Kezo Brown sparks Simeon to city title

Simeon's Kezo Brown (2) reacts after taking down Morgan Park in the CPS City Championship game at Chicago State Sunday 02-19-17. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Kezo Brown leaned back and screamed as the buzzer went off on Sunday at Chicago State. The Simeon junior was celebrating a city title and his own personal redemption. Brown scored 26 points to lead the Wolverines to a 68-64 victory against arch-rival Morgan Park. It’s Simeon’s eighth city title.

At this point last year that scenario seemed very unlikely. Brown barely played during his sophomore year, he was never in game-shape after suffering a serious health issue the summer before the season.

“Last year I wasn’t feeling it,” Brown said. “I was all upset about myself and things that happened to me but that’s over and down with. Now I’m just back.”

Brown burst onto the scene in his first varsity game at the Chicago Elite Classic his freshman season. National talent evaluators drooled over his speed and skill and the colleges started calling. That stopped last year and it was a long road back to the spotlight. Brown said there were times when he doubted himself.

“I did, but god brought me back from that situation,” Brown said.

Brown was 8-for-14 from the field, but it was a team win for the Wolverines (24-3). Messiah Jones had six points and seven rebounds. It was his tip in with 48 seconds left that put Simeon ahead for good. He helped seal the win with a crucial blocked shot and rebound with 20 seconds to play.

Simeon senior Evan Gilyard finished with 18 points. He asserted himself at the start of the fourth quarter, scoring six consecutive points to give Simeon a three-point lead.

“I just go out there and let the game come to me,” Gilyard said. “It just comes to me in the fourth quarter, it is almost always like that.”

Dosunmu led Morgan Park (19-6) with 16 points and five assists. Melo Burrell scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds and Lenell Henry scored 15.

Smith shared an emotional moment with Brown after the win.

“You’ve never seen me hug any of my players after a game before,” Smith said. “That was all for him, all the stuff he’s been through. Now he’s smiling and competing at a high level. It’s just a blessing that he’s out there.”

Simeon dominated the boards in the second half, largely due to Madison Lowery’s contributions off the bench. He finished with five boards. The game was scrappy until the fourth quarter, when both teams played their best for eight minutes.

“It was unbelievable, it was a college game,” Smith said. “The fans got exactly what they wanted. It was an exciting game.”

There was a significant security presence at the arena. More than a dozen police officers stood at the four corners of the court throughout the game. The event went off without a hitch.

The high-major colleges will return to recruit Brown over the next few months. They disappeared through his troubles, but his teammates never doubted him.

“Not at all,” Gilyard said. “Kezo is strong, I knew he’d get back to where he is supposed to be.”

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14 comments

  • Hope

    It was really refreshing to see CPS family step up for K. Brown. We read to many stories about killings in the Chicagoland area everyday. Now we have kid that over came hardship and Michael O’Brien finds a way to destroy the moment. Bringing up kids past and talking about a game that happen at CSU 3 years ago between MP and Simeon was tragic situation. O’Brien we have been giving you a pass to come into our communities and report high school basketball games for years. If you can’t stick to reporting the games don’t even come into CPS gyms. We will not stand for you making irrelevant comments about our CPS boys basketball teams. If want still be apart of our CPS community build us up not tear us down.

    • Leegs1

      Hey mikey: it’s a beautiful day here in Florida even though it’s raining. Keep smiling!

    • BBall fan

      For me, this is a great article about a really skilled player…Kezo Brown. I do not know this player personally, but this snapshot of him leaves me with a VERY positive impression, not only of his skills as a basketball player, but more importantly, of his character as a young man. I am not distracted, nor am I put off, by the couple of sentences that discuss security at the game. Instead, I hear all the good that surrounds and embraces this young man’s talent. I am 100% confident that Kezo Brown, and ALL the aspiring and talented ballers in Chicago, are very well served by Michael O’Brien’s reporting. I would venture to guess that Kezo and those around him feel the same, especially after reading this very positive article. I look forward to hearing more about Kezo Brown. And IMO You would serve your team well by welcoming Michael O’Brien into your gym.

      • BBall fan

        I’d just like to add that it is O’Briens reporting that will likely get me to come out and see Kezo play…, regardless of the “security issues”. I am intrigued and want to see this young man in action, and would otherwise not be so inclined. I realize I am just a fan, and not a college recruiter, but isn’t that the point? Getting the community behind our players/teams??!!

  • Charles Tabb

    a lot of people give Mike a bad rap but that’s not fair! Try covering Chicago Land sports and ranking them. There are teams that are not in the city that are deserving of ink. Not everyone will agree with anybody all of the time but that’s called opinions. What we all should take a stand on is the terrible officiating that has been brutal this year!! #IJS

  • marc

    What did Kezo Brown go through? Im curious to know because i remember him being ranked pretty high coming high school.

  • Anthony

    Extremely relevant???? That was two years ago, maybe three. There was a police presence last year when Simeon played Kenwood and no mention of that. I along with probably 99% who read this forgot about the incident you referenced.

  • Dr. Lennette Coleman

    Anyone who knows Kezo, knows what a remarkable young man he is personally and as a player.
    the fact that he persevered when everyone expected him to fail. Is a testament to his fortitude.
    Many people dont know he is a kind and respectful man, with a lot of love in his heart for his family, friends and young people.
    He is a blessing to those that know and love him.
    Congrats Kezo you deserve it.

  • Kris Jones

    Why even mention police presence??? This is the negative light “you guys” aka the media ALWAYS portray about Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and it’s students, and areas effected with low income. The same crap goes on in the suburbs as well, yet it’s NEVER publicized. I was extremely disappointed in article beginning with “There was a significant amount of security presence…”. Before that, great read. Oh I get it; negative publicity keeps you employed. Got it!!! Do us and the City of Chicago a favor and be apart of the POSITIVE change and report good things happening in these low income/poverty stricken areas/neighborhoods.

  • Casey

    Why mention anything about the presence of security ?
    Especially since the “event went off without a hitch” .
    Sounds like you were disappointed in this fact.

    Your inner Donald Trump coming out ?

    • Michael O'Brien

      Due to what happened the last time the two schools played at CSU. Makes it extremely relevant.

    • Pirate Sleeved Jersey

      The Trump comment is out of line. Mike is a reporter. He has to be objective and report the entire picture, both the good and the not so good. Unless of course it’s Joliet related 🙂

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