“It’s either kill or be killed.”
Those words were spoken by Daveaun Brookins, one of the state’s most underrated point guards, with an air of conviction and confidence that Kobe Bryant might be proud of.
“Just me, working on my game,” Brookins said, explaining where his tenacity stems from. “I know I put in the work. I just feel like I’m better than the next man in front of me any time I step on the court.”
The junior guard plays with the same level of boldness, and it has shown in the early stages of the season. Brookins is averaging 21 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals per game for Spruce High School in southeast Dallas.
“I love to play up-tempo,” he said. “I love to get other people involved in the game. I see other things that people don’t see. I can score with ease, especially getting to the rim. I can go by anybody.”
Originally from Kansas City, MO, Brookins moved to Texas at the beginning of his high school career to perform on a larger stage. Living in a metropolis with a crime index of 3 (meaning the city is safer than just 3 percent of the country) certainly meant there were opportunities to get involved with the wrong crowd, but Brookins was on a path leading elsewhere.
“It was kind of rough,” he said. “But I stayed on the court at night. My stepdad and my mom would stay on me about it, and tell me not to be something that I’m not.”
A contributing factor to his success, he said, has been surrounding himself with good people.
“I don’t have company where they aren’t doing the right things,” Brookins said. “I don’t hang out with people that just smoke weed all day. I stay with people like me who are trying to go somewhere.”
Brookins spent this summer in Austin playing alongside Armoni Brooks on the Texas Hardwood Prospects. The two would have played together at McNeil High School, but Brookins ended up having to move back to Dallas for family reasons.
“I was looking forward to playing with him,” Brooks, a Houston Cougar signee, said. “He’s a good teammate, very unselfish. He’ll pass first and look to score second. He works hard and will do whatever it takes to win.”
Brookins joked that if his school in Dallas played McNeil, he would drop 40 points on his former teammates.
“Yeah, he might,” Brooks said. “But we’d win.”
Back in Dallas, Brookins is living with his grandmother, where life is straightforward and consistent.
“Oh, it’s very, very, chill,” he said. “It’s basketball, homework, school. Basketball, homework, school, church. That’s about it.”
Brookins dedicates about 5-6 hours per day in the gym, whether it’s shooting, lifting weights, or performing any number of drills and exercise that will improve his game. School starts at 9 a.m., but the ambitious guard arrives at 7 a.m. to start getting some shots up. He said right now his focus is improving his pull-up jumpers, and his coaches have told him if he can master that, he will be unguardable.
In addition to his talents on offense, Brookins takes pride in his ability to match up with anyone on the other end of the court.
“Defense is another part of my game,” he said. “I get a lot of steals. I usually guard the best player on the team.”
Brookins said he feels like many players at the top of most rankings are one-dimensional, providing value only in their scoring. He said defensive competence should factor in to more rankings.
He does not have any scholarship offers yet, but Brookins is being patient throughout the recruiting process and trusting his work ethic and dedication will secure the attention of scouts all over the country.
“I think my time just hasn’t come yet,” he said, as he switched tones from disappointed to driven, “but it’s going to come.”
Follow Zach DiSchiano on Twitter at @zachdischiano for more news on Texas basketball teams and players.