Grand Rapids Danger power forward, Derek Brooks, also known on the team as “D-bo”, is our Player Spotlight of the week. The Grand Rapids native has been with the Danger since it’s inaugural season three years ago and brings senior leadership and a positive energy to the squad. Ever since college, Brooks’ ability to lead by example and use his seniority to train the more novice players has made him an excellent mentor and leader to his teammates. Brooks’ passion and commitment to the game and his team are evident through his drive and tireless work ethic. He has overcome injury and has juggled academic and family life along with being a leader to his team. Whether he is on the bench or on the court, he is always finding a way to help make himself and the team better.
Q: Tell me a little about your high school basketball career at Northview and your transition to college
A: In high school, I was one of the top players in Grand Rapids and was on the Dream Team in 2006. I decided to go to GRCC on scholarship. I got hurt my second year with a fractured foot. I rehabbed it and then got discovered by the Davenport in Courthouse league. I was offered a three-year scholarship to Davenport.
Q: What was your area of study at Davenport?
A: I was in the business program there.
Q: What was your experience like at Davenport going onto a whole new team at a new school after coming back from injury?
A: I was the oldest on the team because of my injuries. I had just turned 25 but it didn't bother me. I brought my knowledge and experience to the team and pushed the players that were all younger than me to show them that it’s different than high school basketball. I was able to make the players around me better. I also had a daughter already and I was playing basketball and traveling all on top of school and making the dean’s list. They respected me and was a role model for how I carried myself with all that. It was definitely a struggle, but I had a lot of drive and passion. I never give up and I never want to let my kids see me give up.
Q: Tell me about your transition to the Danger. How did you hear about the team and what made you want to pursue signing with the Danger?
A: After college, I knew I still wanted to play and eventually achieve going overseas. I’ve been playing a long time, I'm 30 now. But I still strive for my goals and I went the semi-pro route. I played for the Grand Rapids Fusion for a season and it didn't go so well, and that’s when I found out about the Danger. I knew Allen from playing basketball and found out he was starting a team. I know how Allen carries himself and knew it would be nothing less than professional. I knew I had to be a part of that team.
Q: Would you ever want to play overseas? Is that still a goal for you at 30 years old with three kids?
A: It’s crossed my mind. If the opportunity presented itself I would do it; but, it would have to be a team that understood that I have a family and let them visit. I don't think it would be a problem. They love me so I think I could make it work.
Q: As one of the older guys on the team do you think you help bring a senior leadership to the team?
A: Yes, I've been paying a long time. I’m not the oldest but consider myself a true vet and helping the younger guys learn. Playing against Forrest [the Danger’s head coach] when I was younger made me learn a lot. We played every Saturday and were the two strongest guys in the gym. We have a great relationship now because we know what we can do on the court and we can still learn from each other, it's a great thing to have. Being 30 and having kids younger than me, I can put some of the knowledge I was given and instill that in them. Hopefully, I can be their coach one day.
Q: So, you see yourself being a coach one day, at what level do you see yourself coaching?
A: I coach 4th and 5th grade right now. Once I start coaching more I’d like to get a high school varsity head coaching job and work my way up. Eventually, I want to get a university coaching job and go from there. I want to touch on every level and get experience.
My absolute dream job is to use my degree to be a day-to-day operations manager for a professional team. Wherever LeBron is at would be ideal.
Q: Ok, a few background questions for you; first, when and why did you first start playing basketball?
A: The age of 4.
Q: What is your most memorable basketball moment?
A: My first high school dunk. It was a home game and I told my coach I'm going to try and get my first dunk. I got a perfect pass and I went for it and I got it. It was actually easy and I was happy I achieved it.
Q: What is your most embarrassing moment in basketball?
A: We went to semi-finals before graduation and we lost the game. If we would have won we would have gone onto the state championship. I was upset, so I picked the ball up and kicked into the student section.
Q: Do you have a pre-game ritual or routine?
A: I get a pep talk from my girlfriend and then if it’s a home game I always have my ankles taped before I get dressed. I also listen to a playlist with Meek Mill and Ed Sheeran. I listed to Dive by Ed Sheeran. Meek Mill gets me hype and Ed Sheeran calms me down, then I'm just level-headed.
Q: Who is your favorite music artist/band?
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: LeBron James
Q: What is your favorite sports team to follow?
A: Whatever team LeBron is on. So, the Cavaliers.
Q: Outside of basketball, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?
A: Cooking. My favorite thing to cook is chicken alfredo with asparagus.
Q: What's something not a lot of people know about you?
A: I can sing. I’m an R&B singer
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or not, who would they be?
A: LeBron James, Barack Obama, and I’d die to have a dinner with my aunt who passed away from leukemia.
Q: What have you enjoyed most so far playing for the Danger?
A: The way our team is bonded. I wouldn't change it for anything. We've gotten along all three years with any player that comes in. I also really like the professionalism of the team.
Follow Brooks and the rest of the Danger as they travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama next week to play the Tuscaloosa Titans. This game will be the toughest to date, so don't miss any of the action! Follow the Danger on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.