One thing that hardcore easyCredit BBL fans can forever be grateful about is that there have been certain league identity figures that have played longer than most and for some stayed faithful to the same organization for their whole career in Germany. If one was really bored on a rainy afternoon in Jena and wouldn´t have a nice view on top of the 160 meter Jentower to observe the beautiful hills around the city and one wasn´t in the mood to visit one of the many city museums, one could continue to wonder how much longer the three Jena amigo´s of Derrick Allen, Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy will still continue to play as they are in their late thirties and combined have the magical age of 113 years. Some fans place a special mark on the calendar to especially see them and others will dread the day when the first of them hangs up his sneakers. Then again there are two other BBL identity figures and legends in the making with Mr Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson of Frankfurt and Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding who combined are in their 22nd season in Germany and combined have racked up three titles and also have been combined on the floor in Europe in 961 games prior to this season. One also can´t forget German Per Guenther who could have left ratiopharm Ulm years ago for more lucrative offers, but remained where the heart wanted to be. But who will be the future players in the easyCredit players that will have that amazing role model work ethic and discipline of a Derrick Allen and just keep playing seemingly forever and share that passion and loyalty to remain with just one team and not change teams as often as a Tom Brady has thrown to different targets which stands at 71 receivers. Ok so being with one team for so far only three seasons is nothing special as one could count more than a handful of guys who have been there that long and heck there was even Mike Morrison who played four years in Frankfurt and surely would have loved to have remained longer, but that B word always gets in the way called business. But for medi Bayreuth forward De´mon Brooks his first three years have been very special there and with the continued success of the club he might just stick around for a longer period of time. Could De´mon Brooks be Medi Bayreuth´s version of a Tez or Paulding?
Before getting to the basketball career of De´mon Brooks one has to take a look at how much the player and the club´s concept Hero´s Of Tomorrow which came to life in the 2016-2017 are linked. One can best describe the team´s concept Hero´s Of Tomorrow as one where the club is always looking forward combined with establishing a competitive youth program coupled with having a farm team. It is a young organization that always wants to make the next step in all areas of the organization from the office to the court. Medi Bayreuth have a farm team with BBC Bayreuth 2, but currently participate in the second Regionalliga and are one of the few BBL clubs that don´t have a farm team in the Pro B. Obviously the farm team fits well with the new concept Hero´s Of Tomorrow in that it wants to continue to make strides each season in hopes of competing in the pro B one day and their youth programs JBBL(U-16) and NBBL(U-19) have made good leaps in the last two years. Another example where the club´s Hero´s Of Tomorrow theme has worked well is with their American players from the last two seasons. Three of the four young players that came to the club had only had one year of experience while Trey Lewis had been a rookie. Lewis spent time with the Utah Jazz the last months and will continue to work on reaching the NBA through the G-League Gabe York is in the G-League while James Robinson is in Israel and Kyan Anderson is balling in Kosovo and putting up big time stats averaging eight assists in the country league and 11 assists in the Fiba Europe Cup. These four players are looking to make the next step having had that Hero´s of Tomorrow experience. So where does Demon Brooks fit into the equation? Well in a sense he is the perfect role model and mentor for his teammates. He may only be in his fifth professional season, but his work ethic, mentality and dedication to being the best player/person possible is something positive that carries the organization and Hero´s of Tomorrow theme to new heights.
Brooks is a 26 year old 202cm forward that was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, but grew up in Huntersville. After a stellar high school career at Hopewell where he averaged double double double stats in points and rebounds there, he then went to Davidson(NCAA) which was just around the corner from home. He played in Steph Curry country where that NBA superstar put the school on the map and played at Davidson from 2010-2014 playing a total of 123 NCAA games and won the Southern Conf. Tournament in 2012 and 2013 and both times was awarded with the MVP. Both times they were invited to the March Madness, but both times weren´t rewarded with a win, but lost by seven points to Louisville and current Alba Berlin guard Peyton Siva and to Marquette 59-58 which showcased future BBL players with Trent Lockett and Chris Otule. He had a solid freshman season averaging 9.0ppg, 5.1rpg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 67.7%, but really picked it up in his last three season´s showing his consistency as he averaged 15,5ppg and 6,3rpg.The American knows that his consistency in school and countless opportunities that he has become as a professional go back to one guy his head coach in school with Bob Mckillop. “There is no better coach in the world. He is the reason why I am here today. From the time I stepped foot on Davidson he prepared me for this journey on and off the court. One of the many lessons that stays with me is with freedom comes from responsibility. This is one lesson, especially playing professional basketball in Europe, that is very important for a player to abide if you want to have a long promising career”, stressed De´mon Brooks. In his senior season the American averaged 17.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 56.4%, FT: 75.3%. He scored in double figures in 22 of 24 games including three 28 point games against Wofford, Elon and Samford. Not only was head coach Mckillop an important mentor for him, but also teammate Jake Cohen who has played many years in the Euroleague with Maccabi Fox Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League) as their day to day battles in practice for three years really boosted his game and carried over into the pro´s. “Jake is like a brother to me. We have been through a lot and he is one of the reasons why I am as good as I am today. We had some battles in practice and we pushed one another every day. When you have two great talents battling every day for 3 years its only right that it will show down the road. I have witnessed Jake go for 28 points in a half. He is truly one of the best to come out of Davidson for sure. I am just honored to be one of his teammates and have played along side him”, added De´mon Brooks. It wouldn´t be normal to have been at Davidson and not have gotten the dose of Steph Curry stories. “Coach told us many stories. But my personal favorite story about Steph is during the NBA lock out and he came back to Davidson to finish his classes. He is the best player I have ever seen personally, but with that he is not cocky or arrogant. He is a genuine person and the way he carries himself is like no other. That what stands out most about him to me. Not what he does on court”, said De´mon Brooks.
