Miller Grove’s Henry Brooks emphasizes his school grades as much as he does defending opposing basketball players.
Brooks maintains a 3.9 GPA in college prep classes and is being recruited by Ivy League schools Harvard, Penn and Cornell.
On the basketball court, Brooks is an ace defender for No. 1-ranked Miller Grove, which is the two-time reigning Class AAAA state champion and favored to win the championship again next month. Miller Grove (24-1) opens the Region 6-AAAA tournament against the Carver-Lithonia winner at 4 p.m. Thursday at Tucker.
Brooks, who moved with his mother and three older siblings to metro Atlanta from the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, is a role model at the DeKalb County school for his athletic and academic excellence.
“It’s a tribute to Henry and his desire to be the best at everything,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said. “It’s just the natural way he operates. He wants to be the highest achiever in everything.”
“When we’re at practice, he wants to win in every competitive drill. In the classroom, it’s the same way. If he gets an 89 on a grade, Henry will fight tooth and nail to figure out what he has to do to get one more point for an ‘A.’”
At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, Brooks is hard to overlook in basketball, but that has been the situation with college recruiters until only recently. Brooks plays in the shadows of two of the state’s elite 2012 prospects, teammates Tony Parker and Brandon Morris.
“Henry is long, athletic and plays very smart — he’s definitely a high-level Division I player,” Chamblee coach Caesar Burgess said. “If he was playing for another team, he would be a 20-point-per-game scorer and pulling down double digits in rebounds every night.
“But he plays for Miller Grove with those other guys, and he knows his role very well. He’s very unselfish. He does all the little things it takes to win.”
Brooks averages 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds for Miller Grove, including a 21-point effort in the championship game of the Beach Ball Classic in December. In a narrow 49-46 win over Southwest DeKalb earlier this month, Brooks scored 10 clutch points in the game’s last few minutes.
However, Brooks’ defensive accomplishments have brought the most satisfaction. “I would much rather defend the last shot rather than take it,” he said. “I’m an assured defender. I believe no one can score on me on defense.”
Brooks held Milton’s Dai-Jon Parker to seven points in a 71-61 upset victory Dec. 4. It was the only loss to a Georgia team during the regular season for Milton (23-2), which is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA as the defending state champions.
Recruiting has picked up for Brooks, one of the state’s top unsigned seniors. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith recently offered a scholarship, while N.C. State, Missouri and Georgia State have shown interest.
“He’s a ‘Tubby’ type of player,” White said. “Henry is a high-energy guy who is defensive-minded and can score. He has a high basketball IQ and makes good decisions on the floor.”
Who are some other overlooked and unsigned seniors? Please post below.