Sad story about the recruiting of Atlanta basketball star? No worries, happy ending

Update: Brooks committed to Penn after school on Monday.

Every high school kid who dreams about playing college athletics needs to hear the story of Miller Grove High basketball star Henry Brooks.

It’s a sad story. But it could’ve been worse. And it most certainly will be better. We’ll make all of that make sense in a few minutes.

The 6-foot-7 Brooks had a half-dozen scholarship offers or so at the start of his senior year, including Oregon State and Middle Tennessee State, etc. But he wanted to wait and see if he could get an offer from bigger and/or closer school by the end of his senior year.

A smart guy. Henry Brooks (No. 22) has college options despite his devastating torn ACL knee injury (AJC)

A smart guy. Henry Brooks (No. 22) has college options despite his devastating torn ACL knee injury (AJC)

Yes, it was gamble. And it looked like a good gamble as Brooks led Miller Grove to an undefeated regular season. He was the team’s emotional leader and best defender. Colleges were noticing. UConn, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Minnesota, among others, all called with serious interest, pending offers, or scholarship papers.

Then everything changed with three games left in Brooks’ senior year. Less than a minute into the state quarterfinals, Brooks went down with a serious leg injury. Brooks didn’t want to believe it was serious. He wanted to go back into the same game, and dressed out for both the semifinals and championship game with the hopes he could play. Miller Groves coaches, concerned about the future of Brooks, never really considered risking it.

Miller Grove won the state championship without Brooks, who was a major reason why the Dekalb school made it there. A few days after the championship celebration, Brooks wasn’t celebrating. He found out his serious leg injury was a torn ACL in his left knee.

There was no way around it with college recruiters who were blowing up the cell phone of Miller Grove coach Sharman White. He delivered the somber news to the scouts about the injury, which will require 6-9 months of intense recovery. In football, because of the larger number of scholarships, it’s not as big of deal. In basketball, with the smaller number of scholarships, it can be a “deal breaker.”

“Missouri and Tennessee both had coaching changes, so we don’t know what’s going on there,” White said. “Mississippi State called before the injury and wanted to know ‘If they offered, would Brooks be interested?’ I told them I’m pretty sure he would because he’s from the [New Orleans area]. They called a few days after we got the results. We told them what the deal was. They said they would be in contact but you know how that goes. The injury probably scared a lot of them off.”

Ironically, Brooks took an official visit to Minnesota the day after his quarterfinals injury. He passed on the chance to commit to Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. Brooks simply wasn’t ready to make a decision yet. White said Minnesota remains interested while “they try to figure out their needs for next year.” They may need someone who can play right away.

Georgia Southern sees this as an opportunity to steal a top-flight player. They have made strong overtures to Brooks in recent days, along with offering a scholarship. If Brooks signs with Georgia Southern and isn’t ready to play next year, then he would be red-shirted.

White is betting that Brooks will be ready to play sooner than later, as in next year. But who knows? And when Brooks comes back, will he be the same type of high-energy player? You would like to think so.

Now here’s the happy part of the story: Brooks has a backup plan. No matter how the basketball part plays out, Brooks will be able attend college on a scholarship. An academic scholarship. Brooks has a 3.9 GPA and attracted interested from a few Ivy League schools.

“It’s tough for Henry, really tough,” White said. “It’s tough for all of us who care about Henry.

“It’s a great lesson for the young people out there — Do good in school so you don’t have to depend on an athletic scholarship to attend college.

“Henry will be able to play college basketball, but that may not be the case for other kids due to injuries and other reasons. That’s why you work hard and do good in school.”

25 comments Add your comment


March 28th, 2011
6:19 am

It’s good to see this young man has a legitimate alternative to a basketball scholarship.Others should take note.


March 28th, 2011
6:24 am

If you have a chance at an Ivy League education,go!

Dawg Consultant

March 28th, 2011
6:59 am

Sounds like there is a happy ending coming young Mr. Brooks’ way. Georgia Southern is a quality school and my own son will likely end up there. If, however, he has a chance to get a grant in aid (they don’t offer scholarships for sports) or an academic scholarship from any of the ivy league schools, he needs to be on the first thing smoking to the Northeast. An Ivy League education would truly be a happy ending. He is projected when healthy to be a role player at D1 at best. Everyone could be wrong about that, but if you are good enough the NBA will find you.

Good luck to you Mr. Brooks, and go for that elite education.

Got Milton dad's back

March 28th, 2011
7:06 am

Brooks is outstanding; he will bounce back and play at a high level again, but what I’m betting even more is that he’ll be a success in life. Craig Neal is the better choice; he promises to ask Price to be his top assistant, and you get a head coach with 7 years D I experience and Price.


March 28th, 2011
9:18 am

Good luck kid!


March 28th, 2011
9:25 am

Mr. Brooks should be a poster child for how to do it right. While some may call his academic credentials a back-up plan, I believe it was plan A with this kid. Basketball was plan B. He should be held up a example and role model for other young student atheletes.