Brooks turned professional in 2014, but will never forget the battles he had in the NCAA at Davidson(NCAA). “Jabari Parker is a great talent. I had the luxury to play against many top players in my career. I would say the one that stood out the most to me was Kelly Olynyk and Thomas Robinson. Those two players during their college years were outstanding players. I think they were the toughest to me. However, Parker is somewhere on the list”, warned De´mon Brooks. Right away in his rookie season, he was on the go playing in Italy and Israel. He began the season with Givova Napoli Basket (Italy-A2 Gold) playing 17 games averaging 17.5ppg, 8.2rpg, 2FGP: 58.9%, 3FGP: 32.4%, FT: 77.6%, in Feb.’15 moved to Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League) where he played 14 games averaging 9.3ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 57.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 69.6%. It wasn´t most likely what he had expected as he came overseas to split time with two teams, but in the end was thankful for the experience because it was a learning experience that helped his path forward the last years. “My rookie year was one for the ages. I had a lot of ups and downs and had to learn a lot of things from the fly. Additionally being away from home also made it difficult to cope with the adjustment to playing in Europe. However, I am thankful for that year because it prepared me for a lot of things that many players have never experienced. Those experiences have given me a new found respect for playing basketball overseas. Personally, it is very difficult to single out one thing as a wake call. It was wake up call as soon as I got off the plane in Italy”, stressed De´mon Brooks. In his second professional season he returned to Italy and this time played with Orsi Derthona Basket Tortona (Italy-Serie A2) playing 39 games averaging 15.7ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 82.3%. His consistency from his Davidson(NCAA) days broke through again as he scored in double figures in 36 of 39 games. The stretch run of the season turned out to be exciting as he won a five game playoff series and lost a five game playoff series after being down 2-0, he fought back to win two, but weren´t rewarded in game five for the comeback losing 97-72.
After two seasons in Italy, Brooks who compares his game to a Draymond Greene was ready for a new challenge in season three and decided to come to Germany and joined medi Bayreuth. The decision to come to Bayreuth wasn´t difficult for the North Carolina native as he quickly felt comfortable in the city and he bonded with new coach Raoul Korner quickly. “Bayreuth is a beautiful city in one of the most prestigious leagues in Europe. With the coaching staff and the people here creating such a positive environment it was an easy choice for me. What I like about Coach Korner is that he really cares for everyone in his program and his attention to detail. There is no stone left unturned, but at the same time he knows how to communicate with his players to get the best out of us. To me he is a players coach and those are the type to create a winning environment”, warned De´mon Brooks. In his first season with the German club he averaged 12.1ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 87.0%. His two biggest games was scoring 20 points in a huge home win against top German team Alba Berlin and netting 23 points in the game three win against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Despite medi Bayreuth losing 3-1 in the playoffs against the EWE Baskets, it was a season for the ages for the club as it had reached the playoffs for the first time since the mid 90´s. Near the end of the season the American also knew that the key to the success was coach Korber and the characters of his teammates. “Coach Korner did a great job developing everyone´s game this season. He gave us a lot of freedom on the court, however with that freedom comes responsibility as he holds everyone accountable. I think that balance has made a huge impact on our team’s chemistry and has led to our results. One thing special about this team that we are all good guys that really get along with one another. But in practice you would think we hate one another because everyone hates to lose. That competitiveness in practice has been a major key to our success as a team because by the time the games come around we know what to expect of one another”, warned De´mon Brooks.
