BOULDER, Colo. — When we last saw Carlon Brown, he was headed out of town with a bunch of other Ute basketball players, some who were disgruntled and others who were being gently shoved out the door.
Among the five players who left after the 2009-10 season, Brown probably fit into both categories. He was unhappy with the Ute program, while coach Jim Boylen, who felt Brown wasn't enough of a team player for him, wasn't too sorry to see him go.
Two seasons later, the 6-foot-5 guard from California is happy, playing his final year of college ball for the University of Colorado, where he is the leading scorer at 13.0 points per game. The 8-4 Buffaloes host 3-9 Utah Saturday at 4 p.m. (ROOT Sports TV, 99.1 FM) in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Brown isn't making a big deal about playing his old school, saying, "I'm going to treat it like any other game and hopefully get off to a 1-0 start in the league."
Although it was generally known that Brown was not happy during his final season at Utah, he preferred not to go into much detail about his early departure in an interview earlier this week.
"I just didn't like the direction the program was headed and felt I would be better off going somewhere else," he said.
Brown had been recruited to Utah by former coach Ray Giacoletti in 2006, but never got to play for him. Coach Jim Boylen replaced Giacoletti in March of '07 and Brown decided to stay.
He immediately earned a starting spot as a freshman and averaged 4.3 points in 18 minutes per game as the Utes went 18-15.
As a sophomore, Brown started all 34 games for Utah's Mountain West Conference champion team that finished 24-10. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, shot 45.6 from the field and also led the team in assists at 3.4 per game.
The following year, Boylen wanted some experience off the bench and asked Brown to do something he hadn't done the previous two seasons.
Brown didn't really like being the sixth man although he ended up starting a dozen of Utah's 31 games. He led the Utes in scoring at 12.6 points per game and shot 40.9 percent from the field, improving his 3-point shooting to 35.1 percent from 17.2 percent the previous year.
That 2009-10 Ute team was disjointed with little chemistry between veterans like Brown, a couple of foreigners (Kim Tillie and Luka Drca) and new players such as Marshall Henderson. The team finished a disappointing 14-17 and after the season five underclassmen left the program including Brown, Henderson, Matt Read, Tre Smith and Jordan Cyphers.
Brown said he chose Colorado because he "wanted to play in a better conference" and says it's ironic that Colorado and Utah ended up in the same Pac-12 league. Of course if he’d have stayed at Utah, he never would have played in the Pac-12.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle was happy to get Brown after he decided to leave Utah. Boyle knew he would be losing senior guard Cory Higgins and had an inkling that guard Alec Burks might be good enough to leave school for the NBA, which he did.
"My whole thing with (Carlon) is I just want him to play basketball," Boyle said. "I want him to be a basketball player. I don't want him to think so much as react and play. He's got great instincts, he's a good passer and a good shooter. I think sometimes he just tries to go a little too fast."
Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak never coached Brown, although he did say, "I wouldn't mind having him right now."
"He's an athletic player — their leading scorer — a slasher and a tough kid. I'm sure he's going to have a little chip on his shoulder to get back at the old Utes."
Brown has continued to come back to Utah since leaving because his fiancée lived in the state until recently. He said he still keeps in touch with Chris Hines and has played in summer pickup games at Salt Lake Community College the past two summers.
He'll get a chance to play in the Huntsman Center, where he played more than 50 games when he wore the red and white, on Feb. 18 when Colorado visits Utah.
GAME NOTES: This will mark the 36th game in the series, which Colorado leads 20-15. Colorado won the last game against Utah 60-59 in 2006 in Salt Lake and in the last game in Boulder between the two, the Buffs won 76-52 in 2005 ... Besides Brown, other Colorado starters include forward Andre Roberson (11.7 ppg, 11.6 rpg), forward Austin Dufault (11.1 ppg), guard Spencer Dinwiddie (10.8 ppg) and guard Nate Tomlinson (6.1 ppg) ... After Saturday's game, the Utes come home for games against Washington State on Thursday night and Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Utes on the air
Utah (3-9) at Colorado (8-4)
Today, 4 p.m.
TV: ROOT Radio: 99.1 FM
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company