Oregon has become one of the NCAA’s sleeping giants in basketball. The reigning Pac-12 champions have developed and grown into one of the most talented teams in the country. And while they preach system basketball where no one individual player takes all the shots, they have a supreme talent in forward Dillon Brooks who’s helped carry the Ducks from good to great. Yet still, many NBA mock drafts have him barely listed in their top-60 due to “physical limitations” and other non-factors.
“I don’t look at that stuff,” Brooks tells DIME in regards to mock drafts. “The way I see it, the NBA is going a different direction. They want power forwards who can handle the ball, score, and do a little bit of everything. So while that may make me positionless, I’m also role-less, meaning that I can play in any role.”
Brooks has a point. As the NBA shifts from a traditional style of play to a pace-and-space game, more players with a similar skillset to Brooks have become hot commodities in a league that craves do-it-all type players. Not only can Brooks score from outside-in, but his defensive ability along with his playmaking and ball-handling make him extremely unique as a basketball player.
“I want to be known as one of the best players in the country,” Brooks says. “I can do a lot of things that a lot of players in the country can’t do, which makes me one of the most versatile players in the country as well.”
Sitting at 26-4 on the season, Brooks and his team are in a great position for a deep NCAA tournament run. They’ve beaten every team in the Pac-12 conference and have commanded respect on a national scale. In a recent game against Cal, Oregon had to clawback from a 14-point second half deficit to win on yet another Brooks’ late game winner.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to get to where I am,” Brooks says. “I’m not afraid to take the big shots. In fact, I want to hit those clutch shots.”
While Brooks has hit two game-winners in recent memory (UCLA and Cal), he’s also willing to do whatever it takes to win. Which is something that many college players struggle to grasp.
“If coach needs me to score, I’m going to do that,” Brooks says. “If he needs me to rebound and crash the boards, I’m going to do that. If he wants me to stop the opposing star, I’ll do that. I’m here to win and I’ll do whatever my team needs for that to happen.”
Brooks understands his statistics aren’t going to jump off the page. But what’s refreshing is he doesn’t care. In his free time, he watches a lot of film and studies the game at length.
“I watch a lot of Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green,” Brooks says. “Not only because I think I have a similar game to them but because I enjoy watching them play. They’re both great two-way players and bring a lot of effort every night, that’s what I want to be known as. Obviously you watch the greats like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, but Butler and Green are players I really watch and study.”