The Huskies great was a McDonald’s All-American with the Panthers. Now he’s returned to bench to help coach the latest generation.
To know Jon Brockman is to know farming is in his future.
“That is pretty dang accurate,” said Brockman, whose first passion remains basketball.
That’s why when the former University of Washington star center retired last March from playing professionally, he was back in a gym by fall to start a new season. Only now it’s as a volunteer coach for his alma mater’s boys basketball team in Snohomish.
“I don’t think I’m ever not going to be involved in basketball,” said Brockman, who’s close to purchasing a farm in the Snohomish area with his wife. “Basketball has been an amazing part of my life so far. And a lot of the coaches I had volunteered a lot of their time, money and invested a lot in me as a player. Being able to do the same and give back was the idea behind (volunteer coaching).”
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Brockman, 29, last suited up for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany. He also played in France after three seasons in the NBA. Brockman was nearing burnout, prompted an early retirement for the player affectionately called the “Brockness Monster,”
Snohomish basketball was under a regime change when first-year coach Jim Wilson welcomed Brockman to the staff, having coached him at the school. It just hasn’t been an idyllic intro to coaching for Brockman.
The Panthers are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. Snohomish (4-15, 2-9 Wesco 3A) plays at Shorewood (2-17, 2-9) in the regular-season finale Monday. If it wins and Marysville-Getchell (3-16, 2-9) loses at Edmonds-Woodway (15-4, 9-2), the Panthers would grab the last berth into the district tournament.
“That’s been difficult,” Brockman said. “It’s a head-scratcher. You come home and just try to think of what can we do to make our team better. As a player and who I am, I could always go out and work as hard as I possibly could to improve. Now, it’s motivating the kids to try and do the same. And it’s crazy with everything that’s happened that we still have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Brockman saw a lot of playoff action as a high school player. He graduated in 2005 as a McDonald’s All-American, averaging 30.2 points and 14 rebounds per game as a senior. With his wide, 6-foot-7 frame filling the paint, Snohomish advanced to the Class 4A state tournament three times.
At UW, he helped the Huskies reach the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 as a freshman. As a senior, Washington won the Pac-10 regular-season title.
Because of his playing schedule, Snohomish’s home opener in December was the first time since college that Brockman attended a Snohomish game. The school has been renovated since he left and there are new bleachers, but the hoops and the court are the same from his days in Panthers red.
“It took about a full game to not feel weird,” Brockman said. “Now it feels more normal. But it’s little things like standing with the coaches during the national anthem. Every once in a while I find myself thinking I’m a player.”
Some of the Panthers players recognized Brockman when he joined the team. He’s been available for about 70 percent of the workouts and missed two games to experience something other than basketball during the winter months.
Brockman said he cherishes his time with the team. Snohomish likely doesn’t have a player who’s going to play beyond high school. Its leading scorer was dismissed due to violating a team rule and the second-leading scorer suffered a season-ending injury in January.
Yet, they’re attentive when he’s teaching them body positioning on defense, sealing and blocking out. And then there’s the questions.
“A lot of them just want to know all of the different people that dunked on me when I was playing,” Brockman said with a laugh. “They like to joke around and tease with me.”
Wilson said it’s Brockman’s good nature that’s most appreciated this season. There are plans for Brockman to return next year, but with farm-life looming, in what capacity is uncertain.
“We’re extremely lucky to have him,” Wilson said. “He definitely helped the culture we’re trying to create. It’s been awesome for this area as far as basketball goes.”