- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

First Kwame Brown wasn't talking, choosing for some odd reason to ignore mostly innocuous media questions during the Washington Wizards' minicamp, which concluded yesterday afternoon.
Now he isn't even playing.
When the Wizards' summer league team makes its debut today at the Pro Summer League in Boston, Brown the player on whose shoulders rests the future of this organization by virtue of his status as the top pick overall in last year's draft will remain in Washington, nursing a left groin he strained Saturday.
"He's going to need three or four days' rest," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "We'll have to see where he is by Wednesday."
The injury is not viewed as serious; Brown could be back as soon as Wednesday, when the Wizards play their third game. Team officials acknowledged it is more important for Brown to be ready for training camp in October, unlike last season, when he showed up so woefully out of shape that Collins joked Brown perhaps was in shape to play "a high school game."
At the end of last season, Collins made it clear Brown must improve this season. He averaged just 4.5 points a game, the lowest by a top pick in the last 29 years.
So following the Wizards' last practice of minicamp, moved yesterday to George Washington University's Smith Center because of festivities for tonight's WNBA All-Star Game at MCI Center, a visibly disappointed Collins chose his words carefully.
"We wanted him to be able to play [all six games]," Collins said. "He needs to play. He needs to get game experience."
Collins steered clear of whether Brown's injury might have something to do with his conditioning, saying, "I'm not going there."
The coaching staff is aware of Brown's media blackout, and none seem too happy with it. When asked how important the entire process will be for Brown, beginning with minicamp and culminating with the conclusion of his second season, Collins had no answer.
"I think you need to ask [Brown] that," Collins said. "I think at some point in time that is a question that he has to answer. I don't think anybody can answer that."
After becoming the first high school player selected with the top pick in the draft, Brown did little to distinguish himself. By the end of last season Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood like Brown, both rookies were the most impressive of the Wizards' promising stable of young big men.
Meanwhile, Brown, who signed a three-year, $11.9million contract, made his biggest splash in the news when he was arrested shortly after the season for going 120mph in a construction zone where the speed limit was 60mph.
Brown did have one day, Friday, when he was dominant in minicamp, but the following day he came up lame.
Yesterday Collins again heaped praise on big men Thomas and Haywood, both of whom have looked very good at times, and he added that Brown has shown improvement.
"I'm thrilled, really thrilled," Collins said. "I told our coaches that they did a great job; I thought they did a great job of teaching. I thought our guys really responded well. I was really proud of Brendan, Etan, Bobby [Simmons] and Kwame until he got injured. I thought as veterans they set a very good example of what we are trying to do."
Haywood was selected No.20 by Cleveland in 2001, and Dallas tabbed Thomas with the 12th pick the year before. Even though both are perhaps a little bit ahead of Brown on the NBA learning curve, Haywood expects Brown to do just fine when he is ready to play.
"We expect a lot out of Kwame," Haywood said. "He was the Number one pick last year. Last year was his year to grow. I think the coaching staff and his teammates are really expecting him to step up this year, and I feel he's committed to doing that."

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