It was a rollercoaster of a ride getting incoming freshman power forward J’Raan Brooks to USC.
Welcome to the #TrojanFamily, @JraanBrooks!— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) April 11, 2018
Brooks, who won the state championship on the 11th best team in the country this season, is a Top 80 recruit nationally thanks to his smooth offensive game and defensive tenacity. #ItTakesATeam pic.twitter.com/DVu42KpiKK
The No. 79 rated player in his class was initially the first big Trojan commit before the 2017-2018 season.
But things went from bad to worse for USC when the FBI probe involving former player De’Anthony Melton and former assistant coach Tony Bland caused Brooks to decommit, and instead plan on hitting New York City to play for St. Johns.
After Melton withdrew from the school and headed to the NBA Draft following the announcement USC would hold him out the entire year, the Trojans got a huge boost in March when they found out their third biggest recruit wouldn’t bolt as well after all.
”J’Raan is a talented and versatile player who can play multiple positions,” Head Coach Andy Enfield said. ”He’s an excellent rebounder and has a very skilled offensive game.”
At 6 feet 9 inches and 225 pounds, Brooks is the exact same size as former Trojan and recent NBA draft pick Chimezie Metu, and will fill a literal huge hole in the front court. He’s a ferocious rim protector who led Seattle’s Garfield High School to a No. 11 ranking nationally.
Garfield is coached by former NBA player Brandon Roy, who had a very promising career cut short by injuries. In that regard, Brooks got a huge boost that few other high school players have the luxury of.
Under Enfield, he will quickly get an opportunity to show what he can do.
With Metu gone, Nick Rakocevic will be a no-doubt starter upfront. But Bennie Boatwright will be coming off a season-ending knee injury, and reserve Harrison Henderson transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The minutes will be there for Brooks’ taking.
At this point of his career, Brooks’ jump shot is a lot farther along than Metu’s was. He will be an ample replacement for Metu’s athleticism as well. Brooks also played baseball in high school as both a pitcher and first baseman.
To put that in perspective, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is the biggest position player in Major League Baseball history, at 6 feet 7 inches. (Granted, he’s got over 50 pounds on Brooks).
Baseball was Brook’s first love, and he didn’t play organized basketball until age 11. But once his recruiting stature became so high, he made the tough decision to hang up the cleats and focus on hoops.
The Trojans will have the fortune of bringing in the top two high school players from the state of Washington in Kevin Porter and Brooks respectively. Their home courts were about seven miles apart.
With a lot of roster changeover from last season, the team will certainly hope Porter and Brooks can use their proximity to build some quick chemistry and get things rolling during a tough non-conference schedule to start next season.