Jvonte Brooks '15 tops Ivy rookies

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 2/15/12 11:00pm

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02.16.12.sports.33
by Yomalis Rosario and Yomalis Rosario / The Dartmouth

Brooks, one of three freshman starters for the Big Green (4-20, 0-8 Ivy League), leads the team in points (9.0 ppg), minutes (27.9 mpg), free throws made (89) and free throw percentage (.788). He is also second on the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and third in assists (28).

Last weekend, Brooks had a standout performance, recording his third and fourth double-double of the season. On Friday, he scored 11 points and pulled in a season-high 13 rebounds in the game against Princeton University. Brooks scored a season-high 18 points and converted on 12 of 14 free throws in a heartbreaking loss to the University of Pennsylvania.

Although he has always loved the game, Brooks was not initially focused solely on basketball. He also played football and baseball when he was young, and it wasn't until he was in high school at Foothills Christian High School in California that he began to concentrate on basketball.

"I was more of a baseball guy until I got to high school," Brooks said. "When I got to high school, I realized I could have a future in [basketball] and started taking it a lot more seriously."

Although Brooks enjoyed baseball and football, once he began to focus on basketball, he realized it was the sport for him.

"I just like the speed of the game and the competition," he said. "Baseball is a little slow for my taste, and I don't like getting hit that much [in football]."

Brooks' family has also had a large influence in his passion and attitude toward basketball and school. Brooks' father played Division-II basketball at the Florida Institute of Technology and introduced Brooks to basketball at a very young age.

Although his father was a basketball player, Brooks has had to work hard to harness his natural talent and become an accomplished and successful hoops star. He took a postgraduate year at Northfield Mount Hermon School to help him transition from high school to college athletics.

Northfield Mount Hermon School competes in the NEPSAC Triple A Division, which is one of the strongest in the country. Brooks' class had seven seniors go on to play Division-I basketball. He explained that playing with talent of such a high caliber helped to prepare him for the level of competition at Dartmouth.

"When you're competing against players like that every night, you get a feel for the Division-I game," he said. "The players are a lot older than back home [in high school]. You have to prepare for speed of game and strength of players at the Division-I level."

When he arrived at Dartmouth this fall, Brooks continued to work on his skills alongside his new teammates. Along with the five other freshmen in his class, he focused on becoming stronger by lifting four times a week and working with strength and conditioning coach Bob Miller.

Much of Brooks' success is due to his hard work in the offseason, so he plans to continue to work to improve his game after the structured workouts provided during the school year end, he said.

The Ivy League is different than most other Division-I conferences in that Ivy League teams do not have regular team workouts over the summer.

"Coach trusts you to work out by yourself," Brooks said. "I have a couple friends back home who play Division-I, so I'll work out with them over the summer."

In addition to working hard in the offseason, much of Brooks' success is also dependent on his work ethic and attitude during the season. This season, he has spent a lot of time focusing on improving his jump shot.

"Coming into this year, I couldn't shoot," Brooks said. "That's what I've been focusing on this year and throughout the season. I've worked on my jump shot a lot more with the coaching staff, and now teams have to guard me. It helps with other aspects of my game if teams have to step out and guard me."

Brooks' work ethic is evident to his teammates in practice. Fellow starter Gabas Maldunas '15 emphasized Brooks' ability to work hard and have fun at the same time.

"Jvonte really pushes other people to go harder [in practice]," Maldunas said. "He's also really good in the locker room before practice and after practice. He always jokes around and makes everyone happy. He works really hard but knows how to relax and have fun, which is really helpful for our team."

As a starter on a team with six freshmen out of its thirteen players, Brooks has worked to step into a leadership role.

"We have Dave Rufful ['12] who does a great job of leading us," Brooks said. "Coach wanted me to step up and be a leader and try to be more vocal on the court. I'm trying to step up into that leadership role that coach wanted me to pursue."

Although Brooks is a starting freshman who has received many accolades this season, he has remained grounded and is an "awesome" teammate, according to Maldunas.

"He's really vocal on the court which helps our team," added Maldunas.

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