The Bulldogs’ four-star forward is dealing with a sports hernia and it has slowed him down during the basketball postseason. He and Garfield will play Wilson in regionals on Saturday.
A big reason why Garfield is headed back to the Class 3A state basketball tournament is J’Raan Brooks.
The senior post could’ve easily had an attitude with all the changes swirling around his high-school career. Star player PJ Fuller and then-volunteer coach Brandon Roy left and returned while longtime coach Ed Haskins left to become an assistant coach for Washington State’s men’s team last spring.
Roy and Fuller were even big reasons Garfield didn’t win a state championship last year, as the Bulldogs lost to their undefeated Nathan Hale team with Roy as a first-time coach.
Boys regional basketball
No. 8 Sunnyside vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Prep
No. 7 Enumclaw vs. No. 2 Skyview
No. 6 Federal Way vs. No. 3 Union
No. 5 Davis vs. No. 4 Richland
No. 16 Bellarmine Prep vs. No. 9 Lewis and Clark
No. 15 Skyline vs. No. 10 Glacier Peak
No. 14 Kamiak vs. No. 11 Kentwood
No. 13 Curtis vs. No. 12 Bothell
No. 8 Wilson vs. No. 1 Garfield
No. 7 Rainier Beach vs. No. 2 O’Dea
No. 6 Eastside Catholic vs. No. 3 Lincoln
No. 5 Timberline vs. No. 4 Kelso
No. 16 Arlington vs. No. 9 Prairie
No. 15 Mt. Spokane vs. No. 10 Marysville-Pilchuck
No. 14 Kamiakin vs. No. 11 Stanwood
No. 13 Seattle Prep vs. No. 12 North Thurston
No. 8 W.F. West vs. No. 1 Lynden
No. 7 Columbia River vs. No. 2 Selah
No. 6 Pullman vs. No. 3 Foss
No. 5 Mountlake Terrace vs. No. 4 Mark Morris
No. 16 Cheney vs. No. 9 North Kitsap
No. 15 Burlington-Edison vs. No. 10 Fife
No. 14 Clover Park vs. No. 11 Renton
No. 13 Liberty vs. No. 12 West Valley-Spokane
No. 8 Newport vs. No. 1 Lynden Christian
No. 7 Cascade Christian vs. No. 2 Freeman
No. 6 The Northwest School vs. No. 3 Zillah
No. 5 Bellevue Christian vs. No. 4 Royal
No. 16 King’s vs. No. 9 Lakeside (NMF)
No. 15 King’s Way Christian vs. No. 10 Wahluke
No. 14 Montesano vs. No. 11 La Center
No. 13 Naches Valley vs. No. 12 Mount Baker
No. 8 Brewster vs. No. 1 Kittitas/Thorp
No. 7 Toutle Lake vs. No. 2 St. George’s
No. 6 Liberty vs. No. 3 Toledo
No. 5 Morton-White Pass vs. No. 4 Adna
No. 16 Orcas Island vs. No. 9 Life Christian
No. 15 White Swan vs. No. 10 Tri-Cities Prep
No. 14 Crosspoint vs. No. 11 Colfax
No. 13 Friday Harbor vs. No. 12 Oroville
No. 8 Almira/Coulee-Hartline vs. No. 1 Sunnyside Christian
No. 7 Tacoma Baptist vs. No. 2 Muckleshoot Tribal
No. 6 Odessa vs. No. 3 Cedar Park Christian (MLT)
No. 5 Pomeroy vs. No. 4 Yakama Nation Tribal
No. 16 Riverside Christian vs. No. 9 Taholah
No. 15 Pateros vs. No. 10 Naselle
No. 14 Pope John Paul II vs. No. 11 Tulalip Heritage
No. 13 Mt. Rainier Lutheran vs. No. 12 Garfield-Palouse
Rankings based on RPI
But they’re back in Garfield purple. Brooks and fellow senior Eddie Turner vowed to make it work.
“He was the best (returning) player, so you wonder how he’s going to respond,” Roy said of the dynamic. “He was real cool. And he’s been really good with our chemistry, making sure guys aren’t being selfish. His leadership has been key, making sure everyone sacrifices for the good of the team.”
Brooks, a four-star recruit, made the ultimate sacrifice himself in not displaying his full potential every night. He has a smooth midrange shot, can hit the three and handle the ball. The 6-foot-9 Brooks is the biggest player on Garfield’s roster. He primarily plays inside getting rebounds, putbacks and occasional dunks.
He was voted first-team All-Metro League and a co-Defensive Player of the Year with Turner.
“When he plays at his best, he’s dominant and nobody can stop him,” Fuller said. “We are very thankful to have him on this team because we don’t have a true five (center), but he’s very talented.”
Brooks was actually a talented baseball player before starting to play hoops at age 11. His older brother played and Brooks followed.
Roy, who starred in the NBA and at the University of Washington, was a help in developing Brooks’ game as a volunteer coach. Now that Roy is full time, Brooks said he’s been able to learn more about the college game and skills needed to play in the pros.
“I wasn’t good in middle school because I was still getting used to basketball,” Brooks said. “When I started to get exposure in high school I started to make it my life and work at it. I study everything.”
Brooks de-committed to USC once an FBI investigation revealed corruption, bribery and money fraud among top college programs, including staff members for the Trojans men’s basketball team. He committed to play at St. John’s on Christmas Eve and de-committed last week.
Roy is keeping Brooks’ college career in mind during the postseason run. The starter suffered a sports hernia before Garfield’s loss to Seattle Prep in its SeaKing District tournament opener last week.
Brooks played sparingly in two loser-out games in the consolation bracket. Garfield defeated West Seattle 60-53 to place fifth in the tournament and clinch the final berth to the state tournament. He expects to play in the regional round Saturday against Wilson. Garfield is the top seed based on its RPI and will play for a chance at a bye going into state at the Tacoma Dome next week.
“He has a future, too, and if he hurts it more, he’ll have to have surgery,” Roy said. “We’re making sure we’re protecting him but this is his last high-school experience and we need him. He’s a big part of us getting here.”