March 28th, 2011
9:44 am

To a great kid with a great family, my hat goes out to you and your mom. You have worked hard both on the court and in the class room. This should be a tough lesson for all highschool players, Academic comes first. Mr. Brooks would be an excellent student athelete for any college program, its sad that in this day of win now that coaches would pull interest if a kid couldn’t help them right away. We always talk about players who verbally commit and then change there minds. What about the schools, this sends the wrong signal. Student first, not sports. No worries here though, Mr. Brooks will do excellent at the next level, if never on the court. Definately in the classroom, not only because of who he is but because of his family and extended family at MGHS.

BullDawg Rick

March 28th, 2011
9:47 am

I have to SECOND – AMAZING’s post….

This is the way it SHOULD go down for HS athletes… But they all think they’ll be in the LEAGUE & not need an education..

Great for this kid!!! Best to him!!

Big Man

March 28th, 2011
10:36 am

He should contact Tommy Amaker at Harvard or the coach at Princeton and go there. Forget these other schools. Pursue the academics……wait…I sound like my mom when I was a kid……lol.


March 28th, 2011
11:50 am

Mr. Brooks should consider Mercer. After all, our governor, Nathan Deal, graduated from there. And so did Coach Yoast, from the “Remember the Titans” movie.

Coach Who Knows

March 28th, 2011
11:57 am

I agree that education should be a player’s top priority, however, Henry has maintained a 3.9 G.P.A., while being an important player for one of the nation’s top high school basketball programs, so why is this kid not getting rewarded for the obviously hard work that he has put in on and off the court (Minn or any other school could have given him an academic scholarship and had him walk-on when the knee was healthy)? I think that these schools who are now turning their back are sending out the wrong message to future studen/athletes!!!!!!!!


March 28th, 2011
12:13 pm

I have watched this young man grown and play the last three season and I am very proud of him as well as the remaining team members. Henry has been a shining example for his team mates as well as other peers.


The Sham

March 28th, 2011
1:50 pm

This story makes my heart feel good! Good for the kid and the school who gets him!

Any chance UGA has a play for him? Especially if he can count towards 2012’s scholarship #’s

Carmen R. Bazile

March 28th, 2011
3:34 pm

We may not know the reason for that which take place in our lives, but the one thing I do know,HENRY!
God knows all of the plans that He has for you, and those plans are not hinged on situations or circumstances. Trust God in all that you do, and He will direct your path. I speak that the healing virtue will be manifested greatly, and that you will be 100 times greater on the basketball court. ” TO GOD BE THE GLORY”. Love you, and I will continue to pray for you and all of the decisions that you have to make.Love you, Tee Carmen


March 28th, 2011
6:00 pm

I am so happy he committed to Penn today. He’ll love the school, he’ll get a great education, and Penn’s basketball tradition is unmatched (top 10 all-time D-I wins). It’s time Penn returns to the top of the Ivy League and displaces Harvard back to the basketball cellar, where it belongs.


March 28th, 2011
6:05 pm

Henry, welcome to the Penn Quaker community! Penn is an excellent school. You will LOVE it. You have a wonderful coach and mentor in Jerome Allen!


March 28th, 2011
6:30 pm

Wow, Henry! Penn – that is awesome. Congratulations!!!
What a great opportunity for you!


March 28th, 2011
6:39 pm

Great job to his parents. They realized that an education comes first and basketball comes second. Remember there are only 32 jobs a year in the NBA so 98% of all these kids playing college basketball will be doing something else. The young man will bounce back becasue he works hard but the real challenge come when he starts rehab.


March 28th, 2011
7:35 pm

Congratulations, Henry! Not sure what major you’re going to pursue, but Penn’s Wharton School of Business is one of the best b-schools in the WORLD…especially in Finance. Good luck to you, and great job with your academics!


March 29th, 2011
12:31 am

I remember my hero, the late Arthur Ashe (Black tennis star) was constantly preaching to young people that you have every opportunity to be a Doctor, lawyer, nurse,Engineer compared to the lottery choice of being a pro player in any sport…. Congrats, Henry!


March 29th, 2011
9:57 am

Penn? WOW! What a great opportunity for this young man!


Ivy League basketball is no slouch either.

Princeton-ask Kentucky

Great job!


March 29th, 2011
10:55 am

wish tech had offered him-can’t even get an atlanta guy with a great gpa!!

MGHS # 1 Fan

March 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

Congrats Henry on your accomplishments! You are a fine example and inspiration for all student athletes and I know you will represent MGHS to the fullest! U. of Penn is an excellent higher institution of learning and we are proud to say that we now have another Wolverine headed their way(MGHS Valedictorian Class of 2010 attends also)! Much luv and respect to your family, the MG coaching staff, & all the teachers @ MGHS!! Go! G-O! GO Wolverines Go!!!


April 1st, 2011
6:41 pm

Best of luck kid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! bright future ahead


April 18th, 2011
9:52 am