and taking on any role that would be needed in the upcoming season. Millora-Brown spent more time watching movies to become a smarter gamer. He worked specifically with the goalkeeping coaches to work on the finesse that parts of his game lacked. While most would have turned bitter in response to your coaches virtually replacing you, QMB just prepared.

Ahead of the 2021-22 season, the program finally got some buzz and reason to be optimistic. They fired a few starters, including the SEC preseason player of the year, and brought in a big man in Robbins who could help Vandy fight low. However, no press or hype mentioned a word of what Millora Brown would provide for the team.

Then, as if by script, the news came weeks before the Commodores’ first game that their missing piece would be indefinitely due to a stress reaction. The injury bug that sidelined Darius Garland and Aaron Nesmith in previous seasons had hit a starter for Vanderbilt again, and fans once again began to cancel the season entirely. Many viewed the season as what the team could hold out until Robbins returned.

When Game 1 finally took place in early November, the player many had forgotten about stepped up as the starter against Alabama State. In a 91-72 opening win, Millora-Brown played 20 minutes and had just 2 points on a 1-1 shot, but quietly led the team that day with 5 assists. In the next game where headlines would praise Pippen Jr’s 30-point performance, QMB led the team in both rebounds and assists as the Commodores started 2-0. This understated but effective play from Millora-Brown persisted throughout the season. Just yesterday against UGA, he broke double digits for the 2nd time this year on 5-5 shooting while adding six rebounds and three blocks in Vandy’s 2nd conference victory.

Neither Millora-Brown’s stature nor his skills will ever be enough to make him look like a professional scout or instill much fear in opposing teams. Seemingly realizing these limitations, however, QMB focused its attention and efforts during the offseason on factors within its control: becoming a smarter player. All the work he’s done with the team’s guards has propelled his free throw rate to nearly double what it was last season. And that time he spent in the movie theatre? Millora-Brown hardly ever turns the ball over (0.6 per game) despite playing twice as many minutes as last year. Prior to the Kentucky game, the team’s overall point differential was positive with QMB on the ground and negative with him off.

In another rebuilding season for our basketball team, many fans, myself included, are losing patience and interest watching the latest edition of limited talent trying hard but still struggling to win games. And while this team has shown flashes of excellence that we haven’t seen in years, it’s relatively obvious that in an extremely deep SEC, we won’t see the 2021-22 campaign reach the top of the leaderboard or make come from seismic splashes. tournament time.

But if you’re looking for a reason to care, cheer, or even watch for the rest of the year, consider the story of Quentin Millora-Brown. Consider that instead of running off to another program in search of more playing time, QMB ran headlong into their own weaknesses so their team would be in a better position to win next season.

Vanderbilt Basketball has struggled lately to string together strong recruiting classes or retain players before they trade or pro. As such, we have all seen the program fail to return to its winning ways as so many external factors continually work against the team. Perhaps Millora-Brown can serve as a microcosm of what might contribute to some kind of consistency and success. Perhaps if, like QMB, Stackhouse and the team focused on controlling what’s in front of them rather than waiting for the next rookie to step in or the player to come back from injury, all of the surrounding factors would subside to be as important as they have been.

Often, building something worthwhile requires trusting yourself and leaning into the unknowns that come your way. For Vanderbilt Basketball, everyone knows that stars like Scottie Pippen Jr. will score and get their best moments most nights. We all welcome that. However, when it comes to the determination, sacrifice and commitment that will ultimately take Vanderbilt Basketball to its previous heights, the ABCs of this rebuild begin with QMB.

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