Albany's Brown off to nationals

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- If Shaquille O'Neal needs any advice on how to shoot free throws, he can always ask Jordan Brown, Albany's 9-year-old free throw shooting phenom

"I would tell (Shaq) to practice and to relax,'' Jordan said Saturday. "I would tell him to practice his free throws.''

Jordan would know. He won the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Southeast Regional title Saturday in Valdosta, beating the best 9-year-olds from South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama to advance to the National title competition April 24 at the Naismith Coliseum in Springfield, Mass.

Jordan attends Lincoln Fundamental Magnate School and is a two-time Georgia state champ. He said he isn't nervous about going for a national title.

"No sir,'' he said. "I'm just anxious. I'm going for it.''

His secret?

"I relax and take my time,'' Jordan said. "Every free throw I take, I imagine it's a game-winning shot.''

The competition requires each player to take 25 free throws. After the first round of 10 free throws, Jordan trailed two other players, but made 14 of the last 15, forcing a tie and a five-free-throw sudden death playoff. He then went 5-for-5 in the sudden death to win the title by one free throw.

"He practices and he's competitive,'' said Jordan's father, Earnest, who starred at Dougherty high and played basketball at Auburn from 1995-'97. "He's been playing basketball since he was 4, and he is just so competitive.''

Jordan is a better free throw shooter than Dad.

"He has won the state championship two years in a row,'' Earnest Brown said. "Twenty years ago I was in the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot and was the state runner-up.''