Brooks at crossroads?

Six-foot senior Aaron Brooks from Seattle (Wash.) Franklin has had a busy spring and summer, traveling from coast to coast and to the island of Margarita off the coast of Venezuela as a member of the USA Basketball National Junior team. All of this while still being actively recruited by some of the top hoops schools in the country.

Brooks started the spring playing with his Rotary Select AAU squad at an NCAA sanctioned evaluation event in Houston, Texas where he opened plenty of eyes. Up until that event, Aaron had been more of a regionally ranked prospect but jumped into several national top-50 lists with his strong showing in the Texas heat.

The various scouting services were under the impression that Aaron was a tenacious defender but was lacking a constant outside shot. They had not seen him since last summer and were unaware that he had apparently developed a very strong outside shooting hand.

Fact was, Aaron always had it. He just didn't shoot it much. During the regular season his high school coach had instructed Aaron to shoot at least two three-pointers per quarter. Aaron's response to his coach's direction had local media writing of Franklin's outstanding shooting squad.

His true point guard mentality did not go to the back burner though and Brooks continued to do what he does best - drive, draw the defense and dish to his teammates. And his trademark running floater in the paint continued to be showcased.

By the end of the spring Aaron had offers from New Mexico, Washington, UCLA, Oregon, Florida State and Minnesota. Others were making sure they knew where he would be playing so they could have a look.

In June he was invited to try out for the National Junior squad at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Again he impressed enough to be named one of the 16 finalists. Shortly after his tryout, he tripped to the Adidas ABCD Camp in New Jersey. He was selected to the Senior All-Star squad and came out ranked as the number-2 point guard at the camp by one national service.

He was back home literally long enough to get his laundry done, play in theFinalScore.TV Invitational for one day and then fly out to Miami for the final practices and tryouts for the National squad. He won a spot and, after a week of practice in Miami, was off to Margarita.

In the USA's opening game, Aaron led the team with 19 points and hit all five of his three-point shots. In his five games in Margarita Brooks hit 9 of 18 from outside the arc and averaged 8.8 points per game. He added 14 assists and 8 steals in those five games.

Oregon Coach Ernie Kent was coaching the squad but Husky head man Lorenzo Romar and UCLA's Steve Lavin took time away from the Adidas Big Time tourney in Las Vegas to fly down to show their love for Brooks.

Those three are widely considered his favorites. He has already taken one official visit, to UCLA, in late spring. New NCAA rules now permit juniors to take official visits before the summer evaluation period. Unlike football, basketball players may sign letters of intent in November before the start of their senior seasons. Brooks has indicated that he plans to sign in the early period.

Brooks' summer success is nothing new. Following his freshman year at Franklin, his AAU squad won the "A" Division championship at the Adidas Big Time.

Brooks describes his game as "basic and cute" but opposing point guards probably don't find anything cute about it. He is a major menace on defense and shows the confidence that comes from years of hooping on the playgrounds of South Seattle and taking lumps from older players.

Brooks first started playing when he was in pre-school on his older brother AJ's team. The elder Brooks is a junior playing at Seattle University. Aaron has always played against competition older than himself.

A four-year starter, his favorite way to score is on a dunk. He can slam it with either hand or throw it down with a nasty windmill. On the defensive end he loves to take the charge. Curiously, Brooks compares his game to WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes. Not as curious is his choice of favorite book - "The Giver."

Where Aaron chooses to continue his career is anybody's guess. But whoever gets him will be getting a fiercely competitive player who is a flat-out winner.

Bill Nance is the foremost expert on prep sports in the state of Washington, with his focus on high school hoops. His website can be found at TheFinalScore.TV Top Stories