Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Brooks, Crockett ready for new DePaul era
By Scott Powers
RICHTON PARK, Ill. -- Macari Brooks and Jamie Crockett are struggling to explain how their arrival at DePaul next season will return to the program to its glory days.
Brooks and Crockett can be forgiven. They have lived in the South Suburbs of Chicago their entire lives, but they didn't following the Blue Demons growing up. Mark Aguirre was a distant memory well before they were born, and even Quentin Richardson and his fellow Public League stars walked the streets of Lincoln Park too long ago for the two high school seniors to remember.
Marcari Brooks and Jamie Crockett are eager to bring a new swagger to DePaul.
Brooks and Crockett understand more of the recent DePaul history. They know such former DePaul players as Will Walker and Mac Koshwal.
Rich South assistant coach Walter Woghiren believes Brooks and Crockett can start a new era at DePaul that might rekindle memories of the glory days.
"I think they're going to bring an edge and personality that hasn't been there in a while," Woghiren said. "I think that will attract some players, attract some fans as well who haven't seen that type of personality at DePaul. From the tattoos to the edginess they have on the court, I that's going to open eyes for DePaul to what they can possibly be."
Brooks and Crockett shake their heads in agreement. The two best friends now get it. Yes, they want to bring winning back to DePaul, but they also seek to put their own stamp on it. They're looking to succeed at DePaul with high-flying dunks, all-out pressure defense and entertaining fast breaks. And, yes, their tattoos will be on full display. They have more than 20 between the two of them.
Jamie Crockett and Macari Brooks have used their friendship to fuel a chemistry on the court.
"We want to be the face of Chicago," said Brooks, who has his deceased grandmother's name -- "Sharon" -- tattooed on his neck. "We want to bring a championship to Chicago."
The pronoun "we" has been one Brooks and Crockett have been using since they were kids. They first met when they were put on the same park district football team. Brooks was a talented running back, and Crockett was an average defensive lineman.
Ever since, they've been nearly inseparable. They live only a few blocks apart. They developed their own handshake. They attended Rich South High School together for a year before Crockett transferred to Crete-Monee. They have played on the same club basketball team -- first with the Illinois Ice and later the Mac Irvin Fire -- for the past four years.
"We just click," Crockett explained.
That's especially true on the court. Brooks is a 6-3 scoring guard who is athletic and smooth around the basket. Crockett is a 6-4 forward who can jump out of the gym and is aggressive on the boards.
"They're both athletic," Fire coach Mike Irvin said. "When you press, they're running. It'll definitely be exciting."
The friendship translates into a rhythm on the court.
"We have a ball playing together," Crockett said. "If I have the ball, I know where to put it up by the basket to where he can get it. He knows where to find me on the court. We just click for some reason. We just click basically."
It's why going to DePaul together made so much sense. They had been considering it as a destination since the Blue Demons began recruiting them in eighth grade. They were interested in the school when Jerry Wainwright was coach and became even more attracted to it when Oliver Purnell took over after last season. Brooks and Crockett saw themselves as perfect pieces in Purnell's high-tempo system.
"On the Fire, we run up and down and play defense," Brooks said. "Purnell, he brought that to DePaul. That's the style we play. We thought it was a good fit for us."
ESPN Recruiting's Reggie Rankin concurred.
"Their strength is they're both tremendous athletes with good bounce and very versatile players who can play multiple positions," Rankin said. "They fit Oliver's pressing system and transition system. That's where they excel. They play at high speeds at both ends."
Crockett was the first to pull the trigger on DePaul. He committed in May and became Purnell's first Chicagoland recruit. Brooks weighed his options longer and decided in September after a long talk with Crockett to do the same. Brooks was Purnell's second recruiting splash in the area.
Now the two are counting down the days to when they can get on DePaul's campus together and begin adding some of their own personal flavor to the Blue Demons' program.
"Once they do Midnight Madness, once we do the dunk contest, that's going to bring the change," Brooks said. "They haven't seen what we can do in a while.