In his four remarkable years, Snohomish's 6-foot-8 strongman carried his team on his broad shoulders.
They had Jon Brockman, so they always had a chance. But even Brockman said he wondered sometimes about this season.
That was, of course, before the Snohomish High School boys basketball team started winning, before anybody gave the Panthers more than an outside shot of playing at the Tacoma Dome.
That was 28 games, five months and one state trophy ago, before Snohomish, unranked most of the season, rose from a 3-3 start to finish seventh in the Class 4A state tournament.
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“We grew as a team so much,” Brockman said. “It was really fun to be a part of everything that happened.”
Brockman never was one to brag about his achievements. But his averages of 28 points and 12 rebounds this season spoke volumes. At 6 feet 8, 245 pounds, he dominated the high-school game, not just locally, but nationally, too, as a member of the AAU Friends of Hoop team last summer.
His talent earned him a scholarship to Washington, an invitation to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game, and today, recognition as The Seattle Times’ High School State Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“He was a main part of the last four years and any success we had, he was right in the thick of it,” said Snohomish coach Len Bone, whose Panthers went 78-27 overall and won three state trophies in four seasons with Brockman. “It has been a lot of fun to have him in our gym.”
Born into a basketball family, Brockman dabbled in football (he played tight end in seventh and eighth grades) before concentrating his efforts on the court. He blossomed quickly, playing meaningful minutes as a freshman, then starting his final three years, the last two as a team captain.
Along the way, he earned a reputation for his relentless play. He dived for loose balls, battled for rebounds and sweat through his jersey before halftime.
Brockman said he learned his work ethic from his father, Gordy, a former player at Seattle Pacific University.
“He just kind of instilled the fact that you do everything the best you can,” Brockman said of his dad. “For basketball, he’d always say, ‘The one thing you can control is how hard you work. You can’t always control if the ball goes in, but you can control how hard you work.’ ”
Nowhere was that blue-collar attitude more apparent than at this year’s state tournament. Brockman averaged 25 points, 16.8 rebounds and three assists, carrying the Panthers all four days, and earning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
He finished his career with 2,023 points — including 51 in a game against Stanwood this year — and broke nearly all of Snohomish’s scoring and rebounding records.
He even made the only three-pointer he ever took in high school. That came during his junior season on a buzzer-beating heave from beyond half court that beat Mount Vernon, 69-68.
But none of those numbers seem to impress Brockman. He credits his teammates instead. Talks about the relationships he has forged, the places he has seen and the opportunities the game has provided (foremost among them the chance to get a college education).
“I know there’ll be someone else later on down the road (to break my records),” Brockman said. “There were people who got me the ball for all this. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”
People tell stories like this about Jon Brockman, how grounded he is, how none of this attention has gone to his head.
Last year, at the height of his recruitment, Brockman ate breakfast with UCLA legend John Wooden, hung out with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, and fielded an overseas call from North Carolina’s Roy Williams.
But those who know him say he’s still the same kid who last autumn made a few bucks driving a tractor in a pumpkin patch near his home. Still the same conscientious student, who this winter skipped an all-star basketball luncheon to take a math test.
Still the same old Jon.
“He consistently has high integrity and character,” Bone said. “And he consistently plays with every ounce of effort he can give. Those are givens. Those don’t change. And I don’t think that they will change.”