March 2, 2011
The following story appeared in the University of Louisville Gameday Program on March 2, 2011, for the game against Providence.
By: Samuel J. Hovland, University of Louisville Sports Information
I'm just going to come out and say it.
Marshon Brooks is the most complete basketball player in the country. And not just at the moment.
A foolish statement, or one consistent with the facts? Let's find out.
If you aren't familiar with the Providence senior guard, then you must live under a rock. (Just kidding, although it's not too far from the truth anymore.) If you truly don't recognize the name, we'll start by introducing his number, 52. Not his jersey number, but the number of points Brooks dropped on #9/9 Notre Dame last Wednesday (albeit in a loss). On 20-for-28 shooting that night, Brooks put up a BIG EAST, Providence, Dunkin' Donuts Center, and Fighting Irish opponent-record 52 big ones, including a PC-record 35 in the second period as the Friars nearly rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit. He scored 15 points in the final 2:57, a scoring rate equivalent to just over 203 points for a full game (in case you were wondering).
Unlike the 52-point effort from Lamar's Mike James earlier this season, Brooks' day was the culmination of a season's worth of prolific scoring (James has averaged 10.0 points in his other 21 games this season, while Brooks sits at a steady 25.1) and came against a top-10 opponent (James' Cardinals played Division III Louisiana College). In fact, over the past 15 seasons, Brooks, Kentucky's Jodie Meeks (54 points at Tennessee on Jan. 13, 2009) and Arizona State's Eddie House (61 at Cal on Jan. 8, 2000) are the only three players to pour in 50 points against a BCS school, with Meeks and Brooks the only to do so against ranked opponents (the Vols entered the game at #24 in the AP poll). Nothing to discount other 50-point performances--recording a half-century against anyone is a remarkable accomplishment--but little compares to putting up 43 points at #13/14 Georgetown (Feb. 5) and then scoring even more 18 days later against another top-15 squad.
As anyone can see from this and from Brooks' points per game average (second in the nation to BYU's Jimmer Fredette), the man can score. But as for being the total package on the hardwood, consider the following: in addition to his 25.1 points, the 6-5 Brooks averages 7.2 rebounds (seventh in the BIG EAST), 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.6 steals (10th) per outing, a production combination unmatched by anybody in the last 15 years. The last Division I players to record at least 25.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 block, and 1.0 steal over the course of an entire season: can you say Bonzi and Bubba Wells? The two mid-major dominators (Bubba played at Austin Peay and Bonzi at Ball State) just happened to have the same last name and different cool nicknames starting with "B," a dream for basketball analysts as one might imagine. Both went on to play in the NBA, with Bonzi having a largely successful 10-year career (12.1 points per game) with the Blazers, Grizzlies, Kings, Rockets, and Hornets.
Division I players averaging 25.0 pts, 7.0 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.0 blk, 1.0 stl, since 1995-96
Marshon Brooks, Providence (2010-11): 25.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 bpg, 1.6 spg
Bonzi Wells, Ball State (1995-96): 25.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.2 bpg, 3.1 spg
Bubba Wells, Austin Peay (1995-96): 26.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.6 spg
But that's not all we can say about Marshon. Let's take it to the next level, literally: the NBA. If we list the pro players to put up Brooks-like numbers over the past decade, I think you'll get the picture, so here goes:
Dirk Nowitzki (twice), LeBron James (thrice), Kevin Durant, and Amare Stoudemire.
In fact, only 17 different players in NBA history have put up 25.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 block, and 1.0 steal per game for a season, a list that also includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Alex English, Julius Erving, Marques Johnson, Bob Lanier, Karl Malone, Bob McAdoo, Tracy McGrady, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Chris Webber. Eventual L.A. Lakers teammates Abdul-Jabbar and McAdoo each accomplished the feat an NBA-record five times.
NBA players averaging 25.0 pts, 7.0 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.0 blk, 1.0 stl, since 2001-02
Amare Stoudemire, New York (2010-11): 26.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 bpg, 1.0 spg
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City(2009-10): 30.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.4 spg
LeBron James, Cleveland (2009-10): 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.6 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.6 spg
LeBron James, Cleveland (2008-09): 28.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.1 bpg, 1.7 spg
LeBron James, Cleveland (2007-08): 30.0 ppg, 7.9 apg, 7.2 apg, 1.1 bpg, 1.8 spg
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (2004-05): 26.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.2 spg
Dirk Nowitzki, Dalls (2002-03): 25.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.4 spg
Yet it's hardly fair to compare NBA stats to NCAA ones. After all, NBA games consist of 48 minutes instead of 40 and there is not exactly a wealth of defensive intensity (watch a college game and a pro game back-to-back and you'll see the difference). Plus the shot clock is shorter (24 seconds to 35), leading to more scoring. All these factors point to an easier road to the above statistics than the one taken by Mr. Brooks, and the evidence tells us the same (many more NBA players putting up these kinds of numbers).
So let's make at least a slightly more reasonable comparison. Increase the 25.0-7.0-2.0-1.0-1.0 stats by 20 percent to account for the 48-minute NBA game, and we have 30.0-8.4-2.4-1.2-1.2 instead. Now we can look at the list of players with NBA stats comparable to Brooks' NCAA numbers. Here it is:
(Place name here.)
Where'd everybody go?
The absence of a list is not a typo--they are all gone. Gone because no NBA player has ever averaged at least 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks in a season.
Maybe "most complete basketball player ever" is not so far-fetched after all.
So there you have it. For any player to do what Brooks has done: simply amazing. For a player in the nation's toughest conference with no Preseason All-BIG EAST recognition and no spot on any Naismith list: (place synonym for "unbelievable" here).
RECORDS MAY FALL
The man who began the year off the radar but now is the largest blip on the screen could very well parlay his achievements into more BIG EAST records. Thanks to 10 20-point games in the last 11 contests and five 25-point games in the last six (32.3 points per game during the latter stretch), Brooks is just 36 points away from tying the record for points in a BIG EAST season (462), set by Donyell Marshall of UConn in 1993-94. He can cement his place as the top single-season scorer in BIG EAST history by taking the scoring average record as well; Brooks needs 72 points against Louisville and Rutgers to eclipse Troy Bell's 2002-03 mark of 27.8 (with Boston College).
Brooks has some company in the record-breaking business in teammate and point guard Vincent Council. For Council, the number is 16: the number of assists he recorded in a win over Brown on Dec. 6 and also the number of free throws he canned--without a miss--in the Friars' triumph over Wyoming on Nov. 24. The 16 assists tied the Providence record and went down as the most assists by a BIG EAST player since Omar Cook of St. John's had 17 on Nov. 18, 2000, against Stony Brook. The 16-for-16 performance at the stripe: one made free throw shy of the PC record and the most makes in a game without a miss by a BIG EAST player since Troy Bell hit all 17 of his tries against Iowa State on Dec. 11, 2001. Council is the first Division I player to have a 16-assist game and a perfect night from the line with at least 16 makes in the same season since Charlotte's Sean Colson went 16-for-16 from the stripe against George Washington on Dec. 20, 1997, before handing out 18 assists against Houston later that year (Feb. 28). Council's overall assist average of 6.17 is the highest by a Friar since God Shammgod collected 6.64 dimes per game in 1996-97 (that name drop was inevitable).