Pride of Snohomish makes himself at home
Blue-collar Brockman, Milwaukee a great fit
By Truman Reed
Brockman says, "No matter what, I'm going to play as hard as I possibly can."
National Basketball Association players' teams are often based many miles from their hometowns, in environments that may seem worlds away from the ones in which they grew up.
Jon Brockman only fits part of this profile.
The 23-year-old Brockman, acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks from the Sacramento Kings last July 21 in exchange for Darnell Jackson and a 2011 second-round draft pick, expressed his excitement over the deal via Twitter.
"You have no idea how pumped I am to be in Milwaukee!" he wrote. "Great people, great city, great team!"
Milwaukee is located approximately 1,995 miles from Brockman's hometown of Snohomish, Wash., so in that respect, he is a long way from home.
On the other hand, when asked to describe Snohomish, Brockman drew a couple of comparisons with which metro Milwaukeeans can identify.
"The town itself has that small-town America feel to it," Brockman said. "It reminds me a lot of Cedarburg and Grafton.
"I believe the population is right around 10,000. But there's been so much growth within the city and its outskirts. The high school I attended (Snohomish High) was a big high school that drew from a large area. It has actually just split into two high schools (Snohomish High and Glacier Peak High)."
Brockman has fond memories of his boyhood years in Snohomish.
"The guys that I played basketball with on my first team ever, in first grade, some of those same guys were on my varsity team in high school," Brockman said. "So being able to go through the ranks and play with the same guys the whole way made it really special."
Brockman enjoyed being one of the guys. As he grew taller, bigger and stronger and developed his basketball prowess, however, he separated himself from his buddies.
The four-year letterman averaged 22.4 points, 13 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots and 2 steals during his junior campaign, after which he was named a 2004 all-state and all-league selection.
In his senior season, Brockman had a career-high 51-point game, finished third in the state of Washington in scoring at 30.2 points per game and pulled down 14 rebounds per outing. He was named a 2005 McDonald's All-American made the semifinals of the National High School Slam Dunk Competition and rated among the top 20 college prospects in the nation by most of the top recruiting analysts.
College programs' perceptions of Brockman changed quite a bit over the course of his four high school seasons, but one in particular had an eye trained on him throughout those years.
"In ninth grade, I wasn't highly sought by any university," Brockman said. "But Washington was kind of always there. I kind of took my time through the process.
"I was real close to going to Duke ... really close. And UCLA as well. It was tough. That whole situation with all the schools recruiting me was tough, but I made the decision I made and I don't have any regrets. I saw all my options and just decided that I wanted to stay home."
"Home" meant Brockman had chosen the University of Washington, located in Seattle.
"It's like 45, 50 minutes from my hometown to the Washington campus," Brockman said. "If you hit traffic, it could be 3 hours, but the normal drive time was about 45 minutes.
"Just growing up in that area and seeing the University of Washington there all the time made it kind of cool and pretty special to know where I was from and have everyone involved that I had grown up with. They were able to come and watch my games at Washington and feel a little bit plugged-in. It was just great being there."
Brockman made an immediate impact with the Huskies as a freshman. He registered a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds against Morgan State in his collegiate debut, then delivered another with 21 points and 10 rebounds against Air Force in the championship game of the BCA Classic, in which he was named most valuable player.
Brockman averaged 8.4 points and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per game and ranked second in the Pac 10 in field-goal percentage at .518. His 215 rebounds ranked second all-time among UW frosh behind former Bucks forward Mark Pope, and he helped the Huskies go 26-7 and reach the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
As a sophomore, Brockman averaged 14.2 points and led the Pac 10 in rebounding with 9.6 per game. He shot .550 from the field, collected five awards at the team banquet and was a first-team all-Pac 10 selection.
