UNC Basketball: Garrison Brooks 2018-19 season in review

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - FEBRUARY 02: Garrison Brooks #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates in the game against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on February 02, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - FEBRUARY 02: Garrison Brooks #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates in the game against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on February 02, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

We take a look at Garrison Brooks’ sophomore season with the UNC Basketball program and the steps he took forward in our 2018-19 player season review

Nassir Little Rechon Black | Sterling Manley

Garrison Brooks added 15 pounds over the offseason as he transitioned into the North Carolina Tar Heels’ full-time starting center during the 2018-19 campaign.

The 6-foot-9 big out of Lafayette, Alabama was recruited to man the middle alongside fellow sophomore, Sterling Manley. There was some struggles in his first year with the Tar Heels as Brooks was getting accustomed to the college game but he did make some strides in his sophomore season.

Brooks saw increases in every single statistical category from his freshman season to his sophomore season, leaving some hope that he can eventually become a dominant center at the college level.

Let’s take a look at Brooks’ year in review:

The good

Brooks started all 36 games for the Tar Heels and throughout the season was considered the best interior defender. Even though Brooks is naturally a power forward his game is very similar to that of former UNC National Champion Deon Thompson.

As a sophomore Thompson had a higher defensive win share 3.0 whereas Brooks had a defensive win share of 1.4. However, both tallied a 3.0 total win share and over a .165 win share per 40 minutes.

Brooks was a highly effective player while on the court. He averaged 23 minutes per game (compared to 14.6 as a freshman), averaged 7.9 points per game (12 games with at least 10 points), and 5.6 rebounds per game (11 games with at least seven rebounds.)

Brooks’ impact was felt defensively and not always in the stat sheet. Defensively, Brooks has the length to give opponents fits, and moves quickly on his feet; that’s how he’s effective in the post.

Brooks has won the defensive player of the game honors from the coaching staff 11 times this season; a team high. Brooks also has the ability to defend against the ball screen on the perimeter. It’s obvious that Brooks worked on his game over the summer, got better and comfortable in the Tar Heels’ system.

The Bad

Brooks need to improve offensively; most of his scoring came from dunks or put back layups. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but if he developed a consistent 15-foot jump shot that would open up the lane for all five players on the offensive end.

Also being more aggressive on offense; Brooks averaged 5.6 field goal attempts and 2.3 free throw attempts per game this season. In order to keep their opposition honest on defense, those attempts need to average 8.1 and 6.1 respectively. In regards to free throw shooting Brooks should be closer to 70% from the charity stripe. That 63% is better than John Henson’s numbers in his UNC career but again if foes find out that 7/10 of Brooks’ free throws go in; they’ll be more hesitant to send him to the line.

Brooks isn’t considered a banger in the paint or a shot blocker, so it would be nice to see him be more physical on both ends of the court.

Best game

Brooks’ best game in his sophomore year came in the middle of ACC play during a 113-96 dominating win over NC State on February 5.

The sophomore played 22 minutes, scoring eight points (4/4 from the field), grabbing 10 rebounds, handing out six assists, and recording zero turnovers.

At the time UNC was on a five-game win streak and was 7-1 in the ACC. Virginia led by one game with an 8-1 conference record. Important game to say the least and UNC fans hate when the Tar Heels lose to the Wolfpack.

Contrary to the box score, there was actual defense played in this game. There were 28 turnovers, and 13 blocks between the teams. NC State’s forward Wyatt Walker was one of two starters not to score in double figures.

Take a wild guess as to who was guarding him.

The most impressive part about Brooks on this night was his zero turnovers. He’s not a guard, but there are times when big men throw the ball away, commit a charging foul, or just travel with the basketball; especially with this type of offensive explosion. Roy Williams joked that he’ll be considered moving Brooks to point guard since this was Brooks’ four straight games without turning the ball over.

Without Brooks playing so well in this game I doubt they win the game as comfortable as they did (if at all), and probably not have a share of the ACC regular season title.

What the future holds

The future is definitely bright for Brooks. He went from “why is that guy starting?” to “he’s UNC’s most important defender” just a couple of months.

Going into next season, Brooks will play a big role in the Tar Heels’ lineup assuming Williams will put Armando Bacot at the five and moving Brooks to the four.

If UNC does land a couple of graduate transfers expect Brooks to excel more on offense during his junior year. Over the summer I’d like to see Brooks work even little more on his offensive game this offseason and continue to get stronger. Working on that jumper and driving strong to the rim.

Expect Brooks to be an early candidate for ACC Defensive player of the year, and First Team All ACC Defense.