WILMINGTON, NC (AP/WECT) - Two years ago as a high school senior, Kep Brown was projected to be a factor in the draft, even as high as the first two rounds. That was before he tore his left achilles, celebrating a teammate's catch in the outfield, no less.
"If the Achilles injury wouldn't have happened, then I probably wouldn't be here talking to you," Brown said, in a chat prior to the Sharks game Tuesday. "But it happened, man. Just taking it and running with it."
Instead of minor league baseball, Brown enrolled at the University of Miami as the Canes' top recruit, but then left after summer school to attend JUCO powerhouse Spartanburg Methodist closer to home. Still, during times at both stops, the thoughts of where he could've been lingered.
"I would lay in bed and be like how did I get here? How did I get here?," he said. "It was more negative I think because I'd never dealt with myself in a sense of not being healthy and not being able to play. I didn't feel like a baseball player."
Yet after all the time in the training room and through rehab, Brown was recently presented the opportunity to join Mark Scalf's program at UNCW.
"I wanted to get back to my roots," Brown said, "which was like the hard work, just keeping your head down and working. Not paying attention to all the hype, all the pre-draft rankings, because in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter."
Brown's head coach with the Sharks, Scott Wingo, knows more than anyone what it takes to succeed at the college level. Wingo won a national championship with South Carolina at the 2011 College World Series, and was named the series Most Outstanding Player.
"He's got the frame of a baseball player. Lot of things come easy for him," said Wingo. "You want a guy that's got some leverage, who really can obviously have some good bat speed and he's got that. I'm excited to have Kep and keep working with him."
And after the injuries and new schools, Brown now has a chance for stability and success this year, along with peace of mind no matter what happens in the draft down the road
"I'm leaving it all out here. I mean, every ounce of me. This summer itself has been incredible so far. I can't wait for the school season to start. I really think myself and my teammates and the coaching staff are going to flourish. I think we're going to do very well this year."