Ronnie Brewer is the newly acquired forward from the New York Knicks who is expected to make an immediate impact for the Oklahoma City Thunder's defense.
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He may be moving from New York, but his move to Oklahoma will be one that finds him closer to home. In fact, his uncle Walter lives in Oklahoma City and is the men's basketball coach at OKC's Southeast High School.
"We're excited," Walter said. "He's closer to home. We're more of a family-oriented group. It's great to have him closer to home. Since we're all from Arkansas it's not a big drive."
Ronnie's immediate family lives in Fayetteville, Ark. The Brewer family is originally from Ft. Smith, Ark. but Walter moved to Oklahoma City more than 20 years ago. Walter is the younger brother of Ronnie's father, Ron Sr.
Ronnie followed in his dad's footsteps, playing college ball at the University of Arkansas. Ron Sr. was a star for the Razorbacks in the ‘70s, playing for former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton where he helped lead the Razorbacks to the 1978 NCAA Final Four. He also went on to play in the NBA from 1978 to 1986 and averaged 11.9 points per game.
Not only was Brewer's dad a star athlete, the entire Brewer family comes from a long line of athletes. Ronnie's grandfather played baseball and his grandmother played basketball. His mother, Carolyn, also played college basketball at Arkansas and his sister, Candice, was a guard at the University of Tulsa.
Walter recalls Ronnie being eager to get on the court at a young age.
"When he was young he was always fast. He was really fast. He was always athletic," Walter said. "I remember him going to a basketball camp, and it was my brother's camp (Ron Sr.), and we wouldn't let him play, and he always wanted to play with the kids but he was younger than everyone. One day his dad told him okay, come on let's play. And he played in one, and he was above some of the guys he was playing against. These guys were probably in the ninth or 10th grade and he was in the sixth. And he was really playing. We could tell he was going to be pretty good."
After playing for the Razorbacks, Ronnie was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2006 as the 14th overall pick. He has since played for several teams, including the Chicago Bulls from 2010 to 2012 and the New York Knicks from 2012 to 2013.
Ronnie is known for his ability to play strong defense. He also has a career average 8.4 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting.
Walter said the Thunder will be a good fit for his nephew. He said Ronnie's ability to contribute quickly will make him valuable to the team.
"Ronnie is a team player. It doesn't matter where he goes" Walter said. "For the Thunder, he's going to blend in he's going to play his role. He understands the game. His family is a basketball family so he knows what to do and how to blend in and make himself valuable to the team and do the best he possibly can."
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Ronnie is expected to make his debut for the Thunder Wednesday night when the team takes on the New Orleans Hornets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tip-off time is at 7 p.m.