Hylton boys basketball Coach Dan Kearney can vividly recall his first sighting of Ahmad Brooks, last year during the forward's freshman season.
"I said, 'Who is this kid?' " recalled Kearney, then a Potomac assistant. "It was obvious he was a new kid, but I thought he was a new upperclassman. He was doing things as a freshman that I knew as an opposing coach he'd be something special."
Little did Kearney know that he would be a beneficiary of Brooks's ability. The 6-foot-3 sophomore post player has been the Bulldogs' most consistent scorer the first half of the season. He has scored nine points or more in each game for a 12.6 average, more than twice his freshman output. His rebounding totals also flirt with double figures.
Brooks, Extra's defensive player of the year in football, is better known for his linebacking than his rebounding or shot blocking. But on the basketball court the 210-pound Brooks occasionally can draw the same sort of jaw-dropping reaction that his football skills induce.
"I think other people look at me differently than I look at myself," said Brooks, who has played basketball since fourth grade and football since fifth. "I just see myself as an athlete."
Football coaches have said that Brooks is so big, you forget how fast he is. Or that he is so fast, you forget how big he is. Such attributes suit him just fine during his winter sport, too, where Brooks often is going up against taller post players.
"His athletic ability comes out in basketball," Kearney said. "He can run the floor, he can post up because of his physical presence, and he has the jumping ability to block shots and score inside."
Tuesday night against Osbourn, Brooks scored a career-high 22 points. On one play, he received the ball on a wing, dribbled to his left, and then to his right, before splitting defenders and scoring. Upon further review, Brooks liked the move so much, during a team film session he goaded Kearney to replay it.
But most of the film appreciation of Brooks has come from football. Bill Brown, Hylton's football coach, said some Division I recruiters who come through his office wish they could offer Brooks a scholarship right now.
Brown thinks so much of Brooks's ability that he is strongly considering plugging him into the quarterback spot vacated by all-stater Kenny Irby, who led the team to 30 consecutive wins and two state titles.
CAPTION: Hylton sophomore Ahmad Brooks, who is averaging 12.6 points a game this season, was Extra's defensive player of the year in football.