Helen Cox basketball player Roydell Brown commits to Louisiana-Lafayette _lowres

Advocate file photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- Helen Cox's Roydell Brown, right, blocks a shot against Bonnabel last season.

One of the New Orleans area’s top basketball big men won’t be going too far when he heads to college.

Roydell Brown, a 6-foot-5 senior forward at Helen Cox, committed to Louisiana-Lafayette on Monday night in a decision he said boiled down to what’s best for his education and professional aspirations.

“I felt it was a good fit for me and also my family,” Brown said. “We felt that they can help me get better not only as a student, but as a player. Also, it could help me get to the next level.”

Brown has seen it firsthand, too.

Elfrid Payton, who attended John Ehret, also on the west bank, played at Louisiana-Lafayette before getting drafted 10th overall in the 2014 NBA draft.

Payton’s success provided Brown with a similar goal to chase.

“Knowing that we both grew up around the same area, then seeing him make it was big,” Brown said.

Brown averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game last season on Cox’s Class 5A state quarterfinalist team.

“They are getting a kid who is extremely athletic and a high-character kid,” Helen Cox coach Tyron Mouzon said. “You can’t teach athleticism, and he is one of the most athletic players I’ve ever coached. He is just scratching the surface of his ability. He is versatile and can play the 2 and the 3 (positions). He finishes really well around the basket and is good in transition.”

“He has a nose for the ball. He has a knack for finishing around the basket, even against people who are much bigger and taller. He is going to be a good asset to their program.”

The forward held offers from the UNO, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State, Texas-El Paso and Middle Tennessee State. He also received interest from LSU, Houston and UMass.

Brown took official visits to Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State, and unofficial visits to Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech.

Only one visit stood out among the pack.

“My biggest takeaway was seeing how I would fit in with their system,” Brown said of Louisiana-Lafayette. “I felt like it was more of a family in addition to the academics there. I felt like that would be best for me.”

With the 2015-16 high school basketball season nearing, Brown said it was in his best interest to make his commitment sooner rather than later.

After last year’s postseason run ended two games short of the 5A state championship game, Brown said he can better concentrate on helping his team get further this time around.

“Now I feel like I can focus on my last year of high school basketball and try to help my team win a state championship,” he said.