Dillon Brooks has Oregon Ducks flying to new heights of Madness

Dillon Brooks has Oregon Ducks flying to new heights of Madness

In the span of a March Madness minute, Oregon Ducks guard Dillon Brooks dabbed while his body language convinced a rim-rolling ball to drop, nailed a deep contested triple, and elevated for a block as the only man back against three Saint Joseph’s attackers.

The sequence was a shining example of the complete player Brooks has become, says his former high school coach.

The Mississauga native finished with 25 points on 7-13 shooting in a 69-64 win last Sunday that set up a Sweet Sixteen date with always-dreaded Duke on Thursday night (9:55 p.m. Eastern).

“He’s not just a dunker, he’s not just a rebounder, not just a ballhandler or a shooter -- he does a lot of things really well that impact the game,” said Paul Melnik, coach of Father Henry Carr’s basketball team where Brooks played his first three years of high school before transferring to Findlay Prep in the States.

“He may not be the best at any of those but he’s the best combination of them all out there right now.”

That complete game has developed while Brooks has found a way to compete on every level. As a bigger-bodied player he was used as a forward early in his high school career, and has moved further out to the perimeter as his game has progressed. He projects as a multi-position talent on the next level.

Both and Draft Express have Brooks ranked 37th overall in their 2017 NBA mock drafts, while Draft Express also calls him the 13th best sophomore in college basketball right now.

A legitimate pro prospect with a draft stock that continues to rise, Brooks was the lone Canadian in 2015 to suit up for both the Junior National team and Senior team for the Pan Am Games.

“His shooting has improved and he can handle it a bit from the perimeter and when he attacks the rim he’s very strong so he can take contact and still come up with finishes,” says national scout Elias Sbiet of North Pole Hoops. “He’s come a long way and the next steps for him are to continue to lower his centre of gravity and improve his dribble even more.”

“He was always a good team guy,” adds Melnik. “We always tried to control his emotions – his intensity level is very very high and sometimes it would just come out in the wrong way but he was always great with his team. Once he learned to channel that energy in a really positive way now you’re really seeing it.”

The electric energy is evident through Brooks’ play and when he’s rolling the whole team feeds off that momentum he creates.

After falling a game short of the NCAA tournament’s second weekend the past two years, Oregon gets a crack at an Elite Eight berth. It might be the best Fighting Ducks team ever, already matching a program-record 30 wins set in 1945.

But standing in their way – Duke.

Oregon stands out with highlighter yellow uniforms and the newest of new Nike swag from headquarters just down the road, while Duke and legendary coach Mike Krzyzeweski never seem to age as an NCAA powerhouse.

It will be a stiff challenge for Brooks and the Ducks. Despite their No. 1 ranking in the West Region, defending tournament champion Duke always comes into March with an aura larger than the sum of their parts.

Brooks would be the biggest reason the Ducks topple Duke. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound sophomore wing averaged a team-high 16.8 points and became the first Oregon sophomore to record at least 1000 points, adding 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Continued improvement in all aspects has given Brooks a complete skill set but it’s his mentality that gives him a competitive advantage.

“His alpha male mentality has helped him transcend his position and make a real jump,” added Sbiet.

Brooks has the opportunity to harness the spotlight the tournament provides and boost his draft stock. A win against Duke would go a long way towards that goal, but so much can happen in a March Madness minute.