Armoni Brooks is an unconventional basketball player.
Standing 6’4 with a 6’8 wingspan, the McNeil senior shoots like a guard, attacks the rim like a forward, and plays defense like a big. It’s no wonder he had offers from Kansas State, Creighton and of course, the school he committed to – the Houston Cougars.
Newly-hired Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson picked up a big-time recruit in Brooks, who was not always in the ‘top players in the state’ discussion. From his freshman year at McNeil to now, Brooks went from unnoticed to D1-bound in a hurry.
McNeil assistant coach Cory Shrader said the biggest change he saw in Brooks was simply growing into his body.
“He was always really good, but then he showed up on campus and he’s 6’4 with a 6’8 wingspan and he can shoot it pretty good,” Shrader said. “So you’re going , ‘OK, the light might go on here in a second.’ He just kind of grew into his body and I
think he finally got to see the fruition of all the hard work in the gym.”
Once Brooks fully developed into the lengthy scoring threat he is now, colleges started paying more attention and offering him his first scholarships.
Despite his deep interest in Kansas State and Creighton, Brooks said his decision ultimately came down to feeling at home. He scheduled visits at his top-three schools, but after he visited Houston, his mind was already made up.
“They welcomed me immediately at my visit,” he said. “They said I’ll have an opportunity for early playing time, and that’s big – being able to come and play in such a great conference as a freshman. They talk about life more than basketball, and that’s big to me. That means they care about you as a person and not just a product on the court.”
Brooks is just as much a positive force off the court as he is on the hardwood. Shrader said the senior guard is a genuinely good person with a great personality and work ethic.
“He’s a hard kid not to like,” he said, “because he takes care of business in the classroom, he’s one of our hardest workers. He’s in the gym – if the lights are on, he’s trying to get shots.”
The hours Brooks put in the gym are evident in his shooting stroke. His form is smooth and seamless, and defenders have a hard time disrupting the lengthy guard’s jumpers.
V.J. Bailey, Brooks’ teammate and another elite recruit, said the Houston commit has endless range.
“He can shoot it from anywhere,” Bailey said. “He’s getting stronger, and once he gets to college, he’s going to get even stronger so he’s going to be able to get to the bucket. He has length, so he can pretty much dunk on anybody he wants to.”
While known for his spot-up shooting ability, Brook stresses that his offensive prowess is not limited to three-point shots.
“I can shoot-I can score. I’m not just a shooter. A lot of people say I’m just a shooter, but I can score inside out. I feel like I can bring leadership as a freshman, and bring energy to every practice and every game.”
Houston will undoubtedly appreciate Brooks’ abilities and scoring mindset. But before he takes his talents to the gulf, he said he is focused on bringing home a state championship for McNeil.
“We trying to win state,” he said. “We trying to make a deep playoff run. We’ve never won a state championship. We want to get a state championship banner up there and get Coach Hagemann one.”
Brooks and Bailey make up a dangerous duo likely to cruise through district and battle deep into the state playoffs.
The two are close friends off the court, and Bailey said they know when to have fun and when to be serious.
“As a person, he’s one of my best friends,” he said. “We hang out all the time. He’s funny, we laugh and we joke. But when it’s time to get on the basketball court, we’re serious and we play hard. He gives it his all and he takes it serious because he loves the game of basketball.”
Giving it his all is the main theme that defines Brooks. His passion for the game and drive to improve at it makes him invaluable to any coach and any team.
“He’s earned the right to do what he’s fixing to do,” Shrader said. “He’s put in the time, and he does what we ask him to do on a regular basis, I mean you knew that was going to come to fruition some way.”