Gary Browne Guided By Faith in Junior Season at WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Gary Browne Guided By Faith in Junior Season at WVU

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MORGANTOWN -

If you keep an eye on Gary Browne this year, you may notice something a little different about his game.

It is evident in the way he plays basketball – his shots, his passes, his defense – but also in the mentality he carries with him each and every day. When the junior guard checks into a game, or when he hits a shot or even sometimes on a particularly nifty assist, he points to the sky.

Browne is pointing to the source of his abilities and his newfound motivation in year three with the West Virginia University men's basketball team. It is a sign of his faith and his belief that without God, none of what he has been granted would be possible.

"The reason why I point up is just like I'm happy that I'm back on the court and I'm happy that I have two more years left," said Browne. "I'm happy that God gave me another chance to play basketball. That's why I thank him every time I point upstairs, that he gave me another chance to be here."

He needed another chance. After an impressive freshman campaign, Browne fell back on a season that surprised him. He played poorly and found himself mentally checking out when things didn't go his way. It was unlike the person and the player he knew himself to be and it led him to a bit of offseason soul-searching.

"A year ago, I felt like I wasn't the same guy like I used to be. I wasn't as focused as I am right now," said Browne.

The Puerto Rico native was called home to compete with his national team. He returned to facilities and to players he knew well, doing his part to play for the name on the front of his jersey, the name he carries with him by birth.

But along the way, he figured something out. In speaking with some of his teammates – many of whom had already completed their eligibility in collegiate basketball – he understood just what sort of opportunity still stood before him in Morgantown.

"I realized when I went back to Puerto Rico and I played with the national team, I realized how blessed I am to have two more years of college basketball," Browne said, crediting his teammates for making it clear. "Life is easy for me right now because I just need to play basketball and work hard. If I don't, I'm not going to make it."

The moment his time in Puerto Rico came to an end, Browne boarded a flight and got himself to WVU's basketball practice facility as quickly as he could. He recognized that there was work left to do – plenty of it, in fact – if he wanted to become the player he knew he could be.

With access to the court 24 hours a day, Browne unlocked the doors as frequently as his body would allow him. He put up shots, he worked on his ability to drive in the lane, he put up shots, he rebounded, he put up shots, he lifted weights and when he felt like he couldn't take any more, he put up shots.

"That's why when I came back, I realized how blessed I am to have this [facility]. I use it. If I don't use it, I know I'm going to regret it once I graduate here and say I didn't work as hard as I could," said Browne.

Unfortunately, an early injury caused him setbacks that he didn't plan for. He claims his knee is back to 100 percent, but in the same sentence says it doesn't quite feel normal yet.

Planting is harder. After a layup and a subsequent steal on the defensive end against Missouri, Browne limped to midcourt while motioning for his coaches to give him a rest.

He played 32 minutes with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists against the Tigers. He needed that time to gather himself, and his head coach would be the first to tell him if he can't go at full speed, then he's better off on the bench. But Browne knew it would be a brief stay before returning to action. The faith that keeps him pointing up is the same faith that keeps him believing in himself.

"I know [if] I work hard and I do what I'm supposed to do, I know God is going to take care of the results," said Browne. "I just leave that up to Him."

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