In his second season with medi Bayreuth the club couldn´t hold Trey Lewis and Kyan Anderson who made the next step in their careers going to ratiopharm Ulm and Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) teams with a higher budget and higher ambitions. But they got two new talented Americans with Gabe York and James Robinson. However the club wasn´t as successful as the season before where it finished in fourth place finishing in sixth place, but still reaching the playoffs for s second consecutive season which was seen as a big success. They also played in their first international cup since playing the Korac Cup in 1996-1997 playing the Basketball Champions League reaching the quarterfinals, but losing to German team MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Ludwigsburg became their real sore spot in that they just couldn´t buy a victory. They were swept in the regular season losing one game by 31 points and scoring only 47 points and then were also swept in the playoffs. Brook´s stats were down a bit from his first season, but overall he was still one of the club´s most consistent performers averaging 10.1ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 78.4%; and in the BCL was really solid averaging 11.3ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 48.4%, FT: 76.2%. The two biggest victories of the season most likely were the wins against Alba Berlin and beating the EWE Baskets Oldenburg 87-86. His success on the court with his game is credited to him being a player not just being in one area, but helping out all over the floor. “I think my biggest strength is the ability to play inside and outside. I am very mobile at the 4 position and I can do a variety of things. But I think my bread and butter is just playing inside and just taking what the defense gives me. If that is scoring the ball or kicking it out to a teammate”, warned De´mon Brooks.
As the playoffs in the BBL were in full swing in May 2018, Medi Bayreuth made the announcement on May 18th that Brooks would return for a third season. One got the impression quickly from head coach Raoul Korner that it was vital for the club to hold him after hearing his comments. Korner is more than sure that Brooks is a very important building block for the club with his play on the court and his character and his energy simply infects everyone. This season medi Bayreuth have started slower than the last two seasons going 0-4 in the Basketball Champions League and in the BBL are at 2-3. The club has more Americans this season than in past years with ex NBA players Adonis Thomas and David Stockton, ex Rhode Island (NCAA) standout Hassan Martin, rookie Kassius Robertson out of Missouri(NCAA) and veteran Nikolas Raivio. Despite more scoring power than in his first two seasons, he has started off with a bang averaging 12,8ppg and 6,3rpg in the BBL and is averaging 10,0ppg in the Basketball Champions League and filling up the stat sheet. The American came to Bayreuth knowing exactly what he was up against and despite all the talent that he faces each season, he is never concerned about having to put up those huge stats. “The BBL is a more competitive league compared to second division Italy so I knew coming in it would be different. In Italy I was the first option and had to put up huge numbers in order to be successful as a team. Here in Bayreuth I don’t have to do that because everyone here can score the ball. I try to focus on things that don’t show in the stat sheet like improving defensively, setting screens, and improving my spacing. These are the things that will help me in the long run to become a better player throughout my career”, warned De´mon Brooks.
For a player to become a team lifer like a Quantez Robertson or a Rickey Paulding certain things have to fit. For Quantez Robertson having the comfort of walking to practice in his flip flops from his apartment and having a mall there with a Mcdonalds always had him coming back to play with the Fraport Skyliners and he is currently in his 10th season with them. Rickey Paulding is in his 12th season with the EWE baskets Oldenburg and for him it was just love. He sensed the love from the organization and fans early on and winning the league title in 2009 in only his second season surely helped. Winning the 2015 cup final was extra icing on the cake. Also Paulding is a family man and became very comfortable with the country living in Oldenburg and with his kids getting older didn´t want them to keep switching schools the more he bounced from country to country. This just shows how important Paulding´s family is to him in that he choses them over himself. He surely would have landed with an Euroleague team years ago and would have earned a lot more money, but that didn´t matter to him, but only how his family felt. That is something very unusual. Paulding even boasts a Oldenburg flag in his yard back home in Missouri. So could Brooks become the next organization lifer with medi Bayreuth? It really doesn´t matter who you talk to opponents, coaches, fans, you won´t get anything negative about him. On the court he is a real fighter. Some weeks ago he suffered a mild concussion and was out for about a week, but was back again soon after. What many don´t know is that he is co-captain and the perfect choice. He rarely makes mistakes on the court and holds the team together and always takes responsibility. He simply wants and will do everything for his team to win. He is the type of player that every team wants to have exactly as it is for a Quantez Robertson or Rickey Paulding. After his first season, he already signed early to remain and one quickly senses that there is big love for the team and city. “Me and my family feel really comfortable here in Bayreuth. Being a professional basketball player overseas, the opportunity to have that stability and security is rare. You never know where you will be at next year. Going into the summer your mind is all over the place because you have no idea where you will be going next. Having that security for me and my family in place that we love and loves us back was the main reason I decided to stay in Bayreuth another year”, warned De´mon Brooks. It is a mutual feeling for the club medi Bayreuth and Brook´s love surely has continued to rise which are the best conditions for the continued development of a club lifer. One will know that Brooks is on his way of becoming a medi Bayreuth lifer when he raises the beautiful black and yellow Bayreuth flag with two lions at home in the states to proclaim his love for his second home away from home.