football

Aaron Brooks Ready to be a Duck

It was a season of fulfilled dreams for Aaron Brooks, the jet quick 6-0, 160
pound point guard from Seattle (WA) Franklin HS.
After playing for Team USA on the Junior World Championship Qualifying Team in
the summer, Brooks started the year by settling where he would go to college,
signing to play for Oregon in the fall. With that done, Brooks set his sights
on bringing his high school team to a state championship. After averaging 23.5
points and 7.5 assists, Brooks achieved his goal, scoring 38 points in the 4A
title game, as Franklin defeated Spokane (WA) Mead, 67-55, for the Washington
state title.
That wasn't it for Brooks, as the honors rolled in for him in the post-season.
He was named State Player of the Year by AP, The Seattle Times, and Gatorade.
He earned Third Team Parade All-American honors. And Brooks earned the honor
that every high school senior hopes for - he was named to the prestigious
McDonald's All-American team.
We recently caught up with Brooks in Portland, where he was in town for the
tenth annual Northwest Shootout, an all-star game between all-star squads from
Washington and Oregon. While Brooks was selected for Team Washington, he was
not able to play due to NCAA regulations limiting players to two post-season
all-star games (in addition to the McDonald's game, Brooks had also
participated in the EA Sports Roundball Classic in Chicago, where he scored 18
points). Although he was not able to get on the court, Brooks cheered on his
teammates from the bench as Team Washington ran to a 106-98 win.
"I was disappointed (that I didn't get to play)," said Brooks. "There are a
lot of funny rules out there. Unfortunately some rules are good, and some
rules are not so good."
But although he missed out on playing in Northwest Shootout, he certainly
enjoyed his time at both of the all-star games he did get to play in.
"I will never forget anything that happened in the McDonald's game and the EA
Sports game," he said. "I had fun."
Even more fun was the chance to play with the much-ballyhooed LeBron James,
whom Brooks was a teammate with on the West Squad in Chicago.
"LeBron's a cool guy," he said. "He's not conceited or cocky like people think
he is, but he's real cool."
Now that his senior season has finished and some of the all-star festivities
are out of the way, Brooks is ready to move on to Oregon. Two of the things
that Brooks has been working on this season to get ready for college have been
his strength and his outside shooting.
"Coach Kent told me to lift weights and shoot," he said. "Pretty much lift
weights and work on my jumpshot, so that's what I've been doing."
And while his outside shot has been considered a slight weakness by some,
Brooks did finish in second place in the three-point shooting contest in
Cleveland. Does he think his performance silenced some of the doubters?
"A little bit," he said. But Brooks is still modest about his achievements.
"I only hit 11 that second round though; but hey, that stuff happens," he said.
There has been talk that Brooks could fit in at Oregon at either guard spot,
eventually starting at point guard once Luke Ridnour leaves school. Brooks is
open to playing either position. And Ridnour's upcoming decision whether or
not to jump to the NBA has no bearing on Brooks' outlook on next season.
"If he stays it's good, if he goes it's good," he said.
Brooks will enroll in summer school at Oregon, and plans to major in
Communications. While his summer plans are not set in stone, he could play for
Team USA in the Junior World Championships, or in the Global Games in Dallas in
July.
But most of all, Brooks simply wants to contribute on the floor next year for
the Ducks.
"I'm a flexible guy," he said. "Just put me anywhere and I'll play my heart
out wherever (Coach Kent) wants to play me."
Jed Tai is a senior writer for Hoopville.com.
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