During his junior campaign, Brockman led the Pac-10 and ranked third nationally with 11.6 rebounds per outing, was the Pac 10's sixth-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game and was third in the league in field-goal percentage at .536 and was chosen first-team all-district by Basketball Times, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the United States Basketball Writers Association. He established career highs with 31 points and 18 boards in a game against Utah and blocked a career-best six shots against then-16th ranked Texas A&M.
Brockman competed his run at Washington with a stellar senior year in which he averaged 14.9 points and Pac-10-leading 11.5 rebounds per contest and helped lead the Huskies back to the NCAA Tournament, where they edged in the second round by Purdue 76-74.
Brockman was a first-team all-Pac-10 selection for the second time in three seasons, was the 2009 Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal Winner and was named a third-team All-America selection by FoxSports.com.
He was also the recipient of the Chip Hilton Player of the Year Award, given to the nation's top player demonstrating outstanding character, leadership, and talent. He earned UW's Harshman Award for the fourth time as the top rebounder, was named the Huskies' MVP and earned the team's community service award for the third straight year.
"I had a lot of opportunities playing for Coach (Lorenzo) Romar at Washington," Brockman said. "I played with some great players. I was able to improve and get to where I wanted to be the whole way through.
"It was fun to be able to go in and learn from Brandon Roy and the other guys who were there and see how they did it. It was a great program before I got there. We had a couple down years, then got it back and left the University of Washington at a high level again. It was fun to watch them last year in the Sweet 16."
Brockman left Washington as the program's all-time leading rebounder and second all-time scorer.
The 6 foot-7 inch, 255-pound power forward was selected 38th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. His draft rights were traded to the Sacramento Kings for the rights to Jeff Pendergraph, and he averaged 2.8 points and 4.1 rebounds 12.6 minutes per game as a rookie with the Kings in 2009-10. He appeared in 52 games, making four starts, with Sacramento and shot 53.4 percent from the field.
Brockman wasn't the first product of his hometown to become a professional athlete. Snohomish has a rich sports history, particularly for a town its size.
"Snohomish has turned out a couple of baseball players and a couple of football players," Brockman said. "Curt Marsh was an offensive tackle for the Raiders back in the day. Jeff Ogden was a wide receiver for the Cowboys. A couple of pitchers have been able to make it to the bigs.
"It's a small town, but it has a huge history of sports. Rick Fenney played running back for the Vikings. The town has been known for athletics for years. A lot of other guys have gone off to play for a variety of colleges, too."
Brockman became Snohomish's first NBA player, but his distinction was not accompanied by overwhelming star treatment in his hometown.
"That's the cool thing," Brockman said. "From some people, people I didn't really know, it was different. But from the people I did know, it was exactly the same. It was the same old Snohomish. My friends don't treat me any differently.
"If I go into my breakfast spot, I still get the same thing. It's still a really cool town and it's fun for me to go back. Things are normal. It's no different from when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school.
"It's more normal than you'd think. I still live there during the offseason with my parents, but I'm going to be getting a home there. It's where I'm going to be."
Bucks General Manager John Hammond believes Brockman will be a great fit in Milwaukee when he's not in Snohomish. He expects Brockman's blue-collar playing style will make him a favorite with Bucks fans.
"Any fan base anywhere will appreciate a player who plays with the type of energy he does," Hammond said. "We're excited about adding a player with his energy, his toughness and a player we think we can put on the floor and help us win games."
Brockman says Milwaukee fans were quick to roll out the welcome mat to him.
"I'm really excited and happy to be here," he said. "I think it's a great fit. The city has made me feel really welcome. I loved getting to the city early. I've gotten to know some people in the area, gotten to know some restaurants. I feel very comfortable with things."
When asked what Bucks fans can expect from him, Brockman referenced something he brought with him from Snohomish.
"I'm going to work hard at all times," he said. "Ever since I was little, that's all my dad told me to do: Just go out there and work hard as I can. I've carried it over. That's kind of what I've modeled my game after. "I'm a real physical player. I like contact and banging bodies.
"No matter what, I'm going to play as hard as I possibly can."
In Milwaukee, that will work just fine.