Even through an 82 season game schedule, Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting forward Corey Brewer makes time to catch up on his college basketball. Brewer has averaged 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists with three different teams in his seven-year NBA career and despite winning an NBA championship, his three seasons with the University of Florida is where his career was forged.
The Florida Gators will be making their fifth appearance to the Final Four on Saturday against the University of Connecticut Huskies. The two-time NCAA Champion, along with his former Gator teammates and close friends, Joakim Noah and Al Horford, averaged 11.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg with the Gators. In late March, Noah tweeted his all-time Dream Team, and Brewer made the list alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
I had a chance to catch up with the 2007 Final Four Most Outstanding Player to talk about March Madness, and most importantly, his future with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Have you had a chance to keep up with the NCAA tournament?
“Of course, absolutely. My Gators are playing really well right now, so we are in the Final Four so it’s good.”
Your Gators are in their fifth Final Four appearance, two of which you played a key role. Have you had a chance to speak to coach Billy Donovan? Do you keep in contact with coach?
“Nah. I haven’t talked to Coach D, but I’ma call him you know soon – so I can talk to him, congratulate him and um, yea, that was big for us the University of Florida; we been playing well. Basketball is getting better and better each year and hopefully we can win it again.”
Were you able to fill out a NCAA bracket? Are you still in the running for the billion dollar prize for the wining bracket?
“I did a bracket, but I’m not in the running for the billion [laughs]. I wish. Umm, that’s crazy I don’t think anyone’s bracket was good this year. I mean UConn [are] not supposed to be in the Final Four and they are playing really well right now.”
Yeah, actually they will be playing Florida Saturday [former UConn Huskie AJ Price was seated next to Brewer]. Do you have any wagers going on with AJ?
“[Laughs] Yeah, yeah, you know, we got a nice little friendly wager. We know the Gators are going to win, so not too much.”
I read that you Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Taurean Green [former point guard for the championship Gator team] referred to yourselves as the “04’s.” Do you guys still remain close?
“Oh yeah, we all still tight and we all keep in contact. I just talk to Jo yesterday, talked to Al and we still talk to Taurean Green all the time and he’s in France right now – but we all still keep in contact, we still like best of friends.”
There are other former Gators in the league like Mike Miller, David Lee, just to name a couple, is there an unspoken Gator bond that you guys share?
“Oh yeah, there is an unspoken bond. We are all really cool. I just seen Mike when we played Memphis, Chandler Parsons out in Houston, Marreese Speights. You know we got a lot of Gators so we are all pretty tight [smiles].”
This is your seventh season in the league and you were drafted by Minnesota. Does being back in a Timberwolves jersey have a special meaning to you?
“Yeah, I’m happy to be back in Minnesota you know. I was happy to go to Dallas and win a championship with Dallas, and I had two really good years in Denver, but you know you always love the first place you play at in my mind – so I loved it here when I was first here and I am happy to be back.”
You won back-to-back championships and you are an NBA champion. The team is relatively young; do they look to you to answer any questions they have? Are you looked at to be the veteran leader in the locker room?
“I try to be one of the guys that lead. You know on the court I try to talk to the guys, try to push ‘em and let ‘em know we gotta’ play hard every night it’s all about competing; just try to win. You know it’s tough, we lost a lot of games we should’ve won by one or two points, but this team is going to be good in the future.”
What does the future hold for Corey Brewer?
“I would love to be able to stay in Minnesota as long as I can. You know, just come back here and try and get this team to the playoffs; that was my main goal when I came back to Minnesota, so gotta make that happen.”
Thank you and good luck to the Gators!!
[Laughs] haha appreciate it.