Rebirth for Notre Dame star
Brooks is starting anew after transferring last summer to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, hoping to embark on another title run with the Knights, ranked No. 6 by the Daily News. “Coming to Notre Dame,” he said, “was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.” Pierce Brooks has seen plenty in two years of high school basketball, more than most experience in a four-year career. There have been highs – a City Section championship with Taft of Woodland Hills as a freshman in 2004 – and lows, as when he failed to meet lofty expectations last season when he was a sophomore with the Toreadors. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson But Brooks will readily admit he was part of something special at Taft. Playing on the same court with Jordan Farmar, a McDonald’s All-American who has gone on to become UCLA’s starting point guard, was an invaluable experience. Brooks, Matt Cooke, Calvin Haynes and Jabarri Samuel were role players who worked often in Farmar’s shadow, but their roles were critical for the Toreadors, who became the first San Fernando Valley team to win a City Section title since 1964. Farmar graduated, leaving Brooks behind to shoulder the offensive burden. The pressure was immense at times, and Brooks was unable to match the hype, struggling to be the superstar many outsiders envisioned him to be. “We tried to give him the opportunity, and he wasn’t ready,” Taft coach Derrick Taylor said. “Our style wasn’t conducive for him. Notre Dame is a better fit. “He looks very comfortable there. That’s all that matters. We root for Pierce. We want him to have success in the worst way.” Things appear to be heading in the right direction. Notre Dame (9-4) has put together a seven-game winning streak and captured the San Fernando Valley Tournament title in mid-December. Brooks scored a game-high 16 points in the 48-47 championship-game victory over Oak Park and was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “Basketball is fun again,” Brooks said. The 6-foot-7 small forward is shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game heading into tonight’s Mission League opener against Loyola of Los Angeles. “Honestly, having Pierce here has been huge for us already,” Notre Dame coach Bill Bedgood said. “He’s made a good name for himself in the basketball community. He brings some legitimacy to this program. “This is his breakout year. He’s as versatile as they come and can play every position on the floor. The sky is the limit. Sometimes a player just needs a fresh start.” Brooks has received recruiting interest from Arizona, California, Oregon and Iowa State, but he isn’t planning to make a decision anytime soon. He’s got other, more pressing goals – and two years to fulfill them. “My teammates always want to see my championship ring,” Brooks said. “They want to experience what it’s like to win one. We can do it here. Winning one is a possibility.” Sean Ceglinsky, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!