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Overcoming Obstacles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 16:40

The Regents’ Leading Man — Senior forward Kenny Brooks understands
Reseda’s game against Sylmar on Friday could go a long way in defining his
breakout 2013-14 season.

Kenny Brooks Has Had Many Challenges In Developing Into Reseda’s Top Player, Some Of
Them His Own Doing

Lithe and willowy, Kenny Brooks can cover ground and space on a basketball court quickly and completely. He can pile up stats. He can be a defensive stopper. And he can do it all in the same game. The 6-5 senior guard/forward has elevated his game to a high level this season at Reseda High, averaging 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds.

He is one of the top players in the Mission Valley League, and leads the Regents into a big showdown game against Sylmar on Friday, Jan. 24, at Reseda, a game that should define which is the team to beat for the league title. Brooks could and should be talked about as one of the top players in City Section Division II. But there are and have been various roadblocks throughout his high school career that have kept Brooks from being more widely recognized. Start with Reseda. Brooks, 17, is playing for his third coach here in three years. There was Randall Harris his sophomore year, when he averaged 9.4 points for a 14-18 team.

Last season, Brooks’s junior year, Hymie Glass was the coach after Harris resigned under a cloud of allegations. Glass coached Reseda to a 10-18 record. Brooks averaged 12.5 points for the Regents. This season, the head coach is Sean Washington, who was hired after Glass resigned in November. Washington — who worked as an assistant under Glass beginning last January — played eight professional seasons overseas; his son Dominic, a sophomore, is the point guard.

Brooks has previously played for Washington on a summer travel team. Washington is hoping to bring some stability to the boy’s basketball program. The schedule is truncated because Reseda was unable to pay for tournament fees in a timely manner; going into Wednesday’s game against San Fernando, the Regents had only played eight games. Team uniforms, both game and practice, have disappeared. The Regents rarely have matching jerseys for their games. But Washington has the Regents playing cohesively; they began the week with a 5-3 record, 3-1 in league play.

And he’s gotten the attention and respect of all 11 players, including Brooks. “It was good that the coaching changed,” Brooks said. “I like the change so far. It’s been good for the basketball program at Reseda High. “He’s changed the way I play, the way I think, the way I look at game situations. Stuff like that.” Washington said Brooks is dedicated to becoming an outstanding player. “He’s a gym rat, the first person here,” the coach said. “He’ll blow your phone up, wanting to train.

From my perspective he hasn’t always had the right trainers or coaches to bring out the best type of player or person he is. “He’s 6-5, a long kid, a slim kid. He’s played a lot of his career out of position (at center or power forward), and you can see weaknesses. But he’s a great ballhandler, he’s fast, an effective shooter. And you have to drag him out of the gym.” Perhaps the most important thing Washington is installing in Brooks' game and manner is discipline. Even though Brooks will tell you he is the team leader, he has gotten himself benched for violating team rules. Last season, he did not play in the Regent’s first round playoff loss to Granada Hills. Last Friday, he had to sit out the first quarter against Panorama for misconduct.

“Unfortunately, he’s had some trainers or coaches who didn’t discipline him, because he’s Kenny Brooks and he has talent,” Washington said. "My father was a high school coach in Detroit, and he taught me about looking ahead to the future. I’m also getting Kenny ready for manhood. If I don’t teach him about discipline now, he’ll never have it. When you violate a team rule, you have to be disciplined.” There might have been other years where Brooks may have sulked about not playing.

But not now — and maybe not then. The game means too much to him. “Basketball is where I release everything. It’s where I come to have fun,” Brooks said. “I’ve been dribbling a ball since I was two. It is my favorite sport.” His home life hasn’t been easy, either. Brooks is the third of five children, and the oldest male with two older sisters and two younger brothers. He said his father had not been part of his life for years, leaving his mother to raise and support the family.

But he and his dad have reconnected, and are on better terms. Whatever turmoil has swirled around him, Brooks has not let it derail him academically. Both he and Washington said Brooks’ grade point average is above 3.0. He has taken the SAT (awaiting his score) and that he has already been checked and cleared by the NCAA in case a scholarship becomes available. Washington is contacting schools about Brooks, trying to raise his profile. When asked if Brooks is D-1 ready, the coach hesitates before answering. “As of right now, for the love of the game, he’s a D-I,” Washington said. “Physically, no; he needs to get stronger.

I’m hoping there’s someone who will take a chance on him, redshirt him a year and let him get stronger in the weight room. There’s enough talent there. I think he’s superior to being just a junior college player.” Friday’s game against Sylmar can bring Brooks a boatload of attention if the Regents win and he has a good game against Spartans’ forward Devinir Duruisseau, who’s averaging 18.5 points and 11.6 rebounds and should be a candidate for league MVP. “I’m ready for Devin,” said Brooks, who described the battle this way: “He’s a little bigger this year, I’ve got a little more speed.”

Washington succinctly sums up the Sylmar contest. “Devin and Kenny are the top two players in our league,” the coach said. “We’ve eyeballed this game since last year. Kenny and I talked about it, because he and Dominic played on my summer travel team.

And Kenny was [guarding] 6-9 and 6-10 guys all summer. He’s used it now. “I told him, ‘you’re now a senior, and this is a game where you can really make your mark. Devin’s putting up great numbers. This is the game.’ And he told me ‘Coach, I want to guard him; me and him is going to decide this game.’ “If we’re going to win the league, we’re definitely going to have to win this game.” Yet another obstacle for Brooks to overcome in a career that’s had more than it’s share.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 